Until a couple of years ago, there was a wonderfully entertaining fantasy writer by the name of Terry Pratchett.
Perhaps there still is, somewhere on an alternate plane of reality, since Sir Terry Pratchett succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease in the Earth year of 2015 at the tender age of 66.
Let me be clear: I am not an aficionado of fantasy, sci-fi, or speculative fiction, let alone cosplay, or video games involving magical powers and universes different from the sorry sphere that lies beyond my front door.
I prefer a good old, weepy piece of fiction about real humans struggling with day-to-day realities such as dashed hopes, betrayal and heartache.
Nevertheless, this eccentric British author never fails to make my imagination twitch, or my funny bone itch.
In his lifetime, Pratchett sold more than 85 million books in 37 different languages. Who knows how many millions more sales have ka-chinged through the cash register of his estate since his demise in March, 2015?
Pratchett’s most notable accomplishment was the invention of Discworld, which he chronicled in 41 separate novels, not to mention various shorter works of fiction and no fewer than five video games his work inspired.
For those unfamiliar with his work, the eccentric scribe envisioned a world that was a gigantic disc, riding on the backs of four elephants, swimming through space supported by a giant turtle named the Great A’Tuin.
Much of the action in his Discworld novels takes place in the twin city of Ankh-Morpork, with its Unseen University and a collection of police officials no more or less competent than the Keystone Kops of Mack Sennett’s silent film classics.
Pratchett’s pun-filled approach to literature is best summed up in his declaration that, “It is easier to bend the universe around the story.”
My reason for mentioning this is that I have recently noticed a huge increase in Faceboook activity by proponents of the Flat Earth theory of the universe.
According to these bold theorists, our planet is not an orb, but a flat disc, not unlike Pratchett’s fanciful invention, although conspicuously lacking in both elephants and turtles.
Forgive my naïvité, but I’ve believed for the past six decades or so that we lived on a beautiful blue marble of oceans and continents, adrift in some kind of vacuum known as space.
Have I been wrong all these years? Has NASA been faking those photos from deep space, the way it faked the moon landing in 1969, and the U.S. government faked the World Trade Center attack in 2001?
Must I re-think the Vatican’s reluctant and long-overdue vindication of Galileo Galilei in 1992?
In short, should I just accept that science is bunkum, and alternative facts are the new reality?