SIR TERRY PRATCHETT
SFX’s first tribute to the legendary late author.
Asilence has fallen upon the Disc. In the alleys of Ankh- Morpork the stabbing ceases, and in the halls of the Unseen University the wizards pause between courses. A tear the size of a lake rolls down the cheek of Great A’Tuin. The Creator is gone. Somebody pass the brandy. Sir Terry Pratchett died on 12 March 2015 aged 66, and has thus far remained dead. It’s still hard to believe, as if some terrible mistake has been made, but Death makes no such mistakes. We know, because thanks to Pterry, we’ve met him.
It’s testament to the man’s talents that many of us count a seven foot tall skeleton among our most cherished fictional creations. Of course, Death was far from the only denizen of the Discworld to make such a mark. How many lives were touched by Granny Weatherwax, by Rincewind, or by that quintessential Pratchett scrapper, Sam Vimes? For all its trolls and vampires, talking dogs and walking luggage, the Disc will ultimately be remembered because it was so very human.
Every Pratchett novel felt like it was written just for you. The delicately crafted gags, the characters you could almost smell, the many and varied uses of the word “ook” – they’ve become a common currency, an understanding among the initiated that to read Pratchett is to have your head, heart and funny bone rewired, fused into something different, something, well, fantastic.
He showed us how alive and vital fantasy could be, how full of possibility. He taught us how to think – to really think. He taught us to love words, to respect stories, to never treat people as things. And he taught us that a wizard’s staff always has a knob on the end.
His relationship with SFX spanned two decades. Alongside countless interviews and reviews, he guestedited the magazine and appeared at the SFX Weekender in 2011. His passion for bacon sandwiches knew no bounds, and he was as large in life as he was on the page. We will never forget his formidable presence, his irrepressible humour, or his hat. It was, to be fair, a bloody great hat.
It’s fitting that a man whose coat of arms bore the motto Noli Timeri Messorem ( Don’t fear the reaper) departed to meet the greatest anthropomorphic personification of them all from his home, surrounded by family, with his cat asleep beside him. Not that he wasn’t angry about the whole situation, and rightly so.
The Embuggerance, as he called the rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease he was diagnosed with in 2007, cast a shadow over his final few years. But he fought it with characteristic courage, publishing books until the last and tirelessly raising awareness about a cruel condition that few have faced as fearlessly as he did.
We have been robbed of the very best of us. Terry Pratchett was brilliant. He was furious, he was hilarious, and he was taken too soon. But take solace. Because somewhere under an octarine sky, there is a large black hat and a brandy, and the story continues to be told.
Rob Power remembers the beloved Discworld author