The hard drive containing Terry Pratchett’s unfinished works met an untimely end this week. It was run over by a steam roller and put through a steam powered stone crusher.
The Conundrum of Unfinished Works
Unfinished works are the bane of an artist’s existence. Sometimes they present the seed of a good idea. In those cases, they will hand the work off to another artist. Case in point: Wagon Wheel uses a chorus written by Bob Dylan. He couldn’t come up with good verses to support the chorus, and handed it off to Old Crow Medicine Show. Other times, the work is not meant to be, and resides in what Terry Pratchett calls “the pit.” Every artist knows the pit. However, when the artist leaves this world, they are no longer in control of their pit. Often, family members and fellow creators finish the works and release them to the masses. Sadly, this resides in a morally questionable area. Many unfinished works are unfinished for a reason. So, the handing off of an unfinished piece can seem sacrilegious.
Furthermore, their release model can come off as a cash grab standing on the grave of a popular artist. On the other hand, some fans see it as a way to connect one last time with their favorite creators. One of those beloved artists is Terry Pratchett. Pratchett crafted countless beloved novels across a lengthy career. Unfortunately, he succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2015. But, his works and legacy live on through Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s longtime personal assistant, and Rhianna Pratchett, his daughter. Together, they manage the author’s estate. While they license out existing properties, they have not touched his unfinished art. Until this week.
Sir Terry Pratchett’s Final Wish
Terry Pratchett’s work left a distinct mark on literature. His sardonic sense of humor connected with readers all over the world. Before his death, he requested the destruction of his unfinished books. However, he did not specify the method. In the words of Robert Stevens, “A pal’s last need is a thing to heed.” So, Rob Wilkins gave his mentor’s hard drive a steam powered demise.
The Great Dorset Steam Fair set the scene for the destruction. Wilkins ran the hard drive over with a six and a half ton steam roller named Lord Jericho. However, the drive proved resilient, and was then sent through a steam powered stone crusher. Wilkins documented the affair via Pratchett’s Twitter.
— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) August 25, 2017
The hard drive contained books featuring many of Sir Terry’s beloved characters. The Amazing Maurice, Constable Feeney, and several Discworld stories met their end. Ultimately, this is a good thing, and it’s nice to see an artist’s final wish honored. Terry Pratchett gave this world an immeasurable amount of joy. And his existing works live on.