© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons.
© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Terence David John Pratchett passed away at age 66 this week, and the world lost a great author who, despite suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2007, still managed to publish his last book, The Long Mars, in 2014.

His death, announced in the most fitting manner by his daughter on Twitter, came as a shock to us at Geek Crusade, especially coming so soon after we lost another geek icon in Leonard Nimoy/Mr Spock.

Sir Terry, famous for his Discworld series, also had quite a sense of humour, and even made it a point to have a sword forged out of meteorite for himself when he was knighted.

Our writers also added their own words on this great man, who will be missed by the many he inspired, and then some.

Opiniated Geek JM Wong:

“Terry Pratchett was an author who was not unfamiliar with Death. See, Death was one of his most memorable characters, usually depicted as a black-robed skeleton who dispensed wry observations about human existence, always in capital letters.

Even the motto on Pratchett’s coat of arms (Nol Timere Messorem, “Don’t fear the reaper”) spoke of someone who was unafraid to face the eventuality of death.

terrypratchettarms

Pratchett was very open about his disease, and approached the inevitability of his death with more grace and acceptance than most people. He continued working on his novels after his diagnosis by dictating them to his assistant, and spoke publicly about Alzheimer’s research and the legality of assisted suicide. Throughout it all his sparkling wit shone through.

A few years ago, Pratchett travelled to Borneo to film a documentary about orangutans. He had already filmed several specials chronicling the progression of his Alzheimer’s, and his body was starting to fail him.

Still, he persevered, trudging slowly through the jungle as he struggled to keep up with the rest of the film crew.

© TV6
© TV6

Though the orangutan documentary was ostensibly about conservation efforts, there was a sombre air that permeated through the whole documentary, turning it into a rumination on the human condition.

I have to admit that I’m not too familiar with the Discworld novels, but even then I feel a pang of longing when I realise that one of the world’s most beloved fantasy writers won’t be around to continue writing.

His legacy will undoubtedly live on in the millions of readers who have picked up his books, to which I can only say: Thank you, Terry. I’ll start reading your books post-haste.

In the words of Death:

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”

Geek of Steel Lai Han-Wei:

“Sir Terry’s books came at the right time in my life.

Just late enough to take advantage of regular fantasy becoming cliche, and early enough to shape what I privately hope to myself is a better sense of humour.

More than that though, his books about Discworld were wonderful little slices of our own little Roundworld.

And I loved how nearly every character had their due. Even Death.

Even Death was so humanised, I can’t help but wonder if Sir Terry welcomed him like an old friend at the end.”

Roundworld will never be the same again...
Roundworld will never be the same again…

I share many similar thoughts with my colleagues. There was just something that spoke to a younger (and admittedly less grumpy) me about a flat world which was held up on the backs of four elephants, standing on the shell of a giant star turtle.

And, as our Opinionated Geek mentions above, Sir Terry never let his condition get the better of him. In an open letter to his fans, he referred to it as “an embuggerance”, adding in a cheeky PS that the letter “should be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’.

He wrote an account of his illness, which was first published by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2008, in which he called the illness a demon. The best swords for killing such demons were made from gold, he wrote, calling for more funding towards research for Alzheimer’s.

And even in death, Pratchett has brought out some wittiest from those he inspired life. A change.org petition to Death asks for the reinstatement of the author, because “there are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this”.

For a man who made Death a lead character in several of his books (as well as a cat-lover), it’s only fitting that we remember him in the best way we can.

You will be missed, Sir Terry Pratchett, but your legacy will continue to inspire generations beyond.