July 24th, 2006 by Hugh

There is one fact about Exbiblio that it is impossible to get away from: Martin King, the founder, was diagnosed last year with a fatal illness called Multiple Myeloma.

You would not guess that this is a man who has been given a short time to live. He looks well, he discusses many topics with great vigour, and retains the passionate enthusiasm of extreme youth. The only outward sign of anything untoward with his health is his inability to carry a weight above 10LB. Even his beloved Mac Powerbook gives him some discomfort when he brings it to work.

His demeanor shows no trace of fear or self pity. He cheerfully states that his illness will turn his bones into something like Swiss Cheese. The first time he mentioned this to me, he prefaced it by saying that his illness was “fascinating.” He takes large doses of steroids every other day, and these lead to powerful fluctuations in mood, with “up” days and “down” days – but he hides these fluctuations well.

The courage of the man strikes me as quite remarkable, though he modestly states that he is not brave, he merely has no fear at the moment.

“Bravery is about confronting fear. Those who aren’t fearful aren’t brave,” he says.

“Isn’t it natural to be afraid of the unknown?” I ask.

“Or Excited” he reposts – but I think this is just for the sake of argument.

He is willing to approach any subject, even his own demise, with intellectual curiosity. He has come up with a creative way to end things early, if the need arises.

I hope this gives just a little flavour of the man. But obviously this situation has a great bearing on Exbiblio. There is a sense of urgency about Exbiblio’s mission, which might not be quite so intense under other circumstances. Time is really short to get things done. There is also an immediate need to find a new CEO, and that has to be somebody who shares Martin’s values and approach to life, as well as his technical abilities. It’s a tall order.


An Inline Comment From Martin

Not my favorite post – it offends my false sense of modesty. My
fault, not Hugh’s. If anyone cares to know more, I have explained in a seperate post.

One Response to “Mortality”

  1. Adam Says:


    This post raised some concerns for Martin, and he would like an opportunity to respond and add his perspective.

    Because of these concerns he asked our IT staff to temporarily unpublish the post. After careful consideration, and in the interests of transparency, we have re-published it in its original form.

    Please return soon for Martin\’s response.