Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chessiecon or Bust!

It's almost Thanksgiving and you know what that means: time for Chessiecon!

I've attended Chessiecon every year since its inception (and one year when it was still Darkover Con.)  I've also been a judge on the Turkey Award panels every year, so this particular convention is getting to be a real holiday tradition for me.

So if you're going to be anywhere near Baltimore, MD this weekend, why not take a break from trampling hordes of people for flatscreen TVs and swing by this fun little convention.  If not for me, then do it for Mary Fan, Scott Edelman, Don Sakers, and any of the other fine guests you'll get to see there.


November 24-26, 2017


Radisson Hotel North Baltimore
2004 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093


Friday 5:30 pm - Chesapeake 6 0 "Workshop: How to Turkey"

Want write bad? How do? Join a Turkey Award judge to work on your own entry, hear what makes a good bad entry, what to avoid, and what skills go into crafting a truly stunning Turkey.

Lee Budar-Danoff, Steve Kozeniewski

Friday 9:15 pm - Greenspring 3-5 - "What's good on TV?"

As science fiction and fantasy become more popular (finally!) there are more offerings in the genre on television. Your time is limited; how do you know what to choose? Panelists talk about their favorite current or recent shows, tell you why, and warn you away from the bad stuff.

Elwin Cotman, J.L. Gribble, Jeff Gritman (M), Steve Kozeniewski, Meg Nicholas

Saturday 10:00 am - Greenspring 3-5 - "Small Everyday Forms of Resistance in SF/F"

SF often presents resistance as dramatic: clearcut choices, cinematic fight scenes, and so forth. It's difficult to get away from that mindset, even in real life. For those of us muddling along in moral murkiness, for those of us who can't or don't want to commit violence, for those who cannot for any number of reasons take up protesting full time, what are examples of small, everyday ways to resist injustice and fascism?

D.H. Aire, Jeff Gritman, Steve Kozeniewski, Ada Palmer, Kelly Szpara (M)

Saturday 11:15 am - Greenspring 2 - "Turkey Awards Panel"

At our somewhat misguided request, authors created the opening paragraph to the worst SF/F novel they could conceive of. For three years running, our imaginative and inspired writers have come up with some beautiful, horrible, awful, and awe-inspiring works. Come hear what our finalists have written this year, and what our judges have to say about it. Winners will be awarded dubious prizes later in the evening.

Harrison Demchick, Steve Kozeniewski, Timothy Liebe, Don Sakers, Michelle D. Sonnier

Saturday 12:30 pm - Greenspring 2 - "PowerPoint Improv"

Volunteer presenters pick a slide deck they've never seen before from a list of titles on a variety of topics, and improv a comedic or serious presentation loosely based on the slides for up to 5 minutes. Audience participation comes with each presentation's brief Q&A session! As improvisations accumulate, we can build off each others' ideas. Come play with us!

Harrison Demchick, Sarah Elkins, J.L. Gribble, Cristin Kist, Steve Kozeniewski, Valerie Mikles

Saturday 3:00 pm - Greenspring 1 - "Where Do We Dystopia From Here?"

Dystopia as a genre has been reigning in many science fiction circles and shows no sign of losing popularity. What's powerful and useful about this trend or its manifestations? What's limiting or frustrating? How do we feel about dystopian fiction when we live in dystopian realities?
Note:  I'm marked as attending this panel some places and not others.  I will confirm whether I'll be attending or not at the con.

Elwin Cotman, Mary Fan (M), Andrew Hiller, Timothy Liebe, Jay Smith

Saturday 6:45 pm - Greenspring 1 - "How The Twilight Zone Embraced 'Less is More'"

In 1959, Rod Sterling's television anthology The Twilight Zone engrossed audiences with thrilling stories of all sorts. In 2017, many episodes of the five-season series and its various spin-offs are still intense, captivating, and even scary, often thanks to the show's ability to say as much as possible with very few special effects. Our panelists talk about their favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone and how the minimalist style made it more effective and memorable.

Scott Edelman, Elektra Hammond (M), Steve Kozeniewski, Karen MacLeod, Alanna Morland

Saturday 8:00 pm - Atrium - "Author Meet and Greet"

Authors chat, answer questions, and sign books.

J.L. Gribble, Andrew Hiller, Steve Kozeniewski, Michelle D. Sonnier, Steven R. Southard, Martin Wilsey

Sunday 10:00 am - Greenspring 1 - "Cultural Ramifications of Universal Translators"

The Universal Translator is one of the most common sci-fi tropes, for obvious reasons. Usually it's just a literary convenience, but let's delve a little deeper. What unspoken assumptions does the trope rest on, and what ramifications get overlooked? What consequences (good or bad) could there be for societies at large? We will talk about how languages work, and how computers work, as we work out the sociopolitical and ethical implications of a universal translator.

D.H. Aire, Lanthir Calendae, Steve Kozeniewski, Mike McPhail, Kelly Szpara (M)

Sunday 12:30 pm - Greenspring 1 - Reading

Steve will read "The Rules of a Drinking Contest Against Brian Keene."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review - "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday"

Last week I had the opportunity to see "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday," the first feature-length film from friend, roustabout, and director Mike Lombardo. I'm pleased to report that the film is an unqualified success in every way.

Clocking in at a lean 71 minutes, the movie is tight and almost every minute of the running time is devoted to ratcheting up the tension.  As such, the plot is bare bones.  An unexplained apocalypse has left the planet a nightmarish hellscape, and the air breathable only through a gas mask.  Three survivors: a mother, father, and their eight-year-old son have taken shelter in some sort of fallout bunker.  When the father never returns from a supply run, the mother tries to get by and finally, after a series of impossible decisions, plans to give her boy the merriest Christmas circumstances will allow.

And aside from the ending (which will leave even the most jaded viewer saying "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus") that's about it for the story.  The rest of the movie is comprised of flashbacks, dreams, and visions (or are they?)  There are  only five actors in the movie and they all do yeoman's work, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the contributions of Hope Bikle, in the role of the mother.  All of the actors are outstanding, but the mother has the most screen time and the biggest emotional gamut to traverse.  Many of the scenes are just an examination of her face, sometimes behind a gas mask (!), trying to work out what to do in an impossible situation, putting on a brave face for her son, and almost always screaming soundlessly inside.  Not once did I find her wanting.  Not once was I bored or anything less than riveted.  A stunning achievement for a film made for $10,000.

Perhaps most interesting to me is I don't think baby Jesus, Bethlehem, "the reason for the season," or a single religious icon was ever mentioned or shown.  This is as purely secular as a Christmas movie can be, which is certainly a deliberate decision.  This film is a Hiroshima bombing which ends "The War on Christmas" with an unquestionable victory for commercialism; a feature-length answer of "Never" to the question "When are we going to put Christ back in Christmas?"

"I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday" is a bleak, suffocating throat-punch of a movie, destined to become a new holiday staple.  (How about playing this motherfucker on repeat for 24 hours instead of Ralphie, TNT?)
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