American Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston, son of Fritz Leiber; JL has used SF as a means of speculating on his interest in the philosophy of mind. His first novel, Beyond Rejection (1980), deals in considerable detail with the problems associated with transplanting the recorded mind of a man into the body of a woman (complete with prehensile tail). In Beyond Humanity (1987) he contrasts human intelligence with that of computers and enhanced-intelligence chimpanzees. Humans, computer, and chimpanzee cooperate to contact extraterrestrial intelligence, concluding with Beyond Gravity (1988). Despite the academic subject matter, JL manages to weave in a tense plot and local colour from 22nd Century Houston and Oxford.
He has also written a number of academic works on this theme, notably Can Animals and Machines be Persons? (1985), which uses an SF scenario - a legal case between a space-exploration company and a Civil Liberties Union over whether a chimpanzee and a computer, used on a space station, should be treated as tools or as employees.