Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Ghost Seas" by Steven Utley

Story:  Ghost Seas
Author:  Steven Utley
First Publication:  Lone Star Universe, 1976
Cover:  Joseph Troffimoff

On January 12, 2013 the world lost another writer.  Steven Utley was once called the most under-rated sf writer in the world by Gardner Dozois.  The collection "Ghost Seas" is an excellent one to read whether you are familiar with him or not.  In honor of his passing, I plan on reviewing the stories from this collection over the next few weeks.

Synopsis:  A man and his new wife go to the Texas desert to visit his wealthy old uncle.  What is unusual about that?  Nothing.  Then the uncle starts talking about the waves from the ocean  coming up to his back porch at night time...

My first Utley story, "The Unkindest Cut of All", turned out to be his first published story.  It appeared in a feature called "Shock Shorts" in the back of the Perry Rhodan books.  After that, it seemed that I started seeing his work everywhere.

"Ghost Seas" is a great example of the skill of this writer.  He uses words to draw us into what appears to be a normal situation.  Then his magical prose makes us start to question whether the sea actually appears in the desert at night time.  In this short story, Utley manages to flesh out the three characters and describe the locale to the point where you think you are there. 

I highly recommend picking up this collection.  I bought my copy for the Kindle Fire.  It is available at a reasonable price.  Even if it was more expensive, it would be worth it.


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