Renowned fantasy novelist Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett died March 12 of complications from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 66.
Pratchett was diagnosed in 2007 and died in his family home in Somerset, England. Although Pratchett campaigned for further research and access to assisted suicide through several documentaries on his condition, including “Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s” and “Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die,” his publisher told BBC News that he died from natural causes.
In addition to speaking publicly about the realities of Alzheimer’s, Pratchett also donated $1 million to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People upon learning of his condition. His family has encouraged fans of Pratchett’s work to contribute as well, resulting in over $75,000 in donations.
The first hit when you search “Terry Pratchett’s Death” on google, however, is not news of his passing but a Wikipedia page for “Death,” a fictional character created by Pratchett.
“Everybody who reads his work would agree Death was one of his finest creations,” Neil Gaiman, author and graphic novelists, said on his website. “Terry in some way has now shaken hands with one of his greatest-ever creations.”
Death and many of Pratchett’s other characters crossed paths in Discworld, a satirical series of 41 books set on a flat planet carried through its orbit by four elephants on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a giant seaturtle floating through space.
The last novel in the series, “The Shepherd’s Crown,” will be published posthumously in September 2015.
“There was nobody like him,” Gaiman said. “I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.”
In addition to writing “Good Omens” and “Now We Are Sick” with Gaiman, Pratchett also collaborated with Stephen Baxter on “The Long Earth” and its sequels. Pratchett also contributed to numerous anthologies of essays and short fiction works. He wrote over 70 novels in his trademark style of absurd humor during his 44-year career and was knighted for “services to literature” in 2009.
George R.R. Martin, author of the “Game of Thrones” series, wrote on his blog that Pratchett was a “delight” to work with at conventions.
“Terry Pratchett was one of the good guys,” Martin said. “He is survived by Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Mort, Death, Death of Rats, Commander Vimes, the Librarian, Cohen the Barbarian, Rincewind the Wizard, the Luggage, and hundreds of other unforgettable characters, whose adventures will continue to delight and surprise readers all over the world for many years to come.”
Pratchett is also survived by his wife, Lyn Purves, and his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett.