As most people will have read by now, Terry Pratchett has just revealed that he is suffering form early onset Alzheimer's.
I am a huge fan of TP who along with Margaret Atwood (for different reasons) is my favourite living author, so I was really dismayed to hear this. He seems tragically young to be afflicted by this vile disease, but in true TP style points out he isn't dead yet, and is planning several more books while he still can. I wish him the opportunity to write many more as Chrimbo in my household won't be the same without a Pratchett Tome being passed round the family. In fact on Spouse's side we're all such fans that more then one usually gets bought.
I haven't got much time to do a lengthy discourse, but I fell in love with Terry Pratchett one holiday years ago. A friend was reading Reaper Man and sat giggling by the poolside. When he'd finished, he passed it onto Spouse who was also soon roaring with laughter. So I grabbed it after him, and was completely hooked. Reaper Man remains one of my favourite Pratchetts. It tells the story of how Death, who always speaks in capital letters and though affected by humans never quite understands them, gets bored of collecting souls, and decides to take a holiday. He goes off to work on a farm, where no one can cope with the fact that they are looking at a skeleton, so they just think he is a skinny farm hand (except of course for children who aren't so daft). In the meantime all the undead, the zombies, the vampires etc come back to life, and as Death is also responsible for animals, each animal gets its own Death, in his absence. After much mayhem and hilarity, Death realises he's needed and goes to put everything right. He takes on all the animals again, apart from rats, who get to keep their death, complete with his little black cloak and scythe. The Death of Rats squeaks at his victims in capital letters.
From there I went back and read Pratchett's earlier books like The Colour of Magic, where Rincewind the cowardly wizard pursued round the Discworld (Pratchett's insane world - which is a flat disc balanced on four elephants who stand on top of a giant turtle swimming through space. Believe me, it makes perfect sense when you read it), and Witches Abroad (another favourite) where I encountered the wonderful creations that are Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg for the first time. One glorious brilliant thing about Terry Pratchett is that he gets women in a way I have never seen another male novelist do. There's a line in Monstrous Regiment about ironing which is so true I really couldn't believe it had been written by a man.
Another thing about him, that many people in the literary world at least, seem to miss is that he isn't just writing comic fantasy novels, but he is holding up a mirror to our world in every story he writes. So in Moving Pictures he satirises Hollywood, in The Word, it's the press who come in for a bashing and in Monstrous Regiment it is war and armies (but not, I think solidiers who get a sympathetic hearing). He is always on the side of the common man against overbearing authority, for colour and life and imagination against greyness and dullness, and common sense and decency against wrongheadedness and cruelty.
I haven't read a single book of his that hasn't made me roar with laughter and want to WRITE LIKE THAT. I hope he has the opportunity to write many more. And above all I hope he keeps his sense of humour and courage through the trials that are to come. Somehow, I think he will.