Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner


The boilerplate first: I’m a journalist/writer based in Queens, New York. I’m currently a contributing editor at Wired, for whom I write in-depth stories about criminal justice, national security, biomedical research, and sundry other topics. I’m also the author of two books of narrative nonfiction: Now the Hell Will Start, the tale of an American G.I. who went native in the Indo-Burmese jungle, and The Skies Belong to Us, a history of the American hijacking epidemic of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The former book is currently being adapted by filmmaker Spike Lee; the latter was hailed as a “pure pop masterpiece” by The New York Times.

After an ill-advised stint as a bartender in Ireland, I started my journalism career at U.S. News and World Report, where I covered hackers, creation scientists, vermiculture, and the tragic closure of Santa’s Village. From there I became a fellow at the New America Foundation and freelanced for the likes of Mother Jones, The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and the late, great Legal Affairs. I’ve written regular columns for Slate, The New York Times SundayBusiness section, Gizmodo, and the Village Voice, for whom I did a longish stint as a pseudonymous tech adviser named Mr. Roboto. My work has also appeared in magazines ranging from Details to Spin to Men’s Journal.

The Columbia Journalism Review named me one of its “Ten Young Writers on the Rise,” while the New Haven Review included me on its list of “20 Non-fiction Writers Under 40.” I won a 2003 National Headliner Award for feature writing and my stories have appeared in both Best American Science Writing and Best American Science and Nature Writing. Check out my 2008 appearance on The Colbert Report here and my 2016 Øredev talk about the Islamic State’s media operation here.

Microkhan was created to explore such salient topics as Sri Lanka, electric power transmission, Polynesian footballers, minor characters from The Iliad, primate sociobiology, user interface design, Canadian whiskey, the history of cholera, low-grade animatronic robots, Naga anthropology, cult dynamics, ruby thieves, the Pyongyang Metro, the techniques of master pickpockets, bush flying in the Alaskan tundra, anti-poaching technology, and spaceports. Please see the debut post for a more expansive mission statement.

I got into writing eons ago, after my dad read me Carl Stephenson’s Leningen Versus the Ants, about a Brazilian farmer’s battle against a horde of flesh-eating insects. The Avenger from Great Expectations is my all-time favorite minor character from literature. I have the imperial symbol of Batu Kahn’s Golden Horde tattooed on my right shoulder. I was once an extra on an episode of Punky Brewster. I’m a diehard Sunderland supporter. I’m constantly seeking something commensurate to my capacity for wonder.

Please follow me on Twitter if you get the chance.