Announcement: The Harbinger, by Keegan Kennedy

The HarbingerQSFer Keegan Kennedy has a new sci fi book out that includes gay characters:

It starts as a whisper, barely audible.

Rumors. Paranoia. Conspiracy theories. Subterfuge.

Like lightning, the plague moves across the globe, spreading out in all directions. When the naysayers can no longer ignore the wails and moans of the dying, the

Harbinger will already have them by their throats.

But the end is only the beginning…

Discovered in the Alaskan permafrost, the ancient virus was reanimated and genetically-altered. The new strain showed great promise in curing many of mankind’s afflictions. When the specimen fell into the hands of the Russian theocracy, their inept scientists attempted to create a biological weapon—a weapon that outsmarted them.

Now, the androvirus is a deadly airborne plague, conquering the world in a matter of days. With a communicability of 100% and a mortality rate of over 90%, there is no immunity. For the survivors, who can suppress the virus, there is only change. A few adapt, but most become walking, talking gray horrors with an appetite for flesh.

Primarily set in the American city of Memphis, four loosely-connected strangers, caught up in their lives, find their worlds annihilated by the swiftly-moving plague.

Alex Connelly is a wealthy, young executive, living an idyllic life with his pregnant wife, Madison. Kirk Foster is a self-absorbed aging gay man, desperate to hang onto his youth and sex appeal. Meredith Brinkley’s on-going war with breast cancer takes a turn for the worse, and she faces an impending double mastectomy. Logan King is a closeted baseball jock, playing for a minor league team while coming to terms with his true identity. And only together will they survive…


Inspiration for the Harbinger

The Harbinger was born, in part, from growing up in the 1980’s. At that time, our culture was plagued by fear. It was everywhere–on the news, in conversations, in nightmares… As I think back, nuclear war was often presented by the media as a likely event. In retrospect, I now see it for what it was… Reagan-Era propaganda that was meant to keep everyone scared shitless. Unfortunately, things haven’t changed too much… But it wasn’t just the media. Every other movie out there, it seemed, were full of slashers and killers, wars and disasters, and the end of the world. My favorites of these movies were always the huge Hollywood disaster flicks with fabulous all-star casts. Gloom and doom and the fantasy of starting over are common themes that endlessly fascinate us. And, of course, we’re still in the grips of our zombie obsession.

My background is in gay romance and erotica. As a fan of post-apocalyptic and Sci-Fi fiction, I’ve noticed the glaring absence of major gay characters. Usually, they’re resigned to be comic sidekicks, minor characters with occasional one-liners, or characters unable to defend themselves. Two of the four major characters in The Harbinger are gay and are portrayed in a realistic light, as flawed people who are just like anyone else–fighting to survive. Of course, there are some zombie-type creatures, but my “creepers” aren’t like anything I’ve read before. It would be incorrect to categorize this as a “gay” or “zombie” book because there’s much more going on… I wanted to express a different point of view that is lacking in most post-apocalyptic books.

Instead of jumping into the middle of the story and telling how the world fell apart in a flashback, lasting for maybe a page and a half, which is fine for some writers and fans, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to examine and watch the world fall apart through the eyes of the characters and attempt to convey the emotions they experience. So The Harbinger begins with these characters living their lives with their own sets of issues and problems. Before they know it, their worlds have been annihilated and they face these extraordinary circumstances.


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Excerpt

Chapter 14

“During the last twenty-four hours, the patriarch of the Holy Federation of Russia has died of a virulent strain of influenza, and there have been reports of a widespread outbreak of the same flu across that nation. And suddenly, to put it in the most simplistic of terms, someone shut down the Russian communications grid like a vacuum cleaner with its plug yanked out of the wall, killing all cellular service and Internet connectivity for that part of the world. Now, their state-run news media is downplaying the flu that killed the much-despised dictator.” She paused. “This screams of massive government cover-up on the part of the Russians. What intel does the State Department have on this so-called Russian Flu as well and the convenient communications blackout?”

“First, let me say,” Secretary of State Polis began with an amused grin that hinted of condescension, “I enjoyed your vacuum cleaner metaphor… But to answer your questions, we are aware of no cover-up. The State Department can confirm that Patriarch Kirill has died. To be candid, the cause of death is still being verified.”

“Mr. Secretary, are you saying that Patriarch Kirill may not have died of influenza? Could he have been overthrown in a coup similar to the ousting of the Putin Regime, five years ago?”

Another cool smile came over Jared Polis’ face. “I didn’t say any of those things, Ariana. Because of the Russian communication blackout, we’re awaiting final confirmation on the cause of death.”

“Can you confirm with our viewers the appointment of a new patriarch?” Ariana looked down at her notes, reading the name. “Patriarch Korov?”

“Yes, it appears the Holy Federation of Russia does have a new, more hardline leader – even more hostile toward the United States than his recently deceased predecessor.”

“What about the existence of this Russian Flu?”

For only a split second, the Secretary of State seemed uneasy, but he swiftly regained his pleasant demeanor. “To our knowledge, there is no such thing as the Russian Flu.”

“Mr. Secretary,” Ariana continued pointedly, “if there is no Russian Flu, what about the reports that flooded in from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets originating from Russia before the cellular and Internet outages?”

“What reports are you referring to?”

“The reports about hospitals filling up and the mass burning of bodies.”

“Ariana,” the smiling man chided politely, “we believe those alleged reports and disturbing pictures were part of a mass conspiracy perpetrated by a Russian domestic terrorist organization in an attempt to discredit the Russian Orthodox Church.”
The reporter frowned. “With all due respect, tens of thousands of reports and accounts, all saying the same thing, makes your mass conspiracy theory unlikely. What’s more likely is that there’s an illness spreading through the hostile nation… And to stop the news from leaking, perhaps to conceal a potential weakness, the Russian government actually pulled the plug on their own Internet and cellular grids to suppress the truth.”

“Ms. Hernandez, credible journalists, such as yourself, buying into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories can be damaging to credibility.” He smiled again. “After all, this isn’t FOX News.”

“It is also damaging to credibility to completely ignore reports such as the ones that were coming out of Russia,” she countered.

“Well, you have a point there.”

“Does the CDC or the State Department have contingency plans, in case these unsubstantiated rumors turn out to be fact?”

“Of course,” he replied, narrowing his eyes and his smile fading. “But Ariana, I’ll say it again… To our knowledge, there is no such thing as the Russian Flu and there is no need for concern.”

Alex shook his head. Although he personally didn’t know what was truth or hyperbole during the tense interview, he knew how to read people and he could easily tell that Secretary of State Polis had been lying. And something told him that Ariana Hernandez had known that too.


Author Bio

Originally hailing from Mississippi, Keegan Kennedy is a writer based out of Memphis, TN. As a child, sometimes his active imagination was the only friend that he had. Following a degree in History from the University of Southern Mississippi, Keegan floated around the corporate while dreaming of telling stories. His first novellas were in the arena of male-for-male erotica and romance. His earlier efforts were soon followed by success when his novel, Homecoming, went to Number One in on the LGBT charts in four countries: Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has a knack for uncovering love and romance in the darkest of places. With a tendency toward the melodramatic, he does more than arouse or excite the reader – he engages them.

His current release is the epic novel: The Harbinger – a chilling, apocalyptic tale of survival that decimated stereotypes and shocked his fans. Upcoming works include – a TBA romance between two anti-heroes. And by popular demand, he is re-mastering his older novellas into his new anthology series, the cheekily-named: Smooth Jocks and Gruff Jocks.

“I want to sincerely thank all of my readers! Because of you, I have spoken to and made new friends from across the globe on every continent with the exception of Antarctica – to my knowledge. Your kind words and encouragement have meant the world to me. I answer all emails, so feel free to contact me.”

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