Everyone’s remembering Terry Pratchett, who has left us – not of his own will but under his own terms – too soon, at age 66, one step ahead and one finger raised to the Alzheimer’s trying to destroy him.
My memory of Terry Pratchett is not Discworld-related. I came very late to the Discworld books. No, I first met Sir Terry (not yet Sir Terry) Â when I was a very young assistant editor, and we were handling the paperback edition of GOOD OMENS:Â The Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
Yeah, I met Sir Terry and Neil Gaiman the same day. I played pool with them both at the launch party for GOOD OMENS, and came away with a signed hardcover. And I wasn’t starstruck because I was a professional, and this was cool but not all that amazing.
And then I sat down and read GOOD OMENS.
There are perfect books. There are not many perfect books. This is not one of them. But in the glow of that reading, in the glow of my cackling, wonderingÂ joyÂ of reading it…it is perfect and it will always be perfect.
Individually, both Neil and Sir Terry can impress the hell out of me, and I have a pocket of fondness forever for Samuel Vimes. Â But nobody will ever convince me that there was a more magnificent madcap impossibility Â of a book than GOOD OMENS.
And I leave you with three of the more classic quotes, so you can see what I mean, and maybe run out and grab yourself a copy too, if you don’t already have one.
â€œGod does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and whoÂ smiles all the time.â€
It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.â€Â
â€œ25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying ‘Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?’
26 And the Angel said, ‘I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.’
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.â€Â