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Masked Paperback – July 20, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439168822
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439168820
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #846,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anders (Fast Forward) delivers an ambitious collection of superhero tales that provide top-notch plots and characterizations while honoring their four-color roots. In Daryl Gregory's superbly metafictional "Message from the Bubble Gum Factory," a former sidekick finally realizes the broader implications of superheroes. Stephen Baxter nicely applies hard science to the futuristic "Vacuum Lad." Gail Simone's "Thug" and Mike Carey's "The Non-Event" bolster predictable plots with solid characters and prose. Joseph Mallozzi's "Downfall" and Marjorie M. Liu's "Call Her Savage" embrace comics clicheÌüs and make them both more complex and more entertaining. Only Mike Baron's dull, heavy-handed, and predictable "Avatar" stands out as noticeably weak, though Peter and Kathleen David's witty "Head Cases" feels more like the opening of a novel than a complete story. Overall, Anders has assembled a solid anthology that provides first-rate entertainment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Since Clark Kent first donned his red cape in 1938, comic-book superheroes have been steadily gaining notoriety in all niches of popular culture. In the last decade, with novels such as Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay (2000), superheroes have even gained respectability in mainstream literature. This volume of short fiction, featuring all manner of costumed crusaders and average-appearing citizens harboring secret crime-fighting identities, continues the trend. Under the guardianship of Prometheus Books’ SF editor Anders, some of the leading names in comics and speculative fiction make contributions here. The superhero in Matthew Sturges’ “Cleansed and Set in Gold,” obtains his assorted powers from consuming the flesh of other dead superheroes. Mike Baron’s “Avatar” recounts a martial-arts-trained teen’s disillusioning efforts to deliver vigilante justice. Stephen Baxter’s “Vacuum Lad” is a Saudi-born superhero wannabe who fortuitously survives a space accident. Although several tales stray into pulp-fiction territory, countering Anders’ promises of literary merit, every author here provides abundant creative vision and a sure sense of heroic storytelling. --Carl Hays

More About the Author

A 2011 Hugo Award winner, 2013/2012/2010/2009/2008/2007 Hugo Award nominee, 2011 Locus Award finalist, 2010 Shirley Jackson Award nominee, 2008 Philip K. Dick Award nominee, 2013/2012/2011/2010/2009/2007 Chesley Award nominee/nominee/winner/nominee, and 2006/2011 World Fantasy Award nominee, Lou Anders is the editorial director of Prometheus Books' science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr, as well as the anthologies Masked (Gallery Books, July 2010), Swords & Dark Magic (Eos, June 2010, coedited with Jonathan Strahan), Fast Forward 2 (Pyr, October 2008), Sideways in Crime (Solaris, June 2008), Fast Forward 1(Pyr, February 2007), FutureShocks (Roc, January 2006), Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film (MonkeyBrain, December 2004), Live Without a Net (Roc, 2003), and Outside the Box (Wildside Press, 2001). In 2000, he served as the Executive Editor of Bookface.com, and before that he worked as the Los Angeles Liaison for Titan Publishing Group. He is the author of The Making of Star Trek: First Contact (Titan Books, 1996), and has published over 500 articles in such magazines as The Believer, Publishers Weekly, Dreamwatch, DeathRay, free inquiry, Star Trek Monthly, Star Wars Monthly, Babylon 5 Magazine, Sci Fi Universe, Doctor Who Magazine, and Manga Max. His articles and stories have been translated into Danish, Greek, German, Italian & French. His first novel, Frostborn, book one in a three-book middle grade fantasy adventure series called Thrones and Bones, was published in August 2014 by Random House's Crown Books for Young Readers. See www.thronesandbones.com for more.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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They were just start getting going and then the story would end.
Cheryl Koch
This story had some potential, but was way too confusing and the resolution didn't make much sense to me.
Scott
Very entertaining - I loved reading everyone's take on their own superhero!
Wendy L. Hines

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
As usual I'll review each story individually and then give a wrap up. From the offset I should say however that at least five of the authors here are comic book writers that I idolize ::cough Gail Simone cough:: so this may be slightly more skewed then usual. I take my comics very seriously (which is why you rarely if ever will see me review them, I get too passionate).

"Cleansed and Set in Gold" by Matthew Sturges
A reservist member of the League of Heroes, named Wildcard because his powers are "variable", finds himself at the center of an ongoing conflict that killed the supposedly immortal hero Veraine. I couldn't quite guess the trick to Wildcard's powers. The trick is disturbing, though in all honesty I see the merit in it. While the basic premise of the story is one that floods comics on a monthly basis (uber-powerful enemy kills one of the greats and everyone else has to figure out how to stop it), the delivery is more than worth it. Wildcard felt realistic, like an ordinary guy who just stumbled into this hero gig. I did not guess how he resolved the reporter thing, or how he came to terms with his powers.

"Where Their Worm Dieth Not" by James Maxey
Death is as commonplace to heroes as rebirth is. But sometimes the knowledge that you are one of the few who can--and has--returned from death multiple times can be more torturous than anything else. Oh this story made me tear up. It hit home a lot of pertinent facts about superheroes and villains--the whole game can be very like the myth of Sisyphus. While death for most people is the final act, how often has Superman or Cyclops or any hero been brought back to life through some weird invented excuse. I guess that's part of the charm, good will always rise again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on February 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' complex and literate, Watchmen, came out there have been more intelligent examinations of the world of superheroes. Deeper explorations of the personal angst and separation experienced by these heroes, moral confusion, unavoidable inconsistencies, and the overpowering weight of responsibility have provided great fodder for smarter tales. Joseph Mallozzi's contribution in this collection called Downfall captures this succinctly with the line, "Always playing to the media, their public acts of altruism little more than a patina glossing over the ugly truths - alcoholism, malignant narcissism, anger management issues."

It seems we have created a sub-cottage industry to the original super hero comic book trade. This has meant more original efforts that move the genre forward. Take into consideration the movies Hancock, Unbreakable and The Incredibles, Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, and one will see that characters in bright tights and capes have evolved.

And to my surprise, while reading this collection, I read a story in the February 26, 2011 edition of The Wall Street Journal called, Bam! Pow! Superhero Groups Clash In an Epic Battle of Good vs. Good. It covers the true story of individuals dressing up as superheroes in the Seattle area (among them Phoenix Jones - Guardian of Seattle, Zetaman, Knight Owl, Dark Guardian, and Mr. Raven Blade). And like the stories in Masked these real-life characters are revealed to have conflicts amongst themselves. Life imitating art indeed.

This collection has a dark and deep tone that appeals. The stories are all highly original and cover a range of subjects that add reality to the unreal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Knorpp on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unless I misremember, I really, really enjoyed all but two or three stories in this anthology. The thing really is surprisingly good. The story "Call Her Savage" really doesn't fit at all and wasn't really to my taste, but I just couldn't believe how many stories in here I really liked. And the writing's good! I mean, not just passable, but--by the standards of fun, non-serious fiction--it's really good. Much, much better than the average just-for-fun read. I'm a huge fan of Austin Grossman's _Soon I Will Be Invincible_, and, until now, I've always told everyone that that's head and shoulders above other books in the genre. I still rank it at the top, but, honestly, I think this anthology isn't all that far behind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BarelyBarista on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this after seeing several of the authors listed. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The book provides a wide range of hero/villain stories that are atypical. While the book does include the typical tights and cape story, the best stories are the ones that are a little different. My personal favorite short story in the collection is Downfall.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick O'Duffy on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
An uneven collection of prose superhero stories; none of the stories were terrible, but a lot were pretty pedestrian. The best was Gail Simone's 'Thug'; the honourable mentions were by Matthew Sturges, Mike Carey, Paul Cornell, Chris Roberson, Marjorie Liu and Bill Willingham. The rest... well, whatever.

Two asides:

1 - There's an interesting mix of comics writers and prose writers here, but there's also a strong deconstructive tendency from the non-comics authors. It's not enough for them to simply write a superhero story; it has to be one that critiques the genre and its conventions, and usually in a way that finds those conventions wanting. The comics authors, on the other hand, were more interested in following those conventions to find a story that respected them while still working within a different medium/form. Those stories tended to be better, if only because I could read the story without the chip on the author's shoulder getting in the way.

2 - The proofreader and editor of this book doesn't seem to understand the difference between 'canon' and 'cannon'. Which is just embarrassing, frankly.
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