2020, then. It genuinely does feel like we’re living in the future: Blade Runner was set in 2019, and we’re long past 2001 and 2010 now. And yet – to me at least – it feels as if, rather than embracing the imagined future, as a species we’re retreating into an insular, self-obsessed existence. The last four years have seen a substantial rise in populism, and in a tendency towards, rather than away from, what The Lord Thy Rog once termed “the soap opera of state”. Rather than learning that Detail Is Good, it seems that we’re quite content if our leaders lie their faces off and reduce everything to the most insipid and unrealistic slogans and soundbites. He who shouts loudest, shouts longest. It’s dispiriting for those of us who long for a return to the relative optimism and positivity of earlier times, but perhaps this is just a growing pain our societal systems have to go through before they eject the thoughtlessness and selfish impulses like some malign kidney stone.
It’s hard to hold on to positivity in the face of all this, but as the calendar flipped over to 2020, I found myself resolving to do the best I can. Last year, I engaged with friends and acquaintances on a political level more than I ever have before, in the vain hope that change could happen; given the result of the UK’s latest General Election I have to accept that my feelings and beliefs are out of step with the majority of the people who voted. Am I dismayed? Sure. There’s no point wallowing, though – and sooner or later, change will come. I just have to hope it’s for the better, when it arrives. In the meantime, I’ve resolved to spend more time celebrating all the things, the experiences, and the people, that keep life interesting, exciting and enjoyable. It’s a truism that when times are hard, people take refuge in the things they enjoy, whether we’re talking about art, or something as simple as a nice cool pint down the boozer. So you can expect more regular updates here for that specific reason: celebrating the stuff that gives me a buzz, big and small.
I’ve promised myself a few other things, too: chiefly that, after years spent daydreaming about it, I’m going to finish writing my first novel this year. I’ve had the bulk of the plot in place for years now, adding and subtracting things from it in my head over time, and finishing it has become one of those big Bucket List items. I’m getting to be a bit of an old git now – I’ll be 50 in a couple of years time – and I’d really like to get this story onto paper now. It feels particularly appropriate now, in a sense, as the story addresses some of the same concerns I’ve laid out above; it feels a little as though this story has waited for now to be told because its themes reflect our day-to-day reality. Well, as much as a story filled with exotic technology, and huge spaceships can, I suppose. Yes, it’s a sci-fi: it contains elements that are currently thought of as in vogue for your typical Space Opera, but for all the big spacecraft and big events it takes in, it’s a more claustrophobic tale in a sense, with a heavy focus on individuals. There’s a lot of story – more than enough for a few books, if I feel like taking things further – so this book is only the first few pieces of the jigsaw, yet self-contained enough to hopefully make a satisfying read in its own right. It now has a title – Hunter’s Moon – and I’m some 25K+ words into it. More news on Hunter’s Moon as and when.
My immediate focus, however, is a trip to hospital next week for some routine surgery: yes, I have another kidney stone. I seem to have been getting them every 4 to 5 years ever since I got my first one in 1992, and it’ll be almost exactly four years since my last round of treatment for kidney stones when I set off for hospital early on Tuesday morning. So spare a thought for me when you’re doing whatever you’re doing during the day on Tuesday, as there’s a good chance that I’ll be unconscious on a gurney being shot with a laser. It’s OK, it’s a day surgery thing, and after a few very sore hours, I’ll be home and sleeping it off, hopefully a few micrograms lighter. For a few years, anyway: I seem to be genetically pre-disposed to producing kidney stones, so I doubt this is my last rodeo, much as I would like to hope it is. Carrying these things around is No Fun once they start properly rattling around, let me tell you.
Anyway, that’s enough of my waffle for now. Like I say, expect some more regular updates here, hopefully of a nature that will unfurrow your brows and remind you that, despite all that’s going on in the world, there’s still loads of great stuff out there to enjoy, and ultimately it’s fruitless to worry too much about what you can’t control. Easier said than done, I know, but there’s great peace of mind if you can truly grok that sometimes you just have to let the waters carry you along.
This weekend will provide some chill time with friends and – finally, following a previously cancelled outing – a first viewing of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. It seems faintly surreal that the story begun by the film that so captured my imagination upon my first seeing it in ’78 is finally coming to a close. I’m very much looking forward to that – and so is the six year old child within me. Perhaps that’s the best illustration I’ve come up with here of what I’ve been talking about: finding the wonder, giving your senses a holiday, a refuge from the Bad Things You Cannot Change.