It’s no secret, Terry Pratchett is my all-time favourite author, and has been since I was an 11-year-old girl-child, told by my English teacher to “go read this book [Lords and Ladies] at the back of the classroom. You’re too smart for what I’m about to teach the rest of them.” (true story). Although dismissed by many (who I presume have not actually read his books) as a science fiction writer for teenage boys, Terry Pratchett’s ideas on politics, ethics, science, philosophy, and culture are largely responsible for shaping my worldview.
(As an aside, anyone who is interested in the future is well advised to read as much science fiction as they can get their hands on. All the best ideas, from flying cars to artificial intelligence and the rise of digital dictatorships were covered in the covers of science fiction writers – from humble Mary Shelly to Jules Vern and all the way to Aldous Huxley long before physicists and chemists decided to try their hands at turning those fantasies into realities. Indeed, I suspect most scientists get their ideas from science fiction.)
A Slip of The Keyboard is, however, not science fiction at all. Rather, A Slip of The Keyboard is a memoir, a series of (both silly and serious) essays on the meaning of life the universe and a bunch of other things. The most interesting parts of this book, for me anyway, were, firstly all the other books Sir Terry recommended as recommended reading (I promptly bought every title he mentioned, several of which I have already reviewed here) and secondly his essays on the ethics of euthanasia. Euthanasia may seem an unlikely topic for an author famous for hilariously witty SciFi, unless you know that he was diagnosed with (and ultimately died from) Alzheimer’s and became an active activist for the right to die with dignity in his final years. Anyone who has an interest in amortality, as I do, will be well advised to read this book for those essays alone. Euthanasia is shaping up to become one of the biggest debates of our age.
(The book is also very funny.)