English fantasy author, humorist, and satirist (1948–2015)
Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works, most famous for his Discworld series.
- See also:
- Discworld for quotations from the Discworld novels.
- Good Omens (1990 satire co-written with Neil Gaiman)
- Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006 Television adaptation of his novel)
- Category:Terry Pratchett books
- Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.
- Cited in Power Quotes: For Life, Business, and Leadership (2018) by Danai Krokou, ISBN 1-63157-750-6
- Imagination, not intelligence, made us human.
- Foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1998) by David Pringle, ISBN 0-87951-937-1, and The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Fantasy (2003) by David Pringle, ISBN 1-84442-930-X
- Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.
- Foreword to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1998) by David Pringle, and The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Fantasy (2003) by David Pringle
- My programming language was solder.
- On his early computers, from a talk "When I Were A Lad, We Used To Dream of 64K" at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland, (August 2005)
- No, I happen to be one of those people whose memory shuts down under pressure. The answers would come to me in the middle of the night in my sleep! Besides, I am a millionaire.
- Response to a question asking if he would appear on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. ALCS News (May 2006)
- In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
- Pratchett is credited as author of this, as quoted in Ghost Cats : Human Encounters with Feline Spirits (2007) by Dusty Rainbolt, p. 7, and in Chicken Soup for the Soul : What I Learned from the Cat (2009) by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark
- Variant: In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods. They have never forgotten this.
- Quote attributed to unknown author, in Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Cats : And the People Who Love Them (2004) by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Sharon J. Wohlmuth, p. 1
- It is said that your life flashes before your eyes before you die. That is true, it's called Life.
- The Last Continent
- As they say in Discworld, we are trying to unravel the Mighty Infinite using a language which was designed to tell one another where the fresh fruit was.
- Relatively Einstein episode 3, "Fantasy Physics" (18 January 2005); the Discworld version of this statement appears in Night Watch (2002)
- Wikipedia, eh? Must be accurate then!
- Life doesn't happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn't write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children's books ("I'll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep") but I'm blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults.
- On the lack of chapters in Discworld books, in an interview by Gavin J. Grant at Booksource.com (2008)
- As for The Mapp... I suspect it'll never get a US publication. It seemed to frighten US publishers. They don't seem to understand it.
That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans:
A European says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with me? An American says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with him?
I make no suggestion that one side or the other is right, but observation over many years leads me to believe it is true.
- Interview, quoted in "Words from the Master" in The Annotated Pratchett File
- The space between the young readers eyeballs and the printed page is a holy place and officialdom should trample all over it at their peril.
- Nerds are the only people who know how to operate the video recorder.
- I dare say that quite a few people have contemplated death for reasons that much later seemed to them to be quite minor. If we are to live in a world where a socially acceptable "early death" can be allowed, it must be allowed as a result of careful consideration.
Let us consider me as a test case. As I have said, I would like to die peacefully with Thomas Tallis on my iPod before the disease takes me over and I hope that will not be for quite some time to come, because if I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.
- Final lines of his Richard Dimbleby lecture Shaking Hands With Death on euthanasia and assisted suicide, quoted in "Terry Pratchett: my case for a euthanasia tribunal" in The Guardian (2 February 2010)
- I keep vaguely wondering what Macs are like, but the ones I've seen spend too much time being friendly.
- Never trust any complicated cocktail that remains perfectly clear until the last ingredient goes in, and then immediately clouds.
- "Educational" refers to the process, not the object. Although, come to think of it, some of my teachers could easily have been replaced by a cheeseburger.
- In response to a comment that if television is educational because watching it can teach you a lot about society, then a cheeseburger is also educational, alt.fan.pratchett (15 October 1996)
- I don't like the place at all. It's all wrong. An imposition on the Landscape. I reckon that Stonehenge was build by the contemporary equivalent of Microsoft, whereas Avebury was definitely an Apple circle.
- Dickens, as you know, never got round to starting his home page.
- Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combatting the forces of evil... prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon...
- 'They can ta'k our lives but they can never ta'k our freedom!' Now there's a battle cry not designed by a clear thinker...
- Referring to a statement in the movie Braveheart, at alt.fan.pratchett (11 January 1999)
- There should be a notice ahead of the movie that says 'This movie is PG. Can you read? You are a Parent. Do you understand what Guidance is? Or are you just another stupid toddler who thinks they're an adult simply because they've grown older and, unfortunately, have developed fully-functioning sexual organs? Would you like some committee somewhere to decide *everything* for you? Get a damn grip, will you? And shut the wretched kid up !'
- While a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well.
- It's amazing how fast gold works.
- On building the clacks, at alt.fan.pratchett (18 June 2002)
- Oh dear, I'm feeling political today. It's just that it's dawned on me that 'zero tolerance' only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if I care.
- I once absent-mindedly ordered Three Mile Island dressing in a restaurant and, with great presence of mind, they brought Thousand Island Dressing and a bottle of chili sauce
- Oh, come on. Revelation was a mushroom dream that belonged in the Apocrypha. The New Testament is basically about what happened when God got religion
- What your soldier wants -- really, really wants -- is no-one shooting back at him.
- You can't make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago "Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world's music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, traveling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don't have to die of dental abcesses and you don't have to do what the squire tells you" they'd think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say 'yes'.
- A true beanie should have a propellor on the top.
- This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.
- I mean, I wouldn't pay more than a couple of quid to see me, and I'm me.
- I think that sick people in Ankh-Morpork generally go to a vet. It's generally a better bet. There's more pressure on a vet to get it right. People say "it was god's will" when granny dies, but they get angry when they lose a cow.
- I have to admit that I drive past Bridgwater quite regularly. And fast.
- What you have here is an example of that well known phenomenon, A Bookshop Assistant Who Knows Buggerall But Won't Admit It (probably some kind of arts graduate).
- I staggered into a Manchester bar late one night on a tour and the waitress said "You look as if you need a Screaming Orgasm". At the time this was the last thing on my mind...
- In Reading [England] there is this thing called the IDR, short for "Inner Distribution Road", which is bureaucratese for "Big thing that cost a lot of money and relieves traffic problems, provided all your traffic wants to orbit the town centre permanently". It's a 2-3 lane dual carriageway that goes round the town centre. It has lots of roundabouts, an overhead section, a couple of spare motorway-like exits (that's British motorways -- y'know, the roundabout with the main road going under it), and a thing called the Watlington Street Gyratory, where you have to get in lane for your intended destination about three years and two corners before you get there with no signposting. I used to cycle along it every day to get to school, before I fell off at 35 mph. [Kids! Don't try this at home!] I know it well. I believe it is impossible to leave Reading heading west.
- I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did.
- "Out of Print" is bookseller speak for "We can't be hedgehogged".
- I was thinking of 'duh?' in the sense of 'a sentence containing several words more than three letters long, and possibly requiring general knowledge or a sense of history that extends past last Tuesday, has been used in my presence.'
- Bognor has always meant to me the quintessential English seaside experience (before all this global warming stuff): driving in the rain to get there, walking around in the rain looking for something to do when you're there, and driving home in the rain again...
- I must confess the activities of the UK governments for the past couple of years have been watched with frank admiration and amazement by Lord Vetinari. Outright theft as a policy had never occurred to him.
- I'm referred to, I see, as 'the biggest banker in modern publishing'. Now there's a line that needed the celebrated Guardian proof-reading.
- I save about twenty drafts — that's ten meg of disc space — and the last one contains all the final alterations. Once it has been printed out and received by the publishers, there's a cry here of 'Tough shit, literary researchers of the future, try getting a proper job!' and the rest are wiped.
- I always thought Detritus would be good at: "I bet you're wondrin' how many time I fired dis crossbow--"
- Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.
- Currently there's five machines permanently networked here. They all contain the serious core stuff. A couple of the machines are pensioned off 486s, with little other value now. Plus there's two Jaz drives in the building and the portable also carries a fair amount of stuff. Plus every Friday a man comes around and carves all the new stuff onto stone slabs and buries them in the garden... I think I'm okay.
- If I heeded all the advice I've had over the years, I'd have written 18 books about Rincewind.
- Have a bit more patience with newbies. Of course some of them act dumb -- they're often students, for heaven's sake.
- Death isn't online. If he was, there would be a sudden drop in the death rate. Although it'd be interesting to see if he'd post things like: DON'T YOU THINK I SOUND LIKE JAMES EARL JONES?
- The net software here did its meltdown trick again at the weekend (it happens about once every six months -- if only everything was as reliable as WordPerfect 4.2, which only chews up a novel about once every two or three years...)
- I'd like to stand up for the rights of people who put everything on their burger -- chutney, mustard, pickle, mustard pickle, tomato sauce... It is common knowledge in my family that I can't tell the difference between a veggie burger and a meat one, because the ratio of burger to pickles is so high. [either misquoted or mis-thought, since not to be able to tell would mean the burger:pickles ratio is so low]
- Mort isn't fashionable UK movie material -- there're no parts in it for Hugh or Emma, it's not set in Sheffield, and no one shoves drugs up their bum...
- Too many people want to have written.
- DW is based on a slew of old myths, which reach their most 'refined' form in Hindu mythology, which in turn of course derived from the original Star Trek episode 'Planet of Wobbly Rocks where the Security Guard Got Shot'.
- Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can possibly go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent.
- Up until now I'd always thought RSI meant 'I hate my damn job'.
The Carpet People (1971; 1992)Edit
- This book had two authors, and they were both the same person.
- Author's note, revised edition (1992).
- They called themselves the Munrungs. It meant The People, or The True Human Beings.
It's what most people call themselves, to begin with. And then one day the tribe meets some other People or, if it's not been a good day, The Enemy. If only they'd think up a name like Some More True Human Beings, it'd save a lot of trouble later on.
- On the fifth day the Governor of the town called all the tribal chieftains to an audience in the market square, to hear their grievances. He didn't always do anything about them, but at least they got heard, and he nodded a lot, and everyone felt better about it at least until they got home. This is politics.
- Keep 'em busy. That was one of the three rules of being chief that old Grimm had passed on to him. Act confidently, never say 'I don't know,' and when all else fails, keep 'em busy.
- I wish that the people who sing about the deeds of heroes would think about the people who have to clear up after them.
- Anyway, just because you're sworn enemies doesn't mean you can't be friends, does it?
- When they're standing right in front of you, kings are a kind of speech impediment.
- 'I can't have your subjects throwing my family over the balcony, that would never do.'
'Good,' said Snibril.
'I'll do it myself.'
- 'Whose side are they on?' said Brocando.
'Sides? Their own, I suppose, just like everyone else.'
- 'Stop that!' he shouted. 'You're soldiers! You're not supposed to fight!'
- Most armies are in fact run by their sergeants — the officers are there just to give things a bit of tone and prevent warfare from becoming a mere lower-class brawl.
- The Deftmenes are mad and the Dumii are sane, thought Snibril, and that's just the same as being mad except that it's quieter. If only you could mix them together, you'd end up with normal people.
- Normally its narrow streets were crowded with stalls, and people from all over the Carpet. They'd all be trying to cheat one another in that open-and-above-board way known as 'doing business'.
- The sign outside the shop said Apothecary, which meant that the shop was owned by a sort of early chemist, who would give you herbs and things until you got better or at least stopped getting any worse.
- 'Well ... welcome. My house is your house', his brow suddenly furrowed and he looked worried, 'although only in a metaphorical sense, you understand, because I would not, much as I always admired your straightforward approach, and indeed your forthright stance, actually give you my house, it being the only house I have, and therefore the term is being extended in an, as it were, gratuitous fashion —'
- 'What would Deftmenes be if we went around obeying orders all the time?'
'They might be ruling the Carpet,' said Pismire.
'Ha!' said Brocando, 'but the trouble about obeying orders is, it becomes a habit. And then everything depends on who's giving the orders.'
- 'Waiting is the worst part,' said Pismire.
'No it isn't,' said Owlglass, who wasn't even being trusted to hold a sword. 'I expect that having long sharp swords stuck in you is the worst part.'
- 'But we should kill him!'
'No. You've been listen to Brocando too often,' said Bane.
Brocando bristled. 'You know what he is! Why not kill--' he began, but he was interrupted.
'Because it doesn't matter what he is. It matters what we are.'
Equal Rites (1987)Edit
- It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done.
The Unadulterated Cat (1989)Edit
- Our garden was debated territory between five local cats, and we'd heard that the best way to keep other cats out of the garden was to have one yourself. A moment's rational thought here will spot the slight flaw in this reasoning.
- Boot-faced cats aren't born but made, often because they've tried to outstare or occasionally rape a speeding car and have been repaired by a vet who just pulled all the bits together and stuck the stitches in where there was room.
- Cats don't hunt seals. They would if they knew what they were and where to find them. But they don't, so that's all right.
- It's an interesting fact that fewer than 17 % of Real cats end their lives with the same name they started with. Much family effort goes into selecting one at the start ("She looks like a Winnifred to me"), and the as the years roll by it suddenly finds itself being called Meepo or Ratbag.
- Next comes the realist phase ("After all, from a purely geometrical point of view a cat is only a tube with a door at the top.").
- About giving a cat a pill
- Everyone's heard of Erwin Schrodinger's famous thought experiment. You put a cat in a box with a bottle of poison, which many people would suggest is about as far as you need to go.
- Consider the situation. There you are, forehead like a set of balconies, worrying about the long-term effects of all this new 'fire' stuff on the environment, you're being chased and eaten by most of the planet's large animals, and suddenly tiny versions of one of the worst of them wanders into the cave and starts to purr.
The Nome Trilogy (1989 - 1990)Edit
- The Nome Trilogy, also known as The Bromeliad Trilogy is a trilogy of children's books: Truckers (1989), Diggers (1990) and Wings (1990).
- Perhaps, if you knew you were going to die, your senses crammed in as much detail as they could while they still had the chance...
- Truckers, Ch. 1
- 'You're not going to die, are you sir?' he said.
'Of course I am. Everyone is. That's what being alive is all about.'
- Truckers, Ch. 7
- The way to deal with an impossible task was to chop it down into a number of merely very difficult tasks, and break each one of them into a group of horribly hard tasks, and each of them into tricky jobs, and each of them...
- Truckers, Ch. 7
- The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
- Diggers (1990)
Reaper Man (1991)Edit
- Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it. (p.230, in the edition published in 1991 by Victor Gollancz, ISBN 0-575-04979-0)
Witches Abroad (1991)Edit
- You can't go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it's just a cage. Besides you don't build a better world by choppin' heads off and giving decent girls away to frogs.
Only You Can Save Mankind (1992)Edit
- Everything makes sense a bit at a time. But when you try to think of it all at once, it comes out wrong.
Johnny and the Dead (1993)Edit
- Suicide was against the law. Johnny had wondered why. It meant that if you missed, or the gas ran out, or the rope broke, you could get locked up in prison to show you that life was really very jolly and thoroughly worth living.
"I create gods all the time - now I think one might exist" (2008)Edit
- "I create gods all the time - now I think one might exist, says fantasy author Terry Pratchett" in The Daily Mail (21 June 2008)
- There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
But it is true that in an interview I gave recently I did describe a sudden, distinct feeling I had one hectic day that everything I was doing was right and things were happening as they should.
It seemed like the memory of a voice and it came wrapped in its own brief little bubble of tranquillity. I'm not used to this.
As a fantasy writer I create fresh gods and philosophies almost with every new book ... But since contracting Alzheimer's disease I have spent my long winter walks trying to work out what it is that I really, if anything, believe.
- Evolution was far more thrilling to me than the biblical account. Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel? To my juvenile eyes Darwin was proved true every day. It doesn't take much to make us flip back into monkeys again.
- A similar remark was reportedly made by Pratchett in The Herald (4 October 2004): I'd rather be a climbing ape than a falling angel.
- I asked a teacher what the opposite of a miracle was and she, without thinking, I assume, said it was an act of God.
You shouldn't say something like that to the kind of kid who will grow up to be a writer; we have long memories.
- As a boy I had a clear image of the Almighty: He had a tail coat and pinstriped trousers, black, slicked-down hair and an aquiline nose.
On the whole, I was probably a rather strange child, and I wonder what my life might have been like if I'd met a decent theologian when I was nine.
- I don't believe. I never have, not in big beards in the sky.
- Belief was never mentioned at home, but right actions were taught by daily example.
Possibly because of this, I have never disliked religion. I think it has some purpose in our evolution.
I don't have much truck with the "religion is the cause of most of our wars" school of thought because that is manifestly done by mad, manipulative and power-hungry men who cloak their ambition in God.
I number believers of all sorts among my friends. Some of them are praying for me. I'm happy they wish to do this, I really am, but I think science may be a better bet.
- So what shall I make of the voice that spoke to me recently as I was scuttling around getting ready for yet another spell on a chat-show sofa?
More accurately, it was a memory of a voice in my head, and it told me that everything was OK and things were happening as they should. For a moment, the world had felt at peace. Where did it come from?
Me, actually — the part of all of us that, in my case, caused me to stand in awe the first time I heard Thomas Tallis's Spem in alium, and the elation I felt on a walk one day last February, when the light of the setting sun turned a ploughed field into shocking pink; I believe it's what Abraham felt on the mountain and Einstein did when it turned out that E=mc2.
It's that moment, that brief epiphany when the universe opens up and shows us something, and in that instant we get just a sense of an order greater than Heaven and, as yet at least, beyond the grasp of Stephen Hawking. It doesn't require worship, but, I think, rewards intelligence, observation and enquiring minds.
I don't think I've found God, but I may have seen where gods come from.
- "I don't mind authority, but not authoritarian authority. After all, the bus driver is allowed to be the boss of the bus. But if he's bad at driving, he's not going to be a bus driver anymore." Interview with Cory Doctorow
- "I know it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry." - after announcing his Alzheimer's diagnosis. 
- "I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else."
- "It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. This is in fact true. It's called living."
- This popular quote seems to be a paraphrase of an exchange in The Last Continent:
'Is it true that your life passes before your eyes before you die?'
'Ghastly thought, really.' Rincewind shuddered. 'Oh, gods, I've just had another one. Suppose I am just about to die and this is my whole life passing in front of my eyes?'
I THINK PERHAPS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND. PEOPLE'S WHOLE LIVES DO PASS IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES BEFORE THEY DIE. THE PROCESS IS CALLED 'LIVING'.
- This popular quote seems to be a paraphrase of an exchange in The Last Continent:
- Tolkien's dead. J. K. Rowling said no. Philip Pullman couldn't make it. Hi, I'm Terry Pratchett.
- "I will not feel sorry for myself for contracting Alzheimer's, I will make Alzheimer's sorry for catching me!" Interview with BBC Radio 5 Live regarding Terry's Alzheimer's diagnosis
- AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
- Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
- The End.
- The Pratchett Quote File at The L-Space Web (lspace.org)
- Terry Pratchett Quotes by Subject