Remembered for his Hugo Award-nominated science fiction works The Ragged Astronauts (a 1987 novel) and "Light of Other Days" (a 1966 short story), he is also notable for his stories for numerous Irish sci-fi fanzines and for his two Best Fan Writer Hugo Awards.
He encountered his first science fiction short story, a work by
Apart from his career as a writer, he worked as a Belfast Telegraph science correspondent and an aircraft engineer and designer.
The son of a police officer, he grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland with two younger brothers. During his first marriage, to Sadie Gourley, he had three children and lived temporarily in Canada. He later married an American woman named Nancy Tucker and lived in the United States and England.
He was born in the same year as fellow science fiction writer Gene Wolfe.