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 for 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 taught until my retirement in 2020..
I met my wife, Etelka de Laczay, also a child of Hungarian refugees (of a later cohort), in 1976, and never looked back. 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. My next book, Mutopia: Science Fiction and Fantastic Knowledge, is in press at Liverpool University Press.
I have also written and performed music in many ensembles over the years, most recently in Wabi Sabi, The Mongrel Dogs, The Dogmatics, and Giuliana and The Gems. A CD album by The Dogmatics with my original songs came out in 2016. A CD of my songs with Julianna Goldsmith on vocals, The Reaper's Strut, was released in February 2018.
Recently, I have been working on a project devoted to classic Hollywood comedies between 1930-1945. So far, it has involved a WordPress blog, Comic Spirit, and a similarly named youtube channel of clips made from the films discussed on the blog. A book of essays is in the works.