That was the tweet that announced that Sir Terry Pratchett had passed away on March 12th, at his home, from natural causes. Pratchett was a writer since the 1970s, and he was best known for his iconic Discworld series. Hit the jump, and prepare for the feels.
Terry Pratchett was born in England in 1948. I like to imagine his childhood was full of talking skeletons and trolls, but there are sadly no details to confirm this. He published his first novel, The Carpet People, in 1971. But as mentioned above, his most popular works comprise the Discworld series of satirical fantasy novels. Starting with The Colour of Magic and continuing to his most-recent work Raising Steam, exactly 40 novels have been published in the series. This doesn’t include numerous almanacs, maps, quote collections, satirical cookbooks, and children’s storybooks. And according to Wikipedia, there’s still one more Discworld novel set to release in Autumn.
Beyond Discworld, Pratchett has co-written several books. One was Good Omens, co-written with Neil Gaiman. Another is the recent The Long Earth series co-written with Stephen Baxter. If fantasy novels aren’t your cup of tea, at least read The Long Earth. It’s one of the finest sci-fi novels I’ve ever read, mixing good writing, clever ideas, humour, and a surprising amount of non-preachy environmentalism. There are many others, in more genres, so you should go look them up.
Beyond his written works, Pratchett campaigned strongly for two things: orangutans and Alzheimer’s research. Fans of Discworld will remember The Librarian, a wizard-turned-orangutan who only communicated in “ooks” and “eeks”. Possibly because of this, many Pratchett fans charitably supported The Orangutan Foundation, of which Pratchett was a member.
On a more serious note, Pratchett was an outspoken sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease. He was first diagnosed with it after suffering what was believed to be a stroke several years before. He appeared in two documentaries: Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s and Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die. In his later years, he had to dictate his stories to assistants, but the man didn’t stop writing. Between his documentaries and his outspokenness, Pratchett has undeniably raised much more awareness for the disease.
Terry Pratchett is survived by his wife Lyn, and daughter Rhianna. Beyond his books and various works, he’ll be remembered in other ways. There’s a sea turtle fossil and an asteroid named after him, and there’s an award named after him for first-time novelists. He’s been knighted, heaped with awards, honourary degrees, and several live-action movies have been adapted from his novels.
Well damn it, I’m done being professional. The body of this article was all serious and journalism-y, but this is the conclusion and I can be personal and emotional. I’m bloody sad about this, more so than with any other celebrity death. He has been one of my favourite writers for a long time, and I’ve collected almost all of his books. No matter what I’m currently reading, I will drop it immediately if I find a Pratchett novel I haven’t read.
For nearly half my life I’ve wanted to write novels, and I’ve spent nearly all that time dreaming of meeting Pratchett. His novels have changed my life, his sense of humour has shaped mine, and I always wanted to shake his hand and tell him what a huge influence he’s been.
Rest in peace Terry Pratchett. Noli Timere Messorem.