F. (Francis) Brett Cox is a writer and teacher, which will come as a surprise to no one who has ever known him. Born and raised in southeastern North Carolina, he attended University of South Carolina-Coastal Carolina College (now Coastal Carolina University), receiving a B.A. in English and Philosophy. He then studied writing with James Dickey and William Price Fox at the University of South Carolina-Columbia, receiving an M.A. in English with emphasis in Creative Writing. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in English with emphasis in American Literature at Duke University, where he studied American literary history and critical theory with Frank Lentricchia and Jane Tompkins. His main takeaway from his graduate education: surround yourself with people who are much smarter and more accomplished than you are. After kicking around the academic circuit for a while, with stops in Georgia and Alabama, Brett made a geographic U-turn and moved to Vermont in 2002. Since then he has taught at Norwich University, where he currently serves as Charles A. Dana Professor of English.
Inspired by his discovery of the world of science fiction readers and writers, Brett started submitting stories for publication in his early teens, convinced the editors who rejected his work didn’t know he was just a kid, although they almost certainly did. His decision to pursue an extended formal education with the goal of being a college teacher while at the same time living in the world as fully as possible (meaning, among other things, spending a lot of time listening to loud bands in small clubs) meant his attention to his art was, for many years, intermittent at best. But he never completely stopped writing. After publishing three stories in local venues while completing his Ph.D., he made his first professional sale, the novelette “The Light of the Ideal,” to Century magazine, which published the story in 2000. Since then, he has published over thirty short stories, most of which appear in his collection The End of All Our Exploring: Stories (Fairwood Press, 2018).
Along the way, Brett has also published poetry, drama, essays, reviews, and scholarly writing in numerous magazines and anthologies, and co-edited, with Andy Duncan, the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (Tor, 2004). He is a co-founder of the Shirley Jackson Awards and currently serves as President of the SJA Board of Directors; he has also served as a juror for the Bram Stoker Awards (additions jury), the SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship of the Science Fiction Research Association, and the Philip K. Dick Award. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, Horror Writers Association, International Association on the Fantastic in the Arts, Science Fiction Research Association, and the Cambridge Science Fiction Writers Workshop. Roger Zelazny, his nonfiction study of the legendary author's career, appeared in May 2021 from University of Illinois Press as part of its Modern Masters of Science Fiction series, and finished in 2nd place in the Nonfiction category for the 2022 Locus Award.
But what does he do for fun? Well, there were all those bands in all those clubs, and every once in a while he still gets out to a show. For a brief, glorious period in the second half of the 1990’s, he was in the band Argon Connection, which recorded a demo and played a small handful of well-received shows in the Atlanta area before its members dispersed, as members will. He is married to the playwright and director Jeanne Beckwith, which has led him, at a relatively advanced age, to act occasionally in various stage productions in Vermont. And he takes undue advantage of living in an era in which there is more good television than can be watched in a lifetime.
Jeanne and I celebrate Elizabeth Hand's birthday, with mood lighting.