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Thursday, March 12, 2015

RIP Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is dead at 66:
British fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett has died aged 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, his publisher said today.He sold more than 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages, but also waged a very public struggle with Alzheimer's disease in recent years - and was a vocal campaigner of the right to die.

The author is best known for his satirical fantasy novels set in Discworld, a flat planet resting on the back of four elephants, themselves perched on the back of a vast turtle moving through space.
After avoiding them for years, I eventually came to enjoy many of Mr. Pratchett's books and consider him to have been rather underrated as a writer. I hope, for the sake of his literary legacy, that his death will be sufficient to prevent him from writing any more books.

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55 Comments:

Blogger Pinakeli March 12, 2015 12:08 PM  

And there are two computer games (possibly three) from his Diskworld series.

Anonymous Helmet March 12, 2015 12:09 PM  

PRATCHETT.

Anonymous Nathan March 12, 2015 12:14 PM  

Apparently, there's one more in the publishing pipeline. And Death (the character) ushered him off of Twitter.

Wow, it's been a real rough month and a half for SFF...

Anonymous Death March 12, 2015 12:20 PM  

I ALWAYS FELT PRATCHETT DIDN'T QUITE CAPTURE MY VOICE.

Anonymous Horace March 12, 2015 12:27 PM  

Omne capax movet urna nomen.

Anonymous Bernard Brandt March 12, 2015 12:32 PM  

I hope, for the sake of his literary legacy, that his death will be sufficient to prevent him from writing any more books.

Alas, that was not the case for H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, or Roger Zelazny.

Anonymous Vorkuta March 12, 2015 12:41 PM  

Very sad news. He was up there with Wodehouse as a humour writer.

As for more Discworld, I believe he said his daughter would be taking over as 'custodian' of Discworld. I hope she does a better job of that than say, Brian Herbert did.

Blogger Markku March 12, 2015 12:47 PM  

Pinkworld - now with 50% more social justice!

Anonymous Scalzi March 12, 2015 12:52 PM  

My new novel Saucerworld will be out soon.

It's really cool because the narrator's gender remains ambiguous throughout!

Blogger Markku March 12, 2015 12:53 PM  

Not completely ambigous. We know it's cishet, because otherwise the narrator wouldn't shut up about it.

Blogger jaericho March 12, 2015 12:55 PM  

My dad is 66. I do not like this at all. It seems too young for me.

Blogger sysadmn March 12, 2015 1:08 PM  

Alas, that was not the case for H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, or Roger Zelazny.

Or L. Ron. As the quip goes, maybe there's something to a religion that allows you to keep writing "bestsellers" after you're dead.

Anonymous Eric Ashley March 12, 2015 1:08 PM  

I particularly admire are Mark Twain and Jerome K. Jerome who wrote in a certain tone of voice which was humane and understanding of humanity, but always ready to annotate its little foibles. I think I'd lay my cards down on that, and say that it's that that I'm trying to do.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/terry_pratchett_2.html#8IHW0Lyr2EIYD6Ts.99

And...

“A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.” From Goodreads.

Anonymous A. Nonymous March 12, 2015 1:15 PM  

I'm still avoiding reading any Terry Pratchett books.

Blogger Quadko March 12, 2015 1:18 PM  

Rest in peace, and may the Lord have mercy on hm. He brought humor to my life.

As for more Discworld, I believe he said his daughter would be taking over as 'custodian' of Discworld. I hope she does a better job of that than say, Brian Herbert did.
We'll see, but since she's already been acting in that position through Alzheimer's, as I understand, I assume the noticeable tone change of the last books will continue and grow.

And I really enjoyed "BBC Pratchett" via the Hogfather and Color of Magic movie/miniseries, not that they could do justice to the books. Sean Austin totally rocked the "American tourist" character - Samwise Gamgee as the (not too-) Ugly American made it all the more hilarious.

Anonymous jm March 12, 2015 1:20 PM  

The relative youth of his passing makes me wonder if he found someone to help him along.

Anonymous VD March 12, 2015 1:20 PM  

As for more Discworld, I believe he said his daughter would be taking over as 'custodian' of Discworld. I hope she does a better job of that than say, Brian Herbert did.

Oh, I think we already know perfectly well how she writes Discworld. And it isn't good.

Anonymous zen0 March 12, 2015 1:23 PM  

> My dad is 66. I do not like this at all. It seems too young for me.

Just wait til YOU'RE 66, you will not like it at all extra bad.

Blogger Markku March 12, 2015 1:25 PM  

I wish I shared your Pollyannaish optimism about the fate of the Western World, zen0.

Blogger slarrow March 12, 2015 1:28 PM  

Interesting piece by Neil Gaiman a while back saying that Pratchett, far from being a "jolly old elf", was instead driven by fury. Gaiman identifies the target as small things--a disdainful headmaster, humorless critics--and large--unfairness, injustice, stupidity. But it seems to me that it's the incoherent rage that some have at the God who they think isn't there.

In Hogfather, the character Death identifies justice and mercy as "big lies", stating that were you to grind up the universe and sieve it, you would not find one molecule of such elements. Death states that humans believe these lies both to have a point to life and because in so doing, this is the only way they can become. Very noble, very humanistic, very materialistic--but one wonders what would have happened had Pratchett found the Truth in real form instead of the literary parody he created. Perhaps his engine of anger would have died for lack of fuel. Perhaps it would have soared if he exchanged rage for grace. We'll never know.

Blogger JaimeInTexas March 12, 2015 1:29 PM  

I enjoyed Discworld. My kids introduced me to them. Overall, they were good, amusing and easy reads. I cannot remember which books but the turtle falling from the sky and the shark looking at the many feet of the luggage was very funny to me.

Blogger S1AL March 12, 2015 1:39 PM  

"As for more Discworld, I believe he said his daughter would be taking over as 'custodian' of Discworld. I hope she does a better job of that than say, Brian Herbert did."

Interesting. I found the final books to be much better than chapterhouse. Granted, that's probably due to Anderson.

Blogger Markku March 12, 2015 1:42 PM  

Pratchett WAS a jolly old elf. In the tradition of the ancient Finnish pagan religion, Suomenusko, in which said elf would set your house on fire without thinking twice, if it didn't like the way your family behaves.

Anonymous Daniel March 12, 2015 1:48 PM  

What was great about Pratchett was that he realized his limitations in Colour of Magic, adjusted, found the comic rhythm of the world, and let it go. I think his writing died several books ago, whether or not he was "getting help", but the good ones are really, really fun and consistently funny.

Blogger Marissa March 12, 2015 1:55 PM  

Well, no one can deny Finland is a cold, dark place.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 12, 2015 2:11 PM  

For those who are wondering. His death is reported as natural and unassisted. I am relieved by this.

His last tweets are as follows:

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.

Anonymous Steve March 12, 2015 2:15 PM  

Geez.

Never been a Pratchett fan, but he was a well-loved writer by his fan base and seems to have had quite a good sense of humour.

And he was rocking the fedora, neckbeard, and atheism combo decades before it became the uniform for gentlesirs.

66 is far too young.

Rest in peace.

Anonymous Bruce March 12, 2015 2:27 PM  

Pratchett's 'Strata' is the best ' Ringworld ' takeoff ever.

Anonymous JD March 12, 2015 2:32 PM  

How does one die of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 66 -a relatively young age?

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 12, 2015 2:42 PM  

I didn't take an interest in his books for long time myself. It was only after I saw the first five minutes of Hogfather on Netflix, that I took a serious interest.

The interesting thing is, just how many books it took him to find his sea legs with Discworld. The Colour of Magic was really just rehash of Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance. The first book that really felt like a Discworld book was Guards! Guards! and that eighth book in series.

There were a couple that were good before that but they didn't feel like Discworld.

Anonymous pseudotsuga March 12, 2015 2:48 PM  

Sad news...Pratchett was a brilliant writer, and I am in awe of his good writing. He had a good run, although he faltered at the end. I will miss not being able to spend more time in his Discworld.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 12, 2015 3:01 PM  

@pseudotsuga

I'm pretty sure the last authentic Pratchett was, I Shall Wear Midnight.

After that I think his daughter was ghosting him.

Anonymous Wyrd March 12, 2015 3:14 PM  

The first book that really felt like a Discworld book was Guards! Guards! and that eighth book in series.

I'd argue for Wyrd Sisters being the first "true" Discworld novel as it solidified the character of Granny Weatherwax and introduced Nanny Ogg. But that only jumps up to the 6th book in the series so we're not that far apart in judgement.

Blogger tweell March 12, 2015 3:15 PM  

Pratchett had a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease, according to the article. Sigh.

He admitted that he wasn't able to type any more, and was talking out his books starting at least with Snuff. I believe that he was providing the main idea and some dialogue, then his daughter took it from there.

Blogger tweell March 12, 2015 3:16 PM  

Pratchett had a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease, according to the article. Sigh.

He admitted that he wasn't able to type any more, and was talking out his books starting at least with Snuff. I believe that he was providing the main idea and some dialogue, then his daughter took it from there.

Blogger SirHamster March 12, 2015 3:24 PM  

Well, no one can deny Finland is a cold, dark place.

The elf just wants you to live the rest of your life in light and toasty warmth!

Anonymous Susan March 12, 2015 3:33 PM  

JD,

I have read cases of it happening. In his case, it could have been a vascular dementia, and that would account for the youth at the time of his death. 66 is indeed very young for dementia.
My FIL is in the middle stages of the big A and he is in his 80's which is a more normal time frame for dementia. I do know they test for both, the regular form and the vascular related. If he smoked during his lifetime, that could have been an indirect cause.
Who knows, he could have even sustained a head injury or two decades ago, which would also indirectly contribute.

Anonymous Susan March 12, 2015 3:34 PM  

One other thing, people who haven't had to deal with it yet, tend to call all dementia Alzheimers, even when it isn't. There are many forms and causes, and can occur at most any time past a certain age.

Anonymous trev006 March 12, 2015 3:51 PM  

Damn. A fantastic writer. It's going to be a pity to never see Sam Vimes, the Death of Rats, or Mustrum Ridcully again.

Blogger John Wright March 12, 2015 4:07 PM  

"His death is reported as natural and unassisted."

Thank heaven and all the angels in heaven.

Anonymous jm March 12, 2015 4:22 PM  

"I'm pretty sure the last authentic Pratchett was, I Shall Wear Midnight."

I would say the book just before that, Making Money, marks the proper end of the series. Or at least the point where Pratchett's authorial 'voice' is gone.

The chatty, verbose Vetinari of Unseen Academicals is not at all like the Vetinari that had been written up to that point.

Blogger Ken March 12, 2015 4:30 PM  

I obviously don't know the man, but his early departure - with the onset of mental decay, loss of capacity, and fear of greater loss - could have been an indication that he might have just stopped fighting. Not committed suicide, mind you, but might have given up.

Rest in peace, Mr. Pratchett.

Anonymous Jake March 12, 2015 4:41 PM  

It's funny that Gaiman said that Pratchett was not one to go gently into that good night, and yet he spent his time raging about not being allowed to take the coward's way out. Leftists never see the contradictions in their own thought.

Anonymous Red Comet March 12, 2015 5:44 PM  

As for more Discworld, I believe he said his daughter would be taking over as 'custodian' of Discworld. I hope she does a better job of that than say, Brian Herbert did.

She wrote the (dull) SJW tuff girl revamp of Tomb Raider a couple years back so it looks like you're going to be out of luck.

I suspect she will end up like many other female authors and wealthy female business owners. They develop massive feminist egos despite having really inherited all the fame, ideas, patents, and money from their fathers.

Anonymous kfg March 12, 2015 6:02 PM  

So long, and thanks for all the sentient luggage.

Anonymous Harold March 12, 2015 7:14 PM  

Ah fuck!!! Dead a 66! And no more Pratchett! Fuck and fuck!!

Anonymous Big Bill March 12, 2015 7:27 PM  

I read very few of his books. The audiobooks, however, were delicious. With audio, the regional accents, the inflections, and the characterizations brought the stories magnificently to life.

Imagine how difficult it would be for Englishmen to truly "get" an American novel upon reading, as opposed to hearing an audiobook version with characters like Bostonian WASPS, black hustlers, hillbillies, Valley Girls, and Guidos, all speaking in their native tongues and distinctive accents.

Blogger Dewave March 12, 2015 8:04 PM  

Some of his books are consistently funny. Some are trite and formulaic. In others he has not yet found his feet. I would recommend starting at "Guards! Guards!" and stopping... at some point before Monstrous Regiment. At his best Pratchett uses humour and a light touch to reveal eternal truths about human nature. At Hus worst they feel very preachy. The man had a gift for wordsmithing one liners somewhat reminiscent of Wodehouse.

Anonymous pseudotsuga March 12, 2015 8:09 PM  

Cataline, JM:

Agreed: Making Money was the last one which "sounded" like Pratchett. As much as I admire the Tiffany Aching books (and despair that I could ever hope to equal them), I Shall Wear Midnight (much like Unseen Academicals and everything after that) is where the cracks start to show through, as Pratchett lost control of his fictional world.
After reading the disappointing Snuff, I decided that I won't bother with Raising Steam. Those books are not Pratchett, but his daughter. On one hand, I suppose she "means well" by continuing his work, but on the other hand I don't think she is equal to the task, so I would hope she could walk away from the books and leave her father's legacy intact. I don't want Discworld (tm) books. I like Pratchett's Discworld, and there will be no more.

Blogger ChicagoRefugee March 12, 2015 8:15 PM  

While I mourn the loss of Terry Pratchett the man (inasmuch as one who never met him can,) Terry Pratchett the author of Discworld died quite some time ago. Truthfully, I was much sadder about that loss.

Personal anecdote: Having recently discovered Discworld, I spent a day of our honeymoon picking up in London all the books that were, at that time, out of print in the US.

God speed, Mr. Pratchett,

Blogger ChicagoRefugee March 12, 2015 8:25 PM  

And I really enjoyed "BBC Pratchett" via the Hogfather and Color of Magic movie/miniseries, not that they could do justice to the books. Sean Austin totally rocked the "American tourist" character - Samwise Gamgee as the (not too-) Ugly American made it all the more hilarious.

Okay, I haven't yet seen The Colour of Magic, but I hope you're not saying that they made Twoflower an American tourist? They wouldn't - couldn't - have done that, surely? It'd be not just un but anti-canonical given Interesting Times.

Anonymous Trimegistus March 12, 2015 11:22 PM  

He had a keen understanding of the Iron Law of modern fantasy publishing:

Flatter your female readers.

In his books, few of the men are heroic and all are flawed. By contrast the women are all wise and strong. He knew who makes up the majority of fantasy novel customers.

Blogger grendel March 13, 2015 1:21 AM  

All the little angels rise up rise up
all the little angels how do they rise?
I wasn't a serious enough fan to know what order the books go in, but I managed to end up with a dozen or so of them. They made me laugh at a time when I needed that, for which I am grateful. I mourned him when he announced the alzheimers was affecting his work. But I still think about the Burleigh and Stronginthearm crossbow company when I strap on a Smith and Wesson.

Anonymous Wyrd March 13, 2015 1:35 AM  

By contrast the women are all wise and strong.

Magrat is wise and strong? As Foul Ole Ron would say, "Buggrit, buggrem, see if i don't! Millenium hand and shrimp!"

Anonymous Banjo March 13, 2015 9:22 AM  

Not sure how many other people could make Death a sympathetic character.

Especially considering he started at "I'LL GET YOU YET MY CULLY, SEE IF I DON'T" (no idea why that phrase has stuck with me...)

And RE Herbert: I kept reading Brian Herbert's books hoping beyond hope that THIS time, he will manage to not piss me off. Very low bar yes, but he managed to fly right under every, single, time. So I gave up after #3 (maybe 4). And seriously, he turned the Bene Gesserit into ACTUAL witches with ACTUAL magic? Dude, wtf.

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