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."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Pokemon Go Update

The party line (by which I mean the pop culture line) on Pokémon Go is that it's dead.  Everyone played it for five minutes a year ago and then gave up.  That hasn't really been my experience.  We're not talking about MySpace here. 

I play Pokémon Go daily.  I've explained previously how I essentially work at a Pokéstop.  It makes it far too easy for me to sit and score points and items all day while I'm at work.  Considering you get 50 XP and a minimum of three items per spin, and you can spin every five minutes, in the average work day I'm scoring somewhere a tad south of 4800 XP and 288 items a day.  That's before I've even caught my first Poke of the day.

So my perspective may be a bit skewed, because I essentially keep the app open 8 hours a day.  But judging by how rapidly gyms turn over and fill up with Pokes, I can tell I'm not the only one playing.  And considering I work on a closed Navy base, I assume that my experience is a bit on the meager side in terms of players as well.

I think the common wisdom that Pokémon is dead is due to the fact that it ballooned out tremendously at first, then contracted over the course of a year to a more sustainable size.  We're still talking about one of the biggest games in the world, but since it's suddenly not the biggest game of all time anymore, people are dismissive of it.  Such is life.

So for those of you who have given up already, you may not know that Pokémon Go recently underwent a massive change.  Gym battles have been completely revamped. 

The way the original gym battles worked was that one of the three Pokémon teams (red, blue, or yellow) could claim a gym.  Then up to ten team members could stash an individual Poke in the gym.  (So much as I may have wanted to pack a gym with ten of my own Pokes, I was always limited to one.)

When an enemy team attacked your gym, they gradually wore away the gym's capacity to hold Pokes until it was empty.  Then they could claim it.

When a friendly team mate attacked a gym, he could drive up the gym's capacity to hold Pokes up to a maximum of ten.

Now, as for the battle itself, it consisted of three controls: simple attack, dodge, and complex attack.  Complex attack happened when you had successfully conducted a certain number of simple attacks in order to fill a gauge.  Then you could depress the screen and execute a complex attack.  The only problem being if the enemy Poke was also attempting to execute his complex attack at the same time, you were stuck standing still. 

So here's how literally every single gym battle went:

Tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap dodge tap tap tap depress

And so on.

With the recent update the controls haven't changed very much.  Animation has changed massively, though (your Pidgey now looks infinitesimal compared to a Gyarados) and a sort of showdown poster pops up before every battle reflecting the stats of the competing Pokes. 

Gyms now contain a max of six Pokes, and there is no need for friendly fighting to make that possible.  That makes me a sad panda because I used to spend countless hours every day friendly fighting.  Now if my team has a gym, we just have it.  The only time I get to wear out useless Pokes is when I can find an enemy gym.

Pokes who sit in gyms also gradually get depressed.  Their combat power slowly degrades over the course of a day.  A friendly player can now give out berries to combat waning morale.  This is a mild positive for me because I used to just immediately throw out every Nanab berry I got, being the most useless of all berries, to make space for my 200-odd items a day.  Now I can actually do something with my Nanab berries, and feeding berries comes with a very small stardust bonus.  And stardust is always in demand. 

Now, as Pokes get depressed from either sitting there or getting beaten (or even just engaged in combat) their CP gradually degrades.  So when I go to fight an enemy gym, it may start out with, say, 6 enemy Pokes at 2000 CP apiece.  Then I go in for the slaughter and they're all reduced to 1000 CP apiece.  Which means now I can use difference Pokes.  It's like a battle against a different Poke every time, as opposed to the old system where it just felt like I was fighting that same 2883 Blissey over and over and over and over again.

Now the worst part of the change is the new coin system.  Under the old system, when you had a Poke in a gym, at a certain time every day you could claim 10 coins on his behalf, up to 100 coins.  So if you had Pokes in 10 gyms, you were golden.  The time decreased by three hours every day, which did lead to very awkward issues where my alarm was waking up my girlfriend at 3:00 am and it was a bit embarrassing to say why.

I'm not a big fan of the new coin system.  It, like the fact that you can't friendly fight anymore, encourages a lot more changeover of gyms.  The way it works is now that your Poke collects a coin for every ten minutes it spends in a gym.  You can collect a maximum of 50 coins a day.  And coins are only collected when the Poke returns to you.

So the pro: I don't have to worry about checking in at a certain time every day.  Coins just come when the come.

The many cons: there's no way to predict when your Poke will come back to you!  You could put ten Pokes in ten gyms and they could all sit there for a month, all get beaten on the same day, and you collect: 50 coins.

I mean, it's positive from the sense you don't have to wait 21 hours every day.  Having a Poke in a gym for just a few hours means you'll collect.  But it's a waste to keep a Poke in any gym for more than eight and a half hours.  So that battling bastard of a Blastoise you've had tucked away in one spot for almost a week?  Congratulations, he's worth 50 coins when all is said and done.

Basically, it encourages you to go around and constantly be fighting to put Pokes into gyms.  Or else pay real money for coins, which I'm sure is the real goal here.

Anyway, I've blathered on long enough.  Are you still playing Pokemon?  What do you think of all the recent changes?  What do you miss and what do you wish they would just adjust?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Feelin' Groovy

I know I've been a bit scarce here of late and I could give any one of several reasons why I've barely blogged this year, but I find nothing more exhausting than a blogpost promising to do better.  (Usually they're the last blogpost of a dead blog, anyway.)  I'd rather just do better.  So onward and upward.

I, like all reasonable, intelligent human beings, was intensely worried, perhaps even panicked after the sociopathic man-child who was "elected" president took office earlier this year.  From the day after the election until fairly recently I was wringing my hands in worry about all the damage someone like Trump could do while occupying the most powerful office in the world.  Now, though?  Not so much.

I'm not feeling better because I expect Trump will be impeached or otherwise removed from office.  In terms of simple math impeachment is an almost statistical impossibility.  For reasons I hesistate to attribute to loyalty, (but perhaps I can at least offer that complimentary term to the insane side of the aisle) Republicans don't eat their own.  Trump's been buffeted by scandal and sitting in the mid-thirties in terms of his approval rating almost since he took office.  If the Republican congress hasn't turned on him by now, what would it take?  Would he have to devour a live infant on camera?  He's done just about everything but, including talking about grabbing women by the pussy.  No, Trump will be safe from impeachment as long as the R's are in charge.

And even if (because it's far from a guarantee) the House of Representatives flips to the Democrats in 2018, and even if they then impeach him (also far from a guarantee) the Senate even as ideally constituted for the purpose will still have enough Republicans to block removing Trump from office.  So impeachment, should it ever occur (which it probably won't) will have about the same practical effect as it did on Clinton: making the other side look petty for doing it.

Other forms of removal from office, barring unexpected death (I mean, the man is 70) are even more outlandish.  Plus, and I didn't even want to get into this, but even chopping the head off the snake won't make much difference.  The difference between a Trump presidency and a Pence presidency will be one of temperament, not ideology. 

So I don't expect Trump to leave office before 2020.  I certainly hope he does then.  Why, then, am I feeling cautiously optimistic?  Because the man is fucking worthless.

I mean, maybe I should have already expected this, but somehow I had convinced myself that Trump would come into office and actually enact all the crazy shit he promised on the campaign trail.  I halfway believed he would actually surround himself with brilliant advisors who would do all the heavy lifting, and the country would tilt rightward into a fucking ditch.

But Trump never surrounded himself with brilliant advisors and at this point, most know to steer well clear.  Instead, he's surrounded by his daughter, son-in-law, and some low-rent Goebbels wannabe.  And they're all at each other's throats.  By all accounts no one working in The White House knows who's in charge.  Trump himself is apparently always convinced of the rectitude of the last article someone shoved under his nose.  The whole thing sounds like a page out of the Kremlin court squabbles of the Soviet Union.

A preternatural gift for demagoguery has translated into precisely jack and shit when attempting to govern.  (I say "govern" to be kind, because it's obvious that Trump would much rather dictate, and seems frustrated by the very idea that his pronouncements are not actually instantly obeyed as law.)  I mean think about this: Trump couldn't get Obamacare repeal passed with a Republican House and Senate.  That's like McDonald's running out of beef.  I don't even know what to make of that.  But this buffoon cannot get the one thing that has united Republicans of all stripes for the past decade passed?

Legislation is a difficult, grueling process of compromise and discussion.  And Trump is absolute shit at it.  He nearly ruined the budget reconciliation by demanding his stupid wall, which both sides considered idiotic to even be discussing at that point in time.  Imagine that.  Republicans and Democrats in the congress, normally at each other's throats, are suddenly united in how stupid they consider The White House's demands.

As for the scandals, well, Trump will weather them.  I'm not convinced anything can disgrace him anymore.  He's incapable of shame and his followers have erected a nigh impenetrable cult of personality around their own five senses (six, if you count "common.")  Trump is right and therefore right is Trump in their eyes, so it doesn't really matter what he does, he's always right.  The scandals won't bring him down.  What they will do, though, is keep him distracted.  While all his fury is focused on James Comey and the news media being mean to him (poor guy) he's not concentrating on enacting his stupid campaign promises. 

The scandals also keep him boxed in.  Legislators who don't have the advantage of being as Teflon as Don himself are already giving him a wide berth.  Even Fox News seems to be tentatively stepping away from their constant beatification of him.  It's easy to pretend it's still sunny when you feel a lone raindrop, but it's harder to dismiss a storm.  As long as the crap keeps piling up, people with a survival isntinct (read: politicians and pundits) will continue to distance themselves from Trump.

And what this all adds up to is that Trump is so incompetent he can't ruin the country.  In November I was worried about him establishing a fascist dictatorship, but now I'm not convinced he could cut the ribbon to a strip mall without breaking the scissors.  I think, in the end, Trump will run out his four years as essentially a lame duck.  He's what the press used to call "embattled" when they meant a politician was all out of friends and couldn't get anything done any more.  And he's already embattled six months into his presidency. 

Sure, things will be fucked up.  There's already another right-winger on the Supreme Court.  He could fumble a war or a terrorist attack.  But mostly I expect a whole lot of nothing happening.  And when the alternative to nothing is rabid right-wing policies, I'll take it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Reveal: STARSWEPT by Mary Fan

Hey all!

I'm delighted to reveal the cover for STARSWEPT by our good friend Mary Fan!

As an author you sometimes get the opportunity to read books at various stages in the formation. I had the distinct pleasure of reading this when it was still called BUTTERFLY DOME and I loved it then. If you like sci-fi even a little bit, I think you'll love it as well. Check it out!

This sweeping YA sci-fi romance will be released on August 29 by Snowy Wings Publishing. The cover features photography by Roberto Falck, with graphic design by Streetlight Graphics.

Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Preorder the hardback on Amazon

Preorder the e-book on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or iBooks

Add it on Goodreads

About Mary Fan:

Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books. She is the author of the Jane Colt space opera trilogy, the Firedragon YA dystopia/fantasy novellas, and the Fated Stars YA high fantasy novellas. She's also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls YA sci-fi anthologies, which are dedicated to encouraging girls to enter STEM careers and raising money for the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.

Find her online at
Facebook: mfanwriter
Twitter: @astralcolt
Instagram: @astralcolt
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