Terry Pratchett, author of the best-selling series of fantasy novels set on Discworld, made an emotional plea for the right to take his own life when the appropriate time comes in an interview with the London Daily Mail.
Pratchett, who had revealed in December 2007 that he had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, spoke out after a controversial judgment in the House of Lords in the case of a woman with multiple sclerosis who had sought guidance on whether her husband would face prosecution if he helped her travel to a clinic in Zurich to die.
"I 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," said Pratchett. "Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, 'If wet, in the library.' Who could say that this is bad?"
The author rejected the idea that allowing assisted suicide would amount to legalizing euthanasia, in which those unwilling to die would be killed off.
"I have seen people profess to fear that the existence of a formalized approach to assisted dying could lead to it somehow becoming part of national health policy. ... If we were ever to end up with such a government, we would be in so much trouble that the problem would become the least of our worries. But neither do I believe in a duty to suffer the worst ravages of terminal illness."
Pratchett praised the decision, which will likely result in the director of public prosecutions setting down rules to clear those who do not have selfish motives from the threat of prosecution.
"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," Pratchett said. "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."