My very last post was entitled the year in preview and, I suppose, I might begin by reporting on how I did.
I did retire! My official last day of work was June 5 but with some accumulated leave, I was able to depart on the 24th of May. And depart I did, leaving that night for England, not returning for nine weeks. While Liz and I didn’t get to Scotland, we did make it to Cairo (thanks to our great hosts, Mavourneen and Peter). Add in two weeks in Mexico, 10 days in Nova Scotia, three trips to Alberta/BC and several to the Toronto/Hamilton area, it was certainly a year of amazing travel.
Most of it was quite joyous but not all. One trip to Alberta was to attend the funeral of Liz’s mom, Dorothy Gant, who died at 91. She was a lovely, clever woman, a bibliophile and the supporter of the arts and many charities. She is greatly missed by her friends and family, including me.
On the writing front, it was a bit of mixed bag. I only had one story appear in 2017, in The Sum of Us anthology and I only wrote one new one but I did I sell it, plus two stories from 2016, so 2018 is slated to have at least three new pieces appear. I was gratified to win the Prix Aurora Award for short fiction for “Marion’s War,” which had been published in the Strangers Among Us anthology (also an Aurora winner) and earned an honourable mention in Gardner Dozois’ Best SF anthology.
On the other hand, I did finish the first draft of a new novel, which I am now in the process of polishing (and yes, I should be working on it now rather than writing this blog). With the working title of “The Passion of Ivan Rodriquez,” I have taken to calling it a novel of recovery. It is set in a rather bleak future but is essentially optimistic. I’ve also pulled together some notes for the next novel, which I will start writing sometime in the spring. In the meantime, I have plans to work on several stories that are in various stages of completion.
As much as I enjoyed my own accomplishments, I was equally happy to watch Liz come back to writing after a bit of a hiatus. She had a story appear last year and has written and sold four more, all of which should appear next year. When we first were together, I always said she was a better writer than me and though I may have moved ahead during her time away doing other things, I’m sure that in a year or two she will be the one getting all the attention and winning the awards.
Bundoran Press continued to tick along with all three novels and our anthology, 49th Parallels, appearing as scheduled. The latter was particularly well received and got some decent coverage as part of Canada’s 150 birthday celebration. I am currently reading novel submissions with a view to publishing two late in 2018 and more in the following year. Look for announcements sometime in February.
One of the things I said I would do in 2017 was to take a few actions to make the world a better place. I suggested 26 was a reasonable number to aim at and—though I didn’t keep careful track—I suspect that was too ambitious. I can think of several people I helped and a number of efforts I made to make a positive difference in my community and society in general, but I clearly have to do more. But one always has to do more.
I also think I’ve managed to be a bit kinder and a little less angry. Based on the number of things I didn’t post to Facebook and Twitter, I’m sure I was a better person. One cannot be without outrage. It is too useful a tool, but like any tool it can easily turn in your hand and do damage to yourself and others. So, I remain—even as I approach 63—a work in progress.
Perhaps I need to hang a banner (MORE KINDNESS!) on the wall over my work station.
Looking back on 2017, not everything turned out the way I thought it would politically or socially. The Canadian government disappointingly has backtracked on some key platform points but has taken long overdue action on some others—notably in reforming its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Are we there yet? Not by a long shot, but at least we seem to be on the road. I continue to be impressed with Canada’s renewed international role and with the performance of a number of Cabinet ministers—notably Chrystia Freeland, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Marc Garneau. Despite the shaky performance of a few others, it has been a relatively good year for the government. The public seems to agree with polls suggesting the Liberals still well ahead of their opponents.
In Europe, the election of Macron as president of France isn’t a complete endorsement of progressive ideas but, in the wake of the collapse of the Socialist party, represented the best of the alternatives for a continuation of more-or-less centre left policies. More importantly, it was a significant repudiation of the far right. In Germany, Merkel may yet be able to forge a centrist coalition that excludes the far right and it was a joy to be in England to watch the near death experience of May’s conservatives – though it won’t stop Brexit (which was almost certainly aided by Russian interference in the process).
Ah, the Russians—those pesky little authoritarian bastards. It seems they can’t keep their hands to themselves. Perhaps we need an international movement to call them out on their bad behavior. What? You, too, Lithuania?
Hmm, I guess we’ll have to see whether Mueller and his counterparts elsewhere can do the job.
As for America… well, Trump is still president and likely will remain so for another 3 years. Even if the Democrats can win back Congress next year, they are unlikely to get enough votes in the Senate (67) to actually remove him from office. A better bet is actual criminal charges being laid—still a long shot—which would require Trump to resign so Pence can pardon him, as Nixon was pardoned by Ford. Of course, Pence may be reluctant to comply. The pardon was a major factor in Ford’s brief political career as President. Still, a Democrat-controlled House or Senate—or both—would be bound to change the President’s behavior, hopefully for the better.
Hope springs eternal. After all, if Alabama can elect a Democrat to the Senate (yes, Roy, God has spoken—you lost!), almost anything is possible. The sense of empowerment created by black voters in Alabama and by women of the “Me, too” movement may finally bring about the change America has been craving. And let’s not forget Millennials, who will, in the next round of elections, be the largest voting bloc in America. While I sometimes find their values confusing, I’m pretty sure the kids (whoops, adults) are alright. Let’s hope so: us aging hippies are too worried about hip replacements to keep fighting forever.
As for 2018, I’ve come to the conclusion that the future—SURPRISE!—is largely unpredictable. It will certainly present new joys and new problems and undoubtedly twists and turns we can hardly expect.
On the dark side, this may be the last New Year’s blog I ever write. I could die, hackers could destroy the Internet, cryptocurrencies could obliterate the economy, Trump (or someone else—there are way too many people with the bomb) could start a nuclear war or someone with a CRISPR could create a life-ending virus in their basement. Or we could get hit by an asteroid.
On the other hand, we might, after a half-decade of increasing conflict, get back on the thirty-year long trend to a more peaceful world. Popular will and improved technology might help us avert a climate crisis. Reform movements might take hold in the most despotic places in the world or, for that matter, in places like America where democracy is sometimes a struggle. World hunger and despair may continue to decline as it has for nearly two decades. Human rights may, once again, become the central obsession of a new generation.
As for me, I’ll keep on keeping on. Write another novel and, I hope, half a dozen short stories, as well as a few more blogs. I’ll publish a couple of books from Bundoran Press and get my schedule for 2019 finalized. I’ll try to find a few more good deeds to do and practice that kindness/calmness mantra.
And travel! We’re off to Mexico for almost seven weeks in another ten days. And in the summer, we’re going to Africa for five weeks followed by three more somewhere in Portugal. We have to spend all those savings while there is still a world to see. And look for me in your own neck of the woods—you never know where life’s highways will take you.
Till the next time, have a happy and prosperous New Year. Be kind because you can’t rewind. Time’s arrow only points in one direction—but you get to aim it.