Terry Pratchett dead at 66; fantasy author wrote more than 70 books

Terry Pratchett, creator of the 'Discworld' series, dies at 66

Author Terry Pratchett, who earned acclaim for his "Discworld" science fiction series, died Wednesday at 66. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease seven years ago.

His death at his home in England was confirmed by his publisher.

“I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds," Larry Finlay of Transworld Publishers said in a statement published on Pratchett's website.

Pratchett was the author of more than 70 books and had won numerous awards for his work, including a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2008.

The Times honored Pratchett for his young adult novel "Nation." The author filmed his acceptance speech at his home wearing casual pants and a black T-shirt as his cat stood on his desk, charming those who gathered in Los Angeles to watch.

“It was among the most intensively written books I think I’ve ever achieved.  I was in tears halfway through," the author said, sitting with his arms crossed as the cat stood perched on his desk. "Sometimes of frustration, and sometimes because I thought I’d written something that was particularly good.”

The statement from his publisher noted that his cat was also with him at the end, "sleeping on his bed," as Pratchett was surrounded by his family.

Pratchett is survived by his wife, Lyn, and their daughter, Rhianna.

He had completed his last book, another in the Discworld series, last summer. The last book he published in the series, "Raising Steam," was released in the U.S. in March 2014.

The Discworld series, which began with the 1983 novel "The Colour of Magic," is set in a fantasy universe where characters live on a flat disc perched on the back of several elephants.

Pratchett had written 40 installments in the series, and was considered Britain's most successful author throughout the 1990s, before sales of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series exploded.

Famed British author Neil Gaiman, who penned "Stardust" and "American Gods" and co-authored the satirical romp "Good Omens" with Pratchett in 1991, wrote in a blog post Thursday that while he knew Pratchett's death was approaching, the news still left him heartbroken.

"Thirty years and a month ago, a beginning author met a young journalist in a Chinese Restaurant, and the two men became friends, and they wrote a book, and they managed to stay friends despite everything. Last night, the author died," Gaiman wrote. "There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much."

John Scalzi, a bestselling sci-fi author who won a Hugo Award for his 2013 novel "Redshirts," said Pratchett's ability to weave humor into science fiction was particularly influential on his own writing.

“The thing that most people don’t realize is that it’s not easy to be funny, and it’s not easy to be funny in science fiction and fantasy," Scalzi said. "A lot of humor is rooted in relatability and when you’re dealing with fantasy and you’re dealing with science fiction you’re dealing with elements outside of the everyday.”

Scalzi said Pratchett's ability to combine the ridiculous, like Satan speaking to his earthly employees through the voice of Freddie Mercury in "Good Omens," and satire was an unparalleled talent.

“If you’re going to do satire you need to have a light touch," Scalzi said. "You need to use the humor to sink the barbs in."

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


1:29 p.m.: This post updated with a quote from Pratchett's acceptance speech after he won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2008.

10:20 a.m.: This post updated with comments from authors Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi.

This post was originally published at 8:53 a.m.