Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Bestselling fantasy author Terry Pratchett, 66, died March 12, 2015 in his home. Pratchett is best known for his 40-volume Discworld series, which started with The Colour of Magic in 1983. He has sold over 85 million books in 37 languages. According to Larry Finlay, managing director at Transworld Publishers, “Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12th March 2015.”

Terence David John Pratchett was born April 28, 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, UK. His first story, ‘‘The Hades Business’’, appeared in his high school magazine when he was 13, and was reprinted in Science-Fantasy two years later (1963). He left school to become a journalist, worked for various newspapers for several years, followed by eight years as a press officer in the nuclear power industry (1980-87), while writing and publishing novels in his spare time. He became a full-time writer in 1987.

Pratchett’s first novel was YA humorous fantasy The Carpet People (1971; revised edition 2013), followed by satirical SF novels The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) and Strata (1981), before launching into his humorous Discworld series with The Colour of Magic (1983). Originally intended as an ‘‘antidote’’ to the bad fantasy so widespread in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Discworld has run for 40 volumes, including several for young adults, notably the Tiffany Aching sub-series that began with The Wee Free Men (2003). Pyramids (1989) won a British Science Fiction Association Award, Night Watch (2002) won the Prometheus Award, A Hat Full of Sky (2004) won the Mythopoeic Award, Making Money (2007) won a Locus Award and was a Nebula Award finalist, and I Shall Wear Midnight (2010) won an Andre Norton Award. The 40th and his final work in the Discworld series is Raising Steam (2013).

Discworld is a huge phenomenon, with its own dedicated conventions, and spin-offs that include games, guides, diaries, cookbooks, quiz books, cartoons, and TV movies. The books make prominent bestseller lists in the UK and the US, and have won major literary awards: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001) received the 2002 Carnegie Medal and was shortlisted for the 2002 Guardian Children’s Book Prize.

His other non-Discworld books include satirical fantasy Good Omens (1990, with Neil Gaiman); two humorous young-adult SF/F trilogies: Bromeliad or Book of the Nomes (1989-90) and the Johnny Maxwell series (1992-96); and standalone YA novels Nation (2007) and Dodger (2012), the latter set in a fantastic version of Victorian London.

Pratchett was made an officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 in honor of his services to literature, and has received seven honorary doctorates from British Universities and is Professor Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife Lyn (married 1968). They have one daughter, Rhianna, a journalist and video game and comics writer, who is working on developing some of her father’s works for television.

In 2007 Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, specifically Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA). He soon after became a worldwide advocate for the right of critically ill patients to choose assisted suicide.

As Larry Finlay said: “[H]e battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write…. In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.”