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“The Suffering Gallery” BCS Audio Vault podcast

Just in time for Halloween, Scott H. Andrews over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies has re-released a podcast of “The Suffering Gallery,” my story of demons and torture, now with a new intro by me. You can have a listen here.

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halloween book trail

HBT14-The-CemeteryHappy Halloween! Welcome to my stop on the Halloween Book Trail: the Cemetery Trail!

Although I don’t usually have the time or talent to make elaborate costumes, I love the spirit of Halloween; it’s an opportunity to become someone else for a night and collect free candy. If you go to a lot of conventions, you’re probably familiar with “cosplaying” — dressing up as a favorite character from fandom — so maybe the holiday doesn’t seem all that special. But it’s the one day in the year when almost everyone is a cosplayer, plus don’t forget the free candy. As a fan of horror and mysteries, I like the spooky, creepy focus of Halloween, and it’s always fun to see how people express their interests and creativity through their costumes.

Hexadecimal shows Bob one of her many faces. (ReBoot)

Hexadecimal shows Bob one of her many faces. (ReBoot)

I am an especially big fan of masks. (No wonder, since a mask is a perfect costume for a lazy/busy guy like me.) When I was a kid, I used to cut cardboard face masks out of the backs of cereal boxes. That was all it took to pretend you I was a cartoon superhero. Of course, many superheroes are big on masks, which make them particularly fun subjects for dress up. One year I put more effort in than usual for a Halloween party and recreated Spider-Man’s wrestling costume from the first Sam Raimi film — the mask, a red balaclava, was the easiest (and most expensive) part. Even a pair of glasses can amount to a mask of sorts, the only thing differentiating Clark Kent from Superman.

Data's mask turns him into a waking god on ST:TNG.

Data’s mask turns him into a waking god. (ST:TNG)

Masks are fascinating to me because they can be used to disguise your identity, to assume a new identity, or perhaps to make you look more like yourself. Batman’s cowl protects Bruce Wayne’s secret, but the cowl doesn’t make him Batman: It gives him the freedom to express that part of his personality.

There’s an interactive theater performance in Manhattan called Sleep No More, a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in which hundreds of guests wander around the set of an old hotel wearing masks. Behind that plastic face, you are completely anonymous, and so is everyone else. It adds an eerily voyeuristic quality to the show, making you into a part of it while also providing a safe distance. If you can make it, I highly recommend you attend.

Somebody stop him...before they make a sequel. (The Mask)

Somebody stop him…before they make a sequel. (The Mask)

That show gave me an idea of how empowering it must be for members of the hacktivist group Anonymous to don their iconic Guy Fawkes masks and rally in public in support of justice. Hackers thrive on anonymity, but the masks also unite them in a common cause and remove individual ambitions and egos. (At least, in theory.) Because protecting your privacy on the internet is vitally important, especially for hackers and activists, identity is a strong theme in my new book, The Silence of Six. (It even comes out on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th.)

In the Twilight Zone, masks reveal your true face.

In the Twilight Zone, masks reveal your true face.

In The Silence of Six, hackers are my contemporary online superheroes. Masks are featured in particular, most notably at a big masquerade event that showcases my favorite part of Halloween and fan conventions: the costumes. I had fun fitting in some of my favorite masks from film and television, and I think you’ll recognize a lot of them!

If you make it to the end of the Halloween Book Trail, you’ll have a chance to win a signed advance reader’s copy of The Silence of Six and some bookmarks. But before I send you on your way to the next stop, you can also enter a contest here. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me either what you’re dressing up as for Halloween or what your favorite mask is. Make sure to leave a contact e-mail; I’ll randomly select one winner to receive free Audible audiobooks of my first two YA novels, Fair Coin and Quantum Coin.

Ready to move on? Your next stop on the Cemetery Trail is the blog of Dianne Salerni, author of The Eighth Day!


Remember, remember, the fifth of November. (V for Vendetta)


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Falling Sky Launch Party!


If you’re in or near New York City tomorrow night, I hope you’ll come join me for the Falling Sky Launch Party. It will be held at Professor Thom’s in the East Village from 7-10. A bookseller from Word bookstore in Greenpoint will be on hand to sell copies of the book. Come have a drink, say hello, and help me celebrate the release of the book.

Hope to see you there.

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Falling Sky Review Roundup

I don’t know if two reviews qualify as a roundup, but I was pleased with the reviews for Falling Sky from both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

This solid and memorable debut is set in a world where a disease has turned most people into quasi-zombies called Ferals…Khanna’s vision of a ruined world, populated by human monsters on the surface and desperate survivors in the air, is bleak but compelling. Ben is a flawed, selfish hero in the spirit of Han Solo, always on the lookout for number one until a greater cause catches his conscience.

And Library Journal gave it a starred review and named it the Science Fiction/Fantasy Debut of the Month!:

Postapocalyptic sf is a heavily traveled genre, as is steampunk, but debut novelist Khanna combines both quite well here, as the airships help to keep humanity safe from the infected ferals on the ground in a world where the action never stops, leaving room for more adventures.

I’m very happy that people seem to be enjoying the novel. Only two more weeks to go…

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The Genre Blend: Zombies and more


Let me state first that there are no zombies in Falling Sky.


In the blurbs I received, E. C. Myers references The Walking Dead and Tad Williams’ blurb mentions zombies outright.

See, the thing is that when I started writing the short story that inspired Falling Sky, the idea was that people were living in the air because something horrible was on the ground, something so dangerous that to even spend a short amount of time there could risk your life. Originally I had envisioned some kind of alien organism, but it was 2 AM that night at Clarion West and the story was due the next day and the mental acrobatics required to work all of that out was beyond me. So, in a moment of clarity I fell back on a tried and true genre trope – the zombie.

Originally, that was what made the ground so dangerous. Plain old ordinary zombies. It fit the bill – scary, easy to infect, reason for people to want to avoid their territory. But, as was communicated in the many crits I received, zombies were, well, unoriginal. Obviously there’s still life left in the common zombie (combie?) but it wasn’t serving my story very well. That’s when Mary Rosenblum, our instructor for that week, suggested that instead of zombies it was some other disease. Super-Alzheimers, she said.

It was a solution. I think that what she envisioned was somewhat further away from zombies than my Ferals, but it helped guide me to the right path. There’s certainly a lot of zombie in my Ferals, but I’d like to think that they’re different enough to stand alone (while still hitting some familiar notes).

Splash in a little noir, and a touch of Western (two of my favorite genres) and you generally have Falling Sky. Will it all work? Well, that’s up to the readers, but I hope that at least it presents an interesting mix. If you read it, you’ll have to let me know what you think.

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The Genre Blend: Not-Steampunk

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I have a thing for airships. I don’t know if I can explain it — it’s just one of those weird obsessions that lodges somewhere in the mind and never shakes loose. And so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are airships in Falling Sky. In fact, when I was trying to think about how to describe it I came up with the term “post-airpocalyptic”. This has led many people to assume that the novel is steampunk and yet…it’s not.

The genesis was airships, yes, but when the idea for this world came together I was at Clarion West in 2008 and I was working on a short story with the vague idea of people living in the sky to avoid something on the ground. I mentioned this to Paul Park, one of my instructors, when we had our one-on-one meeting and he pushed me (gently and helpfully) in the direction of science fiction rather than fantasy and suddenly it became set in the future (though the near future) rather than an alternate reality or some other kind of world.

And while that might have seemed weird, the more I looked at actual articles from the time, the more I saw that it was actually possible, if not probable. With the price of fuel rising all the time, and the amount necessary for transporting both people and cargo by plane, it’s not surprising that several companies have looked into airships, modern airships mind you, as a way to cut costs. I could point you here or perhaps here or even here for some examples.  Once I was convinced it was at least plausible, I moved full speed ahead.

But I want to stress again, this isn’t steampunk. It’s post-apocalyptic, with airships. Maybe there’s no real difference to you, but there is to me.

Surely that’s got to be all of the genres, right? Well, not quite. Next post will be about what’s left.


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The Genre Blend: Post-Apocalyptic


post-apocalytic museum

I was happy to see that Library Journal mentioned Falling Sky in an article about diverse subgenres in Science Fiction. It’s mentioned under the “zombie” section, despite the fact that there are no actual zombies in the book. Nevertheless, that was one of the influences that went into its conception. Falling Sky blends elements of several subgenres together in what I hope will be a refreshing take on some of the familiar tropes.

The post-apocalyptic genre has been on my mind lately, partly due to this article on io9 about post-apocalyptic art as well as the recent remastered release of The Last of Us game which I’m playing for the first time.  Falling Sky is, above all else, a post-apocalyptic story.  It takes place in the near-future, after an epidemic has shattered society. It allowed me to tap into my love of that genre and play with some of its elements.

I’ve written about the genre before, both at and for, but I never seem to grow tired of it. Those two articles will show you some of my favorites in the genre, but it’s one that is constantly being reinvented. When I was a kid, it was all about the post-nuclear wasteland, from Mad Max to Gamma World to Fallout. But the genre has shifted as our fears have. Disease is more often seen as the the precipitating factor in the apocalypse these days and the bleak landscapes of those past landscapes have been replaced by images of verdant overgrowth. It’s something I tried desperately to keep in mind as I was writing the book (and will continue to do so as I work on its sequel) — Nature flourishes when Man falters.

As I mentioned in some of those previous articles, what has always attracted me to the genre as both a reader and a writer is that I find post-apocalyptic stories to be stories of hope. The apocalypse has already happened. Many of these stories are about people trying to reclaim something out of the ruins of civilization, trying to rebuild. In that respect, Falling Sky is no different, though, without spoiling anything, I’ll warn that attempts to rebuild don’t always go well in the world of the novel.

What about the other genre influences? Well, they’ll have to wait for the next post…

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“The History Within Us” in Czech

XB-1 November 2014My story “The History Within Us” is out now in the Czech magazine XB-1, edited by Martin Šust, and translated by Daniela Orlando. In my theme of positive topics, it’s about the end of humanity and the last two human survivors in a hostile universe. Plus fedoras. Link here.






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free short story prequel to the silence of six

SOS_CoverI have a new short story available for free on Wattpad: “SOS”, a prequel to my upcoming YA thriller, The Silence of Six! I hope that people who are curious about the novel will take a look at it, and if you’ve already read The Silence of Six, some cool stuff is there for you too :)

The Wattpad story also includes the entire first chapter of The Silence of Six, to introduce you to the mystery that sets the book’s events in motion. If you check it out, I hope you’ll leave some comments on the site and spread the word. I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think about the SOS books!

Also, some people have been asking me about when the hardcover will be available for pre-order. After a short delay, it’s finally up on Amazon!

And remember: You can still enter this giveaway for the book on Goodreads until November 15!


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World Fantasy Convention

terratantra_cosmic_treeI’ll be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Arlington, VA from November 6-9. I’m scheduled to do a reading on Thursday, November 6th, at 4:30pm in the “Arlington” room. I may read from one of two stories. The first is about farmers of universes and generational abuse. The second is about ghosts after the Holocaust coming back to their shtetl to find the town and themselves forever changed. So as you can see, positive topics! I hope you’ll join me.

Reading: Matthew Kressel
Time: 4:30pm-5pm, Nov. 6, Arlington

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