His early life and work, contrasted with that of his father, physicist Freeman Dyson, was the subject of Kenneth Brower's The Starship and the Canoe, published in 1978.
Dyson avoided formal education, and, during the 1970s spent three winters in a treehouse 95 feet up in a Douglas fir on the coast of British Columbia. His kayak designs, resurrecting the Aleut/Russian baidarka, have been built by thousands of followers and his books have been well received.
Dyson, a research associate at Western Washington University, usually lives and works in a converted tavern on the industrial waterfront in Bellingham, Washington. He was recently appointed Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey for 2002-2003.