I was born in 1950 in Washington, D.C., to recently arrived Hungarian refugee parents. I grew up bilingual and bi-cultural in Arlington, Virginia, until I left in 1968 for the University of Pennsylvania, where I was headed to a major in Classics. After two years in Philadelphia, I transferred to Bennington College in Vermont; I graduated in 1972. I then attended Princeton University and received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1981. (That damn dissertation!) For some years I lived in Budapest, Paris, and New York City. I taught in the English Department of Northeastern University in Boston from 1980 until 1983, after which I joined the English Department of DePauw University, where I have taught ever since.
I met my wife, Etelka de Laczay, also a child of Hungarian refugees (of a later cohort), in 1976, and never looked back. She is now an advanced yoga instructor. Our son, Sacha, was born in 1984. He is now an EDM composer, a d.j., and a digital interface designer.
I joined the editorial collective of Science Fiction Studies in 1991, and later founded Humanimalia: a journal of human/animal interface studies -- an online, open-access, peer reviewed journal -- with Sherryl Vint in 2007. My book, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, published by Wesleyan University Press, appeared in 2008.
I have also written and performed music in many ensembles over the years, most recently in Wabi Sabi, The Mongrel Dogs, The Dogmatics, and currently in Giuliana and The Gems, a trio with vocalist Julianna Goldsmith and blues harpist Alejandro Puga. A CD album by The Dogmatics with my original songs came out in 2016. A CD of my songs with Julianna, The Reaper's Strut, was released in February 2018.