Karl Edward Wagner (4 December 1945 13 October 1994) was a American writer of Horror
, Science Fiction
, and Poetry
as well as a publisher and editor. A fan of Robert E. Howard
, he edited a three-volume set of the Conan the Barbarian
stories that restored them to Howard's form as written; he also did a number of pastiches
featuring Conan and Bran Mak Morn
. Other editing work included fourteen volumes of the long-running anthology series The Year's Best Horror Stories
and several collections of the work of Manly Wade Wellman
. His most popular works are the long-running stories of Kane, the Mystic Swordsman, and his often-anthologized short story "Sticks".
Works by Karl Edward Wagner that have their own trope pages:
Other works by Karl Edward Wagner provide examples of:
- Alien Kudzu: "Where The Summer Ends" has a supernatural example that also happens to be actual Kudzu.
- Ancient Conspiracy: "The Fourth Seal"
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Invoked squickily in "Brushed Away".
- Bedlam House:
- The asylum in the short story "Into Whose Hands". Wagner had trained as a psychiatrist, lending the piece some very nasty implications.
- "The Final Cut" gives a regular medical hospital a treatment something like this.
- Bondage Is Bad: Sometimes. Sometimes it's just a kink.
- Brown Note: "Little Lessons In Gardening."
- Celebrity Is Overrated: The short story "Neither Brute nor Human," which suggests a vampiric/parasitic relationship between creator and fandom. A more touching/tragic riff shows up in "Did They Get You to Trade?"
- Cosmic Horror Story: Several of Wagner's short stories have Lovecraftian elements, particularly "Sticks" and "The River of Night's Dreaming."
- Depraved Homosexual: Oscar Wilde, of all people, in "The Picture of Jonathan Collins".
- Disposable Vagrant: "Where The Summer Ends" has several homeless people fall victims to the creatures maintaining the kudzu.
- Homage: "Plan 10 From Inner Space", which sends up Ed Wood but also a lot of 50s B-Movie tropes.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: "In The Pines"
- Our Vampires Are Different: In "The River of Night's Dreaming" when Cassilda is raped by her captors it is repeatedly mentioned how cold their flesh is, and after one such encounter one of them is specifically stated to have fangs dripping with blood. However they do not seem to have any typical vampire weaknesses or traits, and are seemingly subject to harm from normal implements. Given that the story is told Through the Eyes of Madness, however, it's possible that none of what Cassilda experiences is accurate.
- Pen Name: Wagner wrote a novel under the name Kent Allard— who is also a character in "Sticks".
- Psycho Lesbians: "The River of Night's Dreaming."
- Reality Subtext: "Sticks" was loosely based on the experience of Wagner's friend, illustrator Lee Brown Coye, who discovered mysterious stick lattices in an abandoned farmhouse in 1938 and started incorporating them into his illustrations. Happily for Coye, his sticks didn't turn out to be three-dimensional runes for summoning an Eldritch Abomination.
- Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: "Locked Away"
- Shout-Out: the novella "The River of Night's Dreaming" and the short story "Beyond Any Measure". Only the latter explicitly references The Rocky Horror Picture Show; the former is something of an homage to The King in Yellow.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: "The Slug". Also about creative blockage.
- Voodoo Doll: With a twist in "More Sinned Against". The victim is an actor and his abused and exploited girlfriend works at a toy manufacturing company. Just think of all those action figures and what kids typically do to them...