Peter Watts is a (former) scientist, author, and convicted felon who spent the first two decades of his adult life as a marine biologist. After fleeing academia for science fiction he became known for the habit of appending technical bibliographies onto his novels; this both confers a veneer of credibility and covers his ass against nitpickers. Described by the Globe & Mail as “one of the very best [hard-sf writers] alive”, the overall effect of his prose is perhaps best summed up by critic James Nicoll: “Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts”.
Watts’ debut novel (Starfish) was a NY Times Notable Book, while his fourth (Blindsight)— a rumination on the utility of consciousness which, despite an unhealthy focus on space vampires, has become a required text in university courses ranging from philosophy to neuroscience— made the final ballot for numerous North American genre awards, winning exactly none of them. (It did, however, win a shitload of awards overseas.) His shorter work has also picked up trophies in a variety of jurisdictions, notably a Hugo (possibly due to fan outrage over an altercation with US border guards in 2009) and a Shirley Jackson (possibly due to fan sympathy over nearly dying of flesh-eating disease in 2011).
Watts’s work is available in 19 languages. A few years back he briefly returned to science with a postdoc in molecular genetics, but he really sucked at it.