pratchett knew

10 days of Pratchett
Day 3. Witches of Lancre - Esmeralda Weatherwax

Granny Weatherwax disapproved of magic for domestic purposes, but she was annoyed. She also wanted her tea. She threw a couple of logs into the fireplace and glared at them until they burst into flame out of sheer embarrassment.
/Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad/

An Introduction to Mustrum Ridcully

There had been so much in-fighting between the various orders of wizardry in recent years that, just for once, the senior wizards had agreed that what the University needed was a period of stability, so that they could get on with their scheming and intriguing in peace and quiet for a few months. A search of the records turned up Ridcully the Brown who, after becoming a Seventh Level mage at the incredibly young age of twenty-seven, had quit the University in order to look after his family’s estates deep in the country.

He looked ideal.

‘Just the chap,’ they all said. ‘Clean sweep. New broom. A country wizard. Back to the thingumajigs, the roots of wizardry. Jolly old boy with a pipe and twinkly eyes. Sort of chap who can tell one herb from another, roams-the-high-forest-with-every-beast-his-brother kind of thing. Sleeps under the stars, like as not. Knows what the wind is saying, we shouldn’t wonder. Got a name for all the trees, you can bank on it. Speaks to the birds, too.’

A messenger had been sent. Ridcully the Brown had sighed, cursed a bit, found his staff in the kitchen garden where it had been supporting a scarecrow, and had set out.

‘And if he’s any problem,’ the wizards had added, in the privacy of their own heads, ‘anyone who talks to trees should be no trouble to get rid of.’

And then he’d arrived, and it turned out that Ridcully the Brown did speak to the birds. In fact he shouted at birds, and what he normally shouted was ‘Winged you, yer bastard!’

How Terry Pratchett helped me hate a party and keep it real.

Terry Pratchett has just passed away, and it’s terrible. For everyone. He was dying, and that was bad, and he is died, and that is even worse. I don’t like to tell “people I have met at publishing parties” stories (for reasons that will soon become clear), but I am going to tell this one. Because Terry Pratchett is cool. He remains cool in death. He gets that forever.

The year was either 2004 or 2005. I was newly published–just one or two books out–books that had come out to pretty good reviews but really no sales. I was sent to Book Expo America, which is a very large publishing convention that happens in late May or early June each year, usually in New York. That year, it was in New York, and I went. I knew nothing of publishing. I was in it, but I knew *nothing* about any realities of it. I think things were different then, because it feels like all new authors now know a lot about publicity and sales and all sorts of things–or at least, they’ve heard enough thorough the grapevine to maybe have some sense of things.

Me? Not so much. The info wasn’t out there. I’m not sure I would have sought it out if it was, because I like to get a sense of things for myself when I can. My publisher sent me to their party–which was the Big Party of the whole event. Everyone wanted to go to this party, and I got an invitation, and my agent (who is also my best friend) said that was awesome and I would go.

So I went. It was at a restaurant in the West Village. I walked in the door and went to the check in area marked off for authors. There were loads of name tags there, many with famous names on them. My tag was nestled between two particularly famous people. I was given my tag and told to have a nice night. I looked around the restaurant–which was absolutely packed–and realized I knew absolutely no one. No. One. So I made my way in a bit and took a drink from a tray, then I made my way in a little bit more. People started to approach me. They came RIGHT UP TO ME, squatted down a little to read my tag, decided I was not important, and walked away. This happened about five times, at which point I decided this party sucked and I was leaving. I sent my agent a text: PARTY IS HORRIBLE I AM GOING.


She meant well. She was trying to help. No one wanted to talk to me. It became more and more obvious and people jostled past me and flicked glances at my nametag and again and again registered that I was Not Famous.


Now, I’m not anti-social at all. I just don’t do mingling things very well. I’m not a networker. I’m not the kind of person who sizes up the room for potential contacts and works it. I’ll talk to anyone about anything, but I won’t just stay because I am in the presence of Important People. I much prefer sitting at home in pajamas to that.


I was about to leave anyway when someone passed with a tray of mini ice cream cones. I had never seen a mini ice cream cone before. I really like small foods, and this was something that I considered worthwhile. I would get a mini ice cream cone. I would try to get two or three, I decided, and take them to the bathroom and hide in a stall and eat them there and THEN I would go.

So I followed the mini ice cream cones along, through the crowd, and managed to get one. By this point, I was trapped in a corner, so I ate it there. There was only one other person in this corner–a man with a beard in a hat. He looked much like I felt. After eating my ice cream cone and doing all that I possibly could have pretended to be doing on my phone (pre-smart phone, this was not much), I decided to say something to the man.

“This is awful,” I said. “I don’t want to be here.”

“Neither do I,” he said, nodding.

I got the sense that this was the first thing he’d heard all night that he could really get behind. We stood for a while in a pleasant silence, then we talked a bit more about how this was really no good. I explained that I wasn’t famous, and how people looked at my nametag and walked away, and he agreed that that was no good at all. We got along really well, this man and I, and we started to smile. I said that mini ice cream cones were a pretty good thing, and we discussed that and agreed that this was true. The party was bad and forced mingling was bad and being told we had to stay was bad, but mini ice cream cones were something to be appreciated. 

This was going well until someone came over and started doing a heavy schmooze on the man, and in the course of this, I realized the man in the hat was Terry Pratchett. He didn’t wear a tag. He looked uncomfortable with this and gave me a look of apology that said, “It’s come for me. I gotta go.” And I did a “sorry I didn’t know who you were by sight.” Because I knew Terry Pratchett the writer, but didn’t know what he looked like. Good Omens got me through the flu. I read it four times.

Now, perhaps this doesn’t sound like the most impressive encounter, but I’ll tell you what–it set everything right for me. I’ve had to do many, many things like that since. I know more people now. It’s easier. But I appreciated that he didn’t care that I wasn’t famous–that you didn’t have to put on any special airs to be a writer. I could actually be honest about how I felt about things and situations and I could be myself. Be nice, but give no fucks. That is what I got. He made me feel okay, and I always felt okay after that. Somehow? That gave me the confidence to deal with the more public aspects of a job I didn’t particularly understand I had.

As it turns out, publishing is not evil or particularly scary. Most people at these big events feel pressure. I can enjoy these things more now. May I never ignore someone because of their nametag. And sometimes, you have to take the tiny ice cream cone and run, especially if it is a fine summer night.

Thanks, Terry Pratchett for hating that party with me. It meant a lot. 

Terry Pratchett

A lot of people have been messaging me, in various forms or another, because Terry Pratchett has died.
To those who don’t know, Pratchett was probably the biggest inspiration for… any of my things. So much of his writing not only influenced me when I was younger, but a big part of Nanosteam’s world especially comes from his writing (I’ve often said that I want Nanosteam to be considered a sci-fi Discworld). I don’t think half my stuff would be what it was without Discworld.
I got to meet him a few years ago, and it really was an amazing experience. We mostly talked about TES, and modding. I’ll get to that later.
The thing about Pratchett is that he really was a one-of-a-kind person. Many people, authors especially, aren’t often the same personality writing their books. But Pratchett, even just talking, was ever bit as clever, whimsical, and brilliant as his books were.
He was the kind of man to sit down and just talk for an hour with a wide-eyed fan, heck he did just that, and those who know his personal life knew that he was a big proponent of a lot of things, especially the importance of fantasy in people’s lives.
More than that, his books were something else, cynical yet at the same time wide-eyed and optimistic, that managed to have every single fantasy cliche in them yet were wholly amazingly original. They were books that managed to take absolute advantage of the medium they were in, and showed me that world-building wasn’t just about how a setting and characters looked, but how they felt and acted. Pratchett gave us incredible characters with various ways of talking, and made us fall in love with tyrants, thieves, maniacs, and Death itself.
Pratchett to me and my family meant a lot. All of us got more than one weird look an airport, because people couldn’t believe that you could laugh that much at a book. Pratchett helped my brother realize that he could, in fact, talk to women (let’s just say a human Greebo costume goes a long way), and more than that, Pratchett was a man who pushed for and believed that not just books, but videogames could be an incredible medium of storytelling.
See, some people, but not many, know that Pratchett was a pretty big gamer. A few Thief fans might remember that he was active on the TTLG forums (given the styles of the games, you can guess why), you can even find old posts of his asking after good fan campaigns. His daughter is actually a writer in the game industry, and he was a fan of Doom (his quote on it provides the page opener for TVTropes), Half Life, and of course, Oblivion.
Pratchett was a big TES fan. More than that, Pratchett was a huge TES modder! My experience with Pratchett consisted of him talking quite at length of the sheer amount of things he got up to in Oblivion, and he readily praised the ability for users to push the boundaries of the game far beyond what developers intended. He shared quite a few of his adventures, from his regular trips to harvest the Black Bow Bandits for cash, to his experience in the Romancing of Eyja mod, or the time he crashed Cyrodiil’s economy by selling it nothing but boots. Pratchett knew the potential mods and games had to tell stories and build worlds, and he himself got in on the action. He was a writer for the mod Vilja, and a tester and developer for the mod Craftybits, and its leads attest to his skill at utterly breaking their crafting systems, and entire kitchens would explode in Oblivion cheese wheels and potatoes.
Pratchett was an utter delight, an absolute saint in every medium he was in (and there were a lot of them), and today, I’ve lost one of my heroes, and the world has lost one of the kindest, funniest men it could hope to have.
RIP Pratchett, those who called you a wordsmith were spot on.
I’ll leave you with probably the best Discworld mod out there, my personal favorite, the Broken Drum mod by Nimrod Flamehair.

‘What was I singing?’

‘You don’t know that either?’

‘I don’t know what it MEANS, no.’

André looked down at the score in his hand.  'Well, I’m not much good at the language, but I suppose the opening could be sung something like this:

This damn door sticks
This damn door sticks
It sticks no matter what the hell I do
It’s marked “Pull” and indeed I am pulling
Perhaps it should be marked “Push”?’

Agnes blinked.  'That’s IT?’
—  Terry Pratchett, “Maskerade”

Terry Pratchett knew what the fuck was up.

[Image: art depicting Samuel Vimes from the Discworld series, with a quote: “It always embarassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was ‘policeman’. If it came to that, he hated to think of them as civilians.  What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge? But they tended to sue the word tehse days as a way of describing people who were not policemen.  It was a dangerous habit.  Once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers.”  – Terry Pratchett]

What have I always believed?
That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.
—  Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

sufxup-deactivated20170308  asked:

Wait- you actually knew Terry Pratchett growing up??

Oh, no. lol. Although I realize how that reads now that I look at it a second time.

I know people who knew him growing up, and I made a lot of friends in his world when I was doing my dissertation. But I did not know him personally. I was however largely raised by his work.

While my very early childhood was very happy, the latter half was an apocalyptic ruin. In a brief moment of sobriety my father handed me a book he thought I might like. It was Discworld. I attribute a great deal of my moral character and perception of life to that moment. Which probably explains more than it doesn’t.

Thud! was the first Discworld book I ever read, and it was really a good place for me to start the series. Vimes’s cynical, suspicious nature mixed with his deeply held sense of Justice and Duty has made him one of my favorite characters. Plus, Sir Pratchett really knew how to let a character grow and change without losing track of who they really were deep down. Sam Vimes grew as a person throughout the Watch series, but he was still Vimes, all the way down to the bone.