The library at my high school was not a large one, unsurprising when you take into consideration that there were probably less than 500 students attending. It’s the same library that occasionally ran out of economic textbooks or copies of required reading like Lord of the Flies. 98% of that library was resource material and God knows how old most of it probably was. But when I was a junior, someone must have decided the library deserved a little cash because one day we got two bookshelves reserved just for fiction. This is how I fell in love with The Color Purple. It’s how I attempted to read The Phantom Opera before giving up for something less melodramatic. And it’s how I was first introduced to The Fifth Elephant and the hilarious brilliance of Terry Pratchett.
I own thirteen books by Terry Pratchett. I’ve read more. Save Good Omens, they have all been in the Discworld universe. I don’t have one favorite book, but several contenders for the title, and my favorite characters, well, there are so many: Sam Vimes, Havelock Vetinari, Moist von Lipwig, Susan Sto Helit, and — of course — Death.
I’d like to say some words about how fantastic Pratchett’s work really is or why his passing makes me so sad, but I just don’t seem to have those words today. So what I’ll say is this: he opened up my eyes to a new kind of fantasy writing, writing that could be silly and ridiculous and based in a disc-shaped world balanced on four elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle swimming through space . . . and yet still have something important to say. He taught me that humor mattered.
You were an inspiration, Mr. Pratchett. You will be missed.