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Sci-Fi

Sir Terry Pratchett Succumbs To "the Embuggerance," Aged 66 299

New submitter sp1nl0ck writes Sir Terry Pratchett, the creator of Discworld, has died aged 66, following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Sir Terry announced that he was suffering from The Embuggerance in an open letter to fans over seven years ago, and recently had to cancel a planned appearance at the International Discworld Convention last summer, and donated over £500K of his own money to research into the condition. He also spoke in favour of a euthanasia tribunal, the members of which would consider the case of each '...applicant...to ensure they are of sound and informed mind, firm in their purpose, suffering from a life-threatening and incurable disease and not under the influence of a third party'. Sadly, he didn't survive long enough to see such a tribunal — or indeed any kind of assistance for those suffering from an incurable condition who wish to end their own life — come into being. More at the BBC.
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Sir Terry Pratchett Succumbs To "the Embuggerance," Aged 66

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  • This sucks. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectraFlarefire ( 698915 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @11:53AM (#49241909) Journal

    A lot.

    • Re:This sucks. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by B33rNinj4 ( 666756 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @11:56AM (#49241931) Homepage Journal
      Yes, it does. He was a fantastic writer, and will be missed.
      • Re:This sucks. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:22PM (#49242217)

        He wrote stories that were witty, entertaining - and full of knives.

        The essence of Terry Pratchett can be summed up in one of his more frequent observations: that in the eyes of society, living in a vermin-infested slum practically makes you a criminal, but own a whole neighborhood of them and you're a pillar of the community.

        • +1 he will be missed.
          “And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions.”

          Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay
    • by Dins ( 2538550 )
      It does. But if he was interested in euthanasia tribunals he was probably considering it for himself. So maybe it's for the best.
      • Re:This sucks. (Score:5, Informative)

        by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:03PM (#49242027) Homepage

        He appeared on a TV show in the UK basically arguing just that. When the time came, he wanted to be able to press a button or whatever and choose himself, and it was long after he started down the road to Alzheimer's that he appeared and argued that.

        Actually he barely said a word. He was too far gone down the Alzheimer's route by then, and Tony Robinson (Baldrick) had to say the actual words he'd prepared for him, if I remember correctly.

      • Re:This sucks. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:09PM (#49242083) Journal

        It does. But if he was interested in euthanasia tribunals he was probably considering it for himself. So maybe it's for the best.

        True, but it does lead to a question: Why a "tribunal"? Unless you're too physically incapacitated to do it yourself, it's relatively easy to buy an oxygen mask and a bottle of compressed nitrogen... put it on, eat a couple of sleeping pills, fall asleep, never wake up. Relatively zero pain, and no mess... *shrug*

        IMHO, and in spite of living somewhere where it's actually 100% legal to do it, Euthanasia as policy is at the top of a slippery slope... even though Oregon requires psychiatric approval before an individual does it, very few folks get one before offing themselves. Too many safeguards have been ignored or glossed over, because progress.

        Maybe it's just easier to do what we've always done... leave it alone and if someone does it, they do it. Just make certain they didn't get any 'help' (as in, intentional homicide) to get it done.

        • If you've suffered a rehabilitating stroke or suffered some other catastrophic illness or injury that renders you incapable of doing the deed, it strikes me as completely unfair to deprive you of the ability to end your life. That's not even counting people who are suffering terminal illnesses.

          Creating regulations is the way you eliminate, or at least make far less dangerous the slippery slope.

        • True, but it does lead to a question: Why a "tribunal"?

          To provide oversight to prevent abuse, such as vulnerable people pressured by relatives for financial reasons.

          Unless you're too physically incapacitated to do it yourself ...

          By the time most people are ready to off themselves, they are usually incapacitated.

          Euthanasia as policy is at the top of a slippery slope...

          Forcing people to stay alive against their will is at the bottom of a slippery slope.

          Just make certain they didn't get any 'help' (as in, intentional homicide) to get it done.

          Except that most people need help. Someone in a coma or with advanced Alzheimer is often no longer capable of doing the deed themselves. That is why we need laws and a process to ensure that compassionate and consensual killing is

        • The problem is, sometimes people that are mentally capable of making the decision need help to perform the physical act. Right now, anyone knowingly supplying said help in any way is on the hook for some significant jail time.

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Yes, but you forget just yesterday on Slashdot we had to read about how taking away everyone's gun rights would prevent suicide. When a few people suggested that if someone really want's to kill themselves who are we to get in the way; the "I know what's good for you" types jumped all over them.

          They insisted depression is a terrible disease that societal must protect people from. I guess by removing all the sharp objects, and fire arms lest some un-diagnosed individual hurt themselves.

          So first if we let p

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          True, but it does lead to a question: Why a "tribunal"? Unless you're too physically incapacitated to do it yourself, it's relatively easy to buy an oxygen mask and a bottle of compressed nitrogen... put it on, eat a couple of sleeping pills, fall asleep, never wake up. Relatively zero pain, and no mess... *shrug*

          Most suicide reports intentionally fail to mention how exactly they committed suicide, it's a near universally accepted ethics code. Assuming there are suicide attempts that should be stopped, teaching everyone what's effective and painless would be counterproductive, since they're just as likely to be used by the mentally unstable who just learned their girlfriend is breaking up with them as the pain-ridden terminally ill. Of course people figure out ways on their own, but the success rate is not stellar a

    • It does. I've been reading the DiscWorld series for the past year and half now, I've read nearly all of them, except for a few of the NightWatch books. I'm in the middle of reading Unseen Academicals right now. He will be sorely missed. However, suffering with Alzheimer's is horrible, and at least he's out of that misery.
      I can just picture him finally meeting the Discworld's Death (and the Death of rats squeaking close by), and him choosing to live on the Discworld as his personal afterlife. That
  • Thanks Sir Terry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr.dreadful ( 758768 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @11:56AM (#49241929)
    Funny, thought-provoking, and above all, a great story teller. If you like that sort of thing... side note, my username is a pratchett reference...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Doghouse13 ( 2909489 )
      I'd realised of late that Sir Terry's light would probably go out soon, and that there couldn't be all that many more Discworld books to come; It's still sad to know it's happened. Thanks for the many, many hours of pleasure, Terry; I shall miss keeping an eye on the bookshop window your latest book.
  • Death (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @11:59AM (#49241969) Homepage

    At least Death should be kind to him.

    He made Death more human - and humane - than almost any author before him.

    Terry, Sir, just make sure you don't end up cleaning Albert's boots.

    • Death was relatively kind to everyone, I thought. He seemed hurt that anyone would think he actually killed anybody. Maybe he'll give Terry a chance to ride Binky.
    • And as one of the great wizards of our time, Sir Terry definitely deserves the personal visit.
    • CATS, CATS ARE NICE.

    • The tweet announcing his passing:

      — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob)
      March 12, 2015
      AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:00PM (#49241987)

    “And he goes around killing people?” said Mort. He shook his head. "There’s no justice.”
    Death sighed. No, he said,...THERE IS JUST ME.

  • Fantastically underrated author. Good night, sweet prince. But there is no justice. There's just him.
    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      To be fair, his talent was recognised - in the UK at least - in the last 10 years or so and he helped cut down the pathetic intellectual snobbery against sci fi and fantasy books by the literary mafia who wouldn't know a decent book if it was tattooed onto their backsides.

      • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:24PM (#49242229)

        literary mafia who wouldn't know a decent book if it was tattooed onto their backsides.

        To be fair, assuming the decent book had to be read with a mirror, then the entire tattoo would have to be written backwards which is very error prone and curves and saggy skin will make it likely that sentences will be unreadable so identifying a decent book under those circumstances is really hard.

      • Now, if it were tattooed to their backsides, how would they be able to read it? Most literary critics aren't quite that flexible.

        I suppose if it were tattooed to all of their backsides, perhaps a few pages per critic, an organized effort could have them read each others' backside-books out loud, so they all can get the whole story. However, that's a significant undertaking, especially considering works like Lord Of The Rings, which would involve several hundred backsides.

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      He was and I have read all his Discworld novels. However I remain somewhat ambivalent since I noticed his abuse of copyright law to gain what I view as an illegal extension to his copyright terms.

      What you ask, well some time ago and before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's he started making all his books "co-authored" with his wife. So instead of the 70 year clock starting to tick today, it could easily be another 20 years before Lyn dies.

  • Good Omens (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamwhoiamtoday ( 1177507 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:04PM (#49242039)

    One of my favorite books, and he co-authored it with Neil Gaiman. Going to be rereading it this weekend.

    Terry Pratchett, absolutely fantastic author. You will be missed.

    • by Creepy ( 93888 )

      Yeah, I didn't particularly care for Discworld, but I liked Good Omens. My wife despised Good Omens but loves most Gaiman.

  • I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Fantasy writer Terry Pratchett was found dead in his home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an English icon.

  • Ook? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kinthelt ( 96845 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:15PM (#49242153) Homepage

    Ook. :(

  • by Sem_D_D ( 175107 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:16PM (#49242163) Homepage
    Sir Terry Pratchett was the greatest humanist I knew in my life.
    He managed to touch the souls of great number of people through his uniquely clear worldview and managed to infuse great human values in the best possible way.
    Needless to say, reading and living with his books was one of the most enlightening experiences I have ever had with the written letters.
    His wisdom and approach to life will be dearly missed. Him being of the most famoust atheists, I can only say he left this earth forever, to finally settle in our hearts and the souls of those to come after us, growing up to be better human beings, through his books and ideas.
    Because ideas never die ...
    RIP Sir Terry Pratchett
    Long Live Sir Terry Pratchett
  • by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:17PM (#49242173)

    We'll be having a game of Ankh-Morpork in his honour.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

  • I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe.

  • It was only 9 years ago that I rad my first Prachett novel. His books came to me at a good time in my life, when things were tough and I needed a smile and to spent time with characters I loved. I am sorry to hear this, although it was announced a number of years ago so I knew it was coming. I hope he knew how much happiness he brought to the world with his stories.

    LLAP

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Always true no matter who you are. I saw a wingsuit video in 2012 and had a "What the hell am I doing with my life moment." Not coincidentally I started skydiving in 2012. Funny thing about this sport, people you talk to about it always say "Ooh, that's on my bucket list!" Two co-workers who'd said that to me died in 2013, both to accidents in their household. You never know when you're going to go. They tell you that in this sport you can do everything right and still die, but if that's how I go, that's ho
  • All the fans knew it was coming for a while now, but with this news the world suddenly seems a lot more grey. I guess octarine isn't quite as imaginary as we all thought.

    Gods bless, Terry. You will be sorely missed.

  • by Haelyn ( 321711 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @12:37PM (#49242383)

    "I would like my pudding now nurse. And then I think I'd like to... write... something... I don't remember what."

    Standing in the corner, he waits. The sand slowly flows, but it nears it's end. The old man still glows, as thousands of threads spread away from him.

    SQUEAK.

    I AGREE. IT IS A SHAME TO SEE HIM THIS WAY.

    SQUEAK.

    NO. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.... BUT I CANNOT WAIT TO ASK HIM HOW IT ALL ENDS.

    The old man looks up, through them at first... and then he sees them. For once, the smile on the hooded figure's skull is genuine.

    "I... I remember you. The anth... ant..."

    ANTHROPOMORPHIC PERSONIFICATION.

    "Yes, that. We knew each other?"

    ONCE. AND WILL AGAIN, SIR.

    He so rarely said it, and these feelings... remembering his young aprentice, and beloved daughter. The beautiful child they have.

    "There... is a girl, yes?"

    SHE IS SPEAKING TO THE AUDITORS, SIR. THEY ARE UNWILLING TO LISTEN.

    "Well then. You know what they say, two things you cannot avoid. Taxes and..." He looks into the firey blue eyes, and becomes aware.

    SQUEAK.

    "Quite right. Is it time already? I have so much left to do."

    YOU HAVE GIVEN ALL YOU CAN SIR.

    "No, not cancer. Alzheimers."

    I AM AWARE.

    "So, where is the boy? I remember a boy."

    CARRIAGE ACCIDENT.

    "Ahh. Never much trusted cars. Or horses."

    THEY GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.

    "Must I?"

    SOON. BUT WE MAY SIT HERE AWHILE.

    SQUEAK

    DO YOU HAVE ANY BISCUITS?

    "No. Shame really."

    YES.

    "Is it truely turtles?"

    ALL THE WAY DOWN. I HAVE SEEN THEM.

    "Ahh. I would love to see it. Perhaps a small trip before?"

    IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE.

    "The light is slower there... and there's a monkey...."

    ORANGUTAN. SAME PRINCIPLE.

    "Yes... will they remember me?"

    SQUEAK.

    "What was that? I could not hear you."

    HE SAYS WE WILL, SIR.

    "I never much liked the trouble people had with you. You seem like a nice fellow."

    I HAVE MY DAYS.

    "Don't we all?"

    SOME LESS THAN OTHERS.

    "Is it quick?"

    YES. AND I BROUGHT THE SWORD. CEREMONY DICTATES IT.

    "Ahh. How about a cup of tea?"

    I WOULD ENJOY IT. DO YOU PLAY CHESS?

    "No. how about checkers?"

    And so they sat, two old friends regaling each other, though the old man could not remember all of the details, the cloaked man and his rat filled him in, when it was needed.

  • Truly sad, even though we knew it was coming. He was one of the great writers of the English language with a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for the human condition.
  • Thanks for the books & the afp posts.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday March 12, 2015 @01:17PM (#49242783)

    Oooooook!

  • Very emotional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @01:27PM (#49242881) Journal

    I feel like I've lost a member of the family.

    I started reading the Discworld novels to my daughter when she was seven years old. She decided that Hogfather was her most favorite novel and brought it to school for book appreciation day in second grade. (Around 2001.) This caused a hasty parent/teacher conference where I was asked pointedly why I was reading books to my grade school daughter where the main character was Death.

    A few years later I wrote about this incident to Terry and passed along a question from my daughter -- what's on the other side of the discworld? Is there a bottom discworld, or just a big brass sign that says "content on other side"? [1]

    On the incident, Terry responded "Ah, teachers. We used to have ones that were educated. Once you could respect them." and went on to say that The Amazing Maurice which also has Death as a character, won the Carnegie Medal from children's librarians. About the bottom of the discworld, he said there would only be wet rocks and perhaps some specialized form of life.

    God, I'm going to miss him.

    [1] I was a Laserdisc enthusiast, and daughter knew that this was the message you got when you played the wrong side of a one-sided disc.

  • Fuck.

    Just when things were starting to look up.

    http://www.gizmag.com/alzheime... [gizmag.com]

  • Somehow, over a half-lifetime reading sci-fi and fantasy, I'm not sure I can say with conviction that I ever read *any* of Sir Pratchett's work. Now I feel bad. Aside from DiscWorld itself, any "essential Pratchett" I should educate myself with?
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      He considered 'Nation' to be his finest work.

      You shouldn't regret reading anything of his though.

    • Ok, since you asked.

      His first three novels (in chronological order) are just average fantasy. (The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites) I recommend instead the movie "The Colour of Magic" which includes the first two books, was quite well done, and is, frankly, better than the books.

      I recommend that newcomers start with Mort, (the fourth book to be published) which is a classic "Death takes a holiday" story and gives you a glimmer of the amazing author Pratchett would become. Then read Reap

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @03:18PM (#49243871) Homepage Journal

    He was a satirist, a master of a fine and under-appreciated art.

    Satire in the hands of a master isn't mere travesty. Great satirists traffic in insight, in what is familiar yet goes unnoticed. Travesty makes you laugh at other people, but great satire makes us laugh at ourselves.

    And nobody laughs at a joke they don't understand.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren

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