John Varley seems to be a very private man, and details of his life are hard to come by. He was born in Austin, Texas to John Edward Varley, an oil worker, and Joan Varley (nee Boehm). In 1966, he attended Michigan State University, then dropped out of college. He traveled around the United States for a few years. In 1970, he married Anet Mconel, a consumer advocate. Money was tight for the couple, especially as they began to have children. In 1973, according to Varley, he turned to writing science fiction in order to make a living. He wrote the sort of stories he wanted to read, and with persistence began selling his stories to major science fiction magazines within a year. His well-plotted short stories quickly became favorites of science fiction fans. His five novels for adults, too, have proven popular with readers, with the trilogy of Titan (1979), Wizard (1980), and Demon (1984) having found a wide audience, and Millennium (1983) having been made into a motion picture. Varley supports his family with his writing and now lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Varley's richly imaginative fiction has earned several awards. In 1978, he won the Jupiter Award of the Instructors of Science Fiction in higher Education for his novella In the Halls of the Martian Kings. He has received two World Science Fiction Convention Achievement Awards, the "Hugos," which are determined primarily by science fiction fans. One was in 1982 for the best short story, "The Pusher," and the other was in 1985 for the best novelette, "Press Enter which also won the Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Award.