If goblins and orcs and trolls could think, then why were they always just there to be slaughtered by the heroes? And if the heroes slaughtered sentient beings en masse, how heroic exactly were they? It was a long overdue start on redressing issues long swept under the rug by a parade of Tolkien successors who never thought of anyone green and slimy as anything but a notch on the protagonist’s sword, and much of the urgency in Pratchett’s last few books seemed to be related to them. “There’s only one true evil in the world,” he said through his characters. “And that’s treating people like they were things.”

And in the last of his “grown-up” Discworld books, that idea is shouted with the ferocity of those who have only a few words left and want to make them count. Goblins are people. Golems are people. Dwarves are people, and they do not become any less people because they decide to go by the gender they know themselves to be instead of the one society forces on them. Even trains might be people, and you’ll never know one way or the other unless you ask them, because treating someone like they’re a person and not a thing should be your default. And the only people who cling to tradition at the expense of real people are sad, angry dwellers in the darkness who don’t even understand how pathetic they are, clutching and grasping at the things they remember without ever understanding that the world was never that simple to begin with. The future is bright, it is shining, and it belongs to everyone.

John Seavey on the flattened world.