Born in Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, Van Allen Plexico graduated from Auburn University with Bachelor’s and master's degrees in 1990 and 1994, doing additional graduate work at Georgetown University and at Emory University. From 1995 through 2006, he lived and worked in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area, teaching at Georgia Perimeter College and at Shorter University. In 2006 he was named Assistant Professor of Political Science and History at Southwestern Illinois College, near St. Louis, Missouri. In 2011 he was promoted to Associate Professor. In 2015 he won the Pulp Factory Award for Pulp Novel of the Year for Legion III: Kings of Oblivion and the Pulp Factory Award for Pulp Anthology of the Year as the editor of Pride of the Mohicans, both published by White Rocket Books. In 2017 he won his second Pulp Factory Award for Pulp Novel of the Year, this one for Sentinels: The Dark Crusade.
Plexico has lectured, written, and spoken professionally on space science, alternate history, and the historical roots of contemporary comic books and science fiction and fantasy literature. He has been published in print and online in the areas of book, television, film, and comics criticism and commentary (often by RevolutionSF.com), and has moderated discussion panels and emceed trivia tournaments at science fiction conventions around the US, beginning in 1998.
He is the host of two weekly or semi-weekly podcast programs: The White Rocket Podcast, in which he interviews a different guest each week about a specific pop culture topic, and The Wishbone Podcast, in which he and co-host John Ringer discuss Auburn University football. The White Rocket Podcast is a member program of the Earth Station One Network of shows, while the Wishbone Podcast is produced and made available in conjunction with The War Eagle Reader web site and the War Eagle Sports Radio network. He also appears occasionally on the RevolutionSF "Revcast" Roundtable podcast and the Earth Station One Podcast.
He is the author of fourteen novels and numerous novellas and short stories. He has also written and/or edited five non-fiction books and numerous adventure fiction anthologies from a variety of publishers. His 2014 science fiction novel Legion III: Kings of Oblivion won Novel of the Year at the 2015 Pulp Factory Awards, presented at the Windy City Pulp Con in Chicago, IL. At the same event, Pride of the Mohicans, a pulp anthology he created and edited, won 2015 Anthology of the Year. His 2013 novel Legion I: Lords of Fire was a shortlisted finalist for Novel of the Year in the same awards in 2014. In 2011 and 2012 he was nominated for the "Writer of the Year" Award by the membership of Pulp Ark, an Arkansas-based pulp convention, and for "Story of the Year" (for his story, "The Red Flame of Death," in Gideon Cain - Demon Hunter, Vol. 1) by the Pulp Factory Awards. In 2012 his anthology, Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, was nominated for seven awards including Pulp Anthology of the Year. The main character of Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, John Blackthorn, won the 2012 New Pulp Award for "New Pulp Character of the Year".
He has written eight volumes and edited one anthology in the Sentinels series of Superhero fiction / pulp adventure novels and stories, which he co-created with Bobby Politte in 1996. These books have been published (volumes one-three) by Swarm Press and (beginning with volume four) by White Rocket Books. Artist Chris Kohler has provided five full-page interior illustrations for each volume. Sentinels short stories also have been published in A Thousand Faces magazine.
He has written six novels and one novella in the Shattering space opera series, beginning with Lucian: Dark God's Homecoming in 2009. These books have been published by Airship 27 Productions and by White Rocket Books.
A member of the Pulp Factory writers' and artists' group, Plexico's classic pulp revival novels and novellas have been published by Airship 27 Productions and Pro Se Press, among others. His Kerry Keen/The Griffon novella, "Conspiracy of Terror," was published by Adamant Entertainment in Thrilling Tales #1 and reprinted in Airship 27's Lance Star - Sky Ranger, Vol. 2. His science fiction novel, Lucian: Dark God's Homecoming, was published by Airship 27 in summer 2009. Additionally, two of his short stories were featured in Airship 27's bestselling and multiple award-winning anthology, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Vol. 1, also in 2009. Plexico also serves as an editor for White Rocket Books, editing and helping to publish novels and anthologies by writers such as Mark Bousquet, Jeff Deischer, James Palmer, and I. A. Watson. He has served as assistant editor on multiple projects for Airship 27.
An inductee of the Heroes Magazine Hall of Fame for his early work in the comics fandom community, he was founder (in 1995) and is executive editor of the Avengers-related comic book archives and reference site, AvengersAssemble. He has also contributed to the Wizard Magazine archives and was chosen by the Rittenhouse Archives to write the text for the backs of Upper Deck's commemorative The Complete Avengers, 1963-Present trading card set, chronicling the year-by-year history of the team. In 2007 he edited ASSEMBLED!, a critically acclaimed collection of essays analyzing and commenting upon Marvel's Avengers comics, with profits going to the HERO Initiative. A sequel, ASSEMBLED! 2, was published in July 2009.
As a member of the Spectacled Seven, Plexico is a founding editor of All-Pulp, a pulp fiction-themed online magazine and blog.
In September 2010 Plexico became a contributing columnist for the Auburn University sports and popular culture commentary site, The War Eagle Reader. His columns, written with John Ringer, were collected in a single volume, Season of Our Dreams, published in January 2011. In July 2011, that book made Amazon.com's Top 20 Best Sellers List for books about American football.
In May 2013, Plexico's second nonfiction book about Auburn University football (again with co-author John Ringer), Decades of Dominance: Auburn Football in the Modern Era, was published as a trade paperback and in June 2013 it climbed to third on Amazon.com's Sports Best Sellers List. Plexico was interviewed about the book on the Alabama Tonight program on Birmingham, Alabama's NBC TV station and on other radio and TV programs.
Writer Kurt Busiek introduced the character of Detective Plexico to the pages of Marvel's Iron Man comic book series in 1999 as a reference to Van Plexico and the Avengers Assemble! Web site. In 2001, writer Keith R. A. DeCandido included a reference to the name Plexico in his Farscape novel, House of Cards, as a nod to Plexico.
Plexico has won four awards for his science fiction and New Pulp writing:"John Blackthorn" won the 2012 New Pulp Award (Best New Pulp Character).
Legion III: Kings of Oblivion won the 2015 Pulp Factory Award (Pulp Novel of the Year).
Pride of the Mohicans won the 2015 Pulp Factory Award (Pulp Anthology of the Year).
Sentinels: The Dark Crusade won the 2017 Pulp Factory Award (Pulp Novel of the Year).
In addition, his science fiction novel Legion I: Lords of Fire was a shortlisted finalist for the 2014 Pulp Factory Award (Pulp Novel of the Year), and "The Red Flame of Death" was a finalist (Short Story of the Year) in the same awards in 2010. He was also a finalist for the New Pulp Award for Author of the Year in both 2011 and 2012.
Beginning in 2006, Plexico began writing a multi-volume series of Superhero fiction novels and anthologies. The books are set in the modern day, but include major elements of space opera. The central character of the series is a teen-aged Asian-American woman who discovers she possesses electromagnetic powers and becomes involved with a US government-run organization known as Project: Sentinel. Each volume of the series stands alone as a single adventure but the books can be read together as an ongoing, continuous narrative in which the characters grow and change. As of 2017, the series stands at ten volumes (nine novels and one anthology). The 2016 volume, the novel The Dark Crusade, won Novel of the Year at the Pulp Factory Awards. The most recent volume, Vendetta, was published by White Rocket Books in May 2017. The seventh volume was published in 2012 and hit #1 on the New Pulp Best Sellers chart in its second week of release.