In an age where authors and artists like VC Andrews and Tupac go on producing for their corporate masters long after they have died, Terry Pratchett has pulled off the impossible.
The Guardian reports that his unpublished books have been destroyed:
The unfinished books of Sir Terry Pratchett have been destroyed by a steamroller, following the late fantasy novelist’s wishes.
Pratchett’s hard drive was crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co steamroller named Lord Jericho at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, ahead of the opening of a new exhibition about the author’s life and work.
Pratchett, famous for his colourful and satirical Discworld series, died in March 2015 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
After his death, fellow fantasy author Neil Gaiman, Pratchett’s close friend and collaborator , told the Times that Pratchett had wanted “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all”.
On Friday the manager of Pratchett’s estate carried out his wishes, using an antique steam roller to destroy a hard disk that reportedly contained the only copies of Pratchett’s final books.
Considering that even Isaac Asimov and Robert Ludlum have been zombified and continue to produce new works, Pratchett has pulled off the nigh impossible.
And no, I am not exaggerating. According to EW, there’s a long list of authors whose works have been exhumed or whose names have been turned into brands:
V.C. Andrews, who died in 1986, still cranks out about two books a year (most are by Andrew Neiderman). Eric Van Lustbader has churned out five Jason Bourne thrillers under the name Robert Ludlum™ since the original author’s 2001 death. This fall, we’ve seen estate-authorized sequels of everything from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (David Benedictus’ Return to the Hundred Acre Wood) to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing…) to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (Brandon Sanderson’s The Gathering Storm). At least Colfer and Sebastian Faulks, who published the James Bond sequel Devil May Care last year, are writers of some repute. But some of these brand extensions seem not much better than authorized fan fiction. (Anyone remember Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett?)
I’m not even counting the exhumation of every unfinished (or nearly finished) manuscript or previously unpublished PostIt note by a noted author. This fall brings Michael Cricthon’s Pirate Latitudes, an adventure story set in 17th-century Jamaica apparently completed before his death, as well as Kurt Vonnegut’s story collection Look at the Birdie, William Styron’s The Suicide Run, and Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished final novel The Original of Laura.
Of course, just because Pratchett isn’t joining The Undead Authors Guild today is no guarantee that he won’t join said embalmed ranks in the future.
Throw enough money at his heirs twenty years down the line and they might change their minds.