Terry Pratchett: five ways the writer made the world a better place

Some of the author’s many accomplishments, from raising awareness of Alzheimer’s to inspiring writers

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Terry Pratchett: five ways the writer made the world a better place

As the world mourns the news that fantasy fiction author Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66, we take a look at some of the ways the writer helped to make the world a brighter place.

He gave us some beloved fantasy fiction
Over his writing career, Terry Pratchett wrote over 70 books, and is perhaps best known for his comic fantasy book series, the Discworld novels. Pratchett published 40 volumes set in the Discworld universe, with 2011's Snuff becoming, at the time of its release, the third fastest-selling hardback adult audience novel since UK records began. The 41st and final one, The Shepherd's Crown, is due to come out later in 2015. He also worked on the critically acclaimed Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, The Long Earth series and the young adult novel, Nation, to name but a few.

He inspired fellow writers
In 2007, Pratchett wrote an essay entitled ‘Notes from a Successful Fantasy Author: Keep it Real’, which was part of his nonfiction collection, A Slip of the Keyboard. In it, he details the various ways he creates his fantasy works, from ‘world building’ to applying logic to the writing process. He started writing when he was 17 years old, and since then has been a constant source of inspiration for young writers. Author Matt Haig said he was a ‘true storyteller. Brilliant, damn funny writing too. Leaves a world for us to live in’, while Patrick Ness said that ‘Discworld is one of the very most fabulous creations in all of literature.’

He campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s
After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Pratchett donated money to dementia research and actively raised awareness of the illness. In 2008 he gave a million dollars to Alzheimer’s Research UK (of which he was a patron) because, he explained with characteristic wit, ‘it sounds larger than half a million pounds’. He also filmed a programme for the BBC which chronicled his experience of living with the disease. Hilary Evans, director of the charity, said that Pratchett’s announcement of his diagnosis at their 2008 conference ‘engendered huge public awareness of Alzheimer’s and issued a call to arms for society to talk about dementia and take steps towards defeating it.’ She also said that ‘the loss of Sir Terry Pratchett will have a profound effect on both literature and the 850,000 people who live with dementia’.

He made the fantastical possible
Pratchett once said ‘I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible’, and some of his actions demonstrated how he pushed those limits himself. He was granted his own coat of arms in 2010, but a proper knight needs a proper sword, so naturally, he went on to forge his own sword out of a meteorite. On the experience of making it, he said: ‘Most of my life I've been producing stuff which is intangible and so it's amazing the achievement you feel when you have made something which is really real.’

He gave us some amazing quotes to live by
Over the years, he has delivered some memorable, inspirational and moving quotes:
‘I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.’ (Guardian Book Club)
‘So much universe, and so little time.’ (The Last Hero)
‘There is always time for another last minute.’ (Hogfather)
‘The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.’ (Diggers)

And finally:
‘No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…’ (Reaper Man).

Terry Pratchett was a man who created many ripples indeed.

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