The world became a darker place on Thursday. I was having lunch with my family when a trusted friend came to me in person to share the bad news. Sir Terry Pratchett, creator of the Discworld, embodiment of imagination and snark, had been taken across the dark sands by Death himself.
I owe my attachment to Pratchett to a former bookstore coworker. Having experienced my peculiar sense of humor and learning that I was a die-hard Tolkein nerd, she slipped me a few Discworld novels and encouraged me to give them a try. Soon, I was caught up in adventures with Rincewind, learning how not to do magic with the witches of Lancre, learning about justice and political intrigues with the Watch in Ankh-Morpork, and feeling the words from Death himself imprint themselves permanently inside my brain.
And with Pratchett’s trip to Death’s domain, I have realized something. All but one of my favorite authors are dead.
I fell in love with reading when I was introduced to the Boxcar Children at age seven. I would smuggle a flashlight into my bed and stay up far past bedtime reading in defiance of my parents’ admonitions and my need for sleep.
I became a nerd after picking up my father’s copy of The Hobbit, which acted as a gateway drug to The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion.
In college, I was introduced to Kurt Vonnegut with Slaughterhouse-Five and quickly exhausted the college library’s supply of his works.
Then, after reading Mere Christianity, I decided that I should probably read the Chronicles of Narnia.
Though I no longer count Gertrude Chandler Warner (creator of the Boxcar Children series) among my favorite authors (I remember loving the series when I was young, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it now (and in all honesty, I had to look up the Boxcar Children on Wikipedia in order to find the author’s name)), she still fits the description that all of my favorite authors are now incapable of producing new content (since they are all dead).
Except, there is one more author. A living one. One that can keep publishing new works for undetermined years to come. And that is Jasper Fforde. Like Pratchett, Fforde is intelligent, creative, and British. He has created worlds not on the back of giant turtles floating through space, but in alternate timelines of our own world. He pushes the boundaries of genre classification by involving classic literature, nursery rhymes, detective tropes, time travel, meta-narrative, humor, and alternate dimensions.
Quite honestly, he’s a genius. And I’m worried because he’s the last favorite author I have yet among the living. So Jasper, if you are reading this, please don’t take unnecessary risks, and please keep your publisher supplied with a steady stream of books for as long as you possibly can.
I’ll keep trying new authors if I must, not in the hopes of replacing anyone on my list (because once an author is a favorite author, you can’t just say you don’t like them anymore), but in hopes of taking some of the pressure off Jasper Fforde.
Anyone have any recommendations?