Monday, January 14, 2013

A talent passes

Like a lot of speculative fiction readers and writers, I'm saddened by the death this past weekend of Steve Utley. He was diagnosed with fairly advanced cancer approximately a month ago, and then slipped into a coma late last week. I was checking my email and Facebook Sunday morning before going to church when Gardner Dozois posted that Steve has passed away the previous evening.

My first thought was to call and tell Howard Waldrop, since I knew he and Steve go back a very long ways, and if you know Howard, he doesn't do internet. He knew Steve had been in the coma, but as I suspected, my timing was such that I was the one to let him know Steve had passed on.

Howard said he knew Steve back when they both lived in Dallas, and Steve was at the last local science fiction club meeting he attended before he enlisted in the Army in 1970! Howard's first story acceptance happened while he was in the Army, so that goes back a long, long way.

Howard said that Steve had once been a heavy smoker, but had quit a long time ago; still, it couldn't have done much for his health in the long run. Utley was about 64, and had moved to Tennessee a number of years ago to be close to his elderly mother; as Howard noted, now his mother survives him, and since he had a sister die, his mother has survived both her children.

I met Steve a couple of times at past Armadilocons. We probably shared a panel or two, I really don't recall. He was friendly when we actually met face-to-face.

One nice thing about Steve was that he published with anyone, from Asimovs to Bewildering Stories. Back in 2007 I bought two reprints from him of stories that had originally been published in a small magazine called Sheol that he and Howard had written for in the 1970s. I used them in my short-lived ezine, Sentinel Science Fiction. Howard made the original suggestion that I ask about the stories, and he was right, they were good, and I was happy to give the some exposure again.

Utley was a very talented writer, and his passing is a milestone in the Baby Boom generation of s-f writers.

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