June 2, 2023

Karl Edward Wagner

WagnerKarl_authorphotoKarl Edward Wagner (December 12, 1945 – October 14, 1994) was an American editor and an author of fantasy and horror. He began his writing career with several novels and stories featuring his mystical warrior Kane, a powerful anti-hero in the world of heroic fantasy who wielded intellect along with swords and magic. The novels and story collections did well due not only to the originality of the tales and the quality of the writing, but also likely due to covers by the immortal Frank Frazetta.

He was well represented in many prominent magazines of his era. His tales appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Whispers, and Weird Tales, to name just a few. Wagner also wrote many horror stories, which were collected in In a Lonely Place, published by Warner in 1983 and Why Not You And I? published by TOR in 1987. During that time, he edited a three-book series of anthologies called Echoes of Valor for TOR. Throughout the 1980s and into the mid 1990s, Wagner also edited DAW’s popular annual anthology series The Year’s Best Horror Stories.

He was not only a scholar of history and psychiatry in his years on Earth, but a great fan of pulp fiction. His company Carcosa Press published a few fine volumes of work by E. Hoffman Price, Manly Wade Wellman, and Hugh B. Cave.  He also edited several volumes of works by Robert E. Howard for Berkley, and even wrote novels in Howard’s worlds, including those of Conan and Bran Mak Morn.

In his lifetime, Wagner won the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, and was posthumously inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in 2013 in Knoxville, where he was born and raised. He died at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina of heart and liver failure due to alcoholism.

Those who’d like to learn more about Wagner might enjoy this fine article from the old DarkEcho site, and the official web page dedicated to the author, located here.

To browse the list of his titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

Christopher Fulbright

Christopher Fulbright is the author of short stories, novellas, and full-length novels of fantasy and horror. His short stories have appeared in many venues--webzines, magazines, and anthologies--since 1993. Fulbright received the Richard Laymon President's Award in 2008 from the HWA, and his short stories have received honorable mentions in "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" and "Best Horror of the Year." He is a former journalist turned technical writer, an unrepentant horror fan, and owner/webmaster of Realms of Night.

View all posts by Christopher Fulbright →

4 thoughts on “Karl Edward Wagner

  1. Really good to see this on Wagner. I remember the day I picked up a LOCUS and saw that he had died, way too young. I consider it a lucky chance of fate that I met him and was privileged to be on a horror panel with him at the World SF con in Atlanta in ’86. I remember a nice guy, easy to talk to, who was physically the embodiment of his red-haired mystical swordsman Kane. I also remember calling him one time when I was having some questions regarding the publisher that had originally published his Kane books. In spite of being in the process of cooking supper, he said, he stopped and gave me good advice regarding his experiences with said publisher, quickly and honestly. He was young enough that, in an alternate time-stream, he should still be producing great work. When a writer, any writer, thinks they have had enough and decides not to write anymore, and Hel knows there are always adequate valid excuses to hang it up, remember Karl and others like him now gone from this world who would, I suspect, give a lot to come back just long enough to finish one more tale. To quote a line from a song written by my favorite K-Pop star in her soul-bearing rap-song, “Overcome,” Park Hyo Min, “Life is pain but I live till I die,” writers should paraphrase that to, “Life is pain but I write till I die.” Thanks to Christopher Fulbright for this great tribute to Wagner and many other fine writers in the REALMS OF NIGHT.

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