The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories

John Kessel  - published April 2008

A BookSense Pick.

John Kessel, ever at the forefront of fiction, mashes up Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein and comes up with a huge win: “Pride and Prometheus,” which received the Nebula and Shirley Jackson awards and was nominated for many others. The fourteen stories in this astonishing, long-awaited collection intersect imaginatively with literary classics (The Wizard of Oz, Flannery O’Connor) and history. The Baum Plan also includes Kessel’s modern classic “Lunar Quartet” sequence about life on the moon, one of which, “Stories for Men,” won the Tiptree Award.

By turns satirical, horrific, funny, and generous, these stories showcase the manifold gifts of the modern-day master of the screwball science fiction novel Corrupting Dr. Nice, a writer Publishers Weekly has called “capable of the most artful and rigorous literary composition, but with a mischievous genius that inclines him toward speculative fiction . . . he writes with great subtlety and wit . . . and his craftsmanship is frequently absolutely brilliant. Plus, his sense of comedy is remarkable.”

An ex-con finds himself falling, once more, under the spell of a seductive, amoral woman. A hidden door in the closet of a summer house leads to a land of plenty. The life of an inventor converges with the pulp fiction he reads in “Powerless.” In “Pride and Prometheus,” the Bennett sisters encounter Victor Frankenstein and his monster. And, in his acclaimed and award-winning Lunar Quartet, John Kessel explores the gender dynamics, politics, and long-term sustainability of a matriarchal lunar colony.

“A sustained exploration of the ways gender dynamics can both empower and enslave us. Kessel’s wit sparkles throughout, peaking with the most uproariously weird phone-sex conversation you’ll ever read (“The Red Phone”).” A-
Entertainment Weekly

Table of Contents

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence [audio]
Every Angel is Terrifying [audio]
The Last American
The Invisible Empire
A Lunar Quartet
– The Juniper Tree
Stories for Men
– Under the Lunchbox Tree
– Sunlight or Rock
The Snake Girl
It’s All True
The Red Phone
Pride and Prometheus [part 1 | part 2]

The Baum Plan ... B!Hardcover dustjacket easter egg:

Metro Arts

Dependable Erection(!)

Book Sense“One of the best collections of the year.” — Locus

“These well-crafted stories, full of elegantly drawn characters, deliver a powerful emotional punch.”
Publishers Weekly

“Kessel is a deft stylist and a master of all his tools, whose range is nearly limitless.”

“John Kessel’s writing exists at the edge of things, in the dark corner where the fiction section abuts the science-fiction shelves, in the hyphen where magic meets realism. Reading Kessel’s wonderful fabulations is like staying out too late partying and seeing strange angels while stumbling home in the dawn’s first light. This is one of those too rare short story collections that you can recommend with confidence to both the literary snob and the hard-core computer geek.”
— Rich Rennicks, Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville, NC

“Critics were all excited to see another anthology from Kessel … not only did Kessel pull off these stories with gusto but he did so in such a way that readers can enjoy his tales even if they have not read the original authors.”
Bookmarks Magazine

On the web:

About the Author

Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space, Dr. Nice, and The Moon and the Other, and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. Kessel’s stories have received the Nebula, Sturgeon, Locus, Shirley Jackson, and James Tiptree Jr. awards.

His story “A Clean Escape””was adapted as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sf, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology. Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He lives and works in Raleigh, NC.