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HEBRON ESTATES - Brit Bush has always been unique in her interests.
Since high school, she has focused on learning and writing speculative fiction, which encompasses fantastical fiction genres including science fiction and fantasy.
Her unconventional career path has paid off, however. Bush recently won a scholarship to study at the University of Liverpool for the 2013-2014 academic year.
The Mary Churchill Humphrey Memorial Scholarship that Bush won was founded to allow students to pursue post-baccalaureate study in the United Kingdom. The University of Liverpool is the only school in the world with a science fiction master’s program, which is, as Bush modestly puts it, “is probably the only reason I got the scholarship.”
Though few students wanted to pursue the same field as Bush, she is one of only 25 students from the University of Louisville’s 2012 graduating class to win prestigious scholarships around the world, including Fulbright scholarships.
“The University of Liverpool has the largest research library on science fiction and fantasy, so I will be able to do research I couldn’t do anywhere else,” she said. “So I want the degree and the ability to do this research. Plus, part of the degree is a dissertation, so I have the opportunity to have that published.”
Bush has already published two research books while attending U of L. Her first anthology, “Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction,” was a collective of speculative fiction works from many authors in the field.
“I wanted to have a book out there for people that need to hear these stories,” Bush said. “And it combined both of my interests: being a queer feminist scholar and a science fiction nerd.”
Bush’s undergraduate honors thesis, “WE WUZ PUSHED: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-telling,” was also published this year. The thesis discussed speculative fiction author Joanna Russ and issues of gender and sexuality.
Bush’s interest in science fiction has been apparent since she was young. She has always considered herself “a very nerdy person.” At North Bullitt, Bush found her niche in the English department with teachers she felt she could connect to on a personal level.
“My teachers there were so encouraging and interested in helping students go beyond what was in the classroom,” she said.
Though she had faculty support, Bush had a difficult time with fellow students throughout her years at school.
“Growing up queer in Kentucky-in the South at all, really-wasn’t always an awesome experience,” she said. “But it made me stronger and more willing to talk to people and learn. Education is huge in this.”
Bush felt speculative fiction was a great field to deal with the issues of gender and sexuality.
“It’s a really nice contingent of queer folk who write about science fiction and gender issues,” she said.
Reading and writing came to be Bush’s way of dealing with her own issues.
“It sounds cliché but writing is a way to make reality happen the way you want it, a way to free yourself from feeling so trapped,” she said. “It’s so valuable to know people survived all this and moved onward.”
Bush applied to many colleges, but attended U of L on a Trustees scholarship, which is paid full tuition. She graduated with an English degree.
Until she leaves for England in the fall of 2013, Bush will continue to write for Tor.com, a science fiction magazine she has written for since 2010, work on short stories, her latest novella, and eventually, a novel.
“I’m in the research phase right now for the novel,” she said. “It’s really just an excuse to read a lot of books and get ideas.”
Along with writing, she has already started packing up her Shepherdsville apartment, which has been “very scary.” Fortunately, Bush’s partner will travel to England with her.
“I don’t think I could handle it alone,” she said.
After finishing the master’s program, Bush hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and teach in her field.
“I’d like to see more programs and scholarships,” she said. “There are a lot of speculative fiction scholars but no programs devoted to science fiction. Having a director experienced in the field brings it to a whole new level.”
Until that day comes, Bush is excited to enjoy her time studying in the United Kingdom.
“This has all combined into one really perfect situation,” she said.