Terry Pratchett has died... media are stating it quite carefully; it seems possible, given that he valued the right to die, that it could have been a voluntary act in the face of early-onset Alzheimer's, rather than any kind of medical inevitability.
Which is absolutely his decision – I don't, myself, feel there is any reason to (or that we have any right to) either condemn such a choice or use it as an example of what one must do. Very possibly, in the next few days, some media storm will occur, of course, and people will polarise their opinions...
Which would be an example of the kind of thing he despised, and made fun of.
Ah well, that will also blow over, eventually.
The first great experience of his books that I really noticed was Lord and Ladies – a surprisingly dark book, where he uses all the ancient images of Celtic folklore to see elves as heartless, malevolent creatures: glamorous, yes, but utterly willing to torture and destroy lesser creatures – which, from their point of view, meant everything else. A book with a wonderful ending, where the young witch who has always been flaky and helpless has to become hard as iron in order to defeat them.
Witches Abroad, which I've read several times, is both one of the funniest of the entire list of Discworld books, and has one of the deepest endings – the powerful witch who must defeat her sister, who turns out to be a manipulative narcissist – and they discover in each other similarities that are intensely difficult to get through... really a masterpiece of psychological insight.
Reaper Man – the book where Death really comes into his own, becomes a three-dimensional character, and must deal with his own difficult life (?) transitions. Another favourite.
Hogfather, where we see that the equivalent of Father Christmas must reconnect to his archaic roots to literally reconstitute existence – an amazing trip into the archetypal, with Susan as its briskly matter-of-fact, and at times somewhat irritable, chaperone.
And the University, and the Watch... points where the Captain of the Watch must deal with being a decent husband, and therefore dress differently and behave like a gentleman... where Ponder Stebbins helps save the universe by pushing the possessed psychotic off the University tower... the hilarious chilliness of Lord Vetinari... the unexpected working-through of theological problems in Small Gods...
and all the many, many places where joke after joke after joke rolls along, and one chuckles on trains, while points are made.
I haven't kept up with Pratchett's last three or four books, nor his final ventures into other kinds of fiction – the Nation books, etc. – but they're on the shelves. There will be time to get to them, for me at least...
Such energy, such ability, such a passion. And the subtle but brilliant development of the moral underlay in his books, after he realised they were very popular, and he could meaningfully contribute to the world and its better understanding of itself: which he unquestionably did, if by rather peculiar means.
It was good to see those last tweets – it really is a pleasure to think of him greeted by his own Death, the one who combines ruthless eternity with a thoughtful openness to self-discovery, and a love of cats....
Above all: a very good man.