When I first began this blog, oh so many years ago, I wrote two sarcastic posts about two authors that I don’t admire all that much: How Ayn Rand Changed My Life and How George R. R. Martin Did not Change My Life. Since that time I’ve written about many authors, Chesterton the most prominent among them. There are authors besides Chesterton who changed my life. One of them died today. His name was Terry Pratchett.
Pratchett’s books have sold somewhere around fifty million copies. His fan following is enormous. Yet there are many avid readers, especially among the serious set, who have never cracked open a Pratchett book. What they would find inside is very difficult to explain or describe. If you haven’t read any Pratchett you should start doing so now, rather than reading my humble attempt at explanation.
Pratchett is most famous for the Discworld books, a series of more than thirty fantasy novels set on a flat world that rests on the back of four elephants which stand on a turtle. (No word on what the turtle stands on.) In the earlier Discworld novels, the elephants and the turtles were mentioned a lot, as were magic and dragons and other fantasy elements. It was a straight-up parody of formulaic writing in the genre. As time went on, things changed. The magical elements gradually vanished and the Discworld novels became social satires, poking fun at all kinds of things. Pratchett trained his satirical sight on government, business, academia, religion, the press, sports, Hollywood, and much more.
He also wrote many other books that aren’t set in/on Discworld; these are much lesser known, even among his fans. Yet works such as Strata and the Bromeliad Trilogy offer rich rewards to anyone who takes time to buy a copy.