2020 Year in Review

What the hell can I say about 2020? 

I was thinking of listing the things I was supposed to do (going to Austria for example, my brother’s wedding, etc). Then I realized that if I start down that rabbit hole of alternate history I’ll end up talking about how as a species we were supposed to have cured cancer and have moonbases by now, too. So I’ll stick to reality.

At the beginning of 2020 I got back into tennis and played weekly matches (until tennis courts were closed). I went indoor skydiving and it felt like training for Battle School from Ender’s Game. I did a lot of hiking, writing, reading, exercising, and Duolingo.

I saw a live performance of Shen Yun, which was cool until the bizarre anti-evolution proselytizing. 

My stories “Death on the Nefertem Express” and “The Monsters of Olympus Mons” and “The Dog and the Ferryman” were published in three issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction; “Descent Into the Underworld” was sold to We Shall Rise (latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Black Tide Rising series); my story “Tunnels” won the Critters Readers Poll for Best Positive Science Fiction; “The Sightflower” appeared in Not Far From Roswell; “Shadow Rook Red” appeared in Baen’s Weird World War III; “Breaking News Involving Space Pirates” appeared in Baen’s Cosmic Corsairs; “Theft, Sex and Space Pirates” appeared in Third Flatiron; “Across From Her Dead Father in an Airport Bar” was sold to Flash Fiction Online; “Checkmate” was sold to Clockwork, Curses and Coal; and “Director X and the Thrilling Wonders of Outer Space” was published in the We Robots anthology. I also conducted an interview which was published in Weird Tales

I sold my novel War Hero, sequel to Ten Thousand Thunders, due to hit bookstores everywhere in 2022.

As COVID-19 ramped up, I stayed home. When I did venture out, I wore a mask and strictly observed social distancing rules because I care for my own health and the health of my fellow humans.

I tried online roleplaying through Roll20 and absolutely hated it, sorry; for me, it was a very poor and aggravating substitute for the in-person enjoyment of friends, pizza and rolling physical dice for saving throws. 

I did far too much drinking. I struggled with his ongoing bouts of depression. I’ll address these items in 2021.

I deeply mourned the loss of James Randi, Sean Connery, Mike Resnick, Ben Bova, Chadwick Boseman, Alex Trebek, Diana Rigg, the Arecibo Observatory, and my friend Christine Tampellini. I did my best to console those close to me who lost loved ones to this pandemic; there were far, far too many.

I voted. 

I contributed to fact-based discussions on the pandemic instead of sharing dangerous misinformation and conspiracy videos. 

For video games, I played the VR experiences of Superhot and Beat Saber, as well as Telltale’s Batman series, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Red Dead Redemption 2, and am waiting on several patches before I play Cyberpunk 2077 (I refuse to work as any company’s unpaid beta tester.) I also introduced my father to Tomb Raider Anniversary and Tomb Raider Legend and we finished the games together. 

For movies… eh. I saw Jumanji The Next Level, The Color Out of Space, Hobbes and Shaw, Knives Out, Enola Holmes, and a surprisingly good Doctor Sleep. In a moment of inexcusable masochism I watched Cats and I now know what The Island of Doctor Moreau set to music would be like. I binged on horror films throughout October and rewatched every Bond film in chronological order. My favorite film of the year was The Trial of the Chicago 7, but the most important film of the year—of the decade—was The Social Dilemma.

For television, I watched Monk, American Gods, Booze Traveler, Cobra Kai, and (to my surprise) heartily enjoyed The Mandalorian (which has redeemed Star Wars at last). The Night Manager was excellent. My favorite show of the year was HBO’s riveting Watchmen

I participated in a birthday party for my friend Sarah, in which we gathered outdoors several feet apart and masked like a summit of pulp heroes holding signs and wishing her well. 

2020 was the roughest year I remember. It doesn’t deserve the usual champagne toast, so I raise my quarantini and sincerely wish everyone a better, safer, saner 2021.

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