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Book Title: Exorcisms and Ecstasies|
The author of the book: Karl Edward Wagner
Edition: Fedogan & Bremer
Date of issue: December 1st 1997
ISBN 13: 9781878252289
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 612 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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This is an indispensable collection/tribute for Karl Edward Wagner fans, released three years after his untimely death at age 49. It contains four sections: 1. "Exorcisms and Ecstasies," which is made up of the 20 stories that more or less would have been the contents of his long-delayed third horror collection; 2. "Silver Dagger: Kane," which contains 5 uncollected Kane stories, including a couple fragments from unfinished novels; 3. "Satan's Gun: Adrian Becker," includes three stories featuring Becker, a gunslinger (possibly descended from Kane) battling supernatural threats in the old west; and 4. "Tell Me Dark: Uncollected Stories," which collects some odds and sods throughout Wagner's career, including the original novelette version of "Killer," co-written with David Drake and later expanded into a novel, about an alien creature in ancient Rome. Also, there are plenty of photos of KEW and friends, as well as an invaluable and exhaustive bibliography of his works.
Interspersed throughout are some loving -- and some not so loving -- essays from friends and family about Wagner. Contributors include Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, Brian Lumley, Frances (Mrs. Manly Wade) Wellman, David J. Schow, Karl's brother James, Peter Straub, and David Drake. Drake's essay* is one of the main reasons to own this, a brutally honest portrayal of Wagner's state during his final years. At first I thought his personal attacks were horribly tasteless, considering KEW was ill and in need of treatment, but now I see the essay as a from-the-heart expulsion (or "exorcism") of feelings from a close friend who's both sad and angry .
The stories in the main, self-titled section continue in the vein of his previous collection, Why Not You & I?, in that they have less of the Weird Tales vibe of the stories making up In a Lonely Place, and have fewer overtly supernatural elements in general. They're more brutal and disturbing as opposed to straight-up frightening, though there are some rather chilling moments. They're also sexually explicit, sometimes overly so, and some have an unnecessary cruelty and viciousness about them, possibly reflecting the author's seemingly angry and bitter mental state after the collapse of his marriage. Overall, though, a very strong collection of stories.
The "Kane" section includes "The Gothic Touch," a crossover with Moorcock's Elric character, an early version of Night Winds' "Lynortis Reprise," and a couple present day-setting Kane stories/novel fragments, "At First Just Ghostly" and "Deep in the Depths of the Acme Warehouse." These fragments, as well as the excellent Adrian Becker stories, mostly just made me depressed that I'll never get to read the many planned novels featuring these characters. Good thing he was able to give us what he did.
An essential collection for KEW fans.
*Also available in the Centipede Press KEW collection, Walk on the Wild Side.
(P.S. Stay vigilant when searching for a reasonably priced copy. I'd been looking for years, rarely seeing it online for less than $90, when one day it popped up on Ebay for $30 in very good condition.)
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Read information about the authorKarl Edward Wagner (12 December 1945 – 13 October 1994) was an American writer, editor and publisher of horror, science fiction, and heroic fantasy, who was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and originally trained as a psychiatrist. His disillusionment with the medical profession can be seen in the stories "The Fourth Seal" and "Into Whose Hands". He described his world view as nihilistic, anarchistic and absurdist, and claimed, not entirely seriously, to be related to "an opera composer named Richard". Wagner also admired the cinema of Sam Peckinpah, stating "I worship the film The Wild Bunch".
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