John Kessel

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 (2008), and one novel, Freedom Beach (1985) in collaboration with his friend James Patrick Kelly. Kessel is married to author Therese Anne Fowler.

John Kessel
John Kessel (2017)
BornSeptember 24, 1950 (age 68)
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


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

  • 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

As Editor


  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 Feb 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

A Clean Escape

A Clean Escape is a 1985 short story by John Kessel, later adapted into a play by Kessel in 1986. The story was first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in May 1985. It features a psychiatrist attempting to cure a special patient of his amnesia. Slowly, as the patient regains his memory, more and more secrets are revealed about who this person is and the truth about their civilization as a whole.

The story was adapted by Sam Egan as the script for the first episode of Masters of Science Fiction, which first aired August 4, 2007. A psychiatrist is treating a weapons manufacturer with anterograde amnesia, whose memories reboot once every 12 hours, leading him to believe he has just left his family to go to work but has been sent to the company shrink for evaluation. In reality however, much, much more time has passed than the viewer is originally led to believe. As the patient's memories are slowly becoming untangled, showing hints at a corporate conspiracy, but the actual truth of the matter is much worse than that. The corporate power play did happen, but that was decades ago - in reality, the patient had used his business connections to launch a presidential campaign, leading to him being elected President of the United States.

An international incident leads to him deploying an experimental defense technology his company had developed, which proves far stronger than intended, causing a nuclear chain reaction that destroys the majority of humanity. The patient and the psychiatrist are in fact in a government bunker deep beneath the ruins of the United States, and the patient's amnesia is a psychological response to finding the charred remains of his family in the ruins of the White House. The psychiatrist, having also lost her family in the disaster, and dying of cancer caused by radiation exposure, has clung to life only to force her patient to accept the truth. Having seen it happen, she commits suicide. The next day, her successor meets with the patient again, whose mind has once again rebooted to that same morning, decades ago.

Corrupting Dr. Nice

Corrupting Dr. Nice is a science fiction novel by American writer John Kessel, published in 1997. It is a time travel novel modeled on the screwball comedies of the 1930s.

The story follows the rich and klutzy Owen Vannice ("Dr. Nice") as he exports a dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period. On the way to the twenty-first century, he is stranded in Jerusalem in 40 AD, where he and Genevieve Faison fall in love. However, he leaves her after discovering that she and her father are con artists. She takes revenge by impersonating a representative of the Committee to Protect the Past, marrying him and then pulling a series of surprises that leave him feeling betrayed. He realizes that he still loves the Genevieve he met in Jerusalem; they both return there and are reconciled. Meanwhile, the Zealot Simon is involved in a failed attempt to take over the time travel station in Jerusalem. He stands trial and is acquitted after a courtroom face-off between Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.

Corrupting Dr. Nice was nominated for the 1998 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Elaine Radford

Elaine Radford is an American author of science fiction and non-fiction, perhaps best known for her controversial 1987 essay drawing parallels between Ender Wiggin and Adolf Hitler -- an essay which drew a rebuttal from Orson Scott Card, and which has been cited by, among others, John Kessel.She has also written several books on the proper care of pet birds, published by TFH Publications.


Flurb was an American science fiction webzine, edited by author Rudy Rucker and launched in August 2006. In addition to short stories, Flurb featured paintings and photography by Rucker. It was released biannually. The author of an accepted story retained full copyright, including the right to have the story published elsewhere, and to request that it be taken down at any time.

Flurb releases tended to garner significant online attention, with issues having been mentioned in several blogs including Boing Boing and io9.Contributors to Flurb included Terry Bisson, John Kessel, Kim Stanley Robinson, Paul Di Filippo, John Shirley, Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow, as well as Rucker himself.

Flurb closed in 2012.

Foundation (journal)

Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction is a critical peer-reviewed literary magazine established in 1972 that publishes articles and reviews about science fiction. It is published triannually (spring, summer, and winter) by the Science Fiction Foundation. Worlds Without End called it "the essential critical review of science fiction", whilst The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has called it "perhaps the liveliest and indeed the most critical of the big three critical journals" (the others being Extrapolation (journal) and Science Fiction Studies). A long-running feature was the series of interviews and autobiographical pieces with leading writers, entitled "The Profession of Science Fiction", a selection of which was edited and published by Macmillan Publishers in 1992. Several issues have been themed, including #93 (A Celebration of British Science Fiction, 2005), published also as part of the Foundation Studies in Science Fiction. The hundredth edition (Summer 2007) was unusual in that it was an all-fiction issue, including stories by such writers as Vandana Singh, Tricia Sullivan, Karen Traviss, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, John Kessel, Nalo Hopkinson, Greg Egan, and Una McCormack. Back issues of the journal are archived at the University of Liverpool's SF Hub whilst more recent issues can be found electronically via the database providers ProQuest.

James Patrick Kelly

James Patrick Kelly (born April 11, 1951 in Mineola, New York) is an American science fiction author.

List of Clarion Writers Workshop Instructors

This is a list of past instructors in the Clarion Workshop, an annual writers' workshop for science fiction, fantasy, and speculative literature writers.

Instructors marked with an asterisk are also graduates of the Clarion or Clarion West workshops.

Saladin Ahmed

Eleanor Arnason

Steven Barnes

Christopher Barzak*

Elizabeth Bear

Michael Bishop

Terry Bisson

Holly Black

Ben Bova

Edward Bryant*

Algis Budrys

Octavia Butler*

Orson Scott Card

Suzy McKee Charnas

Ted Chiang*

Cassandra Clare

Robert Crais*

Ellen Datlow

Samuel R. Delany

Gordon Dickson

Thomas Disch

Cory Doctorow*

Gardner Dozois

Tananarive Due

Andy Duncan*

David Anthony Durham

Scott Edelman

Phyllis Eisenstein

Harlan Ellison

Carol Emshwiller

Charles Coleman Finlay

Jeffrey Ford

Karen Joy Fowler

James Frenkel

Gregory Frost*

Neil Gaiman

Lisa Goldstein

Martin Greenberg

Joe Haldeman

Elizabeth Hand

Harry Harrison

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Nalo Hopkinson*

N.K. Jemisin

K.W. Jeter

Kij Johnson*

Gwyneth Jones

James Patrick Kelly*

John Kessel

Damon Knight

Nancy Kress

Michael Kube-McDowell

Ellen Kushner

Larissa Lai

Margo Lanagan*

Geoffrey A. Landis*

Fritz Leiber

Jonathan Lethem

Kelly Link*

Elizabeth Lynn

George R.R. Martin

Shawna McCarthy

Judith Merril

Maureen McHugh

Kim Mohan

Mary Anne Mohanraj*

James Morrow

Pat Murphy

Paul Park

Frederick Pohl

Tim Powers

Marta Randall

Kit Reed

Mike Resnick

Kim Stanley Robinson*

Spider and Jeanne Robinson

Kristine Kathryn Rusch*

Joanna Russ

Richard Russo

Geoff Ryman

John Scalzi

Lucius Shepard*

Delia Sherman

Dean Wesley Smith

Norman Spinrad

Sean Stewart

Theodore Sturgeon

Michael Swanwick

Judith Tarr

Robert Thurston*

Mary A. Turzillo*

Catherynne Valente

Gordon Van Gelder*

Ann VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer*

Joan Vinge

Howard Waldrop

Leslie What*

Kate Wilhelm

Sheila Williams

Walter Jon Williams

Connie Willis

Robin Scott Wilson

Gene Wolfe

Patricia Wrede

Glenn Wright

Meeting in Infinity

Meeting in Infinity is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer John Kessel. It was released in 1992 and was the author's first book published by Arkham House . It was published in an edition of 3,547 copies. Most of the stories originally appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. "Another Orphan" won a Nebula Award in 1982.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012 is an anthology of science fiction short works edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. It was first published in trade paperback by Pyr in May 2012.

Slipstream genre

Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The term was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, in July 1989. He wrote: "... this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility."

Small Beer Press

Small Beer Press is a publisher of fantasy and literary fiction, based in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was founded by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link in 2000 and publishes novels, collections, and anthologies. It also publishes the zine Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, chapbooks, the Peapod Classics line of classic reprints, and limited edition printings of certain titles. The Press has been acknowledged for its children and young-adult publications, and as a leading small-publisher of literary science-fiction and fantasy.Authors published to date include Kate Wilhelm, John Crowley, Sean Stewart, Maureen McHugh, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Kelly Link, Carol Emshwiller, Ray Vukcevich, Joan Aiken, Howard Waldrop, Ellen Kushner, John Kessel, and Alan DeNiro.

Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop

Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop is a workshop for science fiction writers. Since its origin in 1985, it has been held in Raleigh, North Carolina; Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and most recently in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.

Currently organized by Richard Butner, Sycamore Hill was started by John Kessel and Mark L. Van Name. It is an invitation-only workshop for established SF, fantasy, and slipstream writers. Attendees have included Kelly Link, Carol Emshwiller, Harlan Ellison, Bruce Sterling, Connie Willis, Karen Joy Fowler, Jonathan Lethem, James Patrick Kelly, Robert Frazier, Ted Chiang, Benjamin Rosenbaum, and Don Webb, among many others.

A collection of original stories from the 1994 workshop was published as the anthology Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology, edited by John Kessel, Mark L. Van Name and Richard Butner (Tor Books, 1996). It includes works by Richard Butner, Carol Emshwiller, Karen Joy Fowler, Robert Frazier, Gregory Frost, Alexander Jablokov, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Nancy Kress, Jonathan Lethem, Maureen F. McHugh, Michaela Roessner, Bruce Sterling, and Mark L. Van Name.

Orson Scott Card wrote about his experience at the Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop in the essay "On Sycamore Hill." Scholars such as Michael Collins identify Card's Sycamore Hill experience as marking a critical "turning point" in his career. Sycamore Hill is known to have shaped several award-winning stories, and is featured in the acknowledgment pages of books like Ted Chiang's Arrival (Stories of Your Life).

Tachyon Publications

Tachyon Publications is an independent press specializing in science fiction and fantasy books. Founded in San Francisco in 1995 by Jacob Weisman, Tachyon books have tended toward high-end literary works, short story collections, and anthologies.

In 2013, Tachyon's publication After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress won the Nebula Award and Locus Award for best novella. Also in 2013, Tachyon's publication of The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson won the Hugo Award for best novella.From 1992-1994, Weisman also published Thirteenth Moon magazine, which featured short stories, poetry and essays by authors including Vicki Aron, Michael Astrov, M.J. Atkins, Simon Baker, Michael Bishop, Fred Branfman, Lela E. Buis, Paul Di Filippo, Linda Dunn, Alma Garcia, Lisa Goldstein, Brice Gorman, John Grey, Eva Hauser, Deborah Hunt, Knute Johnson, Lewis Jordan, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Soon Lee, Pamela Lovell, David Nemec, Lyn Nichols, Robert Patrick, David Sandner, Brian Skinner, Lia Smith, P. Stillman, Rob Sullivan, Pat Toomay, Inti Valverde, Peter Weverka and Wayne Wightman.

The Moon and the Other

The Moon and the Other is a science fiction novel by American writer John Kessel.

Theodore Sturgeon Award

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award is an annual award presented by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to the author of the best short science fiction story published in English in the preceding calendar year. It is the short fiction counterpart of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, awarded by the same organization. The award is named in honor of Theodore Sturgeon, one of the leading authors of the Golden Age of Science Fiction from 1939 to 1950. The award was established in 1987 by his heirs—including his widow, Jayne Sturgeon—and James Gunn, at the time the Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.From 1987 through 1994 the award was given out by a panel of science fiction experts led by Orson Scott Card. Beginning in 1995, the committee was replaced by a group of jurors, who vote on the nominations submitted for consideration. The initial jurors were James Gunn, Frederik Pohl, and Judith Merril. Merril was replaced on the jury by former winner Kij Johnson in 1997, one of Sturgeon's children—Noel Sturgeon in most years—was added to the panel in 1999, and George Zebrowski was added to the panel in 2005. Nominations are submitted by reviewers, fans, publishers, and editors, and are collated by the current Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, Christopher McKitterick, into a list of finalists to be voted on by the jury. The maximum eligible length that a work may be is not formally defined by the center. The winner is selected by May of each year, and is presented at the Campbell Conference awards banquet in June at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, as part of the centerpiece of the conference along with the Campbell Award. Winners are always invited to attend the ceremony. Since 2004 winners have received a personalized trophy, while since the inception of the award a permanent trophy has recorded all of the winners.During the 32 years the award has been active, 188 authors have had works nominated, 33 of whom have won, including one tie. No author has won more than once. John Kessel and Michael Swanwick have each won once out of seven nominations, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nancy Kress, and Ian McDonald one of six, Ted Chiang one of five, and Paolo Bacigalupi and Lucius Shepard have won once out of four times. Robert Reed has the most nominations without winning at eight, followed by James Patrick Kelly and Ian R. MacLeod at seven, and Greg Egan, Ken Liu,and Bruce Sterling at five.

Therese Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler (born April 22, 1967) is a contemporary American author. She is best known for Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, published in 2013. The work has been adapted for television by Killer Films and Amazon Studios, with Christina Ricci and David Hoflin in the roles of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The series, titled Z: The Beginning of Everything, was released on January 27, 2017. A second season of the series is in production.

Fowler is married to the author John Kessel.

Turkey City Writer's Workshop

Turkey City Writer's Workshop is a peer-to-peer, professional science fiction writer's workshop in Texas. Founded in 1973 and still ongoing today, it was consciously modeled after the east coast Milford Writer's Workshop. The workshop "was a cradle of cyberpunk" where many of the practitioners of what would become cyberpunk first met.Founding members of the group included Lisa Tuttle, Howard Waldrop, Steven Utley, and Tom Reamy. The workshop was first held in Grand Prairie, Texas, but soon shifted to Austin when most of the writers involved moved there during the mid-1970s. Bruce Sterling was one of the youngest members of the workshop when he joined it in 1974. Harlan Ellison "discovered" Sterling at Turkey City and arranged for the publication of his first novel. Other writers who have attended Turkey City include Ted Chiang, Paul Di Filippo, Cory Doctorow, Andy Duncan, George Alec Effinger, Mark Finn, Steven Gould, Eileen Gunn, Leigh Kennedy, John Kessel, Rick Klaw, Raph Koster, George R. R. Martin, Maureen McHugh, Paul O. Miles, Chris Nakashima-Brown, Chad Oliver, Lawrence Person, Jessica Reisman, Chris Roberson, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Lewis Shiner, Lou Antonelli, John Shirley, Jeff VanderMeer, Don Webb, Martha Wells, and Connie Willis.The workshop also compiled "The Turkey City Lexicon," a collection of terms used when discussing recurring SF writing tropes. This guide for writers has been used and adapted by other writers workshops, both within and outside the science fiction genre.

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