2019 Retrospective

So, 2019 is pretty much a wrap. I have few complaints, it was a good year for YoursTruly, MBW, and the HA. I have another book out, and three in the can waiting to be unleashed in 2020. I traveled a bit, hit a few conventions to dispense what (if looked at cross-eyed, in a certain light) passes as wisdom, successfully achieved the half-century mark of my life (pro-tip: don’t die), completed my web log series on Appendix N, and brewed a few batches of beer.

I’d hoped to look back on what I’d read and watched for this final web log post of the year, compiling some sort of ‘best of’ list. But, after supplementing my (woeful and failing) recollection with a glance back at the web log posts of 2019, I find myself at a loss to find much, if anything, I really cared for. Now, with movies that can be explained away. I believe I got to the theater three times. That’s something of a record since the birth of the HA. There may well have been quite a passel of excellent films released in 2019, I just didn’t see any of them. What I did see was probably on my tiny laptop screen, and probably broken up into increments over days, or even weeks. So even a good film would suffer from this viewer’s failure to keep floating along with the narrative flow. I suppose I enjoyed the animated Spider-Man movie (rented from the RedBox). I’d even recommend it. But I can’t think of any film I saw that left me overwhelmed, feeling the need to sit and contemplate what I’d just watched.

Same with books this year. I believe most of what I truly appreciated reading this year was either decades (or centuries) old, re-read, or both. I’m not saying there were no recent releases that I liked, but none that I read had the impact of revisiting, say, one of the Aubrey and Maturin novels, or provided the sheer pleasure of Jack Williamson’s The Reign of Wizardry (1940) or Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos (1956, ‘59, ‘69.) Maybe it’s just me, but it seems there’s a certain constraint to what’s being published now, as if the authors are casting glances over their shoulders as they type, concerned about writing something that might somehow offend someone. So we get something that is…fine. You might get served up some pretty cool concepts, spiced with exciting set pieces, but the dish will be drenched in a bland, apologetic sauce.

Perhaps this is a function of age, a symptom of ‘get off my lawn’ syndrome. Or perhaps I’m simply not reading the right books. I’m willing to be steered to writers more likely to cater to my idiosyncratic tastes. Whatever the case, at least I still have old favorites to re-read as we roar into the ‘20s.

Happy New Year and Bah, Humbug.