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NC State’s John Kessel Wins Nebula Award for ‘Pride and Prometheus’

As a fledgling science fiction author in the early 1980s, John Kessel got a boost when he won the prestigious Nebula Award for science fiction and fantasy writing. Twenty-six years and eight nominations later, the North Carolina State University English professor has done it again – taking home one of the most highly esteemed awards a science fiction author can receive.

Kessel won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for “Pride and Prometheus,” a tale involving characters from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” “It’s a story about the difficulty of finding the proper mate,” Kessel says, “and how initial impressions are not always the most trustworthy.” The award was presented April 25 at a celebratory banquet in Los Angeles.

Previous winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novelette include such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. LeGuin, Poul Anderson, Roger Zelazny and Fritz Leiber – so Kessel is in good company. The Best Novelette category covers works that are between 7,500 and 17,500 words in length.

“I have achieved overnight success,” Kessel says. “I believe I now hold the record, 26 years, for the length of time between winning my first Nebula and my second.” He won his first Nebula for the novella “Another Orphan,” in 1982.

The Nebula Awards are given to the best science fiction and fantasy novel, novella, novelette and short story, as voted on by active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

Kessel has also found success as a mentor to aspiring writers at NC State, where he teaches American literature and fiction writing. One of his students, Josh Eure, won this year’s highly coveted Dell Magazines Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing (formerly the Isaac Asimov Award).

“Pride and Prometheus” has also been nominated for a Hugo Award, which is an equally prominent prize awarded by science fiction readers. The story appears in Kessel’s 2008 story collection, “The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories.”

– shipman –