Terence (Terry) David John Pratchett

On this date in 1948, Terence (Terry) David John Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire, England. He enjoyed reading, especially science fiction, fantasy, myth and ancient history. He has said that from a young age he was skeptical about Christianity and came to the conclusion that there was no god. He has won many awards, including the Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and Educated Rodents (2001), and was knighted in 2009 for his services to literature. Several of his books have been adapted as movies for television.

Pratchett’s first novel, Carpet People, a children’s fantasy, was published in 1971. Pratchett is best known for his “Discworld” novels, a fantasy series tied together not by characters or plot but by the setting of the Discworld, a flat world sitting on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space. The first book in this series, The Color of Magic, a fantasy adventure starring a hapless wizard parodying many conventions of the genre, was published in 1983, and the thirty-eighth, I Shall Wear Midnight, a coming-of-age story featuring a strong young witch battling prejudice, was published in 2010. The Discworld, like many fantasy worlds, features gods who occasionally interfere directly in events or feature as characters in some way. In 2007, Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, but has continued to write and publish new books, albeit at a slower pace. He has made many public statements in support of the right to die, and talks openly about his Alzheimer’s experience, including his wish to take his own life before his disease is critical. He was knighted in 2009.

Throughout his work, Pratchett questions religion in many different ways, pointing out religious hypocrisy while at the same time illustrating how different the world would be if God, or any gods, were real. The 1992 Discworld novel Small Gods shows the god Om visiting his worshipers, and being deeply dissatisfied with the direction in which his church has gone. Good Omens (1990), co-written with fellow British fantasy author Neil Gaiman, deals with Christian mythology and the book of Revelations. It begins with an angel and a demon conversing outside the Garden of Eden and questioning God’s motives regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It ends with the ten-year-old antichrist, Adam, contemplating the raid of a neighbor’s orchard and thinking, “There never was an apple . . . that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.” Pratchett said, “I read the Old Testament all the way through when I was about 13 and was horrified” (The Daily Mail, U.K., June 21, 2008).

“There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is s evidence that they exist.”
~ Sir Terry Pratchett, The Daily Mail (U.K.), June 21, 2008

What is a geek?

What is a geek?

The word “geek” has a colorful history. It originally referred to a crazy person. Later, it denoted sideshow performers who would bite the heads off live chickens — something geeks of today do not partake in.

Then came along the 1980s and the word “geek” became slang for a person who was an expert in scientific and technological pursuits but lacked basic social skills. Isolated and shunned by his or her peers, this geek was thought to find solace in science fiction, fantasy, and comic books — in the opinion of some to an unhealthy degree.

The dot.com boom changed the nature of the economy in the 1990s. Leading this new computer revolution was not the savvy ad man or financial shark of times past. Instead, it was the geek. As Alpha-geeks such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Steve Jobs became household names, the term “geek” began to take on a more positive connotation. The high school geek of the 1980s now drove a Ferrari and dated supermodels, while the star quarterback who had tormented him was now long unemployed and drove an old pick-up truck.

Is a geek the same as a nerd?

No. While a geek may be obsessed with certain esoteric topics, he or she can still have an active social life, though often only with other geeks. The stereotypical “nerd,” however, is more awkward, less confident, and more socially inept than the geek. In other words, a room full of geeks would be able to spot the nerd.