Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Best Horror Stories of Karl Edward Wagner

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've heard me going on about the writings of the late Karl Edward Wagner, the creator of the hero-villain Kane and the editor of DAW Books' justly famous Year's Best Horror series. Wagner was one of the most active and knowledgeable proponents of the horror genre I'm aware of and he was also the author of some of the most frightening and original horror fiction to appear over the years. Sadly, the majority of his horror work has been out of print for a couple of decades.
That's about to change. Centipede Press, publishers of quality collections of the macabre by authors such as Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, Ramsey Campbell, Charles L. Grant, and many others is preparing a collection called The Best Horror Stories of Karl Edward Wagner.
Looking through the contents I can state that this collection will indeed contain Karl's best stories, including Sticks, In the Pines, .220 Swift, and Neither Brute Nor Human. Classics all. The book will also have photos, essays, and reminiscences by friends and colleagues of Wagner. Here, courtesy of Jim Rockhill and of Jerad Walter at Centipede Press is the advance contents list. Pay attention to the titles. Karl had an ear for great titles.

According to Centipede, there will be two editions:

1. Signed edition
One volume in a slipcase.
Printed cloth cover.
Signed by JK Potter, Peter Straub, David Drake,
Stephen Jones, and Laird Barron
Limited to 200 copies
JK Potter illustrations in color.
Karl Edward Wagner photographs in color and black & white.
Contents:
Foreword: My Friend Karl by Stephen Jones
Various Encounters With Karl by Peter Straub
The Truth Insofar As I Know It by David Drake
Introduction: Unthreatened by the Morning Light by Karl Edward Wagner
In the Pines
Sticks
The Fourth Seal
Where the Summer Ends
.220 Swift
The River of Night's Dreaming
Beyond Any Measure
Neither Brute Nor Human
Blue Lady Come Back
The Last Wolf
Into Whose Hands
More Sinned Against
Shrapnel
Silted In
Lost Exits
Endless Night
An Awareness of Angels
But You'll Never Follow Me
Cedar Lane
The Kind Men Like
The Slug
Did They Get You to Trade?
Little Lessons in Gardening
A Walk on the Wild Side
Passages
In the Middle of a Snow Dream
Gremlin
Prince of the Punks
The Picture of Jonathan Collins
Locked Away
I've Come to Talk with You Again
Final Cut
Brushed Away
Old Loves
At First Just Ghostly
Lacunae
Plan 10 from Inner Space
Sign of the Salamander
Afterword: In the Shadows of the Pines by Laird Barron

2. Trade edition
Two volumes.
Cloth with dustjacket
JK Potter illustrations in black & white .
Karl Edward Wagner photographs in black & white.
Contents for volume 1:
Foreword: My Friend Karl by Stephen Jones
Introduction: Unthreatened by the Morning Light by Karl Edward Wagner
In the Pines
Sticks
The Fourth Seal
Where the Summer Ends
.220 Swift
The River of Night's Dreaming
Beyond Any Measure
Neither Brute Nor Human
Blue Lady Come Back
Afterword: In the Shadows of the Pines by Laird Barron

Contents for volume 2:
Various Encounters With Karl by Peter Straub
The Last Wolf
Into Whose Hands
More Sinned Against
Shrapnel
Silted In
Lost Exits
Endless Night
An Awareness of Angels
But You'll Never Follow Me
Cedar Lane
The Kind Men Like
The Slug
Did They Get You to Trade?
Little Lessons in Gardening
A Walk on the Wild Side
Passages
In the Middle of a Snow Dream
Gremlin
Prince of the Punks
The Picture of Jonathan Collins
Locked Away
I've Come to Talk with You Again
Final Cut
Brushed Away
Old Loves
Afterword: The Truth Insofar As I Know It by David Drake

The contents is set, but the order may change.

Jim

It makes me extremely happy to see Wagner's work back in print, especially in fine volumes that will last a long time. I note from the contents that the editor is including the Kane fragment At First Just Ghostly, a favorite of mine, and definitely a horror tale, though it features Wagner's signature character. This isn't unusual, since the majority of the Kane heroic fantasy tales are at heart, horror stories.
Amazon has the books listed as being available in March of next year. You can bet I'll be picking them up, even though I already have all the material listed above in other books. Be worth it to me to have it all in one place. Kudos to the folks at Centipede for making Karl Edward Wagner's horror stories available again for new readers and for long time fans.

7 comments:

JasonZavoda said...

I am always astounded that people into fantasy and horror gaming have never read Wagner. He is one of the best fantasy, horror and adventure writers I have ever read.

People should grab these books as they are released. The two Kane compilations in hardback that came out several years ago disappeared almost immediately and are expensive and hard to come by now.

Maybe they will be able to keep these in print, but Wagner is a bit of a hidden treasure and that seems to make his works elusive.

Thanks for posting about this.

Ty Johnston said...

This is simply awesome news. KEW was an awesome writer. I managed to get my hands on those hardback Kane collections and it's some of the best horror writing I've seen in a long while.

Thanks for letting us know about this. Made my day ... er, night.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Glad I could bring this to your attention, guys. Spread the word if you get the chance. The more people who know about Wagner, the more likely we are to see new printings of his work.

Jason, it amazes me as well that otherwise well-read fans of heroic fantasy and horror are unfamiliar with Wagner. Were he still alive and writing, I'm sure that wouldn't be the case. I'm still hoping to see some mass market reprints of the Kane stuff. Since REH's Conan, Moorcock's Elric, and Leiber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stuff is all back in print, it would be great to have Kane right there with them.

Ty, I couldn't agree more. Wagner was a great talent. My copies of the two Nightshade Kane hardcovers are well thumbed. The price on them just continues to go up too.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Great tip! Thank you!

I have the two TOR paperbacks of KEW's horror tales, but they're pretty beat up. New editions would be nice.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Mine too, Paul. And far too folks have access to Exorcisms and Ecstasies, which has the horror stories not collected in Why Not you and I and In a Lonely Place.

Riju said...

It seems that Wagner's character Adrian Becker and his three adventures ("Satan's Gun" [a fragment], "Hill Creek", and "One Paris Night") are not going to be included in any of the volumes, which would be a tragedy!

Steven R. Harbin aka coachhollywood67 said...

I'm extremely happy to see that some of Wagner's fiction is going to be back in print, and apparently at an affordable cost. I would like to see his Kane stories and Adrien Becker stories back in print as well. Hopefully soon...
Oh, and thanks very much for posting this information Charles!