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*

28 comments

  • Chuck: I’m glad I found your blog in 2016. It has enriched my writing and your insights have enriched my life. Keep writing. Keep talking. Give us some more challenges in 2017. Your challenges are the best. BTW, I bought the QuerkyWriter keyboard as I’m in search of a decent external keyboard for my iPad. Trying it out. So far, I’m not liking it. I’ll give you more details if you want. Also bought a Brother Laser Printer which is the bomb! Works great with both an iPad and a Windows based computer with regard to WiFi. Cool.

  • I have a feeling I’m going to need these uplifting blog posts to survive 2017 and beyond. Chuck Wendig–my personal Tauntaun sleeping bag. He may not always smell particularly great, but he’ll get me through the coldest of nights in Trump’s nuclear winter.

    Thanks for being there, Chuck. Sorry I have to disembowel you.

  • May the 100 little gods of goodness smile on you and yours. May you continue to make me smile (or cringe) when your blogpost arrives in my email. May your books sell like the desiccated remains of Grand Nagus Zek.

  • I so agree with what you said about 2016 just being the start. Because – why would it change? The people perpetrating this are seeing great results – Brexit over here in the old country, Trump over there in your sparkly new country, and the threat of other right-wing spitballs elsewhere in Europe, and the sickly increase in racism and homophobia as a justified “point of view”.
    Which is why I’m revising my writing schedule, and clearing the decks for a political conspiracy thriller, so that when it all comes true, I can point to it and say “There! I told you so!”
    Good luck to you, Chuck and your close ones.

  • As it always was; as it will always be. The older you get the the more the same it all gets. Thank goodness for you, Mr Wendig, for your fabulous imagination and constantly surprising narratives.
    See you in 2017 hell.

  • And then Carrie Fisher died today to complete 2016’s utter shittiness. I’m hoping 2017 will b e better but the logical side of me agrees, 2016 was the lip of a crumbling abyss. Ah well, then I’ll see you in hell.

  • A writer friend turned me on to your blog a couple months back, and added to my list of things about 2016 that pissed me off is that I didn’t find you sooner. To the positive category for 2017, however, is the fact that I read your stuff now. I’ll see you in hell…I’ll bring the marshmallows.

  • Greetings from Melbourne Australia.
    Thanks Chuck for the inspirational blogs. You helped me finish two books this year. Do you know what I learned? Write. Write. Write. And forget about getting published. And fuck the editor inside me.
    2017 will be shit, but another year closer to the end. I guess it can’t be all bad.
    Thanks again Chuck.

  • 2016 took a lot of people who were very important to me in my life — both family and those I never met: cultural icons who helped me grow up with their art, music, presence. The family losses were heartbreaking. The others were soul-crushing.

    But hey, I’m still standing.

    Bring it, 2017.

  • Coming to this post a few days late. 2016 gave us a last (crosses fingers) one-two punch: Carrie Fisher died on Dec. 27, a princess who faced down rebels, mental health issues, and addiction to come back swinging a rapier-sharp wit, as well as becoming a successful author, advocate, and stage/screen writer/performer; and Debbie Reynolds died on Dec. 28, one of the last icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, an award-winning singer, dancer, actress, and performer, and mother of afore-mentioned princess.

    As you said, night is falling, temperatures are plummeting, and we’ve got work to do.

  • Thanks chuck for being there this year (and in the past and future).

    As a side note, whenever I would watch ESB as a kid my dad would always say that that line was the worst, but Han got to say the best one later in the film (“I know”).

    Anyway, here’s hoping 2017 is a better year.

    (Although, I kind of want to skip it and get to 2018 cause Exeunt sounds like some fun.)

  • January 3, 2017 at 12:46 PM // Reply

    What’s really ironic for is that 2016 was awesome as far as my personal life goes…but possibly the worst I’ve seen it everywhere else! (at least in the U.S)
    I’m glad you’re getting your books published and getting all of these cool opportunities.
    Maybe The Forces Opposing Trump, can get a few breaks over the next few years at least when it comes to publishing books. I feel like most publishers are more like to be against Trump than for him, and popular opinion probably will be pretty damn soon too. If it isn’t already. So I think for writers, at least in the writing sector of their lives, they will have some breaks over the next four years.

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