Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015)
Much too soon. Sixty-six is much too soon for Terry Pratchett to shake hands with Death, and accompany him to the next plane of existence.
In middle school the two authors I was most obsessed with were Tolkien, and Terry Pratchett. Pratchett was the more prolific, and still living, so I ended up spending much more time with his books than with Tolkien’s. The Discworld is unique, I think, in fantasy, and not just comic fantasy. The scope of it, the scale and the inventiveness. There are something like over 40 books, mostly full-length novels, set in the Discworld. I also suggest listening to the audio books as read by Tony Robinson – I think he only reads the abridged versions, but it’s worth it anyway.
I had the privilege to see him speak a few years ago when he appeared at the Tattered Cover in Denver, for his book Making Money (not, if you were wondering, a business self-help book). He’s a wonderful speaker, with a wonderful accent, to boot (superlative eyebrows and hat, as well! that beard ain’t too shabby, neither… :o).
From another talk, he said that his attitude is that “you can’t die if you have a book in progress.” I’m not sure if he did, although I am pretty darn sure had about a thousand ideas for more books. For something like 20 years, he wrote two Discworld books a year. They weren’t the kinda books anyone could just whip out – these are intelligent, satirically pointed, as well as hilarious, sprawling novels set in an absurdly inventive fantasy world with a long and rich history.
Some articles you should check out if you want to get know more about the man and his world:
- Terry Pratchett and Discworld: An appreciation by Darren Franich
- Neil Gaiman: ‘Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He’s angry’
- Sir Terry Pratchett on BBC Radio
- 26 Discworld Quotes About Life, The Universe, And Everything
- Terry Pratchett, the Master of Mirthful Fantasy, Has Left the Disc by Joel Cunningham
- wikipedia: Discworld
There have been numerous theatrical productions of his works, although mostly in England and Australia, there have been radio dramatizations, animated TV shows, live action mini-series, board games, and computer games – even an old text-based computer game! Maps, graphic novelizations, … um. You get the gist (oh yeah – Discworld was also the inspiration for at least two music albums, including Wintersmith by Steeleye Span). Terry Pratchett was super prolific and had millions upon millions of devoted fans. Huge conventions have been held for I don’t know how long – although again, overseas! Have there been ones in the U.S.?… Anyway, I encourage you to seek out his work, even if you start with the TV adaptations – see the clips below!
The trailer for the BBC version of The Colour of Magic:
…and a little feature on Going Postal:
Lastly, here’s one of the tracks off the Steeleye Span album Wintersmith:
Now get thee hence and get your hands on the books! GO!
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