Many of you reading this knew him better, and for longer, than I did. Some of you owe a lot more than I do to his writing. I'm merely one fan among many. These are my thoughts.
He was the first writer who ever impressed me in person. He wasn't the first famous writer to come and talk at CUSFS while I was at Cambridge; but he was the first to have us rolling in the aisles as he read from his not-yet-published book, Pyramids. The last time I saw him was at the last DWcon that he was really fit for, in 2010, when he thoroughly charmed my mother-in-law at a kaffeeklatsch. Other than that, we had exchanged a few words at the 2005 Worldcon. So I can't claim to have known him.
But his words were with me often at bad times, cheering me up. I remember a tense fact-finding mission to Macedonia in the middle of the 2001 conflict, when I shared The Fifth Elephant round the various Balkan experts on our mission. I remember simply being cheered by his humour, and moved by his sæva indignatio, at times when I needed it. Sure, there were some misses along with the hits. But the hits will stay with us for a long time to come, and I am grateful for them. Just one favourite quote, among many, this one from A Hat Full of Sky:
"AAaargwannawannaaaagongongonaargggaaaaBIt's that "as with life itself" that really nails it.
LOON!" which is the traditional sound of a very small child learning that with balloons, as with life itself, it is important to know when not to let go of the string. The whole point of balloons is to teach small children this.
As he said about Doctor Who, "The hero can fail, or die, and we don't all have a magical hand‑wavey way to regenerate ourselves. It's an important lesson." He won't regenerate, but he lives on.