But even with his long career, (celebrated with a knighthood), Terry Pratchett did not produce enough. His dry wit, sharp observations, and unerring eye for the ludicrous were qualities that made his work addictive. No matter how many books he wrote, we would never be satisfied. It is all the more tragic that he was taken before his time.
The last few years of Terry Pratchett's life were marred by the decline brought on by a rare form of Alzheimer's disease, posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). He could no longer read, although he still wrote. He could not speak in public, but had to rely on others to speak for him. His brain fooled him time and again. Yet, he had the inner strength of a writer for whom Death always figured as a prominent character. Terry Pratchett was a man who did not shy away from the inevitable, no matter how tragic.
After being diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 59, Terry Pratchett donated a million dollars to Alzheimer's research in the UK. In this speech (below), "Shaking Hands With Death" (read by his "stunt Pratchett," Tony Robinson) he talks about his diagnosis, how he came to the decision to "come out," and why shaking hands with death (assisted dying) is something whose idea has come.
Death is a taboo topic in the United States. We like to believe that by eating the right food, exercising regularly, and avoiding EMFs we will live forever. (Though, I have yet to meet an immortal, American or otherwise.) As always, Terry Pratchett, makes us face reality. "I enjoy my life," he says. "I wish to continue it for as long as I am myself, knowing who I am, recognizing my nearest and dearest. But I have my appointment with Samarra."
“Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.” ― from Small Gods
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” ― from Diggers
"The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues." —from Moving Pictures
"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time." —from Hogfather
"I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel." —from the Guardian Book Club
"It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it." —from the foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, by David Pringle
"Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one."
"Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can."
"The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it." – from Monstrous Regiment
"It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done." – from A Hat Full of Sky
"There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this."
"The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks."
"If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story." – from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
"The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head."
"Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to."–from Snuff
"I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible."
"So much universe, and so little time."