He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin, his MFA (1980) from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and his MA (1982) and PhD (1985) from the University of Virginia. Since then he has taught at universities in Kentucky, London, Oxford, Turku (Finland), and Idaho. But he is feeling much better now.
Lance is the author of more than a dozen books of and about postmodern fiction, including Tonguing the Zeitgeist (finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award), Burnt, Time Famine, plus the first book-length study of William Gibson, and, most recently, the short-story collection Sewing Shut My Eyes (Fiction Collective 2, 2000) and the SF novel Freaknest.
American Book Review called Sewing Shut My Eyes "a breathtaking Y2K-compliant release of Olsen's most interesting work to date. Sewing's nine feverish hypertextual canvases detail a televisual culture rife with idiosyncrasies, graven imagery, and enough black humor to permanently stain the fingers of even the most cautious reader."
Richard Kadrey in Wired said "for all its surface weirdness, Freaknest is a naïf's tale in the tradition of an innocent, orphaned Oliver Twist asking for a little more food/love/humanity while being brutalized by a world beyond his comprehension. Olsen is one of those rare birds who is both a lit professor and an honest-to god writer."
And Don Webb wrote "Freaknest will make its way to the list of SF classics in the next decade."
To this day, Olsen maintains a very complex relationship with ducks.