Terry Pratchett died yesterday. It wasn't unexpected, but still.
Pratchett wrote my favourite book of all time, the one which everyone must read. No exceptions. And you should read it for the point made near the end:1
“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
I remember reading that conversation 4 years ago. I stopped reading for 10 minutes. I was stunned. Everything leading up to that moment had been fantastical comedy, which had wonderful logic that made no sense while making perfect sense. But that conversation is deep and shook me to the core.
I have so little words to convey how good Pratchett is, so instead I'll just cherry pick the best parts.
- Thief Of Time. There are 3 plots going on at once. There's a lot of foreshadowing that they'll meet but it's so beautifully subtle that you won't see it coming.
- Soul Music. There's a band made who call themselves "We're certainly Dwarves"2
- The Wee Free Men. Tiffany is helped by a frog (toad actually), who is a bit ill and is off colour.3
The world is a much poorer place now.