Karl Edward Wagner, A missed opportunity

Today, December 12, is the birthday of Karl Edward Wagner.

He died too young, at the age of 48, from the results of alcoholism according to Wikipedia.

Karl Edward Wagner
Karl Edward Wagner

Now that I’m 51, Wagner seems to have passed so young and with so many stories and tales yet to share with us.

Karl Edward Wagner and Kane

I first discovered Karl Edward Wagner toward the end of the 80s when I started reading his Kane stories and novels.

Kane, a character created by Karl Edward Wagner, definitely provided an edge I felt was missing in much of the fantasy fiction I read in my youth.

My dad brought them home from the fire station – he’d been reading Conan a lot – and I devoured the books. They became a big part of my foundation of reading sword and sorcery.

To call me entranced would be an understatement. I’d started my dive into fantasy with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – still favorites. Shannara and The Belgariad soon followed. But then I encountered Conan. Wow.

Then Kane. I re-read those stories all the time. Love ’em. Can’t get enough of them.


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I didn’t have the Internet to look up favorite authors, so it was quite some time before I learned of Karl Edward Wagner’s impact on the horror genre.

I stumbled across his short story Sticks, which I think would make a great movie (ahem, Blair Witch). I was amazed. I was blown away. I was filled with cliché sentences with passive verbs.

Mostly I was terrified.

As I would discover, the man was a heck of a horror writer and editor. The anthologies he edited, at least the ones I read, were spectacular. Maybe we should have the same taste in horror and fantasy fiction.

Like all of us, I hate it when an author I enjoy passes too early. Karl Edward Wagner could have entertained us for many more years. Now we have to be satisfied with old anthologies and the odd reprint of Kane’s adventures.

About EC Morgan 37 Articles
I am a teacher, writer, publisher, and media professional. A stamp collector, judo fighter, and wish I spent more time fencing. Hopefully I'm a good father and a good friend, and I do my best to serve Christ.

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