What I Say To 2016 As It Exits… And To 2017 As It Enters

My son associates Star Wars with Christmas a little bit, I think. In particular, both Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens, maybe in part because both films have snowy planets? Or maybe it’s just because he watches both around this time of the year and they get stuck in his mind like a seed between the teeth. No idea.

What I do know is, during our most recent rewatch of ESB, I responded particularly to one Han Solo moment. Now, Han Solo gets a lot of moments in ESB, arguably more and better ones than Luke does. This moment, however, is close to the beginning. Luke has gone out and is promptly mauled by the cantankerous Wampa. Han and The Gang learn that Luke has not returned. Night is falling. The temperature on an already frigid planet is dropping.

And Han says, fuck it, I’m gonna go look for my buddy.

So he mounts a Tauntaun — hey, did you know those are lizards? — and rides out.

But! But.

Just as he’s riding out, a short exchange occurs:

Rebel Deck Officer: Your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!

Han Solo: Then I’ll see you in Hell!

I joked at the time with my wife, that’s an astonishingly aggressive overreaction by Han. It’s like, “HEY DUDE YOU MIGHT FREEZE TO DEATH,” and Han’s response is basically a nuclear, “THEN FUCK YOU, GUY WHO WAS PROBABLY JUST WARNING ME ABOUT THE SUB-ZERO DEATH TEMPERATURES AND HOW MAYBE MY FUZZY DINOSAUR FRIEND WASN’T EVEN GOING TO SURVIVE OUT THERE SO HOW COULD POSSIBLY SURVIVE. EAT POOP, JERK!”

We also joked that it was a very good response to really anything anyone ever says to you.

“Have a nice day!” “THEN I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL.”

“That’ll be $7.63.” “THEN I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL.”

“Sir, you can’t park your Tauntaun here.” “THEN I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL.”

But then, of course, as 2016 continued to harangue the world with news of new POUTUS appointments and sad deaths, the phrase came out of my mouth as sort of a grim, teeth-clenching rejoinder to whatever 2016 had on order. It became an automatic response to the year in general, both in what it still brings and retroactively as to what it already gave.

THEN I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL, 2016.

But it occurs to me —

2017 isn’t likely to be much better.

I mean, 2016 wasn’t a blip. It was the beginning of something. All the bad news that’s arisen isn’t isolated. It’s part of a pattern. This shit is just getting started. The bump that was 2016 isn’t a hill we’re climbing over. It’s the top of Cthulhu’s head as he emerges from the deep. Sure, maybe 2017 won’t be as bad as we think. (Alternatively, maybe it’ll be worse!) Yep, 2017 will likely bring some good news along with some bad news, because that’s how things are.

Just the same, I expect it will have some unpleasant surprises in store.

And when it springs its many traps, I will remember Han Solo saying:

“THEN I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL.”

And yet, I’ll also remember what goes into that phrase and why he said it.

I’ll remember this exchange, too:

Rebel Deck Officer: Sir, the temperature’s dropping too rapidly.

Han Solo: That’s right, and my friend’s out in it.

The reason he gets on that tauntaun and rides out into certain icy doom is because his friend’s in the middle of that shit. Night’s falling. The cold is seizing the planet. And he goes out anyway. That’s where we’re at, folks. The mercury in the thermometer is dropping like an elevator with its cable cut. The night will be long. The year ahead will have sharp teeth and and a big mouth and some of us will do better with that Wampa than others. Just the same, our friends are caught in the storm. And we’re going to have to mount up anyway, and ride out even if our snow lizard will be a popsicle by the first marker. Because others need our help.

So, 2017 and all your tricks and all your traps:

I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL.

* * *

I feel like I should also follow up with a personal year-in-review. I tend to do them each year, though this one feels a bit strange given all the utter shitnanigans going on in the world. The year brought with it a lot of personal good, but much of that tastes a bit ashen because I don’t really know what’s coming down the pike for people. (I know, I’m a white dude in America, I’ll be okay. That’s true to a point, though I’ll add that I still need healthcare, and Obamacare has been helpful even with its increased costs. I also have a kid who will have to contend with education in America theoretically sliding down the poopchute.)

Just the same, sure, I’ll play.

I wrote two Star Wars books this year. Life Debt is out, obviously, and Empire’s End is on its way in February. (And Life Debt landed me on the NYT list again, so I certainly won’t be mad at that.) I wrote the fifth Miriam Black book, The Raptor & The Wren, too — plus 2017 will see release of Thunderbird in February.

I also wrote a goodly portion of a new writing book, Damn Good Story, coming next year.

Which means really, I only wrote three (and a half) new books this year, which is light for me.

Of course, I also edited a bunch, and then I got to be a cool kid for a little while and write some comic books — Hyperion and the Force Awakens adaptation, both for Marvel. (Though the latter was really less of an adaptation and more of a translation.)

And I might have some more comic work coming up… *coughs into hand*

As for books released in 2016 —

Atlanta Burns: The Hunt (February)

Star Wars: Life Debt (July)

Invasive (August)

The Forever Endeavor, a novella (October)

Hyperion: Daddy Issues (November)

The Force Awakens TPB (December)

And as to what’s coming out in 2017:

Star Wars: Empire’s End (February 21st)

Thunderbird, Miriam Black #4 (February 27th)

The Raptor And The Wren, Miriam Black #5 (4th qtr, 2017?)

Also sold a pair of books to Del Rey — the first being Exeunt, which will come out in 2018 and is kind of… well, I’m hesitant to say too much and spoil the soup, so let’s just call it my take on The StandSwan Song, Station Eleven, The Fireman, and other epic apocalyptic horror stories.

It’s been a good year, overall — at least personally. And I’m hoping to retain some of that as I go forward. The new book deal lets me write a little less per year — so I can cut my output (which is doable, if occasionally a little punishing) and concentrate all fire on Exeunt. Life’s fine, the family’s good. Not sure where 2017 will leave us in terms of everything else, though.

Be well to all of you and best of luck in the New Year. We’re going to need it. And, I suspect, we’re going to need each other. Mount up. Get ready to ride. Because 2017 is almost here.

Thanks for coming by. Thanks for being readers and pals.

Onward, fellow weirdos.

*tauntaun gargle-bleat*