WOSSNAME -- AUGUST 2009 -- PART 1 OF 5
Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
AUGUST 2009 (Volume 12, Issue 8)
WOSSNAME is a FREE publication for members of the worldwide
Klatchian Foreign Legion and its affiliates, including the North
American Discworld Society and other continental groups. Are you a
member? Yes, if you sent in your name, country and e-mail address.
Are there any dues? No! As a member of the Klatchian Foreign Legion,
you'd only forget them...
Editor in Chief: Annie Mac
Editor Emeritus (retd): Joseph Schaumburger
News Editor: Fiona (not Bruce) Bruce
Newshounds: Vera, Mogg, Sir J of Croydon Below, the Shadow
Staff Writers: Asti Osborn, Paul Blake, Steven D'Aprano
Convention Reporters: Mithtrethth Hania Ogg et al
Staff Technomancer: Jason Parlevliet
Book Reviews: Drusilla D'Afanguin
Puzzle Editor: Tiff
Bard in Residence: Weird Alice Lancrevic
DW Horoscope: Lady Anaemia Asterisk, Fernando Magnifico
Emergency Staff: Jason Parlevliet
World Membership Director: Steven D'Aprano (in his copious spare
Copyright 2009 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
====Part 1 -- ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS
1) QUOTE OF THE MONTH
2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
3) AUCTION OF BOUND UNSEEN ACADEMICALS PROOF
4) PTERRY IN HIS OWN WORDS: DEATH AND DIGNITY
====Part 2 -- DEATH AND DIGNITY (CONTINUED), AND NEWS
5) PRATCHETT ON DEATH AND DIGNITY, CONTINUED
6) PTERRY INTERVIEWED AT THE DARWIN FESTIVAL
====Part 3 -- MORE NEWS, ODDS AND SODS, AND STUFF
7) REMINDER: UNSEEN ACADEMICALS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
8) NATION AUDIOBOOK -- AND NOVEL -- PRAISED
9) LORD VETINARI XXV PIN NOW AVAILABLE
10) MORE MARVELLOUS DISCWORLD FIGURINES
11) BICYCLING FOR ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH
12) PTERRY'S A RECYCLED BESTSELLER
13) BOOK AWARDS 101: SOME LEADING LIGHTS
14) THE FINE TRADITION OF BEING A "HACK WRITER"
15) REVIEW: THIEF OF TIME
16) IMAGE OF THE MONTH
17) DISCWORLD INK'S A WINNER
18) ...AND DEATH IS A BENCHMARK
19) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
20) GAMES NEWS
21) DUTCH DISCWORLD CONVENTION IN 2011
====Part 4 -- HOROSCOPE
22) YOUR MONTHLY DISCWORLD HOROSCOPE
====Part 5 -- ...AND THE REST
23) LATE BREAKING BITS
1) QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Let me make this very clear: I do not believe there is any such
thing as a 'duty to die'; we should treasure great age as the
tangible presence of the past, and honour it as such."
-- Pterry in the Daily Mail, August 2009
"Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such
as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of
preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any
2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
This is a month of exciting times...even interesting times, one
might say. As I type, a convocation of longtime Pratchett fans are
packing to gather in an English field and a cadre of harassed,
overworked NADWcon committee members are putting the final touches
on the schedule for the very first official American Discworld
convention. Not to mention The Author himself, who's up to his
beard** in fighting for the right to die with dignity, preparing to
attend NADWcon as Guest of Hono(u)r, getting ready for the onslaught
of new interviews when Unseen Academicals comes out in a few weeks'
time, and oh yes, presumably working on the next book...
O readers, please spare a hopeful thought for Joe Schaumburger,
founder and former editor-in-chief of WOSSNAME, who is currently
battling to recover from yet another severe heart attack. If you'd
like to send him your well-wishes, his email address is still the
Right, on with the show!
-- Annie Mac, Editor
** And a very impressive beard it is too, these days...
3) FOR THE FAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING...
PJSM Prints are currently auctioning a "rare UK bound proof" of
Unseen Academicals. The proof, which is of the UK version, is one of
only 120 copies worldwide, and the winning bidder will have their
prize signed *and* dedicated by the Author himself.
For all the old jokes about unsigned Pratchetts having the greater
value, this is as special as a special thing because due to health
reasons Sir Pterry can no longer offer dedicated signings even at
his ever rarer signing sessions.
To view the auction, go to:
To view the original page, which includes a lovely photo of the
Author displaying the Unseen Academicals proof, go to:
[Editor's note: The PJSM Prints page also claims that what's being
auctioned is a "bound prood". A mere slip of the keypad, or is this
something to do with the secret of slood?]
4) THOUGHTS ABOUT DEATH, FROM A MAN WHO KNOWS HIM WELL
A long and thought-provoking letter, as published recently in the
Daily Mail under the headline "Terry Pratchett's deeply personal
We are being stupid. We have been so successful in the past century
at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten
how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby
boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still. At
least, that is what I thought until last week.
Now, however, I live in hope -- hope that before the disease in my
brain finally wipes it clean, I can jump before I am pushed and drag
my evil Nemesis to its doom, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty
locked in combat as they go over the waterfall.
In any case, such thinking bestows a wonderful feeling of power; the
enemy might win but it won't triumph.
Last week a poll revealed that more than three-quarters of people in
Britain approve of assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
On Thursday, the Law Lords delivered the landmark judgment in a case
brought by multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, who feared her
husband would be prosecuted if he accompanied her to die abroad.
She wanted the law on assisted dying to be clarified and the Law
Lords have now ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to draw
up policy spelling out when prosecutions would and would not be
It looks as though the baby boomers have spoken and some of them, at
least, hope they die before they get old -- well, too old. Some have
seen what happened to their parents or grandparents, and they don't
like it. Every day I remember my own father's death. The nurses were
kind, but there was something very wrong about it.
The poll result arrived at about the same time as the Royal College
of Nursing announced that it was ending its opposition to assisted
dying. Other signs indicate that the medical profession as a whole
is at least prepared to face the issue.
I hate the term 'assisted suicide'. I have witnessed the aftermath
of two suicides, and as a journalist I attended far too many
coroners' inquests, where I was amazed and appalled at the many ways
that desperate people find to end their lives.
Suicide is fear, shame, despair and grief. It is madness.
Those brave souls lately seeking death abroad seem to me, on the
other hand, to be gifted with a furious sanity. They have seen their
future, and they don't want to be part of it.
But for me, the scandal has not been solely that innocent people
have had the threat of murder hanging over their heads for
committing a clear act of mercy. It is that people are having to go
to another country to die; it should be possible to die with benign
You do not have to read much social history, or move in medical
circles, to reach the conclusion that the profession has long seen
it as part of its remit to help the dying die more comfortably.
Victorians expected to die at home, undoubtedly assisted by the
In those days there was no such thing as drug control -- just as
there was no gun control. Laudanum and opiates were widespread and
everyone knew you could get your hands on them. Sherlock Holmes was
one of them!
As a young journalist I once listened in awe as a 90-year-old former
nurse told me how she helped a dying cancer patient into the great
beyond with the help of a pillow.
In the absence of any better medication in that time and place, and
with his wife in hysterics at the pain he was forced to endure,
death was going to be a friend; it was life, life gone wild, that
was killing him.
'We called it "pointing them to Heaven",' she told me.
Decades later, I mentioned this to another, younger nurse, who gave
me a blank look, and then said: 'We used to call it "showing them
Then she walked off quickly, aware that she had left a hostage to
I have been told that doctors do not like patients to worry that,
theoretically, their GP has the expertise to kill them. Really?
I suspect that even my dentist has the means to kill me. It does not
worry me in the slightest, and I imagine that, like many other
people, I would be very happy for the medical profession to help me
over the step.
I have written a living will to that effect, and indeed this article
in The Mail on Sunday will be evidence of my determination in this
matter. I cannot make the laws but you have no idea how much I hope
those in a position to do so will listen.
In the course of the past few years, I have met some delightful
people who say they have a passion for caring and I have no reason
whatsoever to doubt them. Can they accept, however, that there are
some people who have a burning passion not to need to be cared for?
It appears to be an item of faith with many people I have spoken to
that both doctors and nurses, at least in hospital, still have
'things they can do' when the patient is in extremis.
I certainly hope this is true, but I wish we could blow away the
clouds obscuring the issue and embrace the idea of ending, at their
request, the life of a terminally ill person at a time and, if
possible, a place of their choosing.
I write this as someone who has, regrettably, become famous for
having Alzheimer's. Although being famous is all the rage these
days, it's fame I could do without.
I know enough to realise there will not be a cure within my lifetime
and I know the later stages of the disease can be very unpleasant.
Indeed, it's the most feared disease among the over-65s.
Naturally, I turn my attention to the future. There used to be a
term known as 'mercy killing'. I cannot believe it ever had any
force in law but it did, and still does, persist in the public
consciousness, and in general the public consciousness gets it
We would not walk away from a man being attacked by a monster, and
if we couldn't get the ravening beast off him we might well conclude
that some instant means of less painful death would be preferable
before the monster ate him alive.
And certainly we wouldn't tuck it up in bed with him and try to
carry on the fight from there, which is a pretty good metaphor for
what we do now, particularly with 'old-timers' disease.
(My speech-to-text programme persists in transcribing Alzheimer's as
'old-timers'. In fact, I've heard many people absent-mindedly doing
the same thing, and as a writer, I cannot help wondering if the
perception of the disease might be a little kinder without that
sharp, Germanic intonation.)
My father was a man well tuned to the public consciousness. The day
before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he told me: 'If you
ever see me in a hospital bed with tubes and pipes all over me, then
tell them to turn me off.'
There was no chance of that a year later, when medicine's defences
had been used up and he was becoming a battleground between the
cancer and the morphine.
I have no idea what might have been going through his head, but why
did we have to go through with this? He had been told he had a year
to live, the year was up, and he was a practical man; he knew why he
had been taken to the hospice.
Why could we not have had the Victorian finale, perhaps just a week
or so earlier, with time for words of love and good advice, and
tears just before the end?
It would have made something human and understandable out of what
instead became surreal. It was not the fault of the staff; they
were, like us, prisoners of a system.
At least my father's problem was pain, and pain can be controlled
right until the end.
But I do not know how you control a sense of loss and the slow
slipping of the mind away from the living body - the kind that old-
timer's disease causes.
I know my father was the sort of man who didn't make a fuss, and
perhaps I would not, either, if pain were the only issue for me. But
I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite
some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die
sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my
hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod -- the latter because Thomas's
music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven --
and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.
Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the
Who could say that is bad? Where is the evil here?
[Note: the text of this letter continues in part 2]
End of Part 1, continued on Part 2 of 5.
If you did not get all five parts, write: interact@...
Copyright (c) 2009 by Klatchian Foreign Legion