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, April 18, 2018

Check it out...I'm Checking in!

Hi all!  I've been trying to stay up to date with the blog this year, and with a few exceptions I've been doing very well.  Please forgive me, though, as I'm under a deadline and am having a big party this weekend so I'll probably be checking out for the next few days.  "Re-Animated" is particularly time-consuming to research, so there probably won't be one on Friday.  I look forward to seeing you all again sometime next week.  Peace!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Release Day Announcement: CLICKERS FOREVER

Hey everybody!  I was delighted and honored to have my short story "Deep into that Dark One Peering" included in CLICKERS FOREVER: A TRIBUTE TO J.F. GONZALEZ.  The anthology is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and ebook.  You can also add it to your Goodreads TBR pile.

All the proceeds from this anthology are going to benefit Gonzalez's family, so I hope you'll consider picking up a copy.  And remember to share online and in real life.  Word-of-mouth is vitally important for the success of any book.  Thanks, everybody!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Re-Animated #18: Final Space

Let's jump forward a bit.  If you've been reading the "Re-Animated" series all this time, you know that I've made a mostly vain attempt to cover adult animation in a chronological fashion.  Sometimes I run into issues (like realizing I hadn't covered "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" before attempting to cover "The Brak Show" or just saying "Fuck it, I want to do Batman.")

Sometimes I jump around by mistake.  Sometimes by design.  Today I have a couple of reasons for jumping around.  First, because sometimes coming at things from a different angle can give us a different perspective.  And second, because this is a show that is currently airing, and perhaps by covering it I can drive you to discover something as its happening, rather than just in retrospect.

Today we discuss "Final Space."

Final Space Logo.png

"Final Space" is my favorite show currently airing.  I liked it almost immediately.  I was worried at first sitting down to watch it that it was going to be crummy, as many many recent cartoons have been.  (Of course, if you know anything about me, dear reader, you know that that wasn't going to stop me from watching it.)  But in all of those cases I knew immediately that the show was going to be crummy and only desperately hoped it would get better (usually to little or no avail.)

In the case of "Final Space" I started out a bit confused.  Our story opens with our hero, Gary, floating alone in space in wreckage with ten minutes of air remaining.  He discusses the matter with HUE, an unseen computer presence a la "2001's" HAL.  But it turns out that's just a framing device, and one that won't start to make sense until we revisit it week after week.  And the explanation for Gary's predicament is still pending, presumably until the season finale, although almost every episode teases in one way or another that this could be the week it happens - providing a throughline and a reminder that everything is not necessaril going to turn out okay.

We then jump back in time to Gary, the lone prisoner on an extremely advanced starship, reaching the last week of his five year sentence.  Gary has to do work on satellites, but even so I immediately wondered about the economics of assigning a long range starship and countless robotic servitors to a single prisoner.  But, okay, it's science fiction and a cartoon, two genres both notorious for logic-bending.

So instantly I'm getting hints of "Red Dwarf," one of my all time favorite shows.  But it's not quite that.  Nor is it quite "Alien," or "A Boy and His Dog," or "Blade Runner," or any of a hundred other shows it evokes.  One thing that delights me about "Final Space" is that while it wears its influences on its sleeve, it doesn't settle into the easy rut of slavishly modelling itself after them.  ("The Orwell," anyone?)  The show it perhaps owes the most to is "Rick and Morty," because it was doubtless greenlit on the strength of that redoubtable series' ratings.  But rather than coming off as a pale clone, "Final Space" actually takes "Rick and Morty's" strengths and builds on them.  Science fiction has a long, robust history, certainly ripe enough for two comedy shows to mine.

"Final Space" also has a delightful villain in the David Tennant-voiced Lord Commander, who pulls off the rare hat trick of being simultaneous cuddly, hilarious, and pants-wettingly terrifying at the same time.  Tennant almost singlehandedly redeems himself for that whole putting Eccleston out of work business of a few years ago with this showing.

The show definitely has a habit of leaning too hard on the "isn't Gary a lovable kook" shtick, but it manages to land just shy of grating.  And, ultimately, it makes up for Gary's aggressive weirdness with solid steaming helpings of heart.  Gary's loneliness and uncommon human decency are both palpable, which serves to undercut all the wackiness for wackiness's sake.  Gary's backstory is heartbreaking, as is his situation.  And the absolutely mutual unconditional love he finds in the alien blob Mooncake is one of the loveliest parts of the show.

All of the characters sparkle.  KVN, Gary's anti-insanity robot, takes the Rimmeresque role of being a total jerk, and has one of the greatest songs ever committed to celluloid in episode 2.  Avocato, the bounty hunter sent to bring Mooncake in, turns out to be an unexpectedly cool foil to Gary's aggressive nerdiness.  And, oh, by the way, absolutely no spoilers, but you need to watch the last episode.

Quinn, the more traditional hero of the Starfleet-like Infinity Guard seems to walk the razor blade of being Gary's long absent and therefore deified love interest and being a real person.  I was worried that whole storyline was going to delve into icky territory, but Quinn's character avoids a lot of the pitfalls of the usual virgin/whore dynamic by being proactive and clever, but also stubborn and solipsistic.  In other words, a well-rounded human.  So while it's clear that Gary's obsessed with a simulacrum, it's also clear that Quinn isn't that person.

"Final Space" is delightful.  I cannot stress this enough.  I want you to stop reading this blogpost immediately and go watch all of the episodes on Hulu, On Demand, or TBS.  Well?  What are you waiting for?  You can thank me in the comments later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My To-Do List

This might be tragically boring or it might not.  I'm majorly swamped right now, and I like to think I'm not the sort of person who complains about being majorly swamped.  (It's better than no one wanting your work, right?)  I'm so swamped, in fact, that I need to write a to-do list. 

And the first thing on my to-do list is:

1.)  Write a blogpost for Wednesday because you didn't write one Monday, you sorry sack of shit.

So it occurs to me perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone and just make my to-do list a blogpost.  That'd be interesting, right?  You'd all like to see that, right?  Eh, whatever, just patronize me.

2.)  Write chapter in THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE ("unhaunted house" collaboration with Wile E. Young)

3.)  Write chapter in SLASHVIVOR II: GRUNDLE POUNDERS (collaboration with Stevie Kopas)

4.)  Write next installment of special project "The Door" - due 4/23

5.)  Finish author edits on NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD (companion piece to THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO)

6.)  Complete cover work and republish second edition of BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS

7.)  Complete cover work and republish second edition of THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO

8.)  Finish first draft of THE SECRET POLICEMAN'S CONSCIENCE

Friday, April 6, 2018

Re-Animated #17: Aqua Something You Know Whatever

Dancing is forbidden.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force main characters.png

September, 2001.

Wow.  What a time.  I was beginning my sophomore year of college.  America was on top of the world, the undisputed and last of the super-powers.  The word "hyper-power" was being tossed around, because what did it mean to be the only super-power left, and utterly untouchable in every way?  The year of "2001: A Space Odyssey" had already arrived.  "Star Trek" and its utopian vision couldn't be very far around the corner.

Then we all know the rest.

It's interesting to think, though, that a scant two days before the formative act of the new century, a tiny, half of a show premiered as part of a two hour, late-night block on a children's television network, and in some ways rewrote the fabric of pop culture for years to come.  

Much to the chagin of modern-day me, I didn't catch the premier of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."  In fact, we had only gotten Cartoon Network on the college cable system the semester before, so it was fortunate that I got to see "ATHF" at all.  Or perhaps it was part of Turner's plan to come into college campuses only once [adult swim] was on the horizon.  But more on that later.

Here's what I do remember, though, with such clarity that I could be living it right now.  At the time, I was planning to become a teacher.  In one of my education classes, two of the guys sitting in front of me were laughing their heads off, tossing quotes at one another about a guy with a moustache sleeping with a girl.

I used to be hip.  I used to be with it.  And I had no idea what the hell they were talking about.  So I asked.  Turns out they were talking about the classic "Chickmate" episode of "Sealab 2021."

The next Sunday night I tuned in to my first viewing of [adult swim.]  I was instantly mesmerized, not just by the bizarre, fast-paced stoner comedy, but also by the interstitials of old people swimming in a pool.  What was this?  Was there anything else like this?  What had I stumbled upon?

I remember exactly what played that night.  "Brendon's Choice" on "Home Movies," which I thought at first was some kind of "Dungeons and Dragons"-themed show.  And the very first episode with the Mooninites of "ATHF" which, according to my extensive research (read: Wikipedia) places the date at October 14, 2001.  I remember my roommate, normally a stoic academic, actually cracking up when I stepped out of the room to go to the bathroom down the hall.

"What is it?" I asked.

"They're fighting," he said.

He was referring to the scene where Ignignokt and Ur turn on the Aqua teens and blast them  with their amazing 2D graphics.  The scene was still going on.

"We're fighting," said the characters on TV.

What was even going on? I was so baffled by this new show, I thought the Mooninites were the stars and the Aqua Teens were the annoying interlopers.

I spent the next Sunday night furiously trying to find my new favorite programming block on Comedy Central. Except it wasn't on Comedy Central, it was on Cartoon Network, which was the reason I couldn't find it. Finally, in fury, I started switching channels after it had ended and finally found it. Luckily for me, [adult swim] replayed all its shows each night. So I tuned in to "ATHF" again, and was confused to learn that the milkshake, box of fries, and burger-like creature were the stars. Nary was a Mooninite to be spotted.

And then I was the one quoting things at people. "On the moon, nerds get their pants pulled down and get spanked with moon rocks" was my away message on AIM (kids, ask your parents) for a while.

For many people, "ATHF" and [adult swim] are synonymous. It was not only their most popular show (at least up until the advent of "Rick and Morty," which, naturally, we'll be covering in an upcoming installment of "Re-Animated", it was also their longest running, at eleven seasons (several of the latter of which were given goofy alternate show titles, a la the title of this blogpost), ending only recently in 2015. It may be overtaken soon by "The Venture Brothers," which premiered in 2003, but due to the vagaries of its production schedules, will only be entering its seventh season this year. "ATHF" was also the first (and to date, only) [adult swim] show to have a theatrical movie release, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters," including guest star the inimitable Bruce Campbell.

Now, remember I said that we'd talk a bit more about the college angle?  Well, this seems as good a place as any to delve into [adult swim]'s weird and unfortunate relationship with ratings.  The short answer is: they're not very good.  At least, by the dinosaur standards of Nielsen.  But you, reading this in 2018, are probably already more than familiar with Nielsen's shortfallings.  Nielsen doesn't capture streaming services, nor, as it turns out, do they capture college campuses.  [adult swim] has (or had, I'm not sure how things still are) a huge following on college campuses.  When looking at the Nielsen ratings, the [adult swim] suits often lamented that they were so low - and yet, during spring, winter, and summer breaks, when college students traditionally go home where Nielsen is a little more accurate, their ratings shot through the roof.  This led to [adult swim] taking a fairly laissez-faire attitude towards actual Nielsen ratings, and they began streaming almost all of their shows online, at a time when most networks were still worrying about that sort of thing being so piracy adjacent as to make no difference.  Nowadays, of course, every station streams its shows.  [adult swim] was an early adopter of the system that we now all rely on so heavily.

"ATHF" is [adult swim] and, by extension, modern adult animation distilled down to its purest form. A straight mainline of bizarre, bizarro, off-kilter, rapid-paced humor, gross-out moments, and even heart as you grow to love these weird characters. Get high, enjoy, and get back to me in the comments.

Monday, April 2, 2018


Unfortunately, I only have seven novels out, which means the devoted consumer of media could complete my entire oeuvre in about a week.  So I feel it is incumbent upon me to point you, my followers, towards other quality media to take up the rest of your time.  For instance, have you checked out the YouTube series Silverwood yet?  I think you'll enjoy it a great deal.

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