Author Steven Utley died 12 January 2013. On 27 December 2012, he had been diagnosed with stage four cancer in his intestines, liver, and lungs, and a lesion on his brain (see announcements on Lawrence Person’s blog). Born 10 November 1948, he grew up in a roving Air Force family, and eventually settled in Austin, Texas, in the early 1970s, where he was a member of the Turkey City writers’ workshop, which also included Tom Reamy, Bruce Sterling, Lisa Tuttle, Howard Waldrop, and others.
Utley’s first published story, “The Unkindest Cut of All,” appeared in 1972. He frequently collaborated with other members of the Turkey City workshop, and with Howard Waldrop, wrote the Nebula finalist novelette “Custer’s Last Jump” (1976) and “Black as the Pit, From Pole to Pole” (1977), which are regarded as prototypes of steampunk. He may be best known for his “Silurian Tales,” launched in with “There and Then” in Asimov’s Science Fiction in November 1993, and continued in many different publications. Brian Stableford in Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia called the series “[t]he most elaborate reconstruction of a past era in recent speculative fiction.”
Introducing Utley’s collection The Beasts of Love, editor Garner Dozois said “Steven Utley may be the most under-rated science fiction writer alive. A writer of strength, suppleness, ambition, and seemingly endless resource, Utley is able to turn his hand to almost any subject matter, mood, or type of story imaginable, and is unafraid to tackle any of them, however daunting the technical challenge may be.”
Utley was also an editor, producing anthologies such as Lone Star Universe: Speculative Fiction from Texas (1976, with George W. Proctor) and Passing for Human (2009, with Michael Bishop).
His stories were gathered in several collections produced by small press publishers. Ticonderoga Publications (of Australia) has recently published The 400-Million-Year Itch, and will soon be releasing Invisible Kingdoms.
After his diagnosis, Utley named author Jessica Reisman his literary executor.