Wed
Dec 31 2008 4:55pm

Sir Terry, I Presume?

This just in—beloved Discworld author Terry Pratchett was knighted in the 2009 New Year Honors! Sounds terribly British, what ho. I hope that’s an actual scroll, dripping with ribbons and seals, if only to allow Pratchett to make a good pun. According to The Independent, which also has a very dapper picture, Pratchett says, “I’m glad a genre writer had got a knighthood, but stunned that it was me.”

Sir Terry Pratchett is the only fantasy writer I could find who has been named a Knight of the British Empire—anyone know more? Arthur C. Clarke preferred spaceships to witches and J.R.R. Tolkien was only a Commander of the British Empire, so he couldn’t be called “Sir.” (A mercy, perhaps. “Sir J.R.R.”?) At any rate, congratulations and continued best wishes to Sir Terry! Not a bad way to start the new year.

14 comments
Josh Kidd
1. joshkidd
The closest that I can come up with is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Obviously, he's most famous for his Sherlock Holmes stories, but he did have some science fiction and fantasyish novels too.
Sean Fagan
2. sef
Remember, it's Sir Terence, not Sir Terry. (You don't use diminutives with the "Sir.")

"Congratulations" doesn't seem to quite cut it... I'm blown away with delight for him on this.
Arachne Jericho
3. arachnejericho
Hooray for Sir Pterry!

Doyle did write SF at least (the Professor Challenger series -- I am most amused by one of the titles, When the World Screamed) and also attempts at supernatural horror fiction (The Parasite and The Terror of Blue John Gap etc). He isn't widely known in either area for a reason (and it really wasn't, as Doyle was wont to rant, all the fault of the fame of Sherlock Holmes).

Doyle did "go there" in the Sherlock Holmes stories with "The Creeping Man" but otherwise stayed out (save for the parts of Hound of the Baskervilles where people assumed it really was a demon hound out on the moors, except... it really wasn't).

Outside of the undoubted and lasting success of Sherlock Holmes, and the softer and more obscure success of the Challenger stories, Doyle's historical fiction was better. Kind of.
Soon Lee
4. SoonLee
Sir Pterence?

It's excellent news & very well deserved.
Dayle McClintock
5. trinityvixen
This is fantastic news. With the bad news Pratchett has gotten of late, he deserves to live it up. And now he can. Congrats, Sir Terence!
mm Season
6. mmSeason
I agree it's great news as far as it goes, and i'm as big a Discworld fan as the next girl, and i also agree with Pratchett's own point about a genre writer being honoured - but it seems the honours list is getting unbalanced. Not that i'm saying it was ever logical...

But if Ian Fleming, whose work has spread Britishness across the world as a cool characteristic to possess, didn't deserve a knighthood then how does Pratchett?

This year's Honours list has been controversial in more than one way (eg the Olympic medallists, the Treasury) and it does make you wonder how they come to the decisions.
Evan Leatherwood
7. ELeatherwood
Wait. What would the pun be?

"Now I'm really on a scroll!"
"This seal's the deal!"
"I've got this one all wrapped up!"
Arachne Jericho
8. arachnejericho
mmSeason @ 6

I think it's because Pratchett subtexts and story-constructs like crazy. People often don't see it because they think "oh, comedy, that can't be deep, see, he's like Monty Python because he's English." Which is rather far from the point.

Though perhaps the knighthood is more for both his past career and his current campaigning for the study of Alzheimer's and a peculiarity of Britain's medical insurance system that's currently screwing everyone with Alzheimer's (as opposed to people with cancer). Americans don't see it, and perhaps the British people don't see it, but he's been pretty relentless....

Knighthoods seem to get handed out if you perform some kind of public service or sommat, and also have had a good *long* career of having done *something*. Or being of high birth (in Pratchett's case, it's the former). Doyle got his because of both his famous writing and also penning The White Hand, which fueled British propaganda during World War I (and when he was well out of his 30s).

It's not enough to just write great books (but it helps). Which makes you wonder when J.K. Rowling is going to get one, since she has her own causes that she fights for---but on the other hand, those causes focus on parts non-British, certainly a ding with respect to possible knighthood.
Andrew Mason
9. AnotherAndrew
It would be tricky to give Rowling a damehood right now, because she is a high-profile donor to the Labour Party, who have got into trouble before for giving honours to their supporters. The next Conservative government might do it.
Evan Leatherwood
10. ELeatherwood
Seriously people. What pun would he make? It's driving me crazy!
Megan Messinger
11. thumbelinablues
ELeatherwood, I didn't mean to drive you nuts! I was thinking something with a seal. As in, baby seal. Perhaps involving the phrase "dripping with seals." Just sort of throwing some potential out there and recognizing that I couldn't do with it what Sir (P)Terry/ence could! I was maybe a little giddy at the time of writing. :-P
Evan Leatherwood
12. ELeatherwood
Thumbelina Blues,

Whooh. Okay, thanks.

Dripping with seals is a pretty funny image. And who else but Sir Terrence could induce such giddiness?
Sammy Jay
13. Malebolge
Figure stick with simplicity - 'Thank you all, and have a good knight'.

I think it's as arachnejerico@8 said - it's the length of work and quality of work that gets rewarded. There's also a sort of english-ness to his writing (yes yes 'because he writes in english')- britishness? - that puts him up there with Conan Doyle and Clarke, which, try as I might, I don't pick up in Rowling's stuff. For my metaphorical money, anyway. I mean, yes, 'mum', 'lorry', 'lemon sherbert', but it's something that goes a little deeper...and which I am completely and utterly failing to communicate here.

Anyway. Does the title come with anything? Annual royal biscuits or something?
Laraine
14. Laraine
I'm researching what people have received various awards for because I'm in the process of nominating someone for one and I'm wondering what services Pratchett did for literature that could earn him a knighthood. Did he set up a school to teach people how to write publishable work (without fleecing them as most such places do)? Did he help a huge number of writers get published? All I've been able to find out is that he donated £500,000 to Alzheimer's disease research. That's got nothing to do with literature. Grr! This is so frustrating.

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