Fantasy author Terry Pratchett has died aged 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Sir Terry wrote more than 70 books over his lengthy career and was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007, but continued writing, completing his final book last summer. The author of the acclaimed and bestselling Discworld series he was long regarded as a significant satirist. He won numerous literary awards, was appointed OBE in 1998 and received eight honorary doctorates. In December 2007, Terry released a statement that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, he became patron of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust but despite his tireless charity work he was first and foremost a writer and one that refused to be defined by his disability.
His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he wrote two books a year on average. His 2011 Discworld novel Snuff was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the UK, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days. He was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages.
Although during his early career he wrote for the sci-fi and horror genres, later in his life, Pratchett focused almost entirely on fantasy, explaining, “It is easier to bend the universe around the story. In the acceptance speech for his Carnegie Medal he said, “Fantasy isn’t just about wizards and silly wands. It’s about seeing the world from new directions”, pointing to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In the same speech, he also acknowledged benefits of these works for the genre. He believed he owed “a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of” and disliked the term “magical realism” which is “like a polite way of saying you write fantasy and is more acceptable to certain people … who, on the whole, do not care that much.” He expressed annoyance that fantasy is “unregarded as a literary form” because it “is the oldest form of fiction” and he described himself as “infuriated” when novels containing science fiction or fantasy ideas were not regarded as part of those genres. Pratchett argued that fantasy is fundamental to the way we understand the world and is therefore an integral aspect of all fiction.
There have been numerous adaptations of his work but Pratchett held back from Discworld feature films , though the rights to a number of his books have been sold. In 2006 it was reported that The Wee Free Men was set to be directed by Sam Raimi, but in 2009 Pratchett said that he had “got [it] back” after reading the proposed screenplay. In 2001, DreamWorks also commissioned an adaptation of Truckers by Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman but Pratchett believed that it would not be made until after “Shrek 17”. Four graphic novels of Pratchett’s work have been released and are well worth checking out. The first two, originally published in the US, were adaptations of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic and illustrated by Steven Ross (with Joe Bennett on the latter). The second two, published in the UK, were adaptations of Mort (subtitled A Discworld Big Comic) and Guards! Guards!, both illustrated by Graham Higgins and adapted by Stephen Briggs. The graphic novels of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were republished by Doubleday on 2 June 2008.
The slight figure with the white beard and trademark black hat leaves behind an unrivalled legacy of wit and imagination in the Fantasy genre that enriched the culture of the entire planet. Cult Faction would like to pass our condolences to his loved ones.
RIP Terry Pratchett.
“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures