If there’s one series of fantasy novels that are almost impossible to hate, it’s Discworld from Terry Pratchett. The man has been a writing machine for decades now, churning out novel after novel of a world set on the back of a great space turtle by the name of Great A Tuin, as it swims through the universe. Witty, clever and always entertaining, these novels are also in danger of never being completed, due to the Alzheimers that Pratchett currently suffers from. Fortunately, he has plans to allow his daughter to inherit his work.
Having been diagnosed with the condition in 2007, Pratchett, while keeping up a rigorous tour and writing schedule, has had increasing difficulty in getting new books out. Thanks to assistance from his assistant Rob Wilkins and some writing software though, Pratchett managed to pump out more work. Recently interviewed by the New Statesman, Pratchett spoke of what he has planned for his massive world. According to New Statesman;
He has lost the ability to use a keyboard altogether and can do very little with a pen. His most recent four books have been written entirely by dictation, and with the help of his assistant of 12 years, Rob Wilkins.
“I can no longer type, so I use TalkingPoint and Dragon Dictate,” Pratchett says, as Rob drives us to the café in a rather unexpected large gold Jaguar. “It’s a speech-to-text program,” he explains, “and there’s an add-on for talking which some guys came up with.”
Pratchett still plans to pump out material until he can genuinely do no more, from which point his daughter Rhianna Pratchett would take over. R Pratchett is no stranger to writing, having contributed work to numerous video games such as Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword, prince of Persia and Overlord, which shared a certain tongue in cheek humour with Discworld.
[Rhianna] will be a co-writer on the BBC Discworld series The Watch, news of which has had fans like me chewing their cheeks in excitement. Mine may never recover after hearing some particularly exciting casting details that I’m absolutely not allowed to tell you about.
Run by Pratchett’s new production company, Narrativia, The Watch will continue the well-loved City Watch saga where the books left off, and Rhianna will be an important member of the writing team. The author tells me that he will be happy for her to continue writing the Discworld books when he is no longer able to do so. “The Discworld is safe in my daughter’s hands,” Pratchett assures me.
Rhianna has grown up immersed in her father’s universe and knows it inside out. Listening to him talking about his daughter, I realise it is the first time I’ve heard him acknowledge the possibility of not being able to write any more.
I’ve been reading Pratchett books since I discovered the dusty paperbacks in my school library, starting with the magnificent Mort. The quality of that work has remained constant in the years since then, and it’ll be interesting to see which direction Rhianna and her capable hands takes the series in when she inherits them from her father.