You Aten’t Dead

Terry, you  changed the way I thought about the world. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You will be missed.

Thank you.

Here are extracts from three of my favourite of your books. It was hard to choose. Very hard:

Witches Abroad.

People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.

Stories exist independently of their players. If you know that, the knowledge is power.

Stories, great flapping ribbons of shaped space-time, have been blowing and uncoiling around the universe since the beginning of time. And they have evolved. The weakest have died and the strongest have survived and they have grown fat on the retelling… stories, twisting and blowing through the darkness.

And their very existence overlays a faint but insistent pattern on the chaos that is history. Stories etch grooves deep enough for people to follow in the same way that water follows certain paths down a mountainside. And every time fresh actors tread the path of the story, the groove runs deeper.

This is called the theory of narrative causality, and it means that a story, once started, takes a shape. It picks up all the vibrations of all the other workings of that story that have ever been.

This is why history keeps repeating all the time.

So a thousand heroes have stolen fire from the gods. A thousand wolves have eaten grandmothers. A thousand princesses have been kissed. A million unknowing actors have moved, unknowing, through the pathways of story.

It is now impossible for the third and youngest son of any king, if he should embark on a quest which has so far claimed his older brothers, not to succeed.

Stories don’t care who takes part in them. All that matters is that the story gets told, that the story repeats. Or, if you prefer to think of it like this: stories are a parasitical life form, warping lives in the service only of the story itself.

The Thief of Time.

“And, er, these stories about you…”

“Oh, all true. Most of them. A bit of exaggeration, but mostly true.”

“The one about the Citadel in Muntab and the Pash and the fish bone?”

“Oh, yes.”

“But how did you get in where half a dozen armed and trained men couldn’t even – ?”

“I am a little man and I carry a broom,” said Lu-Tze simply. “Everyone has some mess that needs clearing up. What harm is a man with a broom?”

“What? And that was it?”

“Well, the rest was a matter of cookery, really. The Pash was not a good man, but he was a glutton for his fish pie.”

“No martial arts?” said Lobsang.

“Oh, always a last resort. History needs shepherds, not butchers.”

“Do you know okidoki?”

“Just a lot of bunny-hops.”

Shittake?”

“If I wanted to thrust my hand into hot sand I would go to the seaside.”

Upsidazi?”

“A waste of good bricks.”

No kando?”

“You made that one up.”

A Hat Full of Sky:

“Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!”

11 responses to “You Aten’t Dead

  1. Witches Abroad is one of my favourites too x

  2. Those are the first words of his I have ever read…….wonderful.

  3. He was a wonderful writer, I have read most of his books and I loved them all but I think pyramids, the hogfather and feet of clay were my favourites. I still have a couple of his newer ones to read, I will treasure every word. x

  4. Amen to that and thank you for Terry Pratchett

  5. A friend on Facebook said ‘Waily! Waily!” at the news and that made me think: imagine the Nac Mac Feagle wake… He gave us a great deal. Some of my favorite comfort reading.

  6. May I add my own, from Reaper Man: “No-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”
    And I want to say thank you so much for that twitter exchange when I heard the news. It felt important to reach out to someone who knew… and there you were.

  7. Thank you. x

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