Words by: Matt Norman & Mandy Tu
Image credit: Trinity College Dublin
Beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett has died in his bed with his cat beside him, surrounded by his family, according to his publisher Penguin Random House. The 66-year-old was diagnosed in 2007 with posterior cortical atrophy, a progressive degenerative condition. Not prone to quitting, Pratchett continued to write and completed the last of his renowned Discworld novels last year.
One of his quotes on Death springs to mind, and is, at this moment, worth mentioning:
“I believe everyone should have a good death. You know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. Because after all, tears are appropriate on a death bed. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop.”
Pratchett’s death was announced via Twitter in the style of the Discworld novels, in which death always speaks in capital letters. You can find the trio of tweets at @terryandrob. The first reads “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”. The second, “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night”. The last simply reads “The End”.
Tributes have flowed for Sir Pratchett from all over the globe. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Pratchett’s work “fired the imagination of millions”, while his publisher declared that “in over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him”.
Perhaps the most moving obituary, however, is that which is written before death. Neil Gaiman, a close friend and long-time collaborator, has declined to comment on Pratchett’s passing thus far, but re-shared this piece with the tweet, “I will miss you, Terry, so much. This is the last thing I wrote about you”. In the context of this sad day, Gaiman’s words are given a new life as a heartfelt tribute to a great man.
“He will rage, as he leaves, against so many things: stupidity, injustice, human foolishness and shortsightedness, not just the dying of the light. And, hand in hand with the anger, like an angel and a demon walking into the sunset, there is love: for human beings, in all our fallibility; for treasured objects; for stories; and ultimately and in all things, love for human dignity.
Or to put it another way, anger is the engine that drives him, but it is the greatness of spirit that deploys that anger on the side of the angels, or better yet for all of us, the orangutans.”