One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: Voyager is the two-part “Year of Hell” show. The episodes, for those who haven’t seen them, posit a temporal warship capable of re-writing history. Much to the crew of Voyager’s displeasure, it turns a simple jaunt through the territory of this ship into a year of increasing heartache, pain, and destruction for the ship and her crew as history is warped against their favor and the wimpy ships they faced turned into the vast dreadnoughts of an empire. Janeway only manages to get them through by utterly destroying the temporal warship – and Voyager as well – which restores the original time line (note: the reset of everything is the ONLY truly bad part of this two-parter… episodic television is such a pain in the ass sometimes about this shit).

Would that we had a temporal warship we could destroy to undo the damage of 2020.

These are my reflections on the year past and the year ahead. I’ve been luckier than many, more privileged than most. My wife and I kept our jobs and could work from home, and that alone made us exceptional given the job losses incurred due to the impact of Covid on the economy. But I feel the pain of so many who have suffered so much, whether it was job losses or, worse, the loss of loved ones to a disease that was preventable and avoidable if only we had a government willing to take action, and a populace not so solipsistic.

On writing:  the year started well for me with an almost immediate hold and sale of His Stainless Steel Heart to Escape Pod. It didn’t land on anyone’s “best of” lists, but I’m pleased with the way the story went and how it landed. Escape Pod did a great job on it, and it was a joy to hear my story read for the first time by someone else.

Mid-year I landed another sale, this time to Apparition Literary Magazine. The Truth of a Lie remains one of my favorite stories that I’ve written, and it could not have landed with a more supportive organization.  The story took a convoluted journey to reach publication, but I’m glad to see it out there in the world.

And 2020 ended on a huge positive note with my first sale to Clarkesworld Magazine. This is one of the dream venues for me and many aspiring fantasy/science fiction author. I’m just absolutely blown away I get a chance to appear in their pages. More about this later I’m sure, but the contract is signed and we’re working on revisions now (and I’m mentally freaking out of course that I’ll screw up revisions somehow and they’ll ask for their money back… such is how my mind functions).  🙂

The writing itself was up and down all year. I managed to finish revisions to The Fallen Veil, my WWI fantasy novel, and went through a critique group regarding that. A re-write will be needed, but that’s currently back burnered. I did manage to finish a number of stories, most of which require additional revisions. But the writing died on November 3rd, and only the acceptance to Clarkesworld has brought me back to it and allowed me to regain some of my productivity.

Going forward into 2021, I’ve decided to take one of my favorite stories from last year – the novelette titled “Fox and Troll Steal Math,” and re-work it as a novel. I love these characters and the setting, and have a plan for the work in place. There’s only limited places to sell novelettes, and while it did get held once, I’ve burned through most of them now. I’ve already begun jotting down notes in the new Black & Red notebook my wife got me for Christmas. January is for planning, February through March for first draft, and hopefully I’ll get a revision in before critique time in October.

Work: I’m generally not much to talk about my “real” job. It’s there, I do it, I’m reasonably decent at it, I like it well enough. 2020 was no different, other than shortly after I asked if it would be possible if I could work from home 24/7 (and it sounded like they were thinking about it but would likely say no), the pandemic slammed home and I got my wish for all the wrong reasons. Enough said.

Personal: As I said above, life was stable for us this year. As an introvert, stay at home orders sit fine with me. I’ve gone almost a year now with barely seeing anyone other than the wife, and the kids a few times, and that’s enough. I took up guitar, buying one with the proceeds of my Escape Pod sale. We gained a lot of weight early in the pandemic (all that baking everyone was doing inspired us to do the same… we ate soooooo many cookies!), and have managed to get that under control and lose a fair amount in the later half of the year (35 pounds by year’s end merely by eating smaller portions, skipping seconds on meals, and dropping most deserts in favor of jello or apple sauce when I needed sweets). Our holidays were nice and lacking in stress, although we unexpectedly had Thanksgiving alone, which was a bit of a bummer.

In order to accommodate work from home, I added a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to both my computer and the cable router. We get frequent (once a week, sometimes more) outages that last only a second or two, but long enough to take down the internet and my desktop system. I can’t recommend getting a couple of these enough if you suffer the same issues. Internet only went out once in the past six months, and that was a general outage that lasted a few hours, not a brown out that took down our router, forcing us to wait while it rebooted and reconnected. Definitely not good when you’re trying to work!

The World: the world was shit this year. Everyone knows it. Politically, economically, environmentally, medically, just a fucking year of hell for most everyone. Murder hornets. Any year that brings you murder hornets is for shit. It impacted us all in myriad ways. Even I finally broke down a couple of weeks after November 3rd and gave up the world. It became too much, and the angst of the election results being up in the air due to the mouthy ass wipe in the white house lying through his teeth about the results turned my stomach. Fucking traitors to our Democracy, every last one of those GOP pricks. I turned to video games and buried myself in endless hours of play time. I acknowledge again my luck and privilege in being able to do so.

So we move in into 2021. Here’s to a reset of our lives and a hoped for return to some sense of normalcy. We all deserve that. Preferably without having to crash the ship to get there. I’ll be returning to reviews soon and am considering adding the latest issue of Cosmass Infinities to the rotation, which just came out on New Year’s day. And I’ll have an article up before month’s end discussing the Trolley Problem, The Good Place, Star Trek and the Kobayashi Maru, and how those things all relate.

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