When I started reading gobs and gobs of books as a child, a lot of people asked me if I wanted to be a writer. After a few months of introspection and a terribly failed attempt, I realized that I did not want to be a writer at all. At least not a writer of the kinds of books that I was so enamored with as a child. Promote library activities in press releases? Sure. Share my opinion of a few great books? Absolutely. But write one of those great books? Not a chance.
No, authors are a breed unto themselves, hallowed by all for letting us live in their heads, if only for a short time. They are gatekeepers and guides to the imagination. They safeguard the way, protecting it for all. And they provide guidance through the dangerous misty corners in which a hero’s adventures help us understand ourselves. If not for their skill with words and willingness to make visible the worlds they think up, our own imaginations would not be as full.
I have mentioned how I love science fiction, but I didn’t go in-depth into my love for fantasy. A genre that many think of as the other side of the science fiction coin, it’s no wonder that I love fantasy as much as science fiction. I also have a very specific taste: I want magic, I want fantastical beasts and I want that epic journey.
My first fantasy love was the great J.R.R. Tolkien. I read Lord of the Rings before The Hobbit because I was that kid who thought it was too much of a kid’s book to bother reading. Since then I’ve fallen head over heels into C.S. Lewis (who, might I add, also wrote one of my favorite science-fiction trilogies, The Space Trilogy), J.K. Rowling, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and, most of all, the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett.
If you’ve been abstaining from the Internet and all forms of news, you might not have heard that Pratchett, creator of the Discworld series among others, has died. According to news sources, he passed away today from complications related to a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s that he announced he had in 2008. There is much I could say about Pratchett, but I will instead send you to his good friend and author Neil Gaiman, whose grasp of the language and knowledge of the man far, far exceeds my own:
“He will rage, as he leaves, against so many things: stupidity, injustice, human foolishness and shortsightedness, not just the dying of the light. And, hand in hand with the anger, like an angel and a demon walking into the sunset, there is love: for human beings, in all our fallibility; for treasured objects; for stories; and ultimately and in all things, love for human dignity.” (Neil Gaiman: ‘Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He’s angry, The Guardian, 24.09.2014).
I would add that if you haven’t read anything by Pratchett, please do. The sheer number of books in the Discworld series may be daunting, but any one of them is worth perusal. And then you will happily scale that mountain to continue to spend time in Pratchett’s beautiful mind.