John Kessel

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John Kessel
John Kessel (2017).jpg
Born (1950-09-24) September 24, 1950 (age 69)
Buffalo, New York, United States
OccupationWriter, editor, teacher
GenreScience fiction; Fantasy literature; Comic science fiction; Metafiction; Satire
SubjectTime travel; the Future; Dinosaurs
Literary movementSavage Humanism[1]
Notable worksAnother Orphan, Good News from Outer Space, "Buffalo", "Pride and Prometheus", Corrupting Dr. Nice
SpouseTherese Anne Fowler

John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel (born September 24, 1950 in Buffalo, New York) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy. He is a prolific short story writer, and the author of four solo novels, Good News From Outer Space (1989), Corrupting Dr. Nice (1997), The Moon and the Other (2017), and Pride and Prometheus (2018), and one novel, Freedom Beach (1985) in collaboration with his friend James Patrick Kelly. Kessel is married to author Therese Anne Fowler.


Kessel obtained a B.A. in Physics and English from the University of Rochester in 1972, followed by a M.A. in English from University of Kansas in 1974, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas in 1981, where he studied under science fiction writer and scholar James Gunn. Since 1982 Kessel has taught classes in American literature, science fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University, and helped organize the MFA Creative Writing program at NCSU, serving as its first director.


Kessel won a Nebula Award in 1982 for his novella "Another Orphan", in which the protagonist finds himself living inside the novel Moby-Dick, and a second for his 2008 novelette "Pride and Prometheus", a story melding the tales of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This novelette also won a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award. The intervening 26 years was the longest gap between competitive awards in Nebula history. His short story "Buffalo" won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the Locus poll in 1992.

His novella "Stories for Men" shared the 2002 James Tiptree, Jr. Award for science fiction dealing with gender issues with M. John Harrison's novel Light. He has been nominated three times for a World Fantasy Award: 1993 for the Meeting in Infinity collection, 1999 for the short fiction "Every Angel is Terrifying", and 2009 for the short story "Pride and Prometheus".[2]

Kessel is also a widely published science fiction and fantasy critic. His works of criticism include the 2004 essay on Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game, "Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality". With Mark L. Van Name, Kessel created the Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop. Kessel has also edited, with Kelly, three collections of contemporary sf short stories, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, and The Secret History of Science Fiction.

In 1994 his play Faustfeathers received the Paul Green Playwrights' Prize. In 2007 his story "A Clean Escape" (previously adapted by Kessel as a one-act play in 1986) was adapted by Sam Egan for ABC's science fiction anthology series Masters of Science Fiction.




  • 1989 Another Orphan


  • 1986 A Clean Escape
  • 1994 Faustfeathers (Paul Green Playwrights' Prize Winner)

Short story collections[edit]

  • 1992 Meeting in Infinity (World Fantasy Award Nominee)
  • 1997 The Pure Product
  • 2008 The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories


Other Notable Stories[edit]

As Editor[edit]


  1. ^ Sawyer, Robert J. (April 29, 2008). "The Savage Humanists". Robert J. Sawyer. Retrieved June 16, 2013. Meet the Savage Humanists: the hottest science-fiction writers working today. They use SF's unique powers to comment on the human condition in mordantly funny, satiric stories... In these pages, you'll find the top names in the SF field: including...John Kessel...
  2. ^ World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Reprinted in The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, ed. Gordon Van Gelder. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications (ISBN 978-1-892391-91-9), 2009.

External links[edit]