PRATCHETT, TERRY (1948- ). British writer whose humorous fantasies were initially issued by a small press because conventional editorial wisdom at the time considered the subgenre commercially inviable; when the paperback editions became spectacular best sellers, the precedent brought about a sea of change in the marketplace. His first publication, the Faustian fantasy "The Hades Business" (1963), had been written while he was at school. The Carpet People (1971; rev. 1992) is a children's fantasy set in the microcosm of a carpet. Two sf novels (refer to HDSFL) subsequently helped set the scene and tone for the chimerical Discworld series, in which multitudinous tropes of myth, legend, folklore, and literary fantasy are wryly subverted, either deconstructed by injections of common sense or bizarrely reconstructed by ingenious logical extrapolations. As the series progressed, the comedy became darker and the plotting more robust, many of the later items being neatly crafted thrillers with a mordant humor that serves to intensify rather than alleviate the dramatic tension.
The main sequence of the Discworld novels comprises The Colour of Magic (1983), The Light Fantastic (1986), Equal Rites (1987), Mort (1987), Sourcery (1988), Wyrd Sisters (1988), Pyramids (1989), Guards! Guards! (1989), Moving Pictures (1990), Reaper Man (1991), Witches Abroad (1991), Small Gods (1992), Lords and Ladies (1992), Men at Arms (1993), Soul Music (1994), Interesting Times (1994), Maskerade (1995), Feet of Clay (1996), Hogfather (1996), Jingo (1997), The Last Continent (1998), Carpe Jugulum (1998), The Fifth Elephant (1999), The Truth (2000), Thief of Time. (2001), Night Watch (2002), Monstrous Regiment (2003), and Going Postal (2004). Subsidiary to the main sequence are Eric (1990, with Josh Kirby), The Last Hero (2001, with Paul Kidby), The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001), The Wee Free Men (2003), and A Hat Full of Sky (2004), which are more explicitly marketed as children's fantasies (the whole project has an immense following among teenagers). There are also various spinoff volumes, including graphic novels and screenplay scripts. The main sequence contains four major subseries; one features the hapless wizard Rincewind and his colleagues in the Unseen University, the second a company of witches headed by the redoubtable Granny Weatherwax, the third the exploits of the Discworld's personalized Death, and the fourth the city of Ankh-Morpork's makeshift police force, the Watch. None of these sequences is segmental; all of them make significant progress as the history of the Discworld moves forward and the metaphysical backcloth becomes ever more detailed.