I don't suppose many people know who Karl Edward Wagner is and I can't say I blame you. For some reason shortly after his death his works nearly went out of print. Considering that I think it's safe to say Karl Edward Wagner is horror and fantasy's best kept secret.
Trying to explain my love for an author whom most people have never heard of is difficult. The best way I can think of is you'd have to had read Karl Edward Wagner somewhere before to even have an interest in these books. You may pick up a Stephen King, or Clive Barker, or Dean Koontz novel or anthology having never read them before but Karl Edward Wagner is the kind of cult writer I think you'd have to be exposed to first to even have an interest in.
My first impression of Wagner, the strange and erotic novella The River of Night's Dreaming, which I came across in The Mammoth Book of Terror. I had originally bought that book when I was a kid because I thought the cover looked cool. It's funny when I think about it but I couldn't have been more than 11 or 12 when I bought that and I seriously doubt most book store cashiers would let a child buy a book with artwork that has a bunch of tiny monsters popping out of some dude's skin nowadays. While that book sat around for a long enough time for me to mature enough to read it(and judging by how often I lost books, carelessly destroyed them, and loaned them out to friends who never returned them it's a wonder I still have it and it's still intact.) I bought a similar book(The Mammoth Book of Zombies, once again enticed by the cover) that was edited by the same guy and soon became a fan of his work as well.
A few short years after I bought these books Wagner died and his work was all but forgotten. During this time I started gaining an interest in reading all those books I bought way back when and didn't have the comprehension or patience to read them. I read The Mammoth Book of Terror cover to cover and the Karl Edward Wagner story remains one of my favorite. Another one of the books I had that was just gathering dust was Kirby McCauley's Dark Forces which introduced the world to Stephen King's The Mist but also had a different Wagner story that I enjoyed. From then on out I'd pick up Stephen Jones' anthologies wherever I happened to see them and for a long time this was the only way I had of gathering a Wagner collection. I'm not really giving publishers much credit here by drilling in the point that his work was nearly forgotten. That's not entirely true. In the last 15 years or so several collections have been printed featuring his short stories and novels, unfortunately they didn't come to my attention soon enough before they went out of print and since Karl Edward Wagner is literature's best kept secret there's not a high enough demand to keep his books in circulation(meanwhile you can't escape Stephenie Meyer's presence at any bookstore, sometimes life just ain't fair).
So when I learned of a publisher releasing two collections of his short stories earlier this year my broke ass saved every dime I could to be able to buy it. I wasn't just about to let this opportunity pass me by again and if I've at least piqued your curiosity I suggest you go to amazon or centipede's website and order yourself a copy or two while you still can. Copies of these two volumes are limited to 500. However if you still have no interest you could always search the internet for someone else who is better at explaining why Wagner is such a good author.
This volume is 356 pages and contains the stories
In the Pines
The Fourth Seal
Where the Summer Ends
The River of Night's Dreamin
Beyond Any Measure
Neither Brute Nor Human
Blue Lady, Come Back
This book also contains photos of Wagner, a personal introduction by Stephen Jones, and some great original artwork by J.K. Potter.
Article taken from my blog: [...]