An American novelist, she is particularly known for The Sparrow and Children of God, both of which describe contact with aliens. Her other works include A Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day.
She earned a Ph.D in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan.
She was a recipient of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award.
She settled in Lyndhurst, Ohio with her husband Don and her son Dan.
She won the Arthur C. Clarke Award.