In years past, I would often do a Not A Blog post on or about New Year’s, looking back over the year that was ending and ahead to the year to come. This year, though, as I reflected on the year we had just lived through, I found I had no appetite for living through any of that again. 2023 was a nightmare of a year, for the world and the nation and for me and mine, both professionally and personally. I am very glad that it is over.
Unfortunately, so far 2024 looks to be even worse.
There is war everywhere. Ukraine and Gaza dominate the news, but there is a war in Myanmar as well that our western media just ignores, things are heating up in Yemen and the Red Sea, North Korea has nukes and is testing missiles and rattling sabres, Venezuela is threatening to annex three quarters of neighboring Guyana.
Meanwhile the US grows more polarized every day. Hate is rising, democracy is under threat, millions of Americans have swallowed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Newspeak has taken over political discourse, cancel culture is destroying lives and careers, and we have a disgraced, indicted, venomous ex-president winning primaries despite openly declaring that he will be a dictator on day one and will govern on a platform of “retribution,” when he is not busy grabbing women by the pussy. His last attempt to overthrow the government failed on January 6, but some of his more ardent supporters are now saying that “next time” they will bring more guns. There are actually folks out there wanting civil war.
It is hard to escape the feeling that we are living in the Weimar Republic.
I am famous and I am wealthy and, supposedly, I have a “big platform.” Whatever that is. But I have grown more and more cynical about this supposed “power” that people keep telling me I have. Has anything I have ever written here ever changed a single mind, a single vote? I see no evidence of that. The era of rational discourse seems to have ended.
And death is everywhere. Howard Waldrop was the latest, and his passing has hit me very very hard, but before him we lost Michael Bishop, Terry Bisson, David Drake… from my Wild Cards team, Victor Milan, John Jos. Miller, Edward Bryant, Steve Perrin… I still miss Gardner Dozois and Phyllis Eisenstein and my amazing agent Kay McCauley… Len Wein is gone, Vonda McIntyre, and Harlan Ellison… Greg Bear too, and… oh, I could go on. I look around, and it seems as though my entire generation of SF and fantasy writers is gone or going. Only a handful of us remain… and for how long, I wonder? I know I have forgotten people in the list above, and maybe that is the destiny that awaits all of us… to be forgotten.
For that matter, the entire human race may be forgotten. If climate change does not get us, war will. Too many countries have nukes.
Well, I take solace where I can. In chocolate thrones, if nowhere else. In books. In films and television shows… though even there, toxicity is growing. It used to be fun talking about our favorite books and films, and having spirited debates with fans who saw things different… but somehow in this age of social media, it is no longer enough to say “I did not like book X or film Y, and here’s why.” Now social media is ruled by anti-fans who would rather talk about the stuff they hate than the stuff they love, and delight in dancing on the graves of anyone whose film has flopped.
And don’t get me started on immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, yet millions of us have now decided we hate immigrants… refugees dreaming of a better life who are no better or worse or different than our own ancestors.
It is all so sad.
Now that I have made you all as depressed and angry as I am, let me close with something nice. When word of Howard’s death got out, I got a lot of texts and emails of condolence from mutual friends and fans. One of them was from Steven Paul Judd, the amazingly talented screenwriter and director who worked with us on the adaptation of MARY-MARGARET ROAD GRADER that will be going out on the film festival circuit Real Soon Now (more on that in a later blog post).
“Oh, no. I’m so sorry. My heart is heavy for your loss… In my tribe (Kiowa) in the old beliefs, they said we would go ‘west’ when we walked on into the spirit world. Who knows if that’s true, but if it is, then Howard is on his journey west now, going to the place where the fields are filled with buffalo and the grass is green even in winter — and when he gets there he can tell all his wonderful stories to those around the campfire.”
Howard would like nothing better, I think.
Current Mood: depressed