Another early Steampunk writer has left us. Steven Utley passed away from stage four cancer on January 12.

Utley was not as well known as some authors, in part because he focused on short stories and poems, rather than novels. In a world where all too many readers measure the appeal of a book by its length, short story authors can go unnoticed, which is certainly a crime.

As far as his contributions to Steampunk, there are two works (co-written with Howard Waldrop) that are often cited:

  • “Custer’s Last Jump” in which Crazy Horse’s men are flying Confederate monoplanes and George Custer is a union paratrooper.
  • “Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole”, which mixes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with hollow earth theories.

Of course, Utley and Waldrop did not think they were writing protosteampunk. They were just writing off-the-wall cool historical fantasy stories. And writing cool stories was what Steven Utley did best. He will be missed.

[Picture stolen from Lightspeed Magazine's author spotlight of Utley. - jrrl]