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Utley, Steve

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1948-2013) US poet (see Poetry) and short-story author whose black verve and acidulous knowingness about the absurdities of the genre made him, for a while, a figure of edgy salience in the field. He began publishing with "The Unkindest Cut of All" for Perry Rhodan #20 in December 1972, but stopped by the end of the decade; stories of interest include "Deviation from a Theme" (May 1976 Galaxy), an Apes as Human tale that takes off from King Kong (1933). Some of his best work – like "Custer's Last Jump" (in Universe 6, anth 1976, ed Terry Carr), which illuminates in Magic-Realist terms an Alternate-History America – was written with Howard Waldrop, as was "Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole" (in New Dimensions 7, anth 1977, ed Robert Silverberg), which has been cited as a significant influence on 1980s Steampunk. Some of the stories in Lone Star Universe: Speculative Fiction from Texas (anth 1976) edited with Geo W Proctor exemplify his angle of approach; this anthology included Bruce Sterling's first published sf story.

After about a decade of silence, Utley again began publishing stories, which likewise tended – after the fashion of the group of writers who came to maturity in Texas in the 1970s – to fabulate (see Fabulation) America's past and (darkly) its present, like "Edge of the Wind" (January 1994 Analog), assembled with other tellingly sharp fictions in Ghost Seas (coll 1997). Further collections include The Beasts of Love (coll 2005), Where Or When (coll 2006) and The 400-Million-Year-Itch (coll 2012), the latter assembling the Silurian Tales, beginning with "There and Then" (November 1993 Asimov's), in which scientists travel through a "timegate" (see Time Travel) to the Silurian era. Almost by stealth, partly because he did not publish novels, Utley came to be perceived as a writer of weight. [JC]

see also: Hollow Earth; Lost Worlds.

Steven D Utley

born Fort Knox, Kentucky: 10 November 1948

died Smyrna, Tennessee: 12 January 2013


collections and stories


Silurian Tales

  • Where Or When (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2006) [coll: introduction by Howard Waldrop: Silurian Tales: hb/from Max Ernst]
  • The 400-Million-Year-Itch (Nedlands, Western Australia: Ticonderoga Publications, 2012) [coll: Silurian Tales: pb/Kathleen Jennings]
  • Invisible Kingdoms (Nedlands, Western Australia: Ticonderoga Publications, 2013) [coll: Silurian Tales: pb/Charles R Knight]

individual titles

  • Custer's Last Jump (Nedlands, Western Australia: Ticonderoga Publications, 1997) with Howard Waldrop [story: chap: first appeared in Universe 6 (anth 1976) edited by Terry Carr: pb/Shaun Tan]
  • Ghost Seas (Nedlands, Western Australia: Ticonderoga Publications, 1997) [coll: pb/Joseph Troffimoff]
  • This Impatient Ape (Ridgecrest, California: Anamnesis Press, 1998) [poetry: coll: chap: pb/Steve Utley]
  • Career Moves of the Gods (Ridgecrest, California: Anamnesis Press, 2000) [poetry: coll: chap: pb/]
  • The Beasts of Love (Wilsonville, Oregon: Wheatland Press, 2005) [coll: pb/from Max Ernst]

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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