Why Not You and I? By Karl Edward Wagner

Contents:

1 · Into Whose Hands · nv Whispers IV, ed. Stuart David Schiff, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983
32 · Old Loves · ss Night Visions 2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1985
52 · More Sinned Against · ss In a Lonely Place, Scream/Press, 1984
73 · Shrapnel · ss Night Visions 2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1985
86 · The Last Wolf · ss Midnight Sun #2 ’75
99 · Neither Brute Nor Human · nv World Fantasy Convention Program Book, ed. Robert Weinberg, 1983
138 · Sign of the Salamander · na John Chance vs. Dread: The Apocalypse #1 ’75; by Curtiss Stryker, with an Introduction by Kent Allard
221 · Blue Lady, Come Back · na Night Visions 2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1985
295 · Silted In · ss * Why Not You and I?

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Ignore some of the reviews here (one in particular seems written by a guy who probably uses hipster as a frequent part of his vocabulary, without any awareness of how it reflects on him) - while not a masterpiece, this collection is an interesting time/place/figure read.

It would be unfair to consider Wagner a failed Stephen King, but that glib framing does allow us to place him in a similar time and place to King - 1970s genre writer, fan of the pulps, working in short fiction as the markets dry up. But whereas King made the leap to mass-market novel success, Wagner toiled at the sub-genres he loved (most specifically sword & sorcery and supernatural fiction) even as opportunities in these fields continued to drain away. But he tried, seemingly as hard as he could, to plow the fields of genre - in publishing, editing, comics and screenwriting, until alcoholism felled him.

In this collection, Wagner seems very similar as a writer to the later David J. Schow, with the same set of references and concerns (pulp magazines and television, the grim realities of Hollywood, popular presentation of images of masculinity, deep character work, men's adventure writing) but with more of the POV and background of someone who came up through the turbulent 60s and early 70s. The collection itself strikes me as uneven - you don't get any of the effective horror shorts that Wagner built his fame on (like Sticks, or Where The Summer Ends - which we offered on Pseudopod as an audio reading here, although Old Loves here comes closest), instead it feels like an odds & sods (works spanning a decade) of Wagner's weaker pieces and his trying out different approaches as markets recede and crumble. As an aside, occasionally Wagner deliberately writes long - not a problem if it builds to a cumulative effect as in Neither Brute Nor Human but very problematic (re:pacing/payoff for the reader) in stories like More Sinned Against.

Final word, then, before we delve into the stories - If you are just a casual reader, you can probably miss this, and even fans of the genre can find better representative collections of his work than this particular one.

So, as usual, working from weakest to strongest:

The Last Wolf - The Last Writer faces the unfortunate truth of his modern situation in a world that doesn't read anymore. Okay, I'm a weird guy in that I both bemoan the increasing lack of literacy in our population while feeling that writing fiction is a noble art/profession, AND ALSO am honestly sick of those cloying, writers are saints, and fiction is the greatest achievement of mankind sentiments (usually expressed by those who read only for entertainment). I often try to look at the situation from the lowest expectation: that we are a capitalist society that values profit over quality, and our current outcome might have been inevitable — and perhaps this is what comes of being a professional editor and not a professional writer. And as we slip closer and closer to the precipice of mass illiteracy, with its resultant resurgences of intolerance, Nazi tendencies, incapacity at critical thinking, and embrace of authoritarianism - I still find paeans to the lowly genius writer in a world of philistines, like this story, laughably absolutist and unrealistically nostalgic. Thus, not for me this one, obviously.

More Sinned Against - charts the downward trajectory of a woman in Hollywood, trying to become a star, even as her male partner uses his lover's unending degradation as a stepping stone to greater things - but she engineers a fitting revenge. Well, the rather brutal details of this piece (drugs, porn, prostitution, abuse) might have been justified in some kind of dark lit piece, but here it's just in service of a silly TALES FROM THE CRYPT ironic climax involving a riff on voodoo dolls (yeah, voodoo dolls...) which makes the preceding pages of debasement read as much more indulgently sadistic than one may experience them before the payoff. Really needed to be about half to 1/3 as long, given that ending.

Shrapnel - A lawyer searches a sprawling junkyard for an auto part he needs to restore a vintage muscle car, but meets an old client while out in the hot sun. This is not bad, more a vignette, conceptually, than a full story - and a familiar one at that () - but not bad (I shifted it up a grade on the reread).

Silted In - A writer sinks into depression and alcoholism as he bemoans his lost wife, tries to get back to writing, carries on conversations with imaginary versions of celebrity heroes from his past history, and generally wallows in his despair. Not a great story but, again, interesting - one can kind of see this as Wagner's desire to write straight fiction (the majority of the story) which then turns on a dime into presumed horror (or maybe crime) with the last line. I shifted its ranking up very slightly on the reread.

Into Whose Hands - a psych doctor at a poorly run state facility maneuvers his way through a tortuous double shift. This is an interesting story because on the surface it does not present as the usual horror story, more of a piece of dark lit with the the horror element coming from the awful conditions and underfunded institutional approach to which the United States treats the mentally ill. There is a second, more subtle, layer for those paying attention to details - it may not actually support the assertion (re: the identity of the Psychiatric Doctor) made at the end (by a mentally ill patient), but little details spread throughout the story may make us understand that burnout and perhaps something more devious are at play. Not a bad story, but not for those unwilling to work at a piece of fiction.

Sign Of The Salamander by Curtiss Stryker, with an introduction by Kent Allard - if the introduction by The Shadow's real secret identity didn't tip you off, this is a full-blown pastiche of the Full Novel In Every Issue Pulp Weird Hero character - Here, in an initial adventure, mysterious Psychic Investigator John Chance and his lovely German assistant Kirsten are separated after a devastating attack by the enigmatic, evil master-magician Dread and his fiery pet Elemental, a Salamander. Much in the vein of Wagner's 220. Swift (which ably segued from being a mere weird tale to an origin story for a Weird Adventure Hero) but here, Wagner is writing a straight-on homage to Doctor Satan and the like (eventually this sub-genre would be dusted off and re-dubbed Urban Fantasy, post John Constantine) - with a tough, grim hero (with a troubled origin in WWI) using his occult skills and heavy guns to fight the darker forces at work in the world. One the one hand, this is a loving homage - Wagner knows his stuff, right down to Kirsten's marcelled hair and Germanic witch origins/psychic abilities, a narrative that starts with hideous death and danger before immediately pivoting to an attempted suicide, a heavy dose of pulp gun and military porn (I smirked when Chance's unrequested flashback set-up his own, and bad guy Dread's, WWI prison-camp origins) and the fact that the penultimate chapter is about half the length of the preceding ones and the finale. But, having said that, I'm not the biggest fan of Pulp Hero series writing (much preferring to read Robert Sampson's incisive overviews of the stuff than the actual texts) - where the heedless, breakneck writing seems to be heavy on incident and low on plotting the breathless narrative (in this case, a seemingly unsolvable dilemma is resolved with only about 2 pages to go!). Still, if you like that kind of stuff, this is a well-done pastiche and a fun read. You even get passing mentions of authors Karl May, Hanns Heinz Ewers and fellow pulp-era occult detective Jules De Grandin!

Blue Lady, Come Back - Aging pulp novelist turned ghost hunter Curtiss Stryker and his quasi-alcoholic psychiatrist friend Russ Mandarin visit the home of a woman who claims she's being plagued by poltergeist activity - but within a day or so (following an auto accident, robberies and a death) events take a surprising turn. This started interestingly - as it seems (given the use of Stryker) that we're going to get a story that deliberately contrasts the preceding piece (Sign Of The Salamander - written a decade earlier - the thrilling pulp adventure of heavily-gunned Occult Detective John Chance) - with the character's author's more slow-burn investigations into real ghosts late in his life (because nobody buys pulp stories anymore, so he's become a Hans Holzer type). And that seems right for the start, as the story (presented in the same length and multi-chapter format as Salamander) gives us all the prosaic details of things like this - no spectral phantoms, just lights and record players turned on or off, furniture slightly moved, etc. - all of it reported, not witnessed. But then, the story becomes another kind of story entirely (it would be unfair to say more but something along the lines of a mystery) that has, as a secondary milieu, the grinding life of writers of popular fiction and some authorial observation of what incipient alcoholism looks like. I liked it, but it's not amazing or anything - more interesting than entertaining (I shifted it up about two grades on the reread).

Neither Brute Nor Human - Two low-level genre authors meet at a convention (some solid capturing of what it meant to actually be toiling in the fields of F/SF in the mid-70s) and the story charts their struggles and successes as they both find purchase in a rapidly changing market that only wants what sells - one positing that successful genre writers are essentially psychic vampires feeding off their popularity and connection with their readers. This is similar to More Sinned Against in that it's a long form character study and delves deeply into its milieu, but different in that the payoff - when it arrives - is better (revolving around a striking moment/image). Still, I find it a bit hard to buy the why can't I just write the quality literature I want to write! lament when coming from guys successful enough to be paid millions of dollars for their book series (the answer is obvious - take your millions, quit, and do what you want!).

The best piece here, imho, is Old Loves, about a man who has fixated his adult life on the bewitching lead actress from a mostly forgotten 60s spy show, and now she's finally agreed to meet him for an interview, after dropping out of sight for decades. But... be careful what you wish for. This is essentially a love letter to Emma Peel and THE AVENGERS TV show, skewering the obsessiveness of fans and fan culture and turning such into the grist for the horror story mill. It still has one of my all time favorite sentences (the final line before the scene change at the end) and it's an effective, if spare, piece of work. Mass Market Paperback Good horror book & expecially interesting if you followed Wagner's life at all. Mass Market Paperback I had been wanting to find a Karl Edward Wagner horror collection since I was in the 7th grade and learned about him from the Daw Year's Best Horror series, one of which I remember I picked up at a bookstore on a field trip. I had read Sticks in a Lovecraftian collection I bought just for that one story a few years ago, and I had also read The Fourth Seal somewhere. After years of searching and bafflement that Wagner's legendary, influential horror is out of print and so hard to find, I finally tracked this sucker down.


First off, surprisingly, these stories mostly were not what I would call horror stories. More like that newer phrase that's mentioned a lot, weird fiction.

My favorites were-

Into Whose Hands, a quiet, strange story that takes place in the dead of night in a psychiatric hospital. Snack machines, coffee, skeleton crew, flourescent lights, crazy and not so crazy people, a doctor who may or may not be fucking with the patients, etc. Very cool, lonely atmosphere.

Neither Brute Nor Human, I really didn't understand the title unless it's something to do with genre fiction tropes, but the story, following the two different lives of two genre writers from the beginnings of their careers to the death of one of them was very good. Again, barely horror at all, though the end was a little scary in what it was saying about fame and fortune and how they can easily lead to the destruction of a person.

Blue Lady Come Back, another mysterious title, was a great, round-about supernatural murder mystery that cleverly involved the fictional writer of another long story, Sign of the Salamander.

These stories were both longer than I had thought they would be and less scary, but I loved the writing. There is also something very lonely and negative about the stories, which is hard for me to articulate, but the stories about how much KEW drank seem to fit the image I have of the man who wrote these stories.
Mass Market Paperback Wonderful. There's a sense of realism in Wagner's prose lacking in others, and yet he was able to channel the fantastic so well, also. Here's hoping I can find his other collection like I found this one... Mass Market Paperback Dreadful, self-indulgent bullshit.

I was, and remain, blown away by Wagner's short story STICKS, so I had high hopes for this one, but this is one of the worst collections I have ever read. More than one story has the and they were IN HELL THE WHOLE TIME!!! ending, another handful are about how tough it is to be a writer, there's an awful pulp pastiche.....ugh.

Someone told me that Wagner was a full-blown alcoholic when he wrote these stories, which would explain a lot. But....who decided that this shit should be published?

Unfortunately, this has cured me of any desire to explore more Wagner stories. Life is too short..... Mass Market Paperback

Look up and down that long lonesome road,
Where all our friends have gone, my love,
And you and I must go.
They say all good friends must part someday,
So why not you and I, my love,
Why not you and I?


Attributed to Janis Joplin, this melancholic tune is the leitmotif of this collection of genre transcending stories from one of the most underrated writers in the field of speculative fiction. I became familiar with the work of Karl Edward Wagner by reading his series of dark sword & sorcery adventures featuring Kane, a man cursed with immortality and eternal failure for killing his (biblical) brother. Kane is a homage paid to Robert E Howard and Fritz Leiber, one anti-hero travelling the darkest paths of the human psyche. Yet Kane is just one facet of Wagner's personality. It may be his most famous creation, but it is not representative of the artist's incredible range of interests and styles. Why Not You and I is a much better showcase for Wagner's talent, a collection of more subtle and more personal accounts of trauma and mental anguish that is all the more powerful for their real world setting and for their honesty hinting at autobiographical roots. A couple of psychiatrists, several writers, publishers, adventurers, convention goers - the leading characters in the stories all suggest Wagner went for inspiration to the places he is most familiar with. Another recurrent note is the depression and the bitterness at the marginalization and derisory comments directed at the genre he loved best: speculative fiction.

His gaze fell upon a familiar volume, and he pulled it down with affection. It was a tattered asbestos-cloth first of Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'.
Thank God you're dead and gone, he murmured. Never knew how close you were - or how cruelly wrong your guess was. It wasn't government tyranny that killed us. It was public indifference.


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Into Whose Hands is the opening gambit in the collection and offers us a glimpse at the reason Wagner renounced a career in psychiatry and dedicated himself to writing. A night time resident at an insane asylum haunts the corridors of the sprawling complex witnessing all the pain of the world in the cries of the people who have slipped through the cracks of our social edifice.

Old Loves is a horror gem set in the world of popular TV shows and their fans. A nerdy man who is editing a fanzine in his basement gets a chance to interview his idol, Stacey Steele, once the female star of a James Bond spoof.

More Sinned Against is another look at the sordid side of the Hollywood dream factory. Katharina Oglethorpe, a wholesome young kid from the Midwest, dreams of a career in movies and becomes Candace Thornton. Success is elusive and several minor roles only prolong her agony. Things can always get worse though and Candace sinks even lower after meeting a predatory male lead. As Candi Thorne she ends up playing in worse and worse sex flicks, right until drugs, violence and disillusionment push her to the edge of suicide. A little supernatural aid might bring back some karma balance.

Shrapnel is an even weirder example of karma revenge, something that would work very well as an episode of 'Twilight Zone'. A lawyer goes to a scrapyard to find a spare part for his vintage car. There he gets delayed and exposed to the harsh light of the sun and to the heat - one reason to suspect his visions of a different type of spare parts collection.

It looked like the wreckage of a hundred stained glass windows, strewn across a desolate tangle of wasteland in a schizophrenic kaleidoscope

The Last Wolf is my favorite piece, a simple story of a man sitting at his typewriter, punching out stories nobody is interested in reading. His agent tries to convince him to write something more popular, or to get some articles for the news, or maybe write for TV. All of these options are refused as cheap, trashy, hack jobs, unworthy of a true writer and disrespectful of his readers.

Pretty pictures, advertisements mostly, and a few paragraphs of captions. Like the newspapers. Not even real paper anymore. [...]
They're just transcripts of the television news. Pieced together by faceless technicians, slanted and censored to make it acceptable, and then presented by some television father image.


Outside of Goodreads, the dismal landscape of people no longer reading books feels all to real in this decade of twitterings and doctored pictures, of endless movie remakes and formulaic TV series. The words written by Wagner three decades ago feel prophetic:

'Not much reason to read those [books] - not when everybody's already seen it on TV. There just isn't any market for books in today's world. You're like a minstrel when all the castles have fallen, or a silent film star after the talkies took over. You've got to change, that's all.'
'I won't say I can't use the money. But I'm a writer, not a hired flunky who hacks out formula scripts according to the latest idiot fads of tasteless media.'


I wish I could say the future has proven the last wolf wrong, and there are definitely great stories stil being penned each year. But the overall number of readers I believe is in decline, and the image of the lonely man with the worlds of wonder spinning inside his head, worlds nobody is interested in exploring, is the portrait of Karl Edward Wagner that comes closest to a self-portrait.

The last writer sits alone in his study.
His eyes glow bright, and his gnarled fingers labor tirelessly to transform the pictures of his imagination into the symbolism of the page. His muscles feel cold, and his bones are ice, and sometimes he thinks he can see through his hands to the page beneath.


Neither Brute nor Human follows two aspiring writers in speculative-fiction over three decades of their careers, mostly through meeting them at annual literary conventions. From obscurity to world fame, alcoholism and drugs and the demands of the public - the questions of integrity and value that were sketched in the previous story are further explored.

Do you ever wonder why we do this? he asked Harrington.
For fame, acclaim - not to mention a free drink?
Piss on it. Why do we put ourselves on display just so an effusive mob of lunatic fringe fans can gape at us and tell us how great we are and beg an autograph and ask about our theories of politics and religion?
You swiped that last from the Kinks, Damon accused.
Rock stars. Movie stars. Sci-fi stars. What's the difference? We're all hustling for as much acclaim and attention as we can wring out of the masses. Admit it! If we were pure artists, you and I and the rest of the grasping lot would be home sweating over a typewriter tonight. Why aren't we?
[..] It's because we're all vampires.


Sign of the Salamander is a homage paid to the golden age of pulps, the longest novella in the collection, embracing all the cliches of the adventure thriller with a supernatural twist.

You cannot deny, my dear friend, that there are in existence creatures who are neither man nor beast, but strange unearthly creations, born of the nefarious passions that arise in distorted minds.

The story has all the ingredients for success : ace pilots from the first world war, a deranged genius scientist, a beautiful countess with hidden talents, spooky settings in the Appalachians, guns and blood and horrible dangers. The true gem for me is the indication that horror is not an outside force, but is born inside the twisted minds of men, usually men driven to extremes by war, famine and other atrocities.

Here in this hell-world of barbed wire, machine guns, poison gas, tanks, dysentery, aeroplanes, mud and patriotism and wholesale slaughter - Mordred would rant on and on about a spiritual Hell: a Hell of actual demons and devils and elemental creatures and dark forces who shaped man's destiny ...

Some of the images are reminding me, possibly intentional on the part of the writer, of H.P. Lovecraft at his best:

Man, we agreed, has little or no idea of the hostile cosmic forces that play with him. He believes himself to be rational, and his universe to be logical and bound by laws of science - but this is a lie. Mankind is but a struggling swimmer, perilously floating over a vortex whose depths and currents are beyond his comprehension.

and,
What wonder that his closest friend whom he had grown to hate had returned to him from the dead? What marvel that this man the world proclaimed a brilliant scientist talked to him now in sober tones of medieval witchcraft and elder sorceries, of creatures from time's dawn and monstrosities of depraved cities, of Carsultyal and Carcosa and those who dwelt there, of the Somme and Verdun and those who died there, of ancient grimoires and suppressed tomes of forbidden research, of fiends from blackest Hell and demons spawned by man himself.

NOTE: Carsultyal is an ancient town from the Kane books, Carcosa is the name of the publishing house Wagner established, originating in an Ambrose Bierce story. 'Alraune' is a story by Hans Heinz Ewers, mentioned in the text as a source of inspiration and as a reference.

Blue Lady, Come Back is a ghost / poltergeist story loosely connected to the previous pulp by making the protagonist, Curtiss Stryker, the writer of the 'Sign of the Salamander' and keeping the Knoxville / Appallachian connection. A psychiatrist, Dr Russ Mandarin, returns as the main character's side-kick, offering us two alternative views on the supernatural : a hoax or a true story?

I wandered alone one night,
till I heard an orchestra play
I met you where lights were bright,
and people were care-free and gay
You were the beautiful lady in blue,
I was in heaven just waltzing with you
You thrilled me with strange delight,
then softly you stole away


The two friends are called to investigate weird happenings in the house of a beautiful lady, with fatal consequences. The recurring theme of the disillusioned writer of popular fiction returns with a vengeance.

Writers don't have friends. Only deadlines. And cheating publishers. And meddling editors. And carping reviewers. And checks that never come when they're supposed to come, and are always short when they do come. I've scraped along for a living at this damn trade for over forty years, and I'm still living hand to mouth, and I'm just an old hack to my fellow writers.

The Blue Skirt Waltz serves as the theme song to this great example of Wagner's talent, the blue lady his elusive muse:

I dream of that night with you,
Lady when first we met
We danced in a world of blue,
How can my heart forget
Blue were the skies, and blue were your eyes,
just like the blue skirt you wore
Come back blue lady, come back,
Don't be blue any more


Silted In is very short but packs a heavy punch. It is also the most depressive story here (not that the others are sunny side up in any way). An old writer sits alone and drinks himself to death after he loses his beloved wife. He is surrounded by books and he holds imaginary conversations with famous people that also made a mess of their lives after reaching the peak of their careers - Joplin, Hendrix, Elvis, Jim Morrison.

Oh wow. You're buried alive man exclaims a rare visitor at seeing him surrounded by books, and I cannot help but feel a chill down my spine, knowing Wagner died so young from alcohol and depression, virtually unknown.

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This was my last 'Halloween' read in 2016, and the cherry on the cake of my monthly horror journey. I believe Wagner was and still is seriously underrated and his efforts as a poet, novelist, publisher, editor, critic and convention pillar deserve better from us readers. Mass Market Paperback Karl Edward Wagner, most remembered for his stories about his iconic character Kane, was also an accomplished editor and author of short horror fiction. This is a collection of some his best works, mostly from the 1980s. Wagner was an interesting individual with many personal problems, which led many people familiar with him to remark on the amount of autobiography in his stories. He was a psychiatrist as well as a writer, and many of the stories are recursive to one extent or another. His writing was always rich and evocative, and his short stories could by turns be different degrees of pulpish adventure, eerie mystery, and chilling horror. Sure, they may be a bit dated today, but so is Poe yet we still read him... Wagner may not be for everyone, but he's definitely worth a try. Mass Market Paperback This hardcover is numbered 110 of 300 an is signed by Karl Edward Wagner and Ron and Val Lakey Lindahn. Mass Market Paperback Took forever to track it down, amazingly disappointed. Found it to be dated, smug and hipster in ways that have not aged well. This collection is like watching your uncle try on his ripped denim biker vest from the early 80's and discovering the buttons are now a foot away from meeting.
This might have been cool to someone back in the day for some long forgotten reason, but it's not now. Not really horror, either.
Tedious and self-indulgent - and that's coming from someone who wanted to like it. I sold this book immediately while someone still wants it. Mass Market Paperback July Review #1: Why Not You and I? by Karl Edward Wagner

Wagner is known to new horror fans for writing “Sticks,” the proto-Blair Witch Project, Lovecraft mythos tale. But their exposure usually ends there, as Wagner’s books are so HARD TO FIND. For those who bothered to seek more, would Wagner’s second collection appeal to them?

This collection is off to a rocky start with the underwhelming 1. Into Whose Hands , a tale of psychiatrists, creepy mental patients, and the dark underbelly that envelops both. What should have been a virtuoso melding of horror with a medical thriller (like Wagner’s superb “The Fourth Seal” in his first collection “In a Lonely Place”) regresses into a dull story with negligible supernatural undertones. If Wagner intended to expose these state-run mental health facilities, he should have written (or at least contributed to) an expose. Wagner bounces back with 2. Old Loves , an unassuming tale of celebrity fascination with a twist ending you won’t see coming. This tale is Wagner’s tribute to The Avengers TV show from the 60s. (One of the main characters is a thinly-veiled version of Emma Peel.) After reading the story, you will view that character in a VERY different light. 3. More Sinned Against is a gripping yarn of fame, fortune, and the endless depravity necessarily (?) attached to it Does true love exist in show business or is it a hellhole of drugs, orgies, and disposable relationships? The answer is probably the latter, as Wagner depicts with sardonic glee. Up next is a tale of ghostly revenge 4. Shrapnel . The story is reminiscent of Ramsey Campbell’s short stories, with a protagonist with perception issues, absurd supernatural occurrences, and shocking endings. But Wagner’s prose is easier to follow, making the story more engaging. 5. The Last Wolf starts with Wagner showing off his wealth of literary knowledge, paying homage to the opening lines of Fredric Brown’s short story “Knock.” The story then delves into interesting subject matter: the power of the imagination to create; what happens, then, to imperfect creations? This story is a haunting piece, and it may have been the inspiration for films like Re-cycle (2006). 6. Neither Brute Not Human deals with the trials and tribulations of two writers as they navigate through rowdy conventions, drugs, alcohol, and.. it all seems too familiar and sad. Wagner tries to insert his take on psychic vampirism, but all I can read is a cry for help. Disturbing to the extreme because of the parallels to Wagner’s life. 7. Sign of the Salamander: by Curtiss Stryker with an Introduction by Kent Allard is a novella that recalls the glorious and fun pulps of the yesteryears. The main character John Chance is an investigator of psychic phenomena. When an assignment to the Appalachians with his magician assistant goes awry, Chance realizes that a dangerous enemy from the past has come after him and that someone has brought with him a fire salamander elemental! This novella is pure fun, full of vivid action scenes and occult mythology. If you are a fan of Hellblazer or the Supernatural TV series, I can say with much confidence you will enjoy this. 8. Blue Lady, Come Back is probably the best story for me. Curtiss Stryker (yes, the supposed author of the previous story) and his good friend Dr. Russ Mandarin investigate an unusual haunting in a house once occupied by a lesbian couple. As they both rule out all the possible natural explanations, tragedy strikes the duo. But does it have anything to do with the supposed specter, or is it something more sinister at play? The whole novella is well-plotted, emotionally charged, satisfying. The ending is appropriate and will make you cheer. Finally, we have 9. Silted In , a dark and depressing story of a writer whose wife left him. As a result, he can't write, as every little detail in his life reminds him of her. This situation, of course, happened to Wagner in real life. But before you think this story is nothing more than emotional drivel, the last two lines of the story hit you like a brick in the face. Amazing misdirection.

Why Not You and I is a superb and eclectic collection from one of the best in the business. Bearded writer guy, come back! Mass Market Paperback

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