I have an abominable memory – almost nothing has survived from before the time I was ten or so. But Terry Pratchett is there, in his black broad-brimmed hat and his carnivorous plants in the greenhouse. He’s absolutely present throughout my adolescence and my early twenties, when I devoured his Discworld books over and over again. He’s there in the first time I read Small Gods, and didn’t get it at all, although it didn’t matter because it was such a good story; and he’s there in the third time I read it, and got it completely. I haven’t read one of his books for several years, now, but they’re still there – on my shelf for when I need them. He taught me irreverence, fantasy, imagination, justice. He created a world I could lose myself in for hours at a time. He was ferocious, and he was a wonder.
When I was about fourteen, I went on a month-long exchange trip to France. I’d put about dozen books to one side to take with me, but forgot to pack them. The only book I had was Pratchett’s Soul Music, which I read cover to cover at least a dozen times over the next weeks, starting it again as soon as I’d finished it. It was already a dogeared brick before the roof leaked in a thunderstorm and glued it into pulp – but I still couldn’t throw it out. I don’t know where it is, now. It’s the only Pratchett I don’t have – except for Sir Terry himself, who has died after a long and vocal battle with Alzheimer’s. I’m sad, and I will miss him, but I also see him peeking out from Death’s cloak, wry grin on his face, pen in one hand and paper in the other. Terry Pratchett lives on in the Discworld – in the Luggage and the Librarian – in Ridcully and Rincewind, in Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, in Vetinari and Vimes – in Death – and in us.