“Death isn't cruel—merely terribly, terribly good at his job,” British fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett wrote in Sourcery, the fifth book in his long-running Discworld series, in 1988.
On Thursday, March 12, Pratchett died, as confirmed by his publisher, nearly eight years after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s. He was 66. The BBC reports that he was at home, with his family.
Pratchett wrote more than 70 books over his career, most of which were set in Discworld—a fictional universe where the earth was flat, the inhabitants were strange, and the situations characters found themselves in were oddly familiar. He was was known for his satire, using fantasy to poke fun at everything from Hollywood to Shakespeare to diplomacy. The books are funny, biting and, despite the many supernatural creatures that pervade them, intensely human.
There is deep truth to be found in fictional stories, no less so if they include witches and wizards and a flat earth carried through space on the back of four elephants on the back of a giant turtle. Fantasy at its best is more than just escapism. The distorted funhouse mirror of an imagined world can sometimes reflect our own more clearly than the most realistic fiction. Pratchett’s books were fantasy at its best.