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John Kessel

John Kessel(1950- )
John Kessel was born in 1950 in Buffalo, New York. He got a B.A. in English and Physics at the University of Rochester and his MA in English at the University of Kansas. He has won two Nebula awards, one in 1987 for “Another Orphan,” and one in 2008 for “Pride and Prometheus;” and the James Tiptree Award (sharing with John Harrison) in 2002. He has taught MFA writing classes at the North Carolina State University since 1982, and in fact helped develop their MFA program. He has published three novels, three short story collections and appeared in numerous anthologies. Learn more at John Kessel’s website.

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Magazine Monday: Short Fiction Fun

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Many years ago, I cornered John Kessel at a fantasy conference just because I wanted to be able to say that I'd had a conversation with a writer and scholar I admired. Unfortunately for poor Kessel, I ran out of things to say to him right after, "I love your work!" I still have a reverence for writers that renders me tongue-tied in no time at all. Don't they seem like the most magical beings, writers? People who can come up with all that weird stuff right out of their heads?

Anyway, Kessel took pity on me and started talking about how much he loves short fiction. He named authors and stories and magazines, filling my brain with notebooks full of mental jottings. Once I got home, I immediately started pulling out my back issues of the Magaz... Read More

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology

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Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology  edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

Is there really any difference between post-modernism, interstitial fiction, slipstream and New Weird? Does anyone know? James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel try to outline the boundaries of slipstream with their anthology, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, particularly by including a learned introduction and excerpts from a discussion that took place on the subject on a blog a few years ago. Ultimately, like so many things literary, from science fiction to erotica, it comes down to this: slipstream is what I’m pointing to when I say “slipstream.” Yes, ... Read More

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology

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The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology by Gordon Van Gelder (ed.)

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology is an excellent collection of 23 stories picked from the treasure trove of short fiction that's been published in the eponymous magazine over the past 60 years. Editor Gordon Van Gelder — also the editor of the magazine since 1997 — has done an admirable job, picking stories that illustrate the diversity of both the genre and the magazine. As such, this is a great anthology for SF&F fans as well as newcomers looking for a taste.

The line-up of authors in this collection looks like a veritable Who's Who of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury, Read More

The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure

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The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure edited by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan

The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure is, as its name implies, the second of Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan’s themed anthologies attempting to put a modern spin on space opera, a subgenre of science fiction which causes many of us to think of big metal spaceships crewed by handsome blaster-wielding men who protect us from evil aliens that want to destroy the Earth, or at least steal it’s shrieking scantily clad women. We laugh at these old stories now — the way they ignore the vacuum of space and the effects of relativity, the way their aliens seem a lot less alien than they should, and the way that... Read More

Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3: New authors for my watch list!

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Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 edited by Kevin Brockmeier

On a hypothetical chart, with high epic fantasy in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson on one end and (for want of a better term) the magical realism of Gabriel García Marquez and Graham Joyce on the other, the twenty stories in the excellent Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 fall, for the most part, close to or smack on the latter extreme of the scale. If you then add a y-axis, describing how pulpy a story is, everything in this collection would trend towards the end of the scale where the most accomplis... Read More

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Part Three

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Lunch on Friday included a presentation by the scholar guest of honor, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. His talk was entitled “Undead,” and was a meditation on the meaning of that word -- or, in other words, on zombies. Undead does not, Cohen noted, mean that the undead thing is alive; it is a restless state from which monsters arise. What is behind the shift in our literature from ghosts to zombies? Zombies pose no challenge to our minds, as ghosts do, but just want to eat our brains, the physical repositories of our minds. We don’t love zombies the way we might love some ghosts, but think of them as only bodies, things, a collective, a form. If horror is made for mapping what we fe... Read More