Terry Pratchett

Terence David John Pratchett OBE (born April 28, 1948, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England) is an English fantasy author, best known for his Discworld series. As of March 2005 he has sold approximately 40 million books worldwide. He is also generally regarded as one of the finest satirists currently writing in the English language, and has been compared to such diverse figures as Douglas Adams, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Lewis Carroll, Evelyn Waugh, and P. G. Wodehouse.

Terry Pratchett was born in 1948 in Beaconsfield to David and Eileen Pratchett, of Hay-on-Wye. He credits his education to High Wycombe Technical High School and Beaconsfield Public Library.

His first published work was the short story "The Hades Business", which appeared in his school magazine when he was 13, and was subsequently reprinted in Science Fantasy magazine in 1963, for which he was paid £14. His second published work was "Night Dweller", which appeared in New Worlds magazine, issue 156 in November 1965. On leaving school in 1965, he gained employment as a local newspaper journalist on the Bucks Free Press. He subsequently moved on to a number of other regional newspapers in south-west England including the Western Daily Press and Bath Chronicle.

It was during his time as a journalist that he was sent to interview Peter Bander van Duren, a co-director of Colin Smythe Limited, a small publishing company in Gerrards Cross, about a new book the company was publishing and Pratchett happened to mention that he had written a novel of his own, The Carpet People. It was eventually published in 1971, with a launch party held in the carpet department of Heal's department store on Tottenham Court Road, London.

In 1980, he became Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board in an area which covered several nuclear power stations; he later joked that he had demonstrated impeccable timing by making this career change so soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, USA. Pratchett gave up his work for the CEGB in 1987 when he realised he could make a living through writing; this accounts for a significant increase in his output, and since then he has managed to publish two novels a year. According to the 2005 Booksellers' Pocket Yearbook, in 2003 Pratchett's UK sales amounted to 3.4% of the fiction market by hardback sales and 3.8% by value, putting him in 2nd place behind J. K. Rowling (6% and 5.6% respectively), while in the paperback sales list Pratchett came 5th with 1.2% by sales and 1.3% by value (behind James Patterson (1.9% and 1.7%), Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham and J. R. R. Tolkien).

In 1998 Terry Pratchett was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature. Typically, his own tongue-in-cheek comment was "I suspect the 'services to literature' consisted of refraining from trying to write any." He has been awarded honorary Doctorates of Literature, by the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003 and the University of Bristol in 2004.

His daughter Rhianna Pratchett (born 1976) is a journalist and "accidental cat collector"; she has also written a fantasy novella titled Child of Chaos, distributed with the computer role-playing game Beyond Divinity. She is working on the scripts and storyline for the PS3 launch game Heavenly Sword, the Xbox 360/PC game Overlord, and several others. She is a member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.

Pratchett lists his recreations as "writing, walking, computers, life". He is also well known for his penchant for wearing large, black hats, as seen on the inside back covers of most of his books.

On July 31, 2005, Pratchett criticised media coverage of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, commenting that certain members of the media seemed to think that "the continued elevation of J. K. Rowling can only be achieved at the expense of other writers". His remarks were later taken out of context and interpreted by many as an attack on Rowling herself, rather than the media.

On 19 October 2005, Pratchett was admitted to the Accident and Emergency department of St. James's Hospital, Dublin, after several days of chest pains forced him to leave an earlier book signing in the city. This was subsequently diagnosed as an oesophageal spasm; he was escorted home by his P.A., Rob Wilkins, to recover.

Now containing over forty books, the Discworld series is a humorous and often satirical fantasy work that parodies everything under the sun, where the disc-shaped world is placed on the backs of four giant elephants supported by the enormous turtle Great A'Tuin, swimming its way through space. Major topics of parody have included many science fiction and fantasy characters, ideas and tropes, Ingmar Bergman films, Australia, film making, newspaper publishing, rock and roll music, religion, philosophy, Egyptian history, trade unions, and monarchy. Pratchett's novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents won the 2001 Carnegie Medal for best children's novel (awarded in 2002).

Together with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Pratchett has also written The Science of Discworld (1999), The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002) and The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch (2005). All of these have chapters that alternate between fiction and non-fiction, with the fictional chapters being set within the universe of the Discworld, as its characters observe and experiment on a universe not unlike ours. In 1999 Terry Pratchett made both Cohen and Stewart "Honorary Wizards of the Unseen University" at the same ceremony at which the University of Warwick gave Terry Pratchett an honorary degree.

* After the King edited by Martin H. Greenberg (1992) contains Troll Bridge, a story featuring Cohen the Barbarian (also published in Knights of Madness and The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy).
* The Wizards of Odd edited by Peter Haining (1996) includes a Discworld short story called Theatre of Cruelty
* The Flying Sorcerers edited by Peter Haining (1997) is the "sequel" to The Wizards of Odd and starts off with a Pratchett story called Turntables of the Night, featuring Death.
* Knights of Madness, again edited by Peter Haining (1998) is the "sequel" to The Flying Sorcerers and contains the Discworld short story Troll Bridge (also published in The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy, see below).
* Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg contains a Discworld short story called The Sea and Little Fishes.
* Meditations on Middle-Earth (2002)
* The Leaky Establishment written by David Langford and recently re-issued for which Pratchett provided a foreword
* The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy edited by Mike Ashley (2001) contains Troll Bridge, a story featuring Cohen the Barbarian.
* The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort, and Guards! Guards! have all been adapted as graphic novels.

Several of Pratchett's novels have been adapted as plays by Stephen Briggs and many of the scripts have been published in book form. These include:

* Wyrd Sisters: The Play (1996)
* Mort: The Play (1996)
* Johnny and the Dead (1996) (non-Discworld)
* The Amazing Maurice & His Educated Rodents
* Guards! Guards!: The Play (1997)
* Men at Arms: The Play (1997)
* Maskerade (1998)
* Carpe Jugulum
* The Truth (2000)
* Interesting Times (2002)
* Night Watch (2002, winner 2003 Prometheus Award)
* Monstrous Regiment (2004)
* Jingo
* Going Postal

In addition, Lords & Ladies has been adapted for the stage by Irana Brown and published.

* Johnny and the Dead was made into a TV serial for Children's ITV on ITV1 in 1995. It starred Andrew Falvery as Johnny, and featured Brian Blessed as William Stickers and George Baker as Alderman Bowler.
* In January 2006 BBC aired a three-part adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb, starring George MacKay as Johnny, Zoë Wanamaker as Mrs Tachyon, Frank Finlay as Johnny's grandad Tom, and Keith Barron as Sir Walter.
* A feature length version of Hogfather starring David Jason and the voice of Ian Richardson has been announced for Christmas 2006 on Sky One.

* Truckers was adapted as a stop-animation series for Thames Television by Cosgrove Hall
* Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music have also been adapted as animated series by Cosgrove Hall Films for Channel 4.

* Guards! Guards!, Wyrd Sisters, Mort and Small Gods have been dramatised as serials and The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents has been heard as a 90-minute play, all for BBC Radio 4.

* Discworld MUD, a free, extremely large, online game based on the series.
* GURPS Discworld (Steve Jackson Games, 1998) and GURPS Discworld Also (Steve Jackson Games, 2001) were written by Terry Pratchett and Phil Masters and are not only wonderful role-playing source books, but also offer numerous insights into the workings of the Discworld and the power of narrative. The first of these two books was re-released in September 2002 under the name of The Discworld Roleplaying Game with art by Paul Kidby.

The Discworld universe has also been used as a basis for a number of Discworld video games on a range of formats, such as the Sega Saturn, the Sony Playstation, the Philips CD-i and the 3DO, as well as DOS and Windows based PCs. The most notable games are:

* The Colour of Magic, the first game based on the series, and so far the only one directly adapted from a Discworld novel. It was released in 1986 for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
* Discworld, an animated "point-and-click" adventure game made by Teeny Weeny Games and Perfect 10 Productions in 1995.
* Discworld II: Missing, Presumed...!?, a sequel to Discworld developed by Perfect Entertainment in 1996. It was subtitled "Mortality Bytes!" in North America.
* Discworld Noir is the first 3D game based on Discworld, and is both an example and parody of the film noir genre. The game was created by Perfect Entertainment and published by GT Interactive for both the PC and PlayStation in 1999. It was released only in the UK and Europe.

Work is currently underway to add support for Discworld and Discworld II to ScummVM, a cross-platform adventure game interpreter.

Terry Pratchett's novel The Wee Free Men is set to be turned into a film by Sam Raimi, after he finishes work on Spider-Man 3, currently this is expected to be released in 2007.

Pratchett's books have received a level of critical acclaim unusual for their genre. A collection of essays about his writings is compiled in the book, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature?, eds. Andrew M. Butler, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, published by Science Fiction Foundation in 2000. A second expanded edition was published by Old Earth Books in 2004. Andrew M. Butler also wrote a Pocket Essentials guide to Pratchett in 2001.

Two Discworld quiz books have been published, both compiled by David Langford. They are named The Unseen University Challenge and The Wyrdest Link.

First editions of the early Discworld books in good condition are very valuable - the British first hardcover edition of The Colour of Magic is now worth over £2000 (4,500 copies were printed by St Martin's Press in the USA, of which 506 were sold in Britain under the Colin Smythe imprint, hence the scarcity), while The Light Fantastic is worth £1000-1500.

It is even possible to get a character in one of the future Discworld books named after yourself. Usually people appear in the books by bidding for the privilege in charity auctions. See: Discworld, Discworld characters.

The cover art of all of the Discworld novels sold in the United Kingdom was created by Josh Kirby until his death in 2001. Subsequent covers have been illustrated by Paul Kidby.

Pratchett was one of the first authors to use the Internet to communicate with fans and has been a contributor to the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.pratchett since 1992. Pratchett fan forums can also be found on his official website, http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com.

Terry Pratchett makes no secret of outside influences on his work; they are a major source of humour. He imports numerous characters from popular culture, but adds an unexpected aspect. These references are fairly consistent, and there are lists available on Terry Pratchett fansites which detail all the known references. One of the most known lists is the Annotated Pratchett File , mantained at the L-Space Web

Pratchett's interest in orangutans is not confined to the Librarian, one of his most popular fictional characters. He has also done work for the Orangutan Foundation including visiting Borneo with a Channel 4 film crew to make an episode of "Jungle Quest", seeing orangutans in their natural habitat. Following Pratchett's lead, fan events such as the Discworld Conventions have adopted the Orangutan Foundation as their nominated charity. At these conventions, if Pratchett is attending, there is often a traditional auction in which fans can bid money to have their name included in the next Discworld book. All proceeds go to the Orangutan Foundation. In addition, all royalties for minor productions of Pratchett's plays are donated to the Orangutan Foundation.

Aside from his distinctive writing style, Pratchett is known for the use of footnotes in his books. Usually involving a comic departure from the narrative or commentary on the narrative, these footnotes are more numerous in his earlier work.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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