Terry Pratchett's Blog
January 26, 2016
Terry Pratchett: A Memorial. 14th April 2016. #speakhisname
More information coming soon.
January 19, 2016
Fans from around the world contributed their favourite quotes to make this heartfelt tribute, showcasing Sir Terry’s brilliant wit and imagination. The final Discworld® book, THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN, has now been released.
January 15, 2016
Terry Pratchett fans are calling for the beloved author to be honoured by naming a new element in the periodic table after his popular Discworld book series.
Element 117 was recently confirmed by the International Union of Applied Chemistry and given a temporary symbol of Uus. Now, Dr Kat Day, a chemist, blogger and self-proclaimed “huge” Pratchett fan wants 117 to be named octarine [Oc] as a tribute to Pratchett, who passed away aged 66 from Alzheimer’s disease.
And she is not alone. Over 30,000 people have signed her petition, which has even received the backing of Pratchett’s official Twitter account.
Octarine is the colour of magic in the series and the eighth colour in the Discworld spectrum. To those who could see it in the novels (that’s wizards and cats), it takes on a greenish-yellow-purple hue.
Dr Day told The Independent naming the new element octarine would be a fitting tribute to Pratchett. “I follow the science stories, and of course, the new elements were everywhere,” she said. “I was speculating over possible new names, and considering the ‘ine’ ending for group 17.
“I’m also a huge, long time, Pratchett fan and the idea just popped into my head: octarine ends in ‘ine’! And it’s ‘the colour of magic’, which is the title of his first ever Discworld book. What better tribute could there be? I had a feeling that Terry Pratchett would, if he was still with us, think that having octarine in the periodic table would be a fantastic (in the very literal sense of that word) idea. Of course, he had a great interest in science and co-wrote several popular science books, and there are lots of little sideways science references in his Discworld novels.”
In her petition, Dr Day writes: “Octarine is being counted as ‘a mythological concept’ under IUPAC rules, which state that elements must be named after ‘a mythological concept or character; a mineral, or similar substance; a place or geographical region; a property of the element; or a scientist’.
“The Discworld stories are certainly stories about gods and heroes, and 70 million books surely count for something.”
The petition faces competition from another calling for the element to be named after the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy, but Dr Day is still hopeful it could be considered.
“It’s up to the scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who discovered the element, to propose names, then the IUPAC has to agree them. But you never know, perhaps one or more of them is a Pratchett fan? Perhaps he’s inspired them, as he has so many others. After all, a species of turtle has been named after him, Psephophorus terrypratchetti, so why not name an element after one of the ideas in his books? As he wrote, ‘million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten’.”
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January 7, 2016
March was dominated by the death of fantasy author and creator of the Discworld series Sir Terry Pratchett at the age of 66. The author, who campaigned for assisted suicide after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, wrote more than 70 books in a career spanning 44 years. “Nothing was beyond his powers of imagination,” said fellow author Val McDermid. “He made you look at the world around you differently.”
Rob talks briefly about the process of making of The Shepherd’s Crown and thanks a number of people that helped make it possible. A lovely tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett. This is not a reading from The Shepherd’s Crown.
January 5, 2016
A 25-year-old collaboration between two of fiction’s stars produced an end-times fantasia that cries out to be shared with a new generation
We’ve recently moved house and acquired, for the first time, an attic landing. It’s just large enough to stack up several of the wine boxes that were a student solution to bookshelves and will doubtless accompany us into our dotage, packed with books waiting to be shared with our daughters over the next few years. The ones not written for children but that I first devoured when I was young: Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh, Virago classics like Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career and Antonia White’s Frost in May, Stevie Smith and ee cummings, all of Douglas Adams. It’s where I’d put Terry Pratchett if he hadn’t been permanently shared with my book-stealing little sister, and Stephen King if reading The Tommyknockers hadn’t put me off him for 20 years.
And it’s where I found and had to pick up again Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s collaborative novel Good Omens, published in 1990, when Gaiman was known for Sandman rather than American Gods and when you could still count all the Discworld books on the fingers of two hands. Written through the exchange of floppy disks and daily phone calls, it’s a marvellously benign, ridiculously inventive and gloriously funny end-times fantasia featuring angels, devils, 17th-century prophets, witches and witchfinders, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse in modern guise. Famine sells diet foods and invents nouvelle cuisine; Pestilence spreads pollution; War is a glamorous global reporter stirring up trouble. Only Death never changes, having never been away.
The book began life as a parody of Richmal Crompton’s Just William books called William the Antichrist. This is evident in the passages about “the Them”, the gang led by young Adam Young. He is the son of Satan who, thanks to a muddled baby-swap, grows up not so much the Antichrist he’s intended to be, as the ideal of a rural English mid-century schoolboy with tousled hair and a strong will. The eternal battle between good and evil is personified by the angel Aziraphale, a gently fusty rare book dealer, and the demon Crowley, a slippery individual in shades. As they have more in common with each other than with anyone else on earth, above or below, their enmity has mutated over millennia into friendship.
Then there’s Anathema Device, who has inherited the only accurate book of prophecy ever written, passed down over generations from her ancestor Agnes Nutter, burned in the 17th century as a witch (a demise that she did, of course, foresee). These “Nice and Accurate Prophecies” inform the characters that they’re living through the world’s last week – unless they can change the rules of the cosmic chess game…
I can’t wait to share how clever and silly this book is, often in the same sentence – a supernatural being thinking, “That Hieronymous Bosch. What a weirdo”, never fails to crack me up – and how lightly it wears its cleverness. My daughters will learn the etymology of “nice”, for a start, before the book even begins. The countryside where Adam lives is summed up thus: “If Turner and Landseer had met Samuel Palmer in a pub and worked it all out, and then got Stubbs to do the horses, it couldn’t have been better.” (You can really tell throughout that for Gaiman and Pratchett there are parts of rural England that are a little spot of Heaven.) It should spur them on to read Revelation, and GK Chesterton.
It’s refreshing to find Pratchett’s humour and erudition trained on Earth rather than mediated through Discworld, and the footnotes – apparently Gaiman and Pratchett often footnoted each other’s sections, a lovely insight into how their styles and humour mingled – show them at their best (“Shadwell hated all southerners and, by inference, was standing at the North Pole”). You can see in Good Omens a lot of what Gaiman would go on to do – the mythological riffs and reboots of Neverwhere and American Gods – as well as a perfect example of Pratchett’s personal philosophy: that good and evil are less helpful concepts than a million shades of grey, and that the most fantastic supernatural creatures could never come close to the depths and heights of humanity.
Twenty-five years on, the book has lasted surprisingly well. Pratchett and Gaiman’s obsession with tech meant they were ahead of the curve when it came to the “slim computers” that demon Crowley likes so much. Some things haven’t changed: “All that lather comes up from the centre of the Earth, where it’s all hot,” says a member of Adam’s gang. “I saw a programme. It had David Attenborough, so it’s true.” And the real end of the world that Adam foresees is closer and scarier than ever: “Everyone’s goin’ around usin’ up all the whales and coal and oil and ozone and rainforests and that, and there’ll be none left for us. We should be goin’ to Mars and stuff, instead of sittin’ around in the dark and wet with the air spillin’ away.”
I remember longing, after finishing Good Omens all those years ago, for another Pratchett/Gaiman book, something that was never likely to happen and is of course impossible now. In retrospect, it seems amazing that two such singular and prolific creative energies could share the writing of a novel: an extraordinary congruence of hard work, good timing and readerly luck. Last word to Terry Pratchett: “In the end, it was this book done by two guys, who shared the money equally and did it for fun and wouldn’t do it again for a big clock.”
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Many writers are excellent world builders; it’s sort of a requirement in good fantasy literature. Terry Pratchett, however, ranks among the best. Discworld is engrossingly sprawling and feels real — just like in our world, there are laws governing Discworld that make it feel less like pure fantasy and more like a land we all missed out on being born in through sheer chance.
2. Every book can stand alone.
Despite how complex and intricate Discworld is, the books are accessible to any new reader — because you can pick up any of them and dive right in. Imagine trying to do that with Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings (both excellent series that I adore).
If you like to have your chronology in order, some devoted readers have created a map that suggests starting points and reading order.
To read the full list of quotes, head over to Buzzfeed.
The script writer for games, comics and film remembers her father’s gift for observation, his love of nature and an idyllic childhood filled with wonder, wildlife and cats
My father talked about death a lot. He believed that we should be more like our Victorian forebears who, although rather bashful when it came to talking about sex, regarded death as a much more comfortable topic of conversation. It’s the great unifier. No matter who you are, one day the reaper will come for you.
The reaper came for my father much earlier in his life in the form of Death from his world-famous and much-loved Discworld novels. Death was a towering, cloaked and scythe-wielding skeleton who had a penchant for curries, a love of cats and TALKED LIKE THIS. We got a number of tear-inducing letters from fans who were nearing the end of their lives and took great comfort in imagining that the death that came for them would be riding a white horse called Binky. Dad had done something with more success than anyone else – he made Death friendly.
For me, as for many of his fans, it was his gift for characterisations like this that made his books pure narrative gold. Dad was a great observer of people. And when he ran out of actual people, he was a great imaginer of them. Both his grannies come through in his witch characters, while there’s a fair chunk of me in Tiffany Aching and Susan Sto Helit, Death’s adoptive granddaughter. He always said that he was most like the brusque Commander Vimes, raging against injustice. But he was a little like Death too; always loved a good curry and Pratchetts have cats like other people have bathrooms.
Certainly, Dad’s Vimes-esque raging came to the forefront when he received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis at 59 and realised how little support there was for the disease in this country. Through his personal donations and public campaigning, he raised awareness and research support exponentially. Likewise, his passionate advocacy for assisted dying was vitally important in raising awareness of the fact that a good death should be as important as a good life. He would have been horrified that our politicians have failed to see that.
The outpouring of grief and support that accompanied the announcement of his death was overwhelming. But that was no surprise, as his work was as loved as he was. At his funeral, I carried his sword, holding it level to my chin as a salute to a leader and crossing it to my heart as the coffin was lowered. Being a practical kind of a knight, he had to make his own sword; using iron ore collected from our land, smelted in a kiln formed from sheep dung and clay. He even added a nugget of meteorite, giving the sword its name – Thunderbolt Iron.
His funeral showed me that my father meant many things to many people, and we were all grieving for different versions of him, when he felt most ours. For my mother, it was their early years together when they were semi self-sufficient, grew their own vegetables and had goats in the front garden and chickens in the back. For his manager Rob, it was sitting side by side, helping him keep the words flowing and making him the odd “glug” – a coffee with a tot of brandy. Or, on harder days, a brandy with a tot of coffee. For me, the dad I grieved most for, and still do, is the one I remember as a kid.
We didn’t have much money, but I hardly noticed when there were woods and fields to run around in, trees to climb and animals to play with. Dad and I often walked around the countryside while he taught me which wild plants were edible and showed me hidden caves and pools in the middle of the forest. He used to whistle loudly. I could never get the hang of it, so instead he taught me the words to The Rhubarb Tart Song and Whose Pigs Are These?. We would sing them loudly, joyfully, the wildlife fleeing before us.
Dad was someone who committed to the narrative of a situation rather more than the practicality. So he would wrap me up and take me out of bed in the middle of the night to show me the glow-worms in the hedge or Halley’s Comet blazing across a star-filled sky. For him, his daughter seeing these marvels of nature was much more important than sleeping, which I could do any time. He didn’t teach me magic, he showed me it.
I owe both my father and my mother a huge debt of thanks for an idyllic childhood, one that’s helped me become the person I am today. One where I could be free to run around in nature, climb trees (and fall out of them) and to come to understand the wonders of the world – and of course to be able to milk goats in an emergency. I like to think that wherever Dad is now, there is a hat on his head, a stick in his hand and a whistle on his lips. There’s probably a cat about somewhere too. There should always be a cat.
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October 30, 2015
There are so many Discworld themes you could try out – here are a few ideas based around Tiffany Aching and the Witches in general. Don’t forget to decorate inside the store and in the window!
Classic Witch paraphernalia:
Broomstick – any traditional broom with a wooden handle and long bristles tied to the end would work w
Witches hats – Black pointy hats are standard for a Discworld Buy some from a fancy dress shop or make your own from black card.
Cauldron / kettle / teapot – every witch needs a good cup of strong tea now and then, but she won’t be seen with a fancy china teapot, it’s plain black iron, just like the kettle that hangs over the fire!
Shambles – make your own shambles from string and any random objects you have to See the extract on pages 47-48 of Wintersmith for a description of one.
Boffo Goods to ramp up the Witchy-ness:
Skulls are great to add atmosphere to any party! Add black candles to the top for extra spookiness…
Cobwebs work wonders – get a can to spray on (you can find them online) and add a few fake spiders too!
Crystal balls aren’t every witch’s cup of tea but some swear by them and they do look the business when you’re trying to impress.
Black hat (from fancy dress shop or online)
Accessorise with broomstick, cat, and as much or as little occult jewellery as you wish
As classic witch but no jewellery (she doesn’t hold with shoppin’) – add some hat pins and a stern expression instead.
As classic but add a huge grey cat draped over your shoulders, a pipe and a twinkle in your eye suggesting you’ve just heard a very dirty joke…
Swap your black dress for something softer – pale blue or green is good – but keep the big black boots, they’re essential.Tiffany has a silver necklace with a horse pendant and is often followed by a horde of Nac Mac Feegle… but that could be harder to recreate for yourself! Try pinning a bit of sheep’s wool to your cape or dress instead to remind you of the Chalk.
If you really want to go to town with the witch theme try Miss Treason – she’s very old, with long white hair. She’s blind but uses two ravens to see for her, they sit on a perch across her shoulders. She also wears a huge iron clock on her belt which ticks loudly like a heartbeat. And she walks with two sticks. See Wintersmith page 29 for a description and the cover for an illustration…
The Wee Free Men/Nac Mac Feegle:
See The Wee Free Men page 81 for a description. Any or all of the following would work well:
Blue skin – can be tattooed
Red Hair – on face and head – often roughly plaited
Kilt (and waistcoat if you’re feeling chilly)
Sporran (or spog if we’re being accurate)
Weapons of the sword variety (just be careful not to actually hurt anyone!)
Fair ies/Elv es:
The fairies are Tiff ’s enemies in The Wee Free Men and they reappear in The Shepherd’s Crown.You can get really creative with a fairy costume and customise it to your heart’s desire. Here are some ideas:
Velvet and brocade
Ruffle shirts, tight britches, riding boots
Tons of jewellery
Wild accessories like feathers
Glitter – anywhere and everywhere
Intricate hair styles and decorations
Always a fun one! Often seen accompanied by Binky, his white horse, and a tiny skeleton Rat of Death… Try the following for Death himself:
Black robes with large hood
Skeletal body (try a fancy dress shop or online for skeleton costumes)
Hourglasses filled with the sands of time
Voice like the shutting of coffin lids
Line art adapted from original illustrations by Paul Kidby.
Line art adapted from original illustrations by Paul Kidby.
Line art adapted from original illustrations by Paul Kidby.
Line art adapted from original illustrations by Paul Kidby.
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