Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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 ("I started work one morning and saw my first body three hours later, 'on-the-job training' meaning something in those days"). 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, Buckinghamshire, 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 has managed to publish two novels a year. It was once estimated that 1% of all fiction books sold in Britain were written by Pratchett, although this figure was calculated before the success of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter phenomenon.
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 Letters, by the University of Warwick in 1999, and by the University of Bristol in 2004.
Pratchett lists his recreations as "writing, walking, computers, life." He is also well known for his penchant for cowboy hats, as seen on the back covers of most of his books.
Now containing over 30 books, the Discworld series is a humorous fantasy work that parodies everything under the sun where the disc-shaped world rotates 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 (mainly Greek), Egyptian history, trade unions, monarchy, and on and on.
See the Discworld article for a list of Discworld novels.
Together with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Pratchett has also written The Science of Discworld (1999) and The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2002). Both of these have chapters that alternate between fiction and non-fiction, with the fictional chapters being set on the Discworld. A third book in this series, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, is scheduled for release in May 2005.
- Comic books
- 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:
The Discworld universe has also been used as a basis for a number of Discworld videogames on a range of formats, such as the Sega Saturn, the Sony Playstation, the Philips CD-i, and the 3DO Console as well as Windows PCs.
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.
Other non-discworld books by Pratchett
- Strata (though this does feature a disc shaped world, the novel is more a parody of Larry Niven's Ringworld) (Colin Smythe, 1981)
- The Dark Side of the Sun (Colin Smythe, 1976)
- The Carpet People (Pratchett's debut novel, re-released in a substantially rewritten edition after he became famous) (Colin Smythe, 1971)
- A trilogy of children's books (known as The Bromeliad):
- Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman)
- The Unadulterated Cat (with Gray Jolliffe . A homage to real cats)
- A trilogy of children's books about Johnny Maxwell, who sees dead people, aliens and a variety of other bizarre things:
- Once More* *With Footnotes - a collection of articles, introductions and short stories, published by NESFA.
Other books containing contributions by Pratchett
- Meditations on Middle-Earth (2002)
- The Leaky Establishment written by David Langford and recently re-issued for which Pratchett provided a foreword
Works about Pratchett
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 , publish by Science Fiction Foundation in 2000.
Two trivia books have been published, both compiled by David Langford. They are named The Unseen University Challenge and The Wyrdest Link.
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 for over a decade.
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.
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 Orang-Utan 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 Orang-Utan Foundation as their nominated charity.
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.
- The Dutch translation of Good Omens contains an ironic preface by the translator wherein he asserts that no extra footnotes were added to clarify matters that might be unclear to a modern audience—annotated with footnotes explaining omen and Crowley.
- Terry's first post on alt.fan.pratchett
- The L-Space Web
- Discworld Monthly (free monthly newsletter about Terry Pratchett OBE and his Discworld and other novels.)
- Bibliography on SciFan
- The Annotated Pratchett File (APF) on the L-Space Web - a detailed concordance of the jokes in all the Discworld books.
- Funny and useful quotes about Terry Pratchett
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