Terry Pratchett is gone
. We knew it was coming. We hoped it wouldn't be so soon.
I first heard of Terry Pratchett sometime in mid '88, when he was recommended to me by two unconnected people in the same week; one a work colleague in my placement year, the other an old schoolfriend. Thus inspired I took a chance and splashed out on the first three Discworld books at once. By total coincidence (yes,really) I ended up falling ill and taking a couple of days off just as I had three shiny new books to read. (Yes, that sounds like a fannish excuse, but I wasn't a fan then. Not yet.)
A year later, in Leeds, I was celebrating having taken my final exams by buying a day pass to my first convention, Iconoclasm '89, because I'd heard Terry would be there. Not as a guest, he was attending purely as a fan. Sure enough, as I sat awaiting the appearance of the guest of honour (hi, petermorwood
!), someone pointed out a bearded fellow in a hat standing off to one side at the end of my row. Somehow a sheaf of manuscript began making its way along the row, page by page, before returning along the next row to its author; that was how I first read the then-unpublished Hollywood Chickens
In 1992 I was delighted to find a new newsgroup appear called alt.fan.pratchett, and then thrilled when he himself began posting to it. In 1998 this led to my attending the second biennial Diskworld Convention, and thus my life - as with so many others - was forever changed.
Terry's books aren't simply about humour, they're about values, and as a result Terry's fans tend to be a pretty wonderful bunch, and my life is richer because so many of them have become friends. There are two girlfriends I would never have met if I hadn't read Terry. Others have jobs, careers, homes, new lives in different countries, marriages, children who would never have been born had Terry not brought them together. I spent a lot of time last night chatting with them as we gathered on IRC for an 8pm toast, and watching their tributes and mine on twitter. There was a lump in my throat; there had been pretty much all afternoon.
I didn't exchange too many words with him outside of signing queues (I'm a mostly shy retiring type who never wanted to be that guy
), but I attended enough signings that he knew me by name. Pratchett fandom was, and is, a lovely place to be; it was full of warm affection and healthy irreverance on both sides. He delighted in taking part in fannish activity because he was just as much a fan as we were. I'll remember him presenting the winners of the costume contest, the Maskerade, with their trophy, a silver statuette of the Diskworld, "which I bloody well paid for myself!" (audience laughter) "Out of your own money!
" (even louder laughter).
I'll remember being the first person to have him sign a computer (a Sparc workstation I'd smuggled out of work for a lunchtime signing; the hosts on our network were named after Diskworld, this one was Conina).
I'll remember making him laugh out loud over breakfast when he saw the t-shirt
I'd worn to the '04 con.
I'll remember him...
I'll remember him.GNU Terry Pratchett