Monday, June 12, 2017

Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions, edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Anderson

Find this book
(Superhero) A collection of superhero stories focused on the (super)human condition. (78,222 words; Time: 4h:20m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended

"Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions," edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Anderson, published on by .

Behind the Mask contains sixteen original stories, of which we recommend 5 (average would be 3) and recommend against 1 (average would be 3). Of the four reprints, we previously reviewed two, giving them 2 and 3 stars, respectively. Even if we factor those in, this is still an exceptionally high-quality anthology.

Even Superheroes Bleed

These stories explore the joys and sorrows of the human beings behind those masks. They’re not about saving people and blowing things up; they’re about how you feel about things that get blown up, or about cities that demand too much of you, or fans who won’t leave you alone, or parents who can’t cope or won’t help.

This anthology is about characters more than plot, and there's a wide variety of them:
  • Eleven are heroes, two are villains, and three are sidekicks. 
  • Eleven are adults and five are teens. 
  • Twelve are women and four are men. 
Even the three-star stories have strong characters whom we come to care about. What they don't have is thrills, chills, and excitement, which may disappoint some readers.

Specially Recommended

Destroy the City with Me Tonight, by Kate Marshall, takes us to a world where superheroes are victims of a disease which binds them to a particular city and protects their identities by causing everyone to forget who they are without their masks. A young woman hero with a strong sense of duty can't help feeling lonely and taken-advantage-of.


Pedestal, by Seanan McGuire, shows the downside of being a super heroine who struggles to have any sort of a life of her own between attacks from super villains and depredations of her own fans--neither of whom can leave her alone.

Inheritance, by Michael Milne, tells the story of a young boy trying to come to grips with the powers he inherited from his superhero father--a man too busy saving the world to give his son more than the briefest attention.

In The Beard of Truth, by Matt Mikalatos, a young man dutifully reports to the government that he seems to have acquired a super power that make people tell him the truth. Unasked. In great detail.

Over an Embattled City, by Adam R. Shannon, tells how teenage Emma remembers a very different world from the one we live in. One with real superheroes and supervillains who had real fights that destroyed real cities. Now those people only exist in comic books and her own memories. All but one, and she's determined to meet the last superhero and prove she's not crazy.

Other Reviews: Search Web,
Tricia Reeks Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB
Kyle Anderson Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Meerkat Press arranged a four-week "blog" tour (like a virtual book tour) for Behind the Mask where contributing authors did interviews and made excerpts of their stories available on various reviewer blogs (some more than once). Follow this link for details.