Karl Edward Wagner (12 December 1945 – 14 October 1994) was an American writer, poet, editor and publisher of horror, science fiction, and heroic fantasy, who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and originally trained as a psychiatrist. He wrote numerous dark fantasy and horror stories. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as written, and edited the long-running and genre-defining The Year's Best Horror Stories series for DAW Books. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of the best stories by some of the major authors of the so-called Golden Age pulp magazines. He is possibly best known for his creation of a series of stories featuring the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman.
His disillusionment with the medical profession can be detected in the stories "The Fourth Seal" and "Into Whose Hands". He described his personal philosophy as nihilistic, anarchistic and absurdist, and claimed, not entirely seriously, to be related to "an opera composer named "Richard". Wagner also admired the cinema of Sam Peckinpah, stating "I worship the film The Wild Bunch".
Karl Edward Wagner
Karl Edward Wagner at writers panel, World Fantasy Conference, Seattle, 1989.
|Born||December 12, 1945|
|Died||October 14, 1994 (aged 48)|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Ruth Mott 1974-1986|
Wagner was the fourth and youngest child of Aubrey J. Wagner and Dorothea Huber. His father was an official of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Wagner earned a history degree from Kenyon College during 1967, and a psychiatry degree from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As noted above, he disliked the medical profession, which he abandoned upon establishing himself as a writer.
Wagner was productive as both a writer and editor/anthologist; see below. His friends included the writer Manly Wade Wellman, two of whose collections he published with the Carcosa publishing imprint.
Wagner died in his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on October 14, 1994, essentially of the consequences of longterm alcoholism. It was reported in a late 1994 issue of the Newsletter of the Horror Writers of America that Wagner's causes of death were heart failure and liver failure.
Exorcisms and Ecstasies, a posthumous volume of uncollected stories, miscellany and tributes was published by small press publisher Fedogan & Bremer during 1997. Night Shade Books has published the complete Kane stories (novels and shorts) in two hardcover volumes.
Some of Wagner's work is set in Robert E. Howard's universe (featuring Conan the Barbarian and Bran Mak Morn); he also edited three volumes of Howard's original Conan tales, important to purists for being the first to restore the texts to their originally published form. His three volumes of Echoes of Valor also featured restored versions of pulp-era fantasy stories by authors such as Fritz Leiber, C. L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, and Nictzin Dyalhis. Wagner wrote an unpublished Bran Mak Morn novel, Queen of the Night, which was originally scheduled to be published by Zebra books during 1978 and Ace Books during 1980.
Wagner created his own mystical and immortal pre-historical anti-hero, Kane, whose name and background are based on traditional conceptions of the biblical Cain. A powerful, left-handed warrior-sorcerer with red hair and blue eyes, the character was described by Wagner as one "who could master any situation intellectually, or rip heads off if push came to shove". Kane is an immortal somewhat like the Wandering Jew (or more specifically, Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, a novel which Wagner cites as a major influence in his essay "The Once and Future Kane") Kane's character also includes elements of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane. He is an immortal, cursed to wander the earth until he is destroyed by the violence that he himself has created. He sells his loyalty as a fighter to the highest bidder. He is a well-read and intelligent man who has traveled his world for centuries and is able to discuss music, poetry, politics, and many other subjects. He is also amoral and a born killer. The Kane stories are often classified as tales of sword and sorcery (although Wagner disliked the term), which some critics have compared favourably to those of Howard and Michael Moorcock. The character Kane is considered one of the most memorable and original anti-heroes of heroic fantasy 
Inspired by the sword and sorcery adventures of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and Robert E. Howard's mighty-thewed barbarian Conan the Cimmerian, Wagner set about creating his own fantasy character while still attending medical school. The result was initially published as a paperback original during 1970 by West Coast pornography publisher Powell Publications, with a lurid cover. The text of the novel was altered by an unknown copyeditor to conform with the cover art.
After publishing a pseudonymous pornographic novel with a small New York company, Wagner relinquished his chance to become a doctor and instead decided to write full-time. During 1973, Warner Paperback library published Death Angel's Shadow, which collected the three original Kane novellas. He also began selling his stories and poems regularly to the growing small press magazine market. Several of his tales were published in Gary Hoppenstand's Midnight Sunn, a magazine initially devoted to Kane and the new school of epic fantasy writers. This was followed by publication of the first Kane novel, Bloodstone, during 1975. Warner Books commissioned a cover painting by Frank Frazetta (who had helped revive the Conan franchise, and who would paint a number of future covers for the series) and Wagner's writing career improved.
After a novel featuring Howard's Pictish hero Bran Mak Morn, Wagner's next Kane book was Dark Crusade (1976). A Kane story published elsewhere, "Two Suns Setting", won the 1977 British Fantasy Award and was also a World Fantasy Award nominee. Wagner published other Kane stories in magazines such as Chacal, Whispers and Escape! during 1977. Gerald W. Page, then editor of DAW Books Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Stories began to reprint Kane tales in the anthology series. Night Winds, a collection of six previously published Kane tales followed (Warner Books, 1978). The publisher also reissued all previous Kane books including a new edition of Darkness Weaves which reinstated the author's preferred text.
The Book of Kane was the last published volume of Kane material (1985) until Night Shade Books' omnibus editions of novels and tales.
A proposed fourth Kane novel, In the Wake of the Night, was never completed, although an excerpt was published as part of a World Fantasy Convention souvenir book of 1981; this also appears in the collection Midnight Sun (2003).
In 2004, it was reported that movie producer Lauren Moews had "acquired Death Angel's Shadow, and will produce a film based upon "Reflections for the Winter of My Soul," which is the first of three short stories comprising Death Angel's Shadow. The other two short stories, "Cold Light" and "Mirage," are waiting in the wings to be developed into a possible KANE franchise for Tonic Films".  As of 2017 the movie has not entered production.
Besides the Kane books, Wagner wrote contemporary horror stories (some of which, like "At First Just Ghostly", also feature Kane). These were collected in the books In a Lonely Place (1983), Why Not You and I? (1987) and the posthumous Exorcisms and Ecstasies (1997). They range from the very literate and allusive (such as "The River of Night's Dreaming", which refers to Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show and the myth of Carcosa used in the work of Ambrose Bierce and Robert W. Chambers), to the pulpy and parodic (such as "Plan Ten from Inner Space", a crazed homage to Ed Wood's magnum opus Plan 9 from Outer Space). His later stories, such as "But You'll Never Follow Me" and "Silted In", were described by Ramsey Campbell as tormented and deeply personal; some deal explicitly with drug addiction (e.g. "More Sinned Against") and sexual subjects, including psychological repression (e.g. "Brushed Away") and transsexualism (e.g. "Lacunae").
With his friends Jim Groce and David Drake, who were concerned that Arkham House would cease publication after the death of its founder, August Derleth, Wagner formed the Carcosa publishing house in North Carolina during 1973 to preserve the work of their favorite pulp magazine horror writers in hard covers. Carcosa Press published four substantial volumes of horror tales: Murgunstrumm and Others by Hugh B. Cave, Far Lands, Other Days by E. Hoffmann Price, Worse Things Waiting and Lonely Vigils, both by Manly Wade Wellman. All books were edited by Wagner and illustrated profusely. A fifth collection was planned, Death Stalks the Night, by Hugh B. Cave; Lee Brown Coye was working on illustrating it when he died, causing Carcosa to abandon the project. The book was eventually published by Fedogan & Bremer. Wagner later acted as the literary agent for Manly Wade Wellman's estate.
The illustrator of Murgunstrumm and Worse Things Waiting was the noted Weird Tales artist Lee Brown Coye. Coye's macabre designs, incorporating mysterious lattices of twigs, were the inspiration for Wagner's British Fantasy Award-winning story "Sticks".
A connoisseur of rare horror stories, Wagner perspicaciously edited many horror and fantasy anthologies; perhaps his greatest achievement of this topic was the annual anthology series The Year's Best Horror Stories (DAW Books), which he edited for fourteen years from volume VIII (1980) until volume XXII (1994). The series was canceled after Wagner's death. However, while the original editions were paperback originals, Underwood-Miller preserved the series in a set of three limited edition hardcovers.
Wagner was a frequent visitor to London to attend fantasy and horror conventions. Though he continued to edit, producing three volumes of the heroic fantasy anthology Echoes of Valor for Tor Books during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and published a steady sequence of short stories (most of which were apparently written some years earlier), his most productive time was finished. In the story "The Gothic Touch", Kane teams up with the albino warrior-sorcerer Elric in a tribute anthology honouring the fiction of Michael Moorcock (Tales of the White Wolf).
Wagner wrote several unproduced screenplays and treatments including a movie script for Conan III for movie producer Dino De Laurentiis and a TV script based on Robert E. Howards "The Horror on the Mound" (for Tales from the Darkside).
Several Wagner works were adapted for audio cassette readings, including:
Wagner was involved with several comics ventures. His Kane story "In the Lair of Yslsl" (which was later incorporated into the Kane novel Dark Crusade) was adapted by Bill Whitcomb and Steve Vance, and illustratedby Vance, Wes Smith and Bill Black for the graphic medium in Dark Phantasms 1, Summer 1976. During 1993 Wagner co-wrote the graphic novel Tell Me Dark with John Ney Reiber and Kent Williams, contributing original characters and situations. It was published by DC Comics in both hardcover and trade paperback.
At the time of his death, he had just finished compiling Exorcisms and Ecstasies, and had started working on two novels - The Fourth Seal and Tell Me, Dark, the latter based on the graphic novel he disowned.
The British Fantasy Awards are awarded annually by the British Fantasy Society (BFS), first in 1976. Prior to that they were known as The August Derleth Fantasy Awards (see August Derleth Award). First awarded in 1972 (The Knight of Swords by Michael Moorcock) only for novels, the number of award categories increased and in 1976 the BFS renamed them collectively the British Fantasy Awards. The current award categories are Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award), Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award), Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Independent Press, Best Artist, Best Anthology, Best Collection, Best Comic/Graphic Novel, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award), while the Karl Edward Wagner Award for "important contribution to the genre or the Society" is given at the discretion of the BFS committee. The membership of the BFS vote to determine the shortlists of the awards, the winners being decided by juries.Conan (books)
The Conan books are sword and sorcery fantasies featuring the character of Conan the Cimmerian originally created by Robert E. Howard. Written by numerous authors and issued by numerous publishers, they include both novels and short stories, the latter assembled in various combinations over the years by the several publishers. The character has proven durably popular, resulting in Conan stories being produced after Howard's death by such later writers as Poul Anderson, Leonard Carpenter, Lin Carter, L. Sprague de Camp, Roland J. Green, John C. Hocking, Robert Jordan, Sean A. Moore, Björn Nyberg, Andrew J. Offutt, Steve Perry, John Maddox Roberts, Harry Turtledove, and Karl Edward Wagner. Some of these writers finished incomplete Conan manuscripts by Howard, or rewrote Howard stories which originally featured different characters. Most post-Howard Conan stories, however, are completely original works. In total, more than fifty novels and dozens of short stories featuring the Conan character have been written by authors other than Howard. This article describes and discusses notable book editions of the Conan stories.Dark fantasy
Dark fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literary, artistic, and cinematic works that incorporate darker and frightening themes of fantasy. It also often combines fantasy with elements of horror or has a gloomy, dark (or grimdark) atmosphere, or a sense of horror and dread.A strict definition for dark fantasy is difficult to pin down. Gertrude Barrows Bennett has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy". Both Charles L. Grant and Karl Edward Wagner are credited with having coined the term "dark fantasy"—although both authors were describing different styles of fiction. Brian Stableford argues "dark fantasy" can be usefully defined as subgenre of stories that attempt to "incorporate elements of horror fiction" into the standard formulae of fantasy stories. Stableford also suggests that supernatural horror set primarily in the real world is a form of "contemporary fantasy", whereas supernatural horror set partly or wholly in "secondary worlds" should be described as "dark fantasy".Additionally, other authors, critics, and publishers have adopted dark fantasy to describe various other works. However, these stories rarely share universal similarities beyond supernatural occurrences and a dark, often brooding, tone. As a result, dark fantasy cannot be solidly connected to a defining set of tropes. The term itself may refer collectively to tales that are either horror-based or fantasy-based.
Some writers also use "dark fantasy" (or "Gothic fantasy") as an alternative description to "horror", because they feel the latter term is too lurid or vivid.Death Stalks the Night
Death Stalks the Night is a collection of fantasy and horror and Mystery short stories by author Hugh B. Cave. It was originally to have been the fifth volume published by Carcosa, the North Carolina joint publishing venture founded by Karl Edward Wagner, Jim Groce and David Drake. However, Lee Brown Coye, who was completing the illustrations for the volume, died, stalling its publication by Carcosa.
It was eventually released in 1995, including the completed illustrations by Coye, through Fedogan & Bremer in an edition of 2,000 copies, of which 100 were signed by the author. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Dime Mystery Magazine, Terror Tales, Spicy-Adventure Stories, New Mystery Adventures, Super-Detective Stories, Spicy Mystery Stories, Horror Stories, Detective Short Stories and Star Detective Magazine.Echoes of Valor II
Echoes of Valor II is an American anthology of fantasy stories, edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in hardcover by Tor Books in August 1989. Tor subsequently issued a trade paperback edition in 1993.
The book collects nine classic fantasy short stories by various authors, along with associated commentary by the editor and personages associated with the stories. It is notable for issuing the two original versions of Howard's Conan story "The Frost-Giant's Daughter", one for the first time since its original publication, and the other for the first time in print.Echoes of Valor III
Echoes of Valor III is an anthology of fantasy stories, edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in paperback by Tor Books in September 1991.
The book collects eight classic fantasy short stories by various authors, along with associated commentary.Exorcisms and Ecstasies
Exorcisms and Ecstasies is a collection of fantasy and horror short stories by author Karl Edward Wagner. The collection also includes a number of memoirs and articles about Wagner and is edited by Stephen Jones. It was released in 1997 by Fedogan & Bremer in an edition of 2,100 copies, of which 100 included Wagner's signature taken from a canceled check or contract. The limited edition was also signed by the artist, editor and other contributors to the collection. Many of the stories originally appeared in a number of different anthologies and collections or in the magazines Beyond Fantasy & Science Fiction, Kadath, Weird Tales, The Centralite, Midnight Sun, Fantasy Crossroads and Gauntlet.Kane (fantasy)
Kane is a literary character created by Karl Edward Wagner in a series of sword and sorcery novels and short stories first published between 1970 and 1985. The stories are set in a grim, pre-medieval world which is nonetheless ancient and rich in history. In some of Wagner's later stories Kane appears in the present day — for example, as a drug dealer in "Lacunae" and as a somewhat suspect publishing magnate in "At First Just Ghostly".Karl Wagner
Karl Wagner is the name of:
Karl Edward Wagner (1945–1994), American writer of fantasy stories
Karl Wagner (bobsleigh) (born 1907), Austrian bobsledder who competed in the early 1950s
Karl Wagner (luger), German luger who competed in the 1920s
Karl Willy Wagner (1883–1953), German pioneer in the theory of electronic filtersList of speculative poets
This is a list of speculative poets. People on this list should have articles of their own, and should meet the Wikipedia notability guidelines for their poetry. Please place names on the list only if there is a real and existing article on the poet.Manly Wade Wellman
Manly Wade Wellman (May 21, 1903 – April 5, 1986) was an American writer.
While his science fiction and fantasy stories appeared in such pulps as Astounding Stories, Startling Stories, Unknown and Strange Stories, Wellman is best remembered as one of the most popular contributors to the legendary Weird Tales, and for his fantasy and horror stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, which draw on the native folklore of that region. Karl Edward Wagner referred to him as "the dean of fantasy writers." Wellman also wrote in a wide variety of other genres, including historical fiction, detective fiction, western fiction, juvenile fiction, and non-fiction.
Wellman was a long-time resident of North Carolina. He received many awards, including the World Fantasy Award and Edgar Allan Poe Award. In 2013, the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation inaugurated an award named after him to honor other North Carolina authors of science fiction and fantasy.
Three of Wellman's most famous recurring protagonists are (1) John, a.k.a. John the Balladeer, a.k.a. "Silver John", a wandering backwoods minstrel with a silver-stringed guitar, (2) the elderly "occult detective" Judge Pursuivant, and (3) John Thunstone, also an occult investigator.Night Winds, collection
Night Winds is a 1978 fantasy horror collection of short stories by Karl Edward Wagner about his character Kane.
The stories are "Undertow", "Two Suns Setting", "The Dark Muse", "Raven's Eyrie", "Lynortis Reprise", and "Sing a Last Song of Valdese".Red Nails (collection)
Red Nails is a 1977 collection of three fantasy short stories and one essay by American writer Robert E. Howard, featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The collection was edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in hardcover by Berkley/Putnam in 1977, and in paperback by Berkley Books the same year. It was reprinted in hardcover for the Science Fiction Book Club, also in 1977, and combined with the Wagner-edited The Hour of the Dragon and The People of the Black Circle in the book club's omnibus edition The Essential Conan in 1998. The stories originally appeared in the fantasy magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s.
The pieces in Red Nails, in common with those in the other Conan volumes produced by Karl Edward Wagner for Berkley, are based on the originally published form, of the texts in preference to the edited versions appearing in the earlier Gnome Press and Lancer editions of the Conan stories. In contrast to the earlier editions, which included Conan tales by authors other than Howard, Wagner took a purist approach, including only stories by Howard, and only those thought to be in the public domain. His editorial comments dismiss editorial revisions made in the earlier editions.The Book of Kane
The Book of Kane is a collection of fantasy short stories by Karl Edward Wagner featuring his character Kane. It was first published in 1985 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in an edition of 2,125 copies, of which 425 copies were signed and slipcased. The first story first appeared in Wagner's earlier collection Death Angel's Shadow. The other stories originally appeared in the magazines Sorcerer's Apprentice, Escape! and Chacal. The collection is illustrated by Jeffrey Jones.The Essential Conan
The Essential Conan is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 1998 by the Science Fiction Book Club. It collects the editions of the Conan books, edited by Karl Edward Wagner and published by Berkley Books in 1977. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines Weird Tales, The Phantagraph and The Howard Collector. The Wagner editions were the first to virtually reproduce Howard's original stories without any editorial changes other than typo fixes.The People of the Black Circle (collection)
The People of the Black Circle is a 1977 collection of four fantasy short stories by American writer Robert E. Howard, featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The collection was edited by Karl Edward Wagner. It was first published in hardcover by Berkley/Putnam in 1977, and in paperback by Berkley Books the same year. It was reprinted in hardcover for the Science Fiction Book Club, also in 1977, and combined with the Wagner-edited The Hour of the Dragon and Red Nails in the book club's omnibus edition The Essential Conan in 1998. The stories originally appeared in the fantasy magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s.
The pieces in The People of the Black Circle, in common with those in the other Conan volumes produced by Karl Edward Wagner for Berkley, are virtual reproductions (other than typo correction) of the originally published form of the texts as they appeared in Weird Tales, in contrast to the edited versions appearing in the earlier Gnome Press and Lancer editions of the Conan stories. In contrast to the earlier editions, which included Conan tales by authors other than Howard, Wagner took a purist approach, including only stories by Howard, and only those thought to be in the public domain. His prefaces and afterwords dismiss editorial revisions made in the earlier editions.The Road of Kings
The Road of Kings is a fantasy novel by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Bantam Books in October 1979. Later paperback editions were issued by Ace Books (1987) and Tor Books 2001. The first trade paperback edition was published by Warner Books in 1989. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books (1986, reissued 1989). Aside from the Bantam and Tor editions all other editions were issued under the variant title Conan: The Road of Kings.The Year's Best Horror Stories
The Year’s Best Horror Stories was a series of annual anthologies published by DAW Books in the U.S.from 1972 to 1994 under the successive editorships of Richard Davis from 1972 to 1975 (after a 1971-1973 series published by Sphere Books in the U.K.; the first volumes had the same contents, the U.S. second volume in 1974 drew stories from the second and third U.K. volumes, and the 1975 U.S. third volume was very different from the U.K's.; the U.S. third volume was published as a one-shot volume in the U.K. by Orbit Books in 1976), and of Gerald W. Page from 1976 to 1979, and Karl Edward Wagner from 1980 to 1994. The series was discontinued after Wagner's death. It was a companion to DAW’s The Annual World’s Best SF and The Year's Best Fantasy Stories, which performed a similar function for the science fiction and fantasy fields.
Each annual volume reprinted what in the opinion of the editor was the best horror short fiction appearing in the previous year. The series also aimed to discover and nurture new talent. It featured both occasionally recurring authors and writers new to the horror genre. Veterans among the contributing authors included Brian Lumley, Eddy C. Bertin, Kit Reed, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, and Tanith Lee; some of the relative newcomers to the field featured were Stephen King, Al Sarrantonio, Lisa Tuttle, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, David Drake, Juleen Brantingham, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman.