Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, as he announced yesterday with a post to the web. The best-selling author of the Discworld fantasy books is 59 years-old.
"I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news," Pratchett wrote on the web site run by Paul Kidby, who has provided Discworld cover art in recent years. "We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism."
According to The Guardian, Pratchett underwent some medical tests earlier this year after "having problems with hand-eye coordination and dexterity." At the time, it was suggested that he'd had a mild stroke, but Pratchett now says the culprit was Alzheimer's.
Pratchett calls his diagnosis "an embuggerance," but he says that he expects "to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments." He aims to complete his next novel, "Nation," and is beginning to lay down notes for another, "Unseen Academicals."
"Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet," Prachett wrote.
"Nation" and "Unseen Academicals" are not part of the Discworld series. The latest Discworld instalment, "Making Money," arrived earlier this year. In all, Pratchett has sold 55 million books, according to The Guardian, and in 1998, he was awarded an OBE for services to British Literature.
After announcing his diagnosis, Pratchett added a post script: "I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do,' but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry." ®