Bewildering Stories remembers...
Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett
by Don Webb
In the past week, fantasy, science fiction and, indeed, world literature mourned the passing of two famous personalities: Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett. And for good reason.
Leonard Nimoy defined the character of all Vulcans in the original Star Trek series, arguably one of the best-produced television programs of the mid-20th century. In his role as the “reasoner” in these modern morality plays, he depicted “Mr. Spock” not as an “emotionless” character but as one who was all emotion, which he kept determinedly under control. Creating and maintaining such a tension is no mean feat in terms of both script-writing and performance; indeed, it made theatrical history.
In that way, Leonard Nimoy’s “Mr. Spock” provided a kind of role model to young viewers of Star Trek: “acting out” emotions can be foolish, while self-restraint is a sign of strength. In that way, especially, the role of Mr. Spock was reprised and even expanded by Tim Russ, in the series Star Trek: Voyager. Tim Russ’s admirable performances as “Tuvok” did full credit to the model created by Leonard Nimoy.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the “planet,” Terry Pratchett was busy creating a whole library of fantasy for young adult and adult readers alike, especially with his Discworld novels. They justly brought him fame in his own time. His reader interest surpasses, in my opinion, that of his predecessor, J. R. R. Tolkien and of his successor, J. K. Rowling.
Every reader of Terry Pratchett’s novels can cite favorites. Mine include Small Gods and Feet of Clay, among others. His writing is full of thought-provoking one-liners. Some occur in our mottoes:
“Wisdom is one of the things that look bigger the farther away they are.” — in Witches Abroad
"War is a wicked waste of customers.” — in Making Money
And we could choose more, far into the night. Readers, feel free to send us your own favorites!
Terry Pratchett’s collaborator, Neil Gaiman, remembers him not as a jolly old elf but as an angry man who controlled his emotions so successfully that he achieved the ironic detachment needed to turn them into lasting humor.
“Fascinating,” as Mr. Spock would say. And, one might add, “Quite civilized.” With such models, we can indeed “live long, and prosper.”
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Copyright © 2015 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories