No single author has given me more sheer reading pleasure over the past 20 years than Terry Pratchett. Which is why the announcement of his illness made me — like millions of other fans — very, very sad. It’s also why I’m grateful for the chance to do something about it, to make a gesture to say, “Thank you”. Please take a look at Match it for Pratchett and consider making a donation.
My introduction to the Discworld came in 1988, in the form of a Signet paperback of The Light Fantastic. I saw the wild Josh Kirby cover art on the front, the blurb on the back (“Funnier than the Bible!” — The Editor), and I knew I just had to read this strange little book. Man was that ever a good call. I brought that book to school, read it under my desk in one class after another, gave myself away more than once by blurting out with laughter, and went home at the end of the day eager to get my hands on anything else this Pratchett guy had written. And since then, for the past 20 years, I’ve snatched up each new volume in the Discworld series as it has become available here in the US.
Every single Discworld book — every single one — has made me laugh out loud. No matter where I’ve been. At home. At the park. In class. On the bus. In a hospital waiting room. Now, I like to think I have a pretty healthy sense of humor; I find a lot of things funny. But laugh out loud funny? In a book? That’s seriously hard to do. And every single Discworld book has at least one passage that I find myself itching to jot down, memorize, and quote to people. Over the years, I’ve taken it for granted, as a kind of guarantee from Terry Pratchett, that when I read a new Discworld book there will be at least one gag to make me giggle, and at least one quip I’ll by dying to quote.
But it’s not just the humor and wit that makes these books special to me. As the series has grown, so have the books’ depth. For my money, some of the best plotting you can find is in the later Discworld books. Terry Pratchett’s plotting ability is deeply underrated. So is his incisive, slightly subversive understanding of human nature. Dere’s wisdom in dese here books, as one of his characters might say. (Is there any reason to wonder why he’s the most shoplifted author in the UK?)
For the past 10 years or so I’ve continually kept an unread Discworld book on top of my reading pile. And when a new volume comes along, it goes on the pile and I let myself tear into the last one. For over a decade, Terry Pratchett has made sure that I’ve always had something to look forward to.
In December, Terry Pratchett announced that he’d been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
Well, pardon me, but… God Fucking Damnit.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment.
But, given the heart and warmth and humor evident in his novels, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Pratchett has taken the news with admirable aplomb. On March 13th he pledged half a million pounds to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust of the UK. And then the brilliant Pat Cadigan realized that if half a million Pratchett fans donated an additional one pound apiece, they could bring the total to a cool one million pounds. (Which is, what, like $80 million right now?)
Pat’s original idea is posted here; read the subsequent blog entries to see how rapidly her wonderful idea took off. Within two days there were buttons, t-shirts, and a dedicated website. There’s also some great stuff up on Ebay, the proceeds of which will go to the Match it for Pratchett campaign.
If you’d like to donate directly to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, a note that your donation is in honor of Terry Pratchett will mark it as part of the Match It campaign. Or, you can use the tip jar at Match it for Pratchett. Easy, huh?
And you won’t have to eat the arse out of a dead mole. Honest.