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I don’t reject Fandoms.
There is an old familiarity and understanding of being a pariah because of a fandom. That bitter feeling of rejection because you liking Star Trek while no one cared about or that the love of Anime when most people only knew is Hentai or complaining about the national expansion of Loveline and the lose of the community feeling.
For much of my life I always felt one step away from a pariah and while many were my friends I was often accepted in the bigger world but I had to be careful.
Or so it felt and attending an all male high school made this all the more obvious.
Still in 1996 or ’97 I was at a Blockbuster video and Carmen, my sister, saw Discworld, felt it looked funny, and told me to rent it. Still learning what this new generation of video game meant I was debating between some shooter, some flying game, or this puzzle game. What made me rent it is beyond me but I did. Perhaps it was the warning that there was sexual innuendo, or Eric Idle, or knowing deep down that Carmen is so much cooler than me I rented it.

Frustration and hilarity filled that rental period.
I don’t believe I had a memory card then or if I did I couldn’t a save file because Discworld required too much space. So I played the first hour or so again and again. Didn’t help that point and click adventure games are not my strong suit. Often I can’t get into the logic of the game and have problems and I hardly would think to look to the Internet. If we even had the internet then.Yet this game intrigued me. I wanted to beat it and liked Dune 2 before it I felt the answer may lay in the source material.

I found “Small Gods” at Borders. The lone Discworld novel in their fantasy section. Not being aware how extensive the series I bought it.  The style of Discworld written without chapters and seeming like Sir Terry Pratchett was telling me the story spoke to my teenage self. Here was something that it seemed like no one else knew about. Later I would find a few other books. Men at Arms at Barnes and Noble,  a forgotten copy of Faust Eric at Waldenbooks, or the UK release of Moving Pictures at Crown Plus when they went out of business. My collection slowly grew but I felt all alone.

None of my friends had heard of this series. No adult seemed aware.  Had I been more into DIY or idealistic I would have made a zine about it.
But I didn’t.
The few people I would talk to about fantasy seemed clueless and I felt alone.
Constantly on the look out in second hand stores for old releases of the early stores. Hunting library sales on the look out for them and hoping there would be a new release.
The Long Beach Public Library filled in the gaps but only as a loan during the summer of ’98. Learning how to use the inter library loan I read my way through the series and found his other books. The Johnny Series, Strata (still a favorite even if I’m not totally sure why),  and the Nome books. That summer despite having to attend summer school and feeling a bit without purpose I dove into the Disc.

Around then my family went from pay by the hour internet to unlimited and I found some community. I joined the Discworld MUD at that point but I tended to play games solo so I was never a big member of that community. Still I learned of upcoming books, or events, and found people that were bigger fans then I could ever be and I checked in now and again as time allowed until college.

When I moved to Las Cruces it was the first time I had to decide what mattered to me.
I packed some clothes but many books.
I read, reread, and escaped into those books again during my first semester. I also played the MUD a lot. Not like some friends that would risk expulsion because of Ashron’s call, Everquest, or WoW but I spent a lot of time logged in. Which may have also been why I was so lonely that first few months.
Sometime in my second semester I drifted away from the MUD. I still read the books but was not as involved in any online community. By sophomore year I had some friends that I would argue fantasy novels with. Most had not read Discworld or dismissed them for other works fantasy but if I made a comment about 1 in a million during an RPG session I would receive caution about setting up a Discworld situation.

And after college I continued to read the books. Bought them on occasion and maintained my collection of the series. I had found other novels as the years past but even today I remember the day I found many of the books in hardcover at Value Village. The shock and wonder at this discovery. Part of me still looking for these novels when faced with a pile of books and on that day it paid off in a way that my 16 year old self would have loved.

But I don’t consider myself part of the fandom.
Nor any fandom for that matter. Yes I am a fan and yes I am saddened by the death of Sir Terry Pratchett but I while I am sad I don’t feel so alone. The days when I would talk about Soul Music and receive looks of confusion are gone. The difficulty in tracking down the latest release are over. Nor do I have to hunt through dusty shelves of a second hand store hoping to find a copy of Witches Abroad. (Which eluded me until I found one at a garage sale by pure luck) Sure I meet people that don’t know the series but it is not exclusive like when I found it.
Not tucked away in a fantasy section but out in the open.  Yes I am sad because of the lose of this writer but I learned things from his novels.
Learned that the Darkness should be feared but be controlled. That containers change what is contained in them or that racism effects people in many unforeseen ways. And that luck can beat fate but you shouldn’t expect luck to save you. These novels challenged me to think and consider other views. It showed me the new ideas through humor and for that I will be forever grateful.

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