One of the greatest fantastical minds of our generation, Terry Pratchett is no more. He was diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of dementia, according to The New York Times. Deeply revered by fans of fantasy fiction, he was most popular as the creator of Discworld, a flat Frisbee-shaped planet of sorts, balanced on the backs of four elephants, which has mystified and captivated readers for over three decades.
Pratchett’s works were not simple spoofs. They were much more than that – they were metaphysical allegories of our cultural and political environments, conceived with an amazing zest for the comic, and written with a flamboyance that only masters of Pratchett’s order could achieve. “There is nothing spiteful, nothing bitter or sarcastic in his humour,” says Philip Pullman about Pratchett’s work. Writers like Neil Gaiman owe much of their style and sense of dark humour to Pratchett, who created parallel worlds which were as much a reflection of our society as they were the deliberations of a modern comic genius.
A gifted satirist, Pratchett’s comedy remains invigorating, almost nourishing, something of a misnomer in today’s world where bitterness in the name of comedy is spewed out like marmalade out of a fruit orchard. Since his first novel was published in 1971, he continuously endeavoured to produce fiction which was original in its fervour, and profound in its implications. A S Byatt, a Booker Prize winner and a self-confessed lifelong Pratchett fan, says of his writing: “[his] wit is metaphysical, [he] creates an energetic and lively secondary world, [he] has a multifarious genius for strong parody as opposed to derivative manipulation of past motifs, [and] deals with death with startling originality.”
Sadly, today, we are the ones who have to deal with Pratchett’s demise. Even in his last days, he did not let go of his sense of humour. He remained an advocate for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and continued to have an impact on people’s lives in ways wholly extraneous to writing. For somebody who is considered a writer, Terry Pratchett’s influence on other fields like gaming and advocacy remains phenomenal. We, at ReadersDoor, feel immensely grieved by his departure, but we also know Terry can never be too far away – he must only have gone on a visit to one of his enchantingly rich, magically multifarious other worlds. We love you, Terry, and we will miss you till the end of this world!