I've been looking for years for a short story I read in late 1970's or early 80's. I think I remember it was in a collection of award winners, book may have come from Scholastic or similar program.

A man is faced with progressive memory loss (Alzheimer's?). He programs a personal computer to help him cope with his declining mental condition and keep up appearances of normality so that he can continue to live independently.

All scenes take place in the room the computer is in and are from its perspective. It talks the man through getting dressed and ready each day, then waits for him to return home and pieces together his day based on the contents of his pockets.

It monitors the progression of his deterioration and eventually concludes he is no longer able to function safely on his own. It initiates a euthanasia protocol per its programming and then begins deleting its files - apparently because its only purpose was to take care of the man and he is gone.

I remember it as not so much a science fiction story, but a tragic love story.

  • I don't remember the author or title, but I think I remember the story. After the computer helped the man to kill himself, he had to ask the man's wife to delete it, and he had to argue with her for a bit. I think this story was in Analog, 1987 or later. It might have been Asimov's, as I also read that, also.
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 24, 2021 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


This is a wonderful story called "Living Will" in the collection 'The Breath of Suspension' by Alexander Jablokov

"The computer screen lay on the desk like a piece of paper. Like fine calfskin parchment, actually...At the top in block capitals, were the words COMMENCE ENTRY.

"Boy, you have a lot to learn." Roman Maitland leaned back in his chair. "That's something I would never say. Let that be your first datum."


"Surprise me." Roman turned away...

Roman turned back to the screen. TELL ME A STORY, it said. He barked a laugh. "Fair enough."


"Computer Roman, why do you exist?" (asks his friend)

"I'm afraid I'm losing my mind," the computer replied. "My memory is going, my personality fractionating......

  • Thanks for taking time to help. "living Will" sounds great, but not it's the story I'm searching for. Oct 22, 2018 at 18:39

The timing isn't right, because it was released in 1993, but Edward Wellen's Mind Slash Matter is a partial match, involving a man with Alzheimer's using his custom-built program to compensate for his disorder and appear normal.

A brilliant screenwriter is stricken with Alzheimer's disease. However, in anticipation of this he has prepared an intricate computer program to look after him and direct his every move. As a result he fools everyone, including the police, who suspect him of several slasher murders. While the screenwriter wanders ever closer to disaster, the computer diligently investigates events to find the real murderer.

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