Pratchett on how we 'buggered the world up'
Terry Pratchett talks sci fi at the Hay Festival
Sir Terry Pratchett’s talk at Hay Festival came at a poignant time, an hour after the death of Ray Bradbury was announced.
“What a shame,” he said simply. “He wrote some wonderful stuff. Especially his shorter stories – The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl was a favourite of mine. You can just totally see yourself in the situation that’s depicted.”
In the hour-long talk he gave to his fans, Pratchett spoke about his new novel The Long Earth, co-written with Stephen Baxter. “I couldn’t do it by myself,” he said, “I knew there had to be someone else to bounce ideas off.” He named Baxter as the “best hardcore science fiction writer working in the UK today. He’s the only man who can say quantum with a straight face and get away with it."
“There were some hissy fits,” he chuckled. “One each, and one shared. But we got that out of our systems in the first week.” The Long Earth explores the idea of parallel earths - a device has been invented which transports people to uninhabited worlds rich in resources. In short, “it’s about how we buggered the world up” Pratchett said. “It’s nice to get to grips with good old science fiction again.”
Pratchett was also presented with the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse award on stage for his latest Discworld novel Snuff. Part of the prize is that a pig is named after the novel. When an audience member asked if the author wished he was taken more seriously in literature, he replied: “Hell no!"
“Let me rant a bit,” he went on. “Everybody seems to think I should care that the Booker prize doesn’t like me. I don’t care. I grew up reading science fiction, and I’ve just been given an award for not being taken seriously – and I like that. I also like being rich.”
Another fan asked him what he was scared of. “Dying badly?” he replied after a pause. “Can’t be bothered with death – I’ve made him so popular that he owes me one.” His advice to aspiring authors is to “look at how the best do it".
“As a young man in my teens I read all the bound volumes of the magazine Punch I could get my hands on. Every major writer wrote for Punch. When I was at school I just read all these really good pieces of work by all the best writers in the field.
“But for heaven’s sake,” he finished, “don’t write like me. That would be suicide.”
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is published by Doubleday