• Fandom

    It’s only forever…

    …not long at all…

    I wouldn’t think that David Bowie’s death would hit me so hard. It’s just so damned unexpected. Elizabeth Bear said once that David Bowie would still be cool at the heat death of the universe. I think I vaguely expected him to still be *there*, at the heat death of the universe.

    I mean, I don’t know, right? The 80s. Jareth. Let’s Dance. Under Pressure. The truth is that my Bowie oeuvre is almost strictly 80s. I only heard his Christmas carol with Bing Crosby when I moved over to Ireland, but holy gods it’s beautiful. (Mom, listening to it for the first time, said in astonishment, “I didn’t know he actually *sang* that *well*.”)

    Periodically for some reason or other I’m introduced to something of his via a cover and I reel and go “I didn’t know that was his song,” and other times it’s just *him* and I’m like “oh I didn’t know I knew that, of course I know that song,” because it’s Bowie. If it turns out to be something actually new to me I almost always just end up sitting there listening and thinking, y’know, this is really good.

    I remember being a teenager and saying something about David BOW-ie and my mom being surprised I even knew who he was, nevermind that I thought he was cool, and wondering why I was saying it BOW-ie when she’d learned it BUO-ie, but I’d never heard anybody say it any other way. After a while she reckoned that if a vowel shift was the price for 20 years of fame, that was probably worth it.

    Now, of course, it’s pretty well thirty years after *that*, and today the whole world is reeling over the death of a man whose career lasted the better part of fifty years and whose legacy seems likely to last much, much longer than that.

    I don’t know if you’ve watched the video for “Lazarus,” which came out on Friday. On his 69th birthday. It’s…I mean, he obviously knew exactly what he was doing, and when, and it’s a masterpiece. His final album and his death are as well choreographed a piece of art as is humanly possible, and I’m in awe. Showmanship right to the very god damn end.

    I don’t actually believe in an afterlife, but I keep imagining Freddie and David just hugging the holy living shit out of each other right now.

  • CEMurphy

    Small Gods

    I was not a fan of Terry Pratchett.

    I read several of his very early Discworld books when I was still in high school, probably around 1988. The fact that I read *several* is more an indication of how much I read than how much I liked them, but I actually stopped reading them before I ran out of them to read, which *was* an indication of my dislike. It wasn’t Pratchett in particular; I eventually realised I didn’t care for most satire in prose form.

    In 1996 I was flying all around the country meeting Internet friends, and somewhere around the DC airport I ran out of books. In desperation, I bought SMALL GODS, not because I thought I would like it, but because I figured I knew what I was getting, which is worth a certain something when you’re stuck on an airplane for several hours.

    To my complete surprise, I loved it. LOVED. IT. It was–it was written by the same person, clearly, but it was on a whole different level from the early books I’d read. It was funny. It was poignant. It was clever. It was intelligent. It had a turtle, and I love turtles. In fact, possibly I love turtles so much because of SMALL GODS. I bought a turtle necklace that weekend because I loved the book so much. I still have that necklace.

    I read about six more Pratchett books that week, and thought they were all good. It’s not that I started to like prose satire, because I still mostly don’t; it’s that Pratchett got better. A lot better. Which should, I think, be a heartening thing for any writer to encounter: another, wildly popular, writer who visibly improved in his craftsmanship as his career progressed.

    I’ve read him on and off since then, not with anything even vaguely resembling consistency, which means there’s still a lot of Pratchett for me to read. Airport books: I’ll read them when I need to know what I’m getting, and I’ll know it’s going to be something good.

    I am so, so heartbroken for all my friends who were friends of his, and for the innumerable people whose lives he touched more profoundly than mine. I would have liked to have met him; in the end, I’m a fan after all.

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