Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fantasy author Terry Pratchett dead of Alzheimer's

How Terry Pratchett Made Me a Libertarian - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackleford:

March 12, 2015 - "It may [be] difficult to explain how remarkable Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel series is in the way it expressed concepts of liberty and self-determination to a libertarian who has never read him.... He never used the word 'libertarian' in any of his books. Though his characters could work up a good rant or two when somebody had done something breathtakingly stupid, there were no Ayn Rand-style multi-page screeds about how people should live or behave. That's because he made it all live and breathe as a writer. He used the fantasy setting and familiar fantasy concepts like dragons and magic to explore themes of power, corruption, authoritarianism, and the problem with thinking you know what's best for everybody else....

"Today, Pratchett's publishers announced that the writer has died at the age of 66 following a struggle with early onset Alzheimer's disease....

"It was actually the villains who helped define the libertarian streak of Pratchett's books. The villains were the ones with the big ideas and schemes. Of course, fantasy novels are known for evil wizards and warlords trying to conquer the known lands for greedy goals. Pratchett took these villains and gave them a twist: Many of the antagonists in these books were insistent that their authoritarian goals of conquest were serving to improve the lives of others. Books like Small Gods (one of Pratchett's best — I encourage everybody to read it) tackled how mass religious movements can be captured from within to serve the aims of just a few, taking it to a place that even its own god never intended and destroying so much. Jingo took on the privileged rich who beat the drums of war to bolster the state. Night Watch took on police corruption and abuse in the service of authority. It even had a side plot about the use of its own version of waterboarding. The book was published in 2002, before we even knew what was going on in our name overseas. He won a Prometheus Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society for that book, and the previous year for The Truth, which tracked the development of Discworld's first printing press, and subsequently the idea of what a 'free press' actually is (the villains in that novel obviously thought dimly of the concept). Pratchett's ultimate villains were 'the auditors,' shapeless cosmic beings who craved nothing so much as order and complete stasis in the universe. They hated humanity for how uncontrollable they were and how much everything people did changed the nature of the world around them in completely unpredictable ways.".

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