Monday, October 13, 2008

Pulp Fantasy Gallery: Kane

This is the first author to be featured in the pulp fantasy gallery who was not in Gary Gygax's famed Appendix N, but his contributions to the cause of pulp fantasy deserve recognition nonetheless. Beginning in 1970, Karl Edward Wagner began the saga of Kane, a left-handed, red-headed warrior cursed with eternal life after slaying his brother. As well as being a peerless swordsman, Kane is also a potent sorcerer with a decidedly amoral streak. It's been years since I read them, but these stories always epitomized what I used to call "heavy metal fantasy;" they were the types of tales my friend Mike's older brother probably loved.

Wagner also deserves praise, though, for his formation of Carcosa Press, which sought to preserve pulp authors and tales and present them for a new generation in hardcover form. Even more important, Wagner edited several volumes of Conan stories that were the first to restore the texts to their original form, free from the accretions that had watered them down in the decades after Howard's death. For that alone, we all owe him a great debt.

8 comments:

  1. I've actually got all 5 of these books sitting on my shelf but haven't yet read any of them. Someday, someday...

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  2. I discovered Wagner's Kane by chance and immediately loved it.
    Forget Happy endings, tolkien look-a-like fantasy and do-gooders.
    As my brother once put it if you shake "Darkness weaves" hard enough you'll have to mop the blood from the floor.
    Great books

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  3. Hey! Thanks for this particular blog. I'm a big R.E. Howard fan but had never heard of Kane until I read this last night.

    I zipped over to eBay and found a bid on five Wagner books on an auction that ended in 55 minutes:

    LEGION FROM THE SHADOWS
    DARK CRUSADE
    BLOODSTONE
    NIGHT WINDS
    DARKNESS WEAVES


    I won!!! $22.49 for all five and free shipping. Now I will anxiously await the books that I'd never have discovered except for your comments... Thanks!!!

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  4. Todd, get ready to have your &%*@ing socks blown off. Kane is just plain awesome. Nightshade books put out a two volume re-publishing of all the Kane material, and thankfully I have both volumes - one that contains all three novels, the other contains all the short stories. I've also got all three novels in paperback, and they are great reads. Like Howard before him, Wagner was a tragic but brilliant figure in the S&S field, and died way before his time.

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  5. Wagner's death was indeed tragic. While he wasn't as young as REH was when he took his own life, it's still hard not to wonder what might have been had he lived longer.

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  6. I absolutely love the Kane stories and I'm rereading Death Angel's Shadow right now. Kane was definitely an influence on early D&D. The bullywugs have to be based on the Rillyti from Bloodstone.

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  7. The Kane stories also show how to use alien tech in S&S really well. The Scylredi subs, the Bloodstone itself, etc.

    I have nothing to add except that Kane is, indeed, AWESOME.

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  8. Yes, the Kane stories are awesome when it comes to integrating alien technology into a fantasy setting.

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