Today, the world lost one of its great voices. Sir Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007. He faced what he termed “an embuggerance” with courage and humor. He campaigned for the right of the terminally ill to end their lives with dignity and worked tirelessly to raise awareness for his disease. He kept writing despite his dementia publishing his last book, A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction, last fall.
These last tweets on Sir Terry Pratchett’s account were a poignant reference to one of the characters in his beloved Discworld series. In his lifetime Pratchett wrote over 70 books many set in the fantastical Discworld, all written with a unique voice and sense of humor. Pratchett used Discworld to deftly satirize this world. With characters like Death who develops a humorous and sympathetic personality over the books and Samuel Vimes the eventual and reluctant chief of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch; Pratchett told stories that are hilarious, fanciful, and relevant.
I was first introduced to Pratchett through Good Omens a book he co-authored with Neil Gaiman that manages to make the apocalypse funny. His books have a lot to say about the human condition and the state of the world. Discworld is unusual in that it reads more like several series within a series. You can find a set of characters and read their stories and you won’t be penalized for reading the books out of order. If you are looking for an entrée into Discworld I would suggest starting with the books about the Night Watch. The first in the Night Watch series is Gurads! Guards! . If you are stickler for reading things in the order they were published you can start with the first Discworld novel The Color of Magic.
As Pratchett, himself, said “[…] no-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away […] The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.” In this way Sir Terry will be with us for many generations to come.