What a year. We had a plague which has killed 1 out of 1,000 Americans. Our daily routines have changed, and we will not return to what were before March 2020 for several months.
At least Americans got to go into space in a spaceship of own design and about 30 miles away from my home. We did this twice.
Many great people left the party this year Neil Peart, Buck Henry, Mike Resnick, Christopher Tolkein, Steve Stiles, Earl Kemp, Terry Jones, Kobe Bryant, Kirk Douglas, Freeman Dyson, James Lipton, Max von Sydow, Alfred Worden, Kenny Rogers, Brian Dennehy, Little Richard, Jerry Stiller, Dennis O’Neill, Vera Lynn, Ian Holm, Carl Reiner, Grant Imahara, John Lewis, John Saxon, Olivia de Havilland, Wilford Brimley, Susan Ellison, Ben Cross, Chadwick Boseman, Charles R. Saunders, Diana Rigg, Terry Goodkind, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Mac Davis, Helen Reddy, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Johnny Nash, Eddie Van Halen, James Randi, Richard A. Lupoff, Sean Connery, Alex Trebeck, Dave Prowse, Ben Bova, Chuck Yeager, Dean Ing, Richard Corben, John le Carre, Phyllis Eisenstein, Charley Pride, Jeremy Bulloch, James E. Gunn, Philip Martin, William Link, and Dawn Wells
It was a good year for the Hugos, though it was not a good ceremony. A Memory of Empire by Arkady Martine, a novel about the perils and allure of an empire or dominant culture from some one that is outside. It was a novel about big ideas set in a big place. R.F Kuang won the Astounding Award and took the industry to task on how it treats writers form marginalized groups. Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone showed a friendship spanning over tons of time in their novella This is How You Lose the Time War.
CoNZealand, this year’s Worldcon, went virtual. There was good programming, but there were some big mistakes. The Sir Julius Vogel Awards should have been its own event and ballots and packets should have been sent to the membership. This was new situation. I hope that future Worldcons will have a virtual component. The virtual Art Show and Dealer’s Room were interesting. I do agree that the events should be done in host country’s time. Cons should do programming online during non-primetime hours at the host country.
NASFiC 2020 was also virtual. The used a different system which worked well. Its good to have options with how to do these events online. It is a pity it had to go virtual since I have never been in Ohio.
Necronomicon came to my home this year. They Necronomicon Trivia used an online platform for their contest this time. It was challenging and I came in third which gave me a virtual bronze medal (no roses sadly). Masquerade was different, a non-competitive event. I did some panels which were engaging. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me was great as usual.
Virtual is OK. I do miss seeing my fellow fans and discuss the issues of the field and fandom and just plain geeking out.
Films were scarce due to COVID, but there some good genre films. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was a fun adventure with one DC’s most chaotic characters. DC did another take in Superman: Man of Tomorrow as an animated film. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight had an odd twist, while Batman: Hush was fun. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines was great take on our favorite Amazon.Scoob appears to attempt to create the Hanna-Barbera Cinematic universe. On a Magical Night has a woman facing her past literally to help her present. Prospect is about a young girl and father looking for gems on alien world, a story which could find itself in Analog or Asimov’s. Sputnik is about an alien that comes back with a cosmonaut, a great thriller like Alien.
Parasite dominated the Oscars. It was a great story of a struggling South Korean family with great visuals. The Joker had a great performance but had some disturbing elements. Marriage Story told a painful story of a relationship that fails. The animated short Hair Love shows what a father will go through for his daughter. Jojo Rabbit was also a powerful film with a child’s view of a bad situation. 1917 one take look deserved to win for best cinematography. Little Women looked beautiful. I am surprised Uncut Gems, which had a power performance from Adam Sadler, got no recognition.
There are a few things I hope to see get Oscar nominations. The Trial of the Chicago 7 took us back to the 60s to look at events which led to our current political situation. Mank told the story of the writer of Citizen Kane. I am looking forward to seeing I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Zappa.
Just Mercy made clear message about the state of American Justice. VHYes was innovative way to tell a story as an overwritten video tape. The Hunt had some great action sequences, but I am not sure what they were trying to say in the film. CRSHD showed the perils of dating in the social media era. Crescendo had Israeli and Palestinian musicians learning to work as an orchestra. Alice is aboutan abandoned wife and mother who will do anything to make ends meet. The Ghost of Peter Sellers was about a disastrous film shoot due to a star who lost confidence in the film. Shirley was subtle thriller about a writer, her work, and a couple she befriends. Palm Springs was a great take on the time loop film. We learned how to fight the good fight in John Lewis: Good Trouble. Vivarium was an odd look at suburbia. Booksellers looked at the world of book dealers and lovers of books. At the Video Store showed the rise and struggle of independent video store. 18 to Party a group of teens in the 1980s face life while waiting to get into a club and UFOs. Enola showed another Holmes taking on the world. My Comic Book Country showed the role of the comic book shop in pop culture.
I caught up on a lot of old films. The Conversation told a powerful and quiet story about surveillance. The Ascent showed the brutality of the Russian front during World War II. A Taste of Cherry shows a man looking for help but may found another solution to his problem. Braindead was disturbing but an engaging horror film. Hard Boiled was a frantic action film. Paris is Burning looked at the Ball culture in New York and let us share in the fun. Gold Rush showed the pioneer Charlie Chaplin. Flight of Dragons was a forgotten fantasy gem. Zodiac was an intense film by a great film maker. Auto Focus tried to solve the mystery of Bob Crane’s death. The Bad and the Beautiful told a story of old Hollywood some of which is still relevant. Gary Cooper is man whose past catches up with him Man of the West. Vagabond tells the story of someone who needed more help than she got. There were some funny bits in the parody bio pic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Please Stand By is a quest story with the love of Star Trek mixed in. Monte Carlo was a fun teen rom com in the sun. Gimme Shelter showed us the Rolling Stones in 1969. I finally saw the power of The Elephant Man.
Before the lockdown I got to see some anime in the theater. In Weathering with You was about young people trying to face the future on their own terms. My Hero Academia: Heroes Risings gets our young heroes into a fix and take it head on. Ride Your Wave was a tragic love story that gave you the feels. Lupin III: Fujiko Mine’s Lie showed a new side of our favorite femme fatale. Lupin III: The First was a good old red jacket adventure. A Whisker Away is about a troubled girl who is turned to a cat by a trickster cat, can she save her humanity before itis too late. Thanks to the studios, Fathom Events, and Netflix.
I stayed with the same shows this year: The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and Black Lightning. Arrow ended with a great post Crisis story. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD with a fab trip through time. The second season of Altered Carbon continues to ask questions about identity. The Magicians combined a heist and musical and started a new world at its end. The Good Place found an answer to one of the biggest questions of all time. Locke and Key was a great adaptation of a comic with great visuals and scares. She-Ra: Princess of Power made an enemy into a friend at its conclusion. I saw the 4th season of Veronica Mars which was powerful but sad. The Rocinante’s crew face different challenges in the fifth season of The Expanse. Titans was superheroes with a small budget was engaging. The Doom Patrol showed misfits doing their best when the world is stacked against them. Stargirl rises to the occasion to save family and friends. Harley Quinn looks for her place in the DC Universe and causes chaos along the way. The Haunting of Bly Manor was a great look into the work of Henry James. Swamp Thing did a great take on the Earth Elemental. Emily in Paris was a nice trip to the great city. Primal has a man and his dinosaur partner face a hostile world. Star Trek: Picard fixed the ending of the last TNG film. Star Trek: The Lower Decks showed the other parts of Starfleet. Star Trek: Discovery tries to bring back the Federation in the 32nd century. I followed The Mandalorian and his charge through the galaxy. Lovecraft Country made us look at our painful past and maybe understand our present. The Doctor had to face the Master and new information about herself in this year’s Doctor Who.
I stuck with Fire Force, Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, and My Hero Academia. Carole and Tuesday made great music. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind concluded the team’s fight against the boss in Italy. Ad Astra was a great YA SF story. Wave, Listen to Me follows a young women budding career as a radio host. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is a worthy sequel to Inuyasha. I need to go back and finish Deca-Dence, which had some great ideas.
I did not read much in new comics regularly outside of Doctor Who’s comic from the magazine. I did love Dr. Nnedi Okorafor’s Laguardia. The story deals with issues of immigration we are facing today and demands to be animated. Paper Girls finished its story about friendship and time travel. Monstress has Makia making hard decisions and continues its incredible story. Mooncakes is about a also a story of family and friendship with warm and friendly art which also asks to be animated. Die is an interesting story of a D&D like game becoming real and how it effects its players. The Wicked+The Divine is about old deities in our world. I need to read the rest of the series. It was interesting reading the Flash Gordon finalists for the Retro Hugos. I also had fun going through the DC and Marvel digital archives through their online services, though they are interesting gaps.
Sarah Gailey took us to a magical LA where Ivy Gamble investigates a murder at school in Magic for Liars. Max Gladstone sends a Silicon Valley CEO to deep space in the middle of a power struggle in Empress of Forever. Aliens come the U.S. Virgin Islands and form a complicated relationship with the locals in Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson. I learned about heralds and horses in Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen. Dark forces try to prevent New York from gaining sentience in N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. Olaf Stapeldon looks at dog becoming sentient in a plausible way in Sirius. John Scalzi concluded in the Interdependency series with The Last Emperox. Two twins separated by a continent must discover their connection before others do in Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge is a YA adventure in a seaside town where a young man finds great power and needs to figure what to do with it. We follow January’s coming of age story while being pursued by those who wish to exploit her in Alix E, Harrow’s The Ten Thousands Doors of January. An AI who loves cats tries to help a young teenage girl in trouble in Catfishing on the Catnet. A sister, descended from fox spirits, joins the Space Force to clear her brother of a crime in Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl. Two sisters must stop the boundary breakdown between 2 worlds in Fran Wilde’s Riverland. Oliver must fulfill a task set by his town in T. Kingfisher’s Minor Mage. Oak continues to maneuver in the world of fairy in The Wicked King. Gideon is forced to postpone her escape from the Ninth House to serve Harrohawk in a mysterious world of intrigue in Tasmyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. An American submarine (circa 1944) is sent to a future world to fight a war in A.E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull’s The Winged Man. Rick Urquhart is on the run on Mars in Leigh Brackett’s Shadow Over Mars. Two young girls promised their father to stay of mischief while he is away, soon they drink a potion and turn into kangaroos and eventually turn back into humans and rescue their father from a tyrant in Eric Linklater’s The Wind of the Moon. Tade Thompson creates a complex world of aliens, telepathy, and politics in his Wormwood Trilogy. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi follows a brother and sister with incredible power as they face a hostile world and how they might change it. Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for A New Day tells how the world was effected by a plague and gathering are banned. Princess Sun must make name for herself in battle in Kate Elliot’s Unconquerable Sun. David Gerrold has young people helping colonize a new world in Hella. Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future demands that we work on the world’s problems and offers possible solutions. Three sisters face their own issues and a world hostile towards witches like them in Alix E. Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches. Cory Doctorow warns of the power of nation state using our technology against us while a young woman finds what side she is on in Attack Surface. The residents of Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children go to help one of their own in a Universal-like horror world in Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down.
I stuck with the same podcasts this year with The Inglorious Treksperts, Fatman Beyond, Radio Free Skaro, Verity, Mission Log, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Anime Addicts Anonymous, Starship Sofa, Escape Pod, and The Best Movies Never Made. Galactic Suburbia ended a great run. I started listening to local fans and a friend on Full Frontal Nerdity. I have also joined
I plan to check out some short fiction in the Lady Business recommendation spread sheet.
Hugo, my dog, is doing well. I have gotten back into a groove riding my bike. I hope I can keep up with it next year.
I did not do as many reviews as I wanted. I need to work on discipline. At this time, I have not done my Worldcon report. I need to focus on that next month. As always, I will work on balancing fan writing, reading, media watching, podcasting, and con work.
As always, thanks to those who made the year as fun as it was. This I list would be long and I would forget someone.
2021 we hope will be better. On January 20, there will be a more stable and kinder government in power. As I said earlier COVID is still with us, but we seem to see the end of this current situation. There will be spots of beauty here and there. We will all need to look for that.