Sir Terry Pratchett died Thursday. He had Alzheimer’s. Rather than post a review today, I thought I’d do a bit of a roundup of some of his work, as a kind of tribute to a brilliant author who was also, by all accounts, a wonderful man.
He wrote over seventy books, books of all different kinds: novel-type books, a book of nonfiction essays, a picture book for small children, various YA, even a travel guide to that most famous of fictional cities, Ankh-Morpork. His prolificacy was astounding–at his peak, he averaged just over two books a year, and never faltered in his genius. One of his books, a non-Discworld novel written with Neil Gaiman called Good Omens, is even regarded as a cult classic (for good reason). Another of his books, Night Watch, is the only book I’ve ever read that is guaranteed to make me cry.
No topic is off-limits in Discworld: religion, terrorism, war; they’re all addressed. So are fairy tales, rock music, and trains. Pratchett looked at our world and somehow managed to pin down the human condition through satire and fantasy. I never come away from a Discworld book without a having a better understanding of what it really means to be human.
His books were never considered literature, or profound works of art. But Pratchett wrote books that move, books that teach, books that entertain and bring laughter and smiles and tears.
Isn’t that what good books, and great writers, should accomplish?
I certainly think so. And by that measure, the world has lost one of the most brilliant writers it has ever seen.