Zombies and Fleshy UFOs Over China

Two separate anthologies have welcomed stories of mine this month, which is a nice Valentine’s Day/Lupercalia treat.

The first is another entry in the New York Times-bestselling Black Tide Rising anthology, United We Stand, and I’m overjoyed to be listed right there on the cover. My contribution is “Isle of Masks and Blood”, another episode in the life of former hitman Silvio Cipriano, trying to protect his family and fellow survivors in the zombie apocalypse… this time in the city of Venice (one of my favorite places in the world).

The first story in the series, appearing in the previous We Shall Rise anthology, introduced Silvio living in a quiet life in Umbria with his daughter and a group of survivors. The worst of a zombie apocalypse is over, and the focus is on trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered world; Silvio has been instrumental in creating a Trade Road that is steadily connecting other survivor enclaves across Italy. Collaboration, not selfish hoarding and shooting people for asking for a bottle of aspirin, is what people would have to do when the world falls. When Silvio’s daughter vanishes, he discovers an insidious enemy dwelling in their midst…

This sequel story is set a year later, and moves the action to Venice. Silvio and his group are arriving at the City of Masks as emissaries (Venice is the one city that hasn’t joined the Trade Road, preferring total isolation from the outside world.) The adventure that follows is a grim, high-octane tale set in among labyrinthine streets, canals and factions jockeying for power.

Here’s the intro:

The last time he was on a boat he had to kill six people.

It had been messy work, and dumping their bodies overboard had filled him with a strange anxiety that remained long after he’d cashed the assignment check. Silvio Cipriano didn’t usually remember his dreams, though in the years since he was haunted by a recurring nightmare: he was back on that private yacht, staring down into the Adriatic Sea. Beneath his reflection were the six corpses, gazing up from their watery grave. They were rotted, slimy, all skeletal grins and seaweed hair, pointing bony fingers and saying–

“Papa?” his daughter Caterina tugged at his sleeve, distracting him from his morbid reverie. “Look!”

Sitting beside him in the speeding vaporetto, she pressed her little hands to the window, eyes wide, and pointed.


Additionally, I have a story in the latest Weird World War book. The previous volumes explored World War 3 and World War 4; this time it’s Weird World War China, where my fellow authors and I were tasked with imagining conflict between the world’s two superpowers.

My contribution is “Flawed Evolution”, a Cronenberg-esque tale of UFO invasion and the nightmarish effect this has on geopolitics (and more!) Three organic craft come to Earth and cause devastating ecological damage. A united humanity eventually manages to shoot them down… and it’s here that my story opens, with the mad scramble between U.S. and Chinese governments trying to reverse-engineer the UFOs in what has become a dreadful new arms race. Percolating in the background are a pair of questions: why did the UFOs come here… and what are the ramifications of tinkering with technologies we can barely understand?

Here’s the intro:

They awakened her around 2 A.M. and said it was an emergency. Her first thought was that Ezekiel had come back to life–it was always trying. Throwing on her clothes, Dr. Marguerite Chapman of the National Defense Research Committee went from her trailer to the mobile command center–really, just a larger trailer on the India-China border. Adjusting her glasses, she studied the monitor array.

“What am I looking at?” she asked.

“It’s the Chinese team,” Colonel Andrews explained, standing at her side. “Inside Ezekiel.”

Briefly, her eyes flicked to the monitor showing the downed extraterrestrial craft that lay a half mile north of their position. She would have preferred to be closer to the crash site, but that was impossible. The Himalayan valley was a bubbling, toxic landscape. It was the same with the two other vessels comprising the UFO invasion. Wherever they went, they poisoned the environment around them. No one knew how to even begin discussing cleanup.

It also meant that analyzing the alien craft was challenging. Researchers from America, India, and China rotated shifts inside Ezekiel while donning bulky hazmat suits that would slowly erode in the polluted conditions.


TangentOnline had kind words for the story, saying: “The premise is unique and interesting, with a compelling vision of the future.”



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