I have a lot to thank Terry for and so this is my thank-you to him for allowing me to muck about with some of the work created by his genius, in the hope of doing justice both to him as a serious literary figure and as the inventor of one of the greatest fantasy worlds we’ve ever seen.
Because Terry should not be regarded as just a funny fantasy writer; he was perhaps our greatest satirist. Some might think, as I did when first seeing those “Sword and sorcery”-style covers of his books, that this was light stuff for people with beards who would laugh at in-jokes. But what Discworld rapidly became was a fully realised place where things have to work – not fantastical at all. This is a place where the need for good diplomatic relations is all about ensuring an unbroken supply of oil for Ankh-Morpork, Discworld’s biggest city, so that a place with no electricity could keep its candles alight.
To take just one example, in Making Money, Terry foresaw the financial crisis brilliantly. If you wanted to understand what was going on – from Gordon Brown selling off the nation’s gold to why some people started to believe that a Bitcoin might have a value – then it was all there in Terry’s writing some years before these things actually happened. Terry showed it to us in a place that came from his imagination - seeing what the rest of us could not. And he managed to do it while also making us laugh and sometimes even cry.
Terry had a profound effect on my professional life. He granted me the opportunity to achieve something on my list of things to dream of doing before I too pop my clogs: to make the first live-action adaptation of a Discworld novel – the stuff of dreams for a boy who used to play Dungeons and Dragons in Bristol.
Terry Pratchett: A career in quotes
Terry Pratchett: A career in quotes
1/13 “Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out” –The Light Fantastic
Pratchett photographed in 1990
2/13 "We Pratchetts are a feisty bunch"
Pratchett with his daughter Rhianna at home in 2009. Rhianna is now a writer in her own right and has written the storylines to video games such as Tomb Raider and Overlord
3/13 "It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases - one was Alzheimer's, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer's"
Terry Pratchett delivers a petition on behalf of the Alzheimer's Research Trust calling for an increase in government funding for dementia research in 2008
4/13 "Imagination, not intelligence, made us human"
Terry Pratchett with his double-row of six computer screens in 2009
5/13 “If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story”
Pratchett was awarded an OBE in 1998
6/13 “Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove” - The Truth
Terry Pratchett launches his 25th novel of the 'Discworld' series, 'The Truth' in 2000
7/13 “Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you”
In 2007, the year he announced he had Alzeihmer's
8/13 "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood"
Receiving his knighthood in 2009
AFP PHOTO/Ian Nicholson/POOL
9/13 "Life doesn't happen in chapters - at least, not regular ones"
Pratchett at home in 2009
10/13 “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it”
Pratchett at the world congress of the World Federation of the Right-to-Die Societies in Zurich, 2012
11/13 “Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out”
Attends the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2012
12/13 "Insanity is Catching"
Pratchett won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at the Telegraph Hay Festival, pictured with Snuff the pig in 2013
13/13 “People don't alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it” - Mort
Campaigning for Dementia Friends in 2014
I remember waiting for Terry’s reaction to my first attempt at the adaptation of Hogfather. He sat in a big leather chair and said to me, “It’s very good, because most of the words are mine.” I had successfully shoplifted the words from Britain’s most shoplifted author and mucked about with them in a way that made the man himself happy. I felt like an unworthy guardian of his genius. What an honour.
Vadim Jean is a film director whose credits include the adaptations of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and Going PostalReuse content