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, February 17, 2010


I've been thinking about Ice-Nine lately. It's not because I've been re-reading Cat's Cradle, rather, disturbingly, because of what I've been observing in nature.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, I'll paraphrase, but do please go back and read your Vonnegut to get the full flavor. Pick a compound, any compound, there are a variety of ways that the molecules can hook together like tinker-toys to form a physical object. Most people are familiar with the fact that both pencil graphite and diamonds are made of the same stuff: carbon, just arranged differently.

Let's take the most common stuff on earth: H [little 2] O. Let's call our usual understanding of ice Ice-One, and maybe water is Ice-Two, and snow is Ice-Three and so on. Further posit a hypothetical water compound, for the sake of argument, let's call it Ice-Nine. This compound stays ice at all temperatures.

The danger of Ice-Nine is that if it ever came into contact with the rest of the world's water supply (as it naturally does at the end of Cat's Cradle) it converts the whole shebang to Ice-Nine. And the end of life on earth follows. Molecular compound as virus. It's a compelling idea, though thankfully relegated to the world of science fiction.

What brought it back to the forefront of my mind was the recent snowfall. After Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, Snownarok, and the Maha-Snowpa, there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground here. Snow on the ground stops being what I would strictly consider "snow" after a day or two and becomes much closer to white ice that sticks around until...well, shit until the spring thaw if it's a big enough pile. Let's call it "hard snow?" Sorry, I'm not a meteorologist. I'm sure there are real terms for all this stuff.

Then something interesting happened. It snowed again, just a few inches this time. And the hard snow, when brought into contact with the new snowfall, regained the properties of snow. No, I'm not stupid. I wasn't just observing the new layer. I dug into it. I dug into a lot. The hard snow was back to regular snow throughout. Compound as virus. Interesting. Makes me concerned about the possible reality of Ice-Nine. (Though not too much.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Shitty

Listen, Jared, I hate to be the guy to tell you this, but this whole "He went to Jared" business? Yeah. That's never going to take off. It's simply not going to happen.

I get what you're doing. You're trying to make the word "Jared" synonymous in the public consciousness with "jewelry." It's happened before. Kleenex and Band-Aids being excellent examples. I'm not ignorant to what your plan is. I'm simply saying your plan will fail. Miserably.

See, the thing about Kleenex and Band-Aids developing into terms for the product rather than terms for the brand is that it happened naturally. Band-Aid was the first and the only of it's kind for a while, so nobody bothered to say, "Sweetie, hand me the adhesive cotton bandage" they just said, "Give me the Band-Aid you stupid whore." (I know, I kind of changed the underlying situation between those two sentences, but the principle remains.)

Hell, Band-Aid was so successful at this that now they're trying with their own advertising campaign to make it so that people know there's a difference between "adhesive bandages" and "Band-Aids." I guess they're losing sales because people are buying the generic bandages and realizing they're exactly the same as the brand-name. So now their jingle is beyond ridiculous: "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aids stuck on me." They have to point out that they're a brand name. Now that's ubiquity.

Back to the point in question, though: Jared. First of all, you're not ubiquitous. You're the opposite of ubiquitous. You're not the best or the cheapest and you're not on anybody's radar. Off the top of my head I would say that Gordon's and Kay's are better than you. And I know literally nothing about jewelry. The brand Jared even sounds scummy. It's a guy's name, and it's a first name. It doesn't even sound like a family owns the business, it just sounds like some guy decided he wanted to open a store.

It's more jarring to me to refer to a jewelry store as "Jared" than it is to refer to the entire Dave Matthews Band as "Dave." Which I guess is what you're going for. But here's the thing: if anybody ever tried to explain to me that their fiance proposed or whatever by saying, "He went to Jared" I would slap the shit out of them. I would say, "What are you thinking? Why didn't you just tell me that he proposed, instead of acting like a lunatic or a shill or both?" And, anyway, what the hell do I care where he got the ring from? If it's a nice ring, and I happen to care about jewelry, I might ask later on. But most likely I'll just admire it or secretly snicker at it, and not care where it came from.

And how did she know in the first place? Picture this. Beautiful, candelit dinner. In between the foie gras and the salad your adoring beau gets down on one kness. You stare into his eyes. It's the moment you've both been waiting for this whole relationship. Hell, it's the moment you've both been waiting for all your lives. His lips quaver ever so slightly as he opens them. He pours out all his thoughts and feelings, reminds you of the first time you met, and asks you to be his for the rest of your natural lives.

"Will you marry me darling?" he asks.

And you respond, "That depends. Where'd you get the rock? Because if it wasn't at Jared, fuck you."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The End of the Universe



About that.

In case you don't know me in real life (and if you don't, I have no idea why you're reading this, but thanks) I am off shortly to study the ontology of nations in central Asia. That's a metaphor. I'll let you figure out what it means. The upshot, though, is that I have no idea what my internet access will be for the next [period of time redacted.] Does not make for many happy bloggy days.

So, although there are still theoretically a few manuscripts left on my hard drive to burn, I have no idea how often or at what rate I could possibly get them out to you, my beloved reading public. So, we have a few options here.

a.) I could shut down the blog altogether and come back at the end of [period of time redacted.]

b.) I could throw up a burny manuscript at irregular and unpredictable intervals.

c.) I could retool the blog into more of a standard "post about what I ate for breakfast" kind of blog, and post when I get around to it.

I am loathe to use the nuclear option, if for no other reason than that I need this blog to follow other, far superior writing blogs. I'm also reluctant to start burning another manuscript. I feel like waiting is murder in the internet world. I follow a few webcomics now and then, and when they disappear for months at a time, even with a pre-announced hiatus, they make me just never want to check in ever again. I'm also a little bit against turning this into the average Me Around the Downtown With My Peeps blog that I see so often. Then again, nobody seems to much follow it as it is, so maybe a change of pace is called for.

So what do you, my non-existent fanbase, think?

Monday, February 8, 2010


Yup, that's a wrap, kids. Sorry if it wasn't clear, but, hey, that's what happens when you read a book online when you can't check to see how much is left. (Still, all the funerals and such should've been a giveaway.) The Last War is over. Check back in on Wednesday, we'll have some things to where this blog is going in the future, and if it even has a future. Ooh, ontological.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Last War: Chapter 80

A band composed of former members of The Claw played “Deutschlandlied” softly as Metzger’s coffin was lowered into the ground. Over the coffin was the German flag, and over that was the emblem of The Claw. Olensheim ground his teeth over this display, as did the rest of the patriotic Germans present. It was all very insulting toward Germany.

Most of what was formerly The Claw was at the funeral. Almost all of them had been tried and convicted as criminals for The Rape of Washington. Some of them, like Krauss, who had not joined The Claw until after The Rape were free. Others, like Basilisk, were allowed special dispensation from their sentences to attend the funeral. While he would later claim it was from stress and pressure, a few tears fell from Otto Krauss’ eyes. Basilisk, however, stayed steely-eyed throughout the whole thing.

Basilisk was manacled by the hands and the feet. He shuffled slowly away from where he was standing, followed closely by two conspicuous guards. He shifted a cigarette from the pocket of his prison jumpsuit into his mouth. Krauss turned to see the former colonel coming towards him.


Krauss stared at the man, and without paying any attention struck a match on his foot to light Basilisk’s cigarette.

“It’s really over, isn’t it? Metzger’s dead, the Coalition has collapsed. We’ve reached the end.”

Krauss nodded.

“I don’t blame you anymore, general. I did at first, but now I see you only did...what you had to.”

“Things have to be done. War is hell,” Krauss finally uttered the first words he had spoken all day.

“It is hell, isn’t it? It’s a huge, churning bunch of fire and brimstone, isn’t it? You know what war is, general? It’s a catalyst. Every event since the beginning of human history has centered around war somehow. There’s been no development, not socially, not technologically, not religiously, not in any way, that hasn’t been caused by war. And do you know what will happen now? The entire human race is going to stagnate. The Last War is over, and so that will be the last that humanity ever evolves. This is the end of everything. The fire’s burned out. This world’s nothing but a sea of ashes.”

Krauss nodded, not in agreement, but in a knowing way.

“There are schools of thought such as your own, that believe that war is the driving force behind all of mankind. There are others, however, that believe it is not war, but the desire to end war, which is the catalyst for all of man's endeavors. No soldier ever fought to perpetuate his war. He fought to end that war."

The light from Basilisk's cigarette went out as a light drizzle of rain began to fall. He spat it from his mouth and rattled his chains slightly.

Krauss continued, "Do you know what glory is, Basilisk? Glory is a tiny glimmer of hope in a sea of despair. Marshal Metzger taught me that. A tiny nugget of gold in your sea of ashes, colonel: an end to war. That, I think, is glorious, because it means that mankind has finally won. We have won the conflict between war and peace which has raged on since the beginning of civilization. Perhaps, as you say, The Last War means humanity's end. But perhaps, just perhaps, the very culmination of all human endeavors has been completed by The Last War."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Last War: Chapter 79, Part 4

Yurii Marchenko leaned on his shovel.

"You really didn't have to," the Iron Man said.

Marchenko nodded.

"I know, colonel. I wanted to. It's the least I could do to show you my respect."

The Iron Man shook his head regretfully, but his eyes were dry.

"I had written her a letter and sent it off just a few days before I heard. I can't believe she never got it. I still can't. I keep expecting to see her, and my whole family. I don't know what I'll do now."

"I wish I could say I knew how you felt, or that you'd been through worse, but either one would be a lie."

The Iron Man nodded. They were standing in the ashen remains of St. Petersburg, as close to Nemov's house as he could figure in the nuclear wasteland. The grave which Marchenko had dug was marked with a wooden cross. The cross had a single word on it: NEMOV.

"Colonel, if you want to be alone to do this..."

"No, Marchenko, please stay."

The major nodded and remained where he was. The Iron Man removed from his jacket a small metal box. He opened it and took one last look at it's contents. It contained the wedding ring of Boris' mother and father. It contained his youngest Marina's favorite toy, a little doll. It held a cracked pair of glasses, class ring, and a metal model, each of which had belonged to one of his three sons. It also contained what The Iron Man thought the most precious, a lock of his wife's hair pinned to a bundle of letters from her.

He placed the metal box reverently into the grave, and took off his officer’s cap. Marchenko waited for the other man to say a few words, but he said nothing. He seemed to be remembering, and smiling sadly. Not a tear fell from his face. Marchenko began reverently to fill in the hole.

Nemov suddenly walked to the head of the grave where the wooden cross was. He placed his officer's cap on the cross at an odd angle, and then looked at it.

"I'm not just burying my family today. I'm also burying the Iron Man. I can't live up to the name any more," he said.

Then he began weeping uncontrollably.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God-damned gopher

I'll tell you what I hate most about this stupid pseudo-holiday. And it's not that it's a stupid tradition. Frankly, most traditions are flat out stupid. Shaking hands is probably more dangerous and meaningless than Groundhog's Day.

It's not even that this custom is easily verifiable/falsifiable and, to my knowledge, no one has ever bothered to check whether there is any correlation between a ground rodent seeing his shadow on a certain day and the weather that follows. Which, incidentally, any historian or weatherman could probably figure out with a few hours of research. Or perhaps this is a mission for The Mythbusters! But that doesn't really bother me either, because selective memory is the very essence of superstition. You only remember that you're carrying a 4 leaf clover on a lucky day, never on an unlucky day.

But I digress multiple times. What bothers me about this holiday is that the whistle pig is about the most boring animal I could possible imagine. Now if they had a bunch of guys go up there and force, say, a badger out of a birdhouse, I'd pay good money to see that. It would be like a whole new level of awesome. They'd have to come up with a new system, like, "If three of the town elders survive, there will be four more weeks of winter, but if six survive and only one is mauled, then spring comes in six days." And so on.

Happy St. Badger's Day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Last War: Chapter 79, Part 3

"Here lies a man who died for his country, a man who died for the world..."

The regular stock of a military funeral was no longer of interest to John Frost. He had been through dozens in the last few weeks. This was the only one that had been constantly on his mind, though. It was essentially the same speech as was given by every chaplain. At least this one seemed to be showing some emotion over it, which was better than what some less sensitive chaplains had been doing.

He was hardly listening. He was just thinking.

"What's the matter, John?" Amy, who was sitting next to him, asked.

She was a keen woman. She could tell that Frost was disturbed more than was usual for a death. It was a difficult thing to see. His wife seemed to be tuned to all of his frequencies, though.

"It's my fault he died," John said, "If I had shot that Imp properly so he was dead, or if I had gotten in the bullet's way..."

Amy hushed him.

"You know full well it's not you fault. It's not the Mongolian's fault. It's not anyone's fault, really, John. Bad things happen in war, and there's no one to be blamed for it. You've told me that yourself."

Frost nodded.

"I know. I know," he said, "I'm just not thinking reasonably right now."

"You and Snaro were together for years. It must have been like losing a brother. Or a son."

John nodded. He smiled despite himself.

"That's it exactly," he said.

He pulled her closer to himself and stroked her hair.

"How did an old damned fool like me end up with such a wonderful, beautiful, young wife?"

"I suppose because he's brave enough to risk his life, but sensitive enough to be devastated over the loss of a close friend."

A tear fell from Frost's eye.

"It seems so senseless," he nearly sobbed into her hair, "He was killed in the last instant. If he had stayed alive another hour he would have seen the end."

She patted him lightly on the back.

"He always said he knew how he would die. I guess it came true. He always loved the Air Force. He loved guns. I suppose he's gone on to Heaven. Actually, he probably went on to Valhalla, or wherever good soldiers go when they die."

A short distance away, an honor guard lifted seven rifles into the air. The leader brought his sword from the air to his side. A volley cracked off. Twice more the guns fired, completing a twenty-one gun salute and heralding 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Snaro's ascent.
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