Terry Pratchett Diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's

Pratchett remains optomistic and asks that the community respond with cheer.

I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom “stroke”.

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet.

As PZ says, Pratchett “Aintn’t dead yet.”

UPDATE: It occurs to me that you all may not know who Terry Pratchett is. He’s a comic fantasy writer who has penned many, many novels in a universe called Discworld. Discworld started out as a fairly simple parody of fantasy epics starring a wizard named Rincewind, but quickly got much more sophisticated. It’s a rich and historically deep series that takes on a number of topics. One of my favorite books is a satire of philosophers and religion. The most recent takes on the historical development of paper money. Very little makes me as simply joyful as reading a new Terry Pratchett book — or even an old one that I like.

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25 Responses to Terry Pratchett Diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's

  1. 1
    Thene says:


    (hm; Small Gods – which I assume is what you refer to – seems to divide the fandom like no other, except maybe Night Watch. I love it but I know so many Discworld fans who can’t bear it. Me, I’m with the Witches.)

  2. 2
    Myca says:

    Aw, goddammit.

    There are some authors you want to worship, there are some authors you want to argue with, there are some authors you want to make love to, and then there’s an author like Mr. Pratchett, who (for everything he’s brought to my life) I really want to give a big hug.


  3. 3
    Mandolin says:

    IMO, Night Watch is the most sophisticated of his novels, in terms of writing style. And yes, I refer to Small Gods.

    I also enjoy the witches.

  4. 4
    joe says:

    I loved Night Watch. Anything with Vimes has been great. This is terrible news.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    This is sad.

    Which Pratchett novel would you recommend for someone who has never read his stuff?

  6. 6
    Thene says:

    AmpMort would be my personal pick. It’s about Death deciding he needs to hire an apprentice.

  7. 7
    NotACookie says:

    Soul Music and Guards, Guards are both good first Pratchett novels.

  8. 8
    Mandolin says:

    I’d go with Mort or Guards, Guards over Soul Music.

    Lords & Ladies is the first in the witches series, I think, but if you’re not amused by MacBeth, it may not do much for you.

  9. 9
    Thene says:

    I wouldn’t go for Guards! Guards! simply because everyone I know who really likes it read Men At Arms first. Backward, but true. The first Witches one is Wyrd Sisters* – I’ve not read it in years, and don’t really recall if it’s a good place to start or not. That’s the MacBethy one – Lords And Ladies is more Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lords and Ladies is brilliant, even among the rest of Discworld, but I wouldn’t pick it as a place to start.

    *Not counting Equal Rites because it really doesn’t fit anywhere.

    [/obsessive fan]

  10. 10
    jd says:

    I’d go with the guards or Death. I read them one right after another, though, so that might have lead me to gloss over the roughness of the early books.

    And I also love both Small Gods and Night Watch.

  11. 11
    Nick Kiddle says:

    Another vote for Mort: it was the first one I picked up and it certainly reeled me right in.

  12. 12
    Myca says:

    Dearest Ampersand,

    Ask and ye shall receive!

    What book should you read first? Why, just consult yon handy dandy Reading Order Guide!


    PS. I can’t believe you’ve never read Discworld, dude!

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    Thanks, Thene. I couldn’t remember if I had gotten the title wrong, and I guess I did…

    Just got back from the doctor. Strep throat. This is unrelated, except that I have been constantly sick for like 6 months, and felt like complaining. Also, I can use the fever as an excuse for forgetting the title.

    /usurpation of excellent Pratchett lovefest

  14. 14
    orangepeacock says:

    :-( I’m sorry to hear that. However, if anyone will remain stalwart to the bitter end, it’s Terry Pratchett.

  15. 15
    Silenced is Foo says:


    And Small Gods or Reaper Man FTW.


    Have to say, I didn’t like Lords and Ladies. It had such a good build-up, but when the elves actually arrived it was a complete let-down. “Carpe Jugulum” was the book L&L should have been.

  16. 16
    Kira says:

    This is awful. Alzheimers is a terrifying thing, and for someone with as fun, flexible, open and brilliant a mind as Terry Pratchett– I can’t even imagine. I’m in favor of the big hug–I’ve probably spent more time with my nose in his books than anyone else’s (except maybe Tolstoy, but that’s just because he uses so many words.)

    For new readers of Discworld, I think Men At Arms is a good starting point because it brings you in to the Vimes arc; Guards, Guards! is great but the characters aren’t really fully developed yet, and are therefore less engaging. But really, everyone in the world should read all of them.

  17. 17
    Kira says:

    [Earlier comment eaten, sorry if this is double.]

    This is such a scary, terrible thing to happen, especially to someone with a mind such as his. His books have been such a huge part of my life. I’m in favor of the big hug.

    For new readers of Discworld, I’d start with Men At Arms–it leads in to the Vimes arc well: Guards, Guards! is a fun book, but the characters aren’t fully developed yet, so it’s not quite as engaging. For the witches, I think Lords and Ladies or Carpe Jugulum are good introductions.

  18. 18
    Nomen Nescio says:

    Soul Music is hilarious, and doesn’t have too many confusing in-series references that a beginner would be unlikely to get. some, but not many.

    Reaper Man, my own favorite, is perhaps the least-funny, most-poignant one. again, not too many in-jokes, but not as typical of the usual hilarity either.

    Hogfather is outrageously funny, but in-jokes galore. still not a bad place to start.

    Small Gods and Feet Of Clay are must-reads both. maybe not as introductory ones, but in the first few, definitely. oh, and i badly need to re-read Moving Pictures, it’s been too long.

  19. 19
    Original Lee says:

    My first Discworld novel was Pyramids, which is as good a jumping-off point as any, I suppose. I’ve been re-reading them all lately in a vain effort to keep ahead of my daughter, who has recently started reading Pratchett. I would probably recommend Men At Arms as a first Discworld novel, to get the flavor of this alternate universe, but I like the non-Discworld books just as well, and Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman) is excellent. The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy would probably be right up your alley, Amp. *Sigh* I’m sorry to hear about the Alzheimer’s, though. It’s a tough tough thing to have at any age. My cousin has a similar type of early-onset Alzheimer’s (diagnosed at 64), and 8 years later is still doing reasonably well thanks to modern pharmacology, though we think he’s hit the limit of what drugs can do for him. Good luck, Mr. Pratchett.

  20. 20
    Ledasmom says:

    As Pratchett’s Death would say, “There’s no justice. There’s only me.”
    While the later Pratchetts (Night Watch especially) have more in them, it would be a pity to skip the early ones and then go back to them and be disappointed because they aren’t as complex. I do not like the Rincewinds as much as those books that concentrate on other inhabitants of the Discworld; I suppose I would say to start with “Guards! Guards!” and proceed in all directions from there.

  21. 21
    Brandy V. says:

    Oh, oh, oh! Oh no!

    I have a friend who would be absolutely crushed if anything ever happened to Terry Pratchett! She practically worships him. He’s one of Britain’s best loved, and he’s so funny and wonderful, and god damn that we could ever lose such a brilliant mind…

    *crosses fingers*

  22. 22
    Barb says:

    Does anyone know Terry Pratchett’s e-mail address?
    You cannot imagine how happy I am to know that there is somebody there helping the research for this disease.
    My father was diagnosed with the same disease Posterior Cortical Atrophy. I want my father to help with the research for the cure.

  23. 23
    kellie says:

    god i really love terry pratchetts books. ive got a fair few now and im slowly building my collection. ive read Men at Arms and no word of a lie i couldnt stop laughing. i fell in love with the book within the first few pages, it was then that i realised that this was a book id still be reading 20 years down the line!!!
    the characters in it such as gaspode and cuddy had me laughing so hard my sides were hurting.
    the fact that i can start reading this book and then not stop reading it until ive finished it is something that i really appreciate, to me a good book is one that you cant put down….and that is deffinately the case with this book.
    when i was reading it, to me it felt like i was there in the city itself while the story was taking place.
    Terry pratchett all i can say is that i love your books,and il keep reading them over and over till the day i die!!!!

    lets just hope he doesnt get any worse, id hate to loose an author such as the great Terry Pratchett!!!!

  24. 24
    Jo-Anne says:

    I just started reaing Unseen Academicals, i got the Discworld Folklore with it, it was a christmas present.I couldn’t ask for anything better. Fav caracter is Death. My first Pratchett book was Mort.An excellent book to start with.Lords and ladies is also a favorite toghether with Thief of time. Terry Paratchett will be a big name in my future family one day, my kids will read Pratchett their kids will and so forth!

  25. 25
    andre says:

    In my opinion, Small Gods is Pratchett’s greatest work. I wouldn’t start out with it though. It deters from the usual Discworld series and characters, so it might seem a little odd, but it does give a nice insight into the way religion and gods work on Discworld. If you have to start somewhere, start with Men at Arms, its hilarious and since its one of his later novels the characters are well rounded and interesting. If you liked those two, then start at the beginning and read on to the end.