Friday, December 14, 2007

Terry Pratchett Has Altzheimers

This is extraordinarily sad news: Terry Pratchett has announced that he has a form of early onset Altzheimers.

Many Pagans (as well as sci fi and fantasy fans everywhere) are, like me, in love with his longrunning Discworld novels--36 and counting at the moment. Lots of Pagan women have taken as role models characters like Morgaine or Vivianne from Marion Zimmer-Bradley's classic Mists of Avalon book. Personally, I find them both a bit gooey and treacly. And so, like many another Pagan woman with a strong sense of humor, I've always wanted to grow up to be Granny Weatherwax. On the Discworld, as here, you see,
Unlike wizards, who like nothing better than a complicated hierarchy, witches don't go in much for the structured approach to career progression... Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least with other witches, and they certainly don't have leaders.

Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn't have.

Sadly, experience and observation suggests I'm not doing much to become the astonishing Granny Weatherwax--those in the know suggest I'm more on the way to becoming a version of Nanny Ogg, the perpetually cheerful, plump and earthy witch who loves to have a little too much Hogswatch cheer, jump up onto a table, and begin singing all the verses to "A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End" or that other Ogg classic, "The Hedgehog Cannot Be Buggered at All."

Terry Pratchett, for those of you who don't yet know, is one of the funniest writers of the the century. And for Pagans, he's our funniest critic, a man who clearly knows us thoroughly enough to make the best jokes. It's not just Pagans who come in for satire, though: Shakespeare, rock musicians, Machiavelli, The Phantom of the Opera, and even Death are funny when he does them.

If you've never read his novels, do start now, while he's still producing more to delight us. Try some of his Death novels--Reaper Man, perhaps. (Death is actually one of my best-loved characters, and if the Grim Reaper shows up for me with those baby blue eyes of Pratchett's Death, I'll go with him only after I give him a bear hug to show it.) Or you might try the seasonally appropriate Hogfather--Samhain and Yule/Christmas have their Discworld equivalent, it turns out, a very funny jumble of wierdly twisted familiar lore. If you're a Pagan and you've never read his novels, start with Wyrd Sisters or Witches Abroad, or perhaps the more recent The Wee Free Men or A Hat Full of Sky.

The point is, read Pratchett. Celebrate Pratchett. Appreciate Pratchett. And light a candle, hold him in the Light, say a prayer, chant a spell, or do whatever the voo doo is that you do particularly well, that he remain with us in mind as well as body as long as possible, because this guy is an international treasure.

As Granny Weatherwax used to say, via a badly lettered cardboard sign propped on her chest when she would go out astral traveling, "I aten’t dead."

And, as he pointed out in his announcement, neither is he. For which I am grateful. May he receive every bit of the medical expertise, adulation, love, and attention which he deserves. Or even (if that's possible) a tiny bit more.


Erik said...

I re-read Hogfather every Christmas... and I've just started introducing my daughter to the Master as well (starting with The Amazing Maurice... and planning to follow with the Tiffany books. Still debating whether she's ready for the BBC version of Hogfather.)

Happy Hogswatch!

frank said...

This is very sad news indeed. I have always loved the Discworld and the way Pratchett could weave his satire and still provide a wonderful story.

For those interested there is also a movie version of the Hogfather.

And Death, with his bright blue eyes, is there right in the middle of it. :)

Erik said...

Yes, and now it's available *legally* on DVD in the US (but only at Borders, I believe).

Ed said...

Mr. Pratchett has brought great joy to my life through his books and I wish him all the best. I feel it is important to point out that, while his books are funny, they are also very serious at the same time. His characters are very deep and, particularly in his later work, he deals with some very meaty issues. It would be a great tragedy for the world to be prematurely robbed of his presence.

- sm said...

Perhaps he's putting a brave face on it, but as Pratchett himself has said, he's not dead yet. :) It sounds like he expects to get some good work done yet.

Nonetheless, this is definitely a sea change for both Pratchett and all his loyal fans, and as such, it's a huge loss, even with lots of good work still in store... Cat, I can tell this hits you hard. My sympathy.

cubbie said...

hi, it's cubbie. i've just changed over from to, and i'm letting people know.

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