John Kessel


Born
in Buffalo, New York, The United States
September 24, 1950

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Influences


John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel co-directs the creative writing program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. A winner of the Nebula, Locus, Sturgeon, and Tiptree Awards, his books include Good News From Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. His story collection Meeting in Infinity was a New York Times Notable Book. Most recently, with James Patrick Kelly he has edited the anthologies Feeling Very Strange, Rewired, The Secret History of Science Fiction and Kafkaesque. Born in Buffalo, NY, Kessel has a PhD in American Literature, has been an NEA Fellow, and for twenty years has been one of the organizers of the Sycamore Hill Writers Workshop.

Average rating: 3.88 · 12,046 ratings · 1,412 reviews · 147 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Moon and the Other

3.68 avg rating — 414 ratings — published 2017 — 5 editions
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Pride and Prometheus

3.60 avg rating — 262 ratings — published 2008 — 6 editions
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The Baum Plan for Financial...

3.70 avg rating — 174 ratings — published 2008 — 6 editions
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Corrupting Dr. Nice

3.52 avg rating — 200 ratings — published 1997 — 7 editions
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Good News from Outer Space

3.71 avg rating — 164 ratings — published 1989 — 8 editions
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Kafkaesque: Stories Inspire...

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3.71 avg rating — 51 ratings — published 2011 — 2 editions
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The Pure Product

4.04 avg rating — 47 ratings — published 1997 — 2 editions
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Meeting in Infinity

4.08 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 1992
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Creating the Innocent Kille...

4.71 avg rating — 14 ratings — published 2004
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Another Orphan

4.06 avg rating — 16 ratings — published 2003 — 3 editions
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“If the weakness of mainstream fiction is its deliberate smallness, the weakness of sf is its puffed-up size, its gauzy immensities. SF often pays so much attention to cosmic ideas that the story's surface is vague. Too much sf suffers from a lack of tangible reality. Muzzy settings, generic characters concocted merely for the sake of the idea, improbable action plots tidily wrapped up at the end. Too much preaching, not enough concrete, credible detail. An sf writer can get published without mastering certain things that most mainstream writers can’t evade: evocative prose style, naturalistic dialogue, attention to detail. Refraining from editorializing, over-explaining, or pat resolutions. To us, the contents of The Best American Short Stories seem paltry and timebound. To them, the contents of Asimov’s are overblown and underrealized.

It’s no wonder that sf never makes the Ravenel collection. SF is habitually strong in areas considered unessential to good mainstream fiction, and weak in those areas that are considered essential. It doesn't matter that to the sf reader most contemporary fiction is so interested in "how things really are" in tight focus that it missed "how things really are" in the big picture.

SF’s different standards make it invisible to mainstream readers, not in the literal way of H.G. Wells's invisible man, but in the cultural way of Ralph Ellison's. It's not that they can’t see us, it's that they don't know what to make of what they see. What they don't know about sf, and worse still, what they think they do know, make it impossible for them to appreciate our virtues. We are like a Harlem poet attempting to find a seat at the Algonquin round table in 1925. Our clothes are outlandish . Our accent is uncouth. The subjects we are interested in are uninteresting or incomprehensible. Our history and culture are unknown. Our reasons for being there are inadmissible. The result is embarrassment, condescension, or silence.”
John Kessel

“Is Shimmer a floor wax or a dessert topping? Is an electron a wave or a particle? Slipstream tells us that the answer is yes.”
John Kessel, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology

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