Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Terry Prartchett, so sad ...

We've all mentioned how we admire Terry Pratchett and how outraged we were when we heard he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers.

This is the latest.

'Terry Pratchett: my case for a euthanasia tribunal

Should those with incurable illnesses be allowed to choose how and when they die? In his Richard Dimbleby lecture, author Terry Pratchett, who has Alzheimer's disease, makes a plea for a common-sense solution'

Terry puts a wonderful case and I recommend you read what he has to say. Measured, well thought out, and sensible with just a touch of that wonderful wry humour we have come to know and love.

As someone who shared a dinner table with Terry at World Con in 1999, it strikes me as intrinsically unfair that someone with a mind as sharp as his, should have to face what lies ahead for him.

Here's thinking of you, Terry!


Anonymous said...

The beauty of fiction is that we can explore all the various ramifications, all the unexpected side effects of things like this.

For SciFi we have Soylent Green. Logan's Run. And coming out in a few months, LMB's Cryoburn, where the frozen theoretically-not-dead vote by proxy and outnumber the living by a good bit.

We can explore all the pain forced on patients, all the expenses a surviving spouse can't cover, all the pressure from various sides to die before all the money is gone. The trade off of dignity for time. The erosion of what constitutes "sick enough" and what constitutes consent.

And regrets.

I might, for instance, have a character with Alzheimer's who schedules his death according to his own level of dignity. I'd let him be in control, saying all the farewells he wants and dying with his brandy in hand etc. His daughter would bring him his paper to try to read, as always. And as he fades, a moment of lucidity as he sees an article about the cure for his particular type of Alzheimer's.

But in the end, it ought to come down to being allowed our own choice. To go with dignity or go down fighting with every technological trick in the book.

I think the challenge will be to keep the old standard as an option, while still gaining the right to choose to die quickly and a bit early. Once the usual way has shifted to "quick," the vast economies will start making it look so very good to whoever is footing the bill.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I suspect that SF writers tend to be more practical than the average citizen.

You only have to look at the stories dealing with this sort of thing. We explore the ramifications.

And 30 years later, someone makes a movie about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm firmly of the position that the right of life includes the right to opt out, just as true freedom of religion means the right to pick "none" or "none of the above".

Anonymous said...

Life should be a gift, not a curse, and it boils down to the ultimate question: is your life your own to do with as you choose? And that includes ending it when you choose, not when some bureaucrat, politician, or shaman deigns to give you permission to. They have no stake in it -- save for the sick, childish pleasure of controlling the life and fate of another human being.

The only people who have a say, who deserve a say, are those you love and who love you -- the ones who do have a stake in it. Even then, like the captain of your own ship, they can only advise; the final decision is ultimately yours.

Sorry, I got a wee bit more philosophical (and a mite more political) than usual in this post. I woke up with a 101^F fever, and the meds are just starting to kick in. So my brain is free-wheeling a bit today.


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Onyx and RJ,

It is a touchy topic.

I really feel for Terry.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such stories. I like to read stories like that. Just add more pics :)

D. Antone said...

I just got done reading The Color of Magic. I have always been amazed at how prolific Terry is. He has definitely left a legacy that I hope is far from being over.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I was worried that I'd put my foot in it. Since it is such an emotive topic.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


Every time I read one of Terry's books, I come across something that makes me think. Why do I even bother to write, when Terry does it better and he does it with such aplomb!

Anonymous said...

Rowena, where I've found Terry really excels is in making you laugh uproariously, then stopping you flat-footed in mid-giggle with the realization that you just got hit between the eyes with a Deeply Profound Truth of Life.