Sir Terry Pratchett, born in 1948, was the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. In all, he was the author of fifty bestselling books, the last of which was completed in the summer of 2014.
Pratchett published his first short story Business Rivals in the High Wycombe Technical School magazine in 1962. He started writing novels whilst working as a journalist at the Bucks Free Press. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal in 2001 and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010. Pratchett was awarded a knighthood for services to literature in 2009. Worldwide sales of his books now stand at 70 million and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages.
Sir Terry died on 12th March 2015 surrounded by his family, ‘with his cat sleeping on his bed’. He faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ’embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. Sir Terry leaves wife Lyn and daughter Rhianna.
The Colour of Magic – 1983
The main character is an incompetent and cynical wizard named Rincewind. He involuntarily becomes a guide to the rich, but naive tourist from the Agatean Empire, Twoflower. Forced to flee the city of Ankh-Morpork to escape a terrible fire caused by a bartender who misunderstood the concept of insurance, which Twoflower told him about, they begin on a journey across the Disc. Unknown to them, their journey is controlled by the Gods playing a board game. Rincewind and Twoflower are controlled by the Lady and are pitted against the champions of Zephyrus, the god of slight breezes, Fate, and Offler the Crocodile God in the game supervised by Blind Io, an obvious take on Thor/Zeus/Jupiter.
The Carpet People (children’s novel) – 1971
The story follows the journey of a tribe called the Munrungs, across a world known as the Carpet. Its resemblance to carpets does not end there; instead of trees, the landscape is a forest of hairs and is littered with large grains of dust or grit. The sky is only referred to as ‘above’ and below the surface is ‘underlay’, riddled with caves and inhabited by silverfish and ultimately ‘the Floor’.
The Munrungs cross the carpet to find a new home after their village is destroyed by the powerful and mysterious natural force Fray. The origins of Fray are never explained in the book, but it is described in a way to suggest sweeping or vacuuming.
The Unadulterated Cat – 1989
This humorous book of cat anecdotes was illustrated by Gray Jolliffe and was written to promote what Pratchett terms the ‘Real Cat’; a cat who urinates in the flowerbeds, rips up the furniture and eats frogs, mice and sundry other small animals. The opposite of the Real Cat is the ‘Fizzy Keg Cat’, a well-behaved and bland kind, as seen on cat food advertisements.
The Long Earth – 2012
The book is one of five written with Stephen Baxter, although only three books had been released at the time of Terry Pratchett’s death. It deals primarily with the journeys of Joshua Valienté (a natural ‘Stepper’) and Lobsang, who claims to be a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as an artificial intelligence. The two chart a course to learn as much as possible about the parallel worlds, travelling millions of steps away from the original Earth. They encounter evidence of other humanoid species (referred to as trolls and elves); of human settlers who learned their gifts early and of an extinct race of bipedal dinosaur descendants. They also encounter warning signs of a great danger, millions of worlds away from ‘our’ Earth, causing catastrophe as it moves. The book also deals with the effects of the explosion of available space on the people of Datum Earth and the new colonies and political movements that are spreading in the wake of Step Day.