Not Fade Away
November 1, 2013 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Each time I read Pratchett's name on the front page, my heart skips a beat...
posted by Pendragon at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I don't want this to happen. I hate this fucking disease so much. Fuck this I'm going to get some tea.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Do you think you could define irony, I ask him. “Sort of like iron.”
posted by Pendragon at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yup. Seeing that name anywhere on the Blue always causes me a moment of intense panic, followed by an "I hope it was when he wanted it."

And then I RTFA, and its... not better, but it's still a world that contains Terry Pratchett. So, there's that.
posted by ChrisR at 8:02 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

t feels as though sometimes, when he can’t quite fish the answer to the question out of his brain, he substitutes a readily available anecdote on a related topic instead, one he’s rehearsed before.

Everyone does that, though. Most people only let you speak at all because it gives them a chance to decide what they're going to say next.
posted by Grangousier at 8:09 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

It's different. It's way different.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:17 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Everyone does that, though.

I think the difference here is convenience versus necessity. Could he choose to not rely on answering in that way at this time? I don't know, I'm not privy to his medical records.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:34 AM on November 1, 2013

He would make an excellent MeFite. Only met him once - and that was like the FPP article, in an interview in some hotel - but we nattered about ZX Spectrums and CB radios and all the weird tech of the 70s and 80s that were the start of the infiltration of personal technologies that people did things with, rather than just consumed, which had absolutely nothing to do with the reason we were supposed to be there. (Which I can't remember, it was either Small Gods or some computer game he was involved with.)

He was, like Douglas Adams, on Cix, an early UK online conferencing system (dial-up modems, CoSy, run by a nutter), when such things were small and weird and full of weird people. When that darned Internet turned up and everyone was online, those places disappeared in the deluge. MeFi has something of that spirit, though.

I'm really not sure how I feel about having a ringside seat to his slow decay. At one level, it's a good thing - such experiences lie ahead for a lot of us, either in the adventure of first-hand or with someone we love, and knowing that it happens, that it happens like this, and that it's not taboo. can only be better than not knowing. But the sadness and the anger and the light going out - who'd not want to be in a different room, with the primary colours of the first computer you ever owned still painting an amazing future you were going to be part of?

(If you can cope with just a bit more pathos, a revival of the Hitch-Hikers Guide, as a stage show with many of the original cast, had to be cancelled in the UK recently due to disappointing ticket sales. Our past really has become a different country.)
posted by Devonian at 9:07 AM on November 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

I hate that, in the finite time remaining to him, remaining of him, it's impossible to resist wasting that precious time sifting and examining, watching for the tremors and cracks and blurred edges to appear.

It doesn't do him or his work justice, to peer through that lens. It feels prurient. But I don't know how not to do it, and it's a second sadness that overlays the first.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:13 AM on November 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

Oh wow, Death no longer appears in the Discworld novels? That's a subtle but enormous inversion of tradition. I find that very moving.

I wonder whether he has a plan to write one last Death novel before ending the series. That would be a devastating capper.
posted by painquale at 10:18 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

He would make an excellent MeFite.

In its heyday, and its offshoots was just as eclectic and interesting as MeFi and had pTerry as a regular. He has always been very accessible to his fans, at cons and signings and camping sites in deepest rural Suffolk.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:23 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Oh man, AFP and ABP were fantastic back in the day.

[I] forever!
posted by kmz at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please let him be present enough to make the decision himself, of sound mind. Please, please don't let that moment pass, and put him on the other side of the "self" required for self-determination.
posted by tzikeh at 11:36 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't think I'm going to read the link; I don't think I can take the sadness that I know it would inflict, or the helpless rage.
posted by seyirci at 12:12 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

That would be a devastating capper.

posted by SPrintF at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

After putting it off forever and no good reason, I just started reading the Discworld novels. Because I couldn't figure out a logical place to start, I'm going chronologically.

Now I get told that the author behind this delightful work is dying. While I'm still avoiding reading the last Culture novel because I don't want to be through with that universe yet.

I'm not railing against fate here, I get that this is what happens, I just feel like I've been late to the party in discovering both Banks and now Pratchett and by the time I get there its not really a party anymore, but more of a wake.

Death, though, will come for him in person - as is the case for all wizards.
posted by nubs at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]

Sir Terry's novels helped me through my tumultuous and occasionally terrifying high school and undergraduate years with their humor and biting wisdom, tempered always by his sheer joy in humanity. The thought of losing him fills me, and has filled me since I first heard of his diagnosis years ago, with a deep sadness. He is a treasure.

nubs, you have it right, I think. Death will make a personal stop for him.
posted by clavier at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2013

I've got a stack near me right now that includes The Long Earth, The Long War, and Dodger.

Of Discworld, all I have left are the Tiffany Achings and Unseen Academicals through the forthcoming Raising Steam, just eight books.

I am very seriously and consciously pacing myself.
posted by Zed at 1:56 PM on November 1, 2013

Nine books, if the ad I saw for something called Dodger is not deceiving me. Apparently not a Discworld book, but it does look like fun.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 2:49 PM on November 1, 2013


posted by Zed at 3:22 PM on November 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

One of the highlights of my adolescence was when Pterry responded to me on a thread in I wasn't even thinking of him reading it; the discussion was about British versus American TV. For some reason, it was I, the most American woman ever, that was defending the quality of British TV. He replied directly to me on the thread, disagreeing cheerfully: "Dream on. British TV Is The Best In The World is on a par with the statement about how British Justice Is The Envy Of The World (`Hey, Miguel, how come we can't convict innocent people so quickly and expensively?')" He had more to say; I copied, pasted and treasured the text for years, but the whole message is lost to me now.

It's amazing to me how much he's doing with himself now that he knows there's a deadline. He's collaborated with the band Steeleye Span on a theme album about Wintersmith. I considered doing an FPP on that, but I didn't know that there was enough out there. Plus, it's not really my thing; it's pretty much dad-rock. But it's his favorite band!
posted by Countess Elena at 5:44 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

My Dad died of an Alzheimer's-like disease an I recognize this symptom horribly well; before we knew there was anything wrong with Dad we used to attribute it to him losing his hearing--the machine for making conversation was still running but the bit that really made it a conversation--i.e., the bit where you take in the new information that your interlocutor is giving you and formulate a response to it on the spot--was rapidly eroding. So he could keep talking away very engagingly and interestingly, but it would often be pretty tangentially related to anything anyone else in the conversation had said. As the machine broke down further in later years he'd often end up talking a stream of quite sophisticated sounding nonsense--that is, anyone listening to ten or twenty seconds of it would think "this is a highly educated person making a very complex point"--but if you kept listening the sentences would never resolve, the subject at the beginning of the sentence would be forgotten somewhere around the middle etc. It was fascinating how the overall form of "making sentences" remained, but not the ability to really make them coherent units of sense.

Ghastly ghastly ghastly.
posted by yoink at 6:42 PM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Now I get told that the author behind this delightful work is dying. While I'm still avoiding reading the last Culture novel because I don't want to be through with that universe yet.

London will always remain a mirror of Ankh Morpork. I'll always chuckle when I see people use multiple exclamation marks* and now and again I'll think that a real-life** situation could do with an asterisk. The man is doing good with his advocacy and his recent output is focused and enjoyable. Let's appreciate that he's still mostly in charge of his faculties because other people diagnosed in the same time frame sadly can't say the same.

*A sure sign of a diseased mind.
*The term 'meatspace' is offensive to golems.

Sorry about your dad, yoink.
posted by ersatz at 6:50 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've already posted this in the Who thread but I thought I'd throw it in here too

Terry Pratchett: 'Doctor Who was a safe option for Saturday teatime'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:30 AM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thanks for posting that article, fearfulsymmetry. Knowing who it came from gives it a great deal of impact.
posted by YAMWAK at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2013

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