SIR TERRY PRATCH­ETT

SFX’s first trib­ute to the leg­endary late au­thor.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - There’ll be more on Terry’s life and work next month.

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

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