“Rightwise King Born of All Britain”

Kage Baker‘s favourite living author was/is Sir Terry Pratchett. (He, thank God, is still in an “is” condition.) When asked, as all authors are, what she herself read for pleasure, she always answered quite seriously that all her faves were dead white guys. (The gaping mouths and wide eyes this statement produced amused her.)

But then her own eyes would light up and she would clarify, “Except for Terry Pratchett! I’ll stop writing to read his latest novel!” I can testify to the accuracy of this, as there was always a ferocious fight over who got to read Sir Terry’s most recent book first. I worked in an office – she worked at home: you can figure this out.

I usually ended up reading a Pratchett novel for the first time in the middle of the night, when diurnal Kage was soundly asleep and I could do my sneaky nocturnal mammal imitation. I would usually get hungry during these all-night marathons, and for some reason consume inordinate amounts of cheese and crackers. This caused tart observations the next day to the effect that the The Cheese Fairy had been by and left spoor between the pages. The Cheese Fairy was not high on Kage’s buddy list, especially as she favoured Brie and the softer English cheeses …

(Note from The Cheese Fairy: Kage herself ate chocolate while she read. Very slowly, with help from the parrot. There are theombromos thumbprints in many of our books. Some of them are human.)

At any rate, the top of many of Kage’s lists was the inestimable Sir Terry Pratchett. She was ecstatic when he was knighted – and high time; he’s stayed home and payed ruinous taxes all these years, like an honest gentleman. No tax exile for him. She was devastated when he revealed his cosmically unfair diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. His brain, of all brains! she wept. For the last year of her own life, she wore to science fiction conventions a shirt that read MATCH IT FOR PRATCHETT, touting the research foundation Sir Terry founded with his own money.

She contributed, too.

I mention this today for a variety of reasons.For one thing, Sir Terry has admitted that – in his enthusiasm at his knighthood – he decided he needed a sword. So, with some professional smithing help, he made one.  Out of meteorite iron. (http://www.news.com.au/technology/terry-pratchett-creates-a-sword-with-meteorites/story-e6frfro0-1225926584339) He has reportedly hidden it in a special place, to defeat Britains’s “knife laws”; I assume that when it is finally found it will play an important part in some succession or other.

For another thing, I’ve just found some triple cream Brie and some very nice Leicester at Trader Joe’s: time for the Cheese Fairy to have a midnight picnic, I think.

And for a third thing, there is a new Pratchett novel due out in a week or so, on September 28th: I Shall Wear Midnight, the 4th Tiffany Aching story. The title has been bruited about for some time; it’s a book Kage had waited impatiently to read the last several years. It’s one of the things she actually said she would regret missing, when we knew she was dying.

I have it on pre-order, have had for months. With good luck it will arrive on the 28th, and by the dawn of the 29th, there will be cheese between the pages. Some tears, too – but mostly cheese.

Tomorrow: how Kage saw the future of Britain