2020 was a messed up year. It seemed that it would never end, but it did. So how was this year for me?

The Covid ride

In the dim recesses of the past, there was a time before Covid-19. That actually started well for my productivity. My daughter started school, meaning I had an extra half-day every week for my personal projects – in other words: stuff like writing.

I got to enjoy that for exactly three weeks, then Covid hit. Well, actually, it hit around the same time as she went to school, but our government laughed it off, and the Dutch RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) was peddling the idea that it had everything under control. Until it suddenly wasn’t.

I got wise a day before all hell broke loose, and managed to score some toilet paper before the shit really hit the fan. That was the morning after my last day of working at the office in 2020, although I did not know that at the time.

It was the beginning of two pretty exhausting months, as I wrote at the time. A few months later, things slowly got better. And then September hit, and Dutch infection rates started to go up again. During our first lockdown, the RIVM had spurned testing as useless. They’d eaten those words, and everything would be better the second time around, they’d said. Until, suddenly, there was not enough test capacity. They’d also spurned masks, which were ineffective, they said, until they were quietly deemed a good idea in October — yes, about half a year after the rest of the world got wise.

The plunge

And now, as I write this at the end of 2020 we are in a new lockdown. It’s harder than the first one, with worse weather and darker days, but I guess I’ll manage. The RIVM has told us they have the vaccine program completely under control. Which is probably why we’re the last in the EU to start vaccinating.

You know how people are saying the US is messing up? Well, our infection rates have been higher comparatively higher since September, and at the end of February we’ll hopefully have a vaccination degree comparable with where the US is today.

So, fuck our government.

Trump is completely ignoring the problem, and actively putting ignorant idiots in charge, and he still did better than the best our government could do. And we’re not done yet. It would be refreshing if the lot of them would get off their high horse and admit that they fucked up spectacularly. It wouldn’t help, but at least it would be honest.

But no, elections are coming, so they’ll just keep spewing shit and continue to mess up until and after our complete healthcare system comes crashing down in a few weeks and the dead will line the streets – and that’s not an exaggeration, that’s almost unavoidable at this point. We are fucked.

But maybe my outlook is colored by our cat getting himself nearly eviscerated last week. He has a long gash with a row of stitches, and he’ll probably be alright, but this last week was not fun. At all.

Black Lives Matter

Of course, things were relatively easy for me. There are a lot of people in the world who are worse off. With the pandemic driving everything to a boil, the murder of George Floyd in the US triggered a global wave of protests against racism.

What happened in the US was horrible, but if there is a lesson that all us white people should learn, it is that we are not blameless, even if most of us are far, far removed from murdering a black man. But the whole system is geared to catering to white people, especially men, and that is wrong. Now, I’m not going to tell you I’ve turned over a new leaf, or that I’m now a ‘woke’ person. It’s not about that, I think. It’s about quietly doing what you can to make the world a more equal place, and then shutting the fuck up about it.

So I will. On to happier things. Sort of.

2020 US elections

I’m not a Biden fan, but I am a Trump hater. The man is an incompetent racist with a narcissistic personality (not-proven in the clinical sense; I’m not a professional). And I urged everybody to vote Biden, and enough people did.

Slowly, the hellscape of US politics is drifting towards a semblance of sanity. Not that we’re out of the woods. Biden is a breather of fresh air, but it seems likely four years is not going to bridge the rifts in US society. In my opinion, the whole US system is broken and needs to change, and that isn’t happening.

The divide between the rich and the poor is too big. And ‘the poor’ is most of the US, while ‘the rich’ is a smaller and smaller group. Without universal healthcare, pitiful social security, and no protections for workers, it is no wonder everybody is on edge. Combine that with broken education and a surplus of guns, it’s a miracle the country hasn’t slid into hell sooner.

But make no mistake, it’s still sliding down a slope, and I don’t think Biden is going to stop that. The EU and the rest of the world has a four-year breather, in which we should disentangle ourselves from the US, or suffer the consequences. But, at least 2021 is looking up, with Trump crawling back under his stone to undermine democracy from the sidelines instead of from the top down.


The Dutch have an interesting history with the UK. We were in six wars with them. We won some, we lost some, but since the dust settled after the defeat of Napoleon, we’ve grown closer. So close in fact, that we are one of the UK’s biggest trading partners.

Brexit affects the Netherlands quite a bit. We’ve been in conflict over fishing waters in the negotiations already, and we’re about to take a hit in economic prosperity. Not as much as the UK itself, probably, but it isn’t something to look forward to in combination with the Covid crisis.

So, yeah, 2020, was a fun year. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, half of Australia burning down, which seems only a little thing, these days.


So what will 2021 bring?

I have no clue. More working at home — which I love — and probably more missed school for my daughter — which I find stressful. More death probably, but I pray it will pass my loved ones by.

And somewhere ahead, vaccinated freedom. Hopefully. If no Covid mutation breaks the vaccine barriers we’re erecting. The new year should also bring the Playstation 5 I pre-ordered, and a lot of interesting shows and movies. And more books. So there will be fun. I have a job, and so does my wife, and we have a good home, so we’re at the lucky end of the spectrum.

Hopefully, I can also produce something interesting art in the coming year, because my own productivity has not been great in 2020.

I guess we will see.

Happy New Year.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands