photo by Cheryl Gottschall
John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel was born on September 24, 1950 in Buffalo, New York. He received a B.A. in English and Physics from the University of Rochester in 1972, an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1974, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas in 1981. From 1979 to 1982 he worked as an editor for Commodity News Services in Leawood, Kansas. Since 1982 he has taught American literature, science fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and he lives and dies (lately, mostly dying) with the Kansas City Royals and the Buffalo Bills.
Kessel's first published short fiction appeared in 1978, and he has since become a frequent contributor to Asimov's Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, as well as to many other magazines and anthologies. His stories have been reprinted in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan. He became well-known in 1982 with the novella "Another Orphan" (a fantasy based on Melville's Moby Dick), which received the 1982 Nebula Award, and was reprinted in 1989 as a Tor Double book. He later won the 1992 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for his short story "Buffalo" (also a winner of the Locus Award that year); he won a Paul Green Playwright's prize in 1994 for his play "Faustfeathers"; and his one-act play "A Clean Escape" was produced by the Allowance Theater in Raleigh in 1986. His novella "Stories for Men" shared the 2002 James Tiptree Jr. Award for sf dealing with gender issues with M. John Harrison's novel Light.
Kessel did not start publishing novels until 1985, as co-author of Freedom Beach with James Patrick Kelly. His later works include the novels Good News From Outer Space (1989)--a finalist for the Nebula Award that year--and Corrupting Dr. Nice (1997), plus the collections Meeting in Infinity (1992)--which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and was named a notable book of 1992 by the New York Times Book Review--and The Pure Product (1997). He edited an anthology of stories from the Sycamore Hill Writers' Conference (which he also helps to run), called Intersections (1996), with Mark L. Van Name and Richard Butner. Most recently, with Jim Kelly, he edited Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. And in Spring 2008, Small Beer Press will publish Kessel's new short story collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories.
His criticism has appeared in Short Form, Science Fiction Eye, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Science Fiction Age, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Foundation, and elsewhere.