(Photo: Reuters / Mark Blinch)
Atheist Christopher Hitchens has fallen ill from pneumonia, thus cancelling his scheduled appearance in London with his good friend, actor and writer Stephen Fry.
The two were set for an upcoming interview at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday.
FORA.tv and Intelligence2 UK announced a change in the program after learning about Hitchens’ sickness, stating that they had good and bad news on their website.
“The bad news is that Christopher has pneumonia. The good news is he is on the mend, but he will be unable to join Stephen in conversation. His voice isn’t strong enough, although it should be in the next week or so.”
In Hitchens’ absence, Martin Amis, Christopher Buckley and Richard Dawkins, close colleagues of the renowned writer, will join Fry for a discussion on the “Life, Love and Hates of Christopher Hitchens.”
While Amis and Buckley will join the conversation via Satellite link, Dawkins himself will appear live on stage at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
All three “will be examining their own and Christopher’s ideas of what constitutes the good life and the good death – seen against the backdrop of Christopher’s career, the causes dear to his heart, the controversies that he has so enjoyed provoking and the things that make life worth defending.”
Hitchens, author of books like God is not Greatand Hitch 22, is an outspoken atheist and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He has written for several publications including Vanity Fair and The Atlantic.
In June 2010, he was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. He announced that he was undergoing treatment and stated that he would be a “very lucky person to live another five years.”
The 62-year-old author lost his voice in April 2011, but regained it back thereafter and was able to speak at other public events.
His latest book Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, which features a collection of his essays and articles previously written for publications like Vanity Fair, was penned with the “full consciousness” that it might be his very last.
In his last public appearance at the annual convention of the Atheist Alliance of America and Texas Freethought, where he was given the “Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year” award, a gaunt and weakened Hitchens continued to affirm his atheist beliefs.
“We have the same job we always had. To say that there are no final solutions; there is no absolute truth; there is no supreme leader; there is no totalitarian solution that says if you would just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you would just give up, if you would simply abandon your critical faculties, the world of idiotic bliss can be yours,” he told the crowd.
Though some believed he would turn to the Christian faith as a result of his cancer, Hitchens’ staunchly held beliefs throughout his sickness confirmed that there were in fact atheists in foxholes, Dawkins commented.
“I’m not going to quit until I absolutely have to,” Hitchens said.