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Masked

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3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  638 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
WELCOME TO THE SECOND “GOLDEN AGE” OF SUPERHEROES AND HEROINES

Superheroes have come a long way since the “Man of Steel” was introduced in 1938. This brilliant new collection features original stories and novellas from some of today’s most exciting voices in comics, science fiction, and fantasy. Each marvelously inventive tale shows us just how far our classic crusaders ha
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Paperback, 399 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Gallery Books (first published June 30th 2010)
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Watchmen by Alan MooreSoon I Will Be Invincible by Austin GrossmanThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonBatman by Frank MillerHero by Perry Moore
Superhero Fiction
54th out of 553 books — 1,001 voters
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Dragoncon List 2014-2015
25th out of 347 books — 132 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,964)
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Miriam
Apr 27, 2011 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: superheroic
Over all a fairly solid collection of super-hero themed stories, this volume suffered a little from excessive uniformity of tone. It wasn't a bad tone, but after a few stories it got a tad predictable, and I can't help but feel that the authors as a whole were overly influenced by Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible.

My favorite stories were uniformly by authors who were already on my to-read list: Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, Chris Roberson, Daryl Gregory, and Gail Simone. So while this
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Timothy Boyd
Jun 09, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it liked it
Nice collection of short stories. Mostly just good reads but a few gems and duds as is usual with a collection like this. Overall a nice entertaining read if you like Superhero stories. Recommended
Alan
Sep 24, 2010 Alan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Neophiles and people who haven't yet given up on spandex-clad vigilantes...
Recommended to Alan by: The title and the theme
Whoo-ee. Finally, a book that isn't quite as downbeat as the other stuff I've been reading lately... although it can still get pretty grim.

Editor Lou Anders collects a clever mélange of all-new stories (every one is 2010, according to the copyright page)—gritty, realistic (or at least relatively verisimilitudinous) tales of people with abilities that cause them problems, Pyrrhic superpowers they can't cope with, wild talents that make the world a more precarious place for themselves and others.

T
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Ed [Redacted]
May 30, 2011 Ed [Redacted] rated it really liked it
Cleansed and Set in Gold-- Matthew Sturges.
A superhero gets his powers in a very un-superheroic way. A story exploring the depraved things people will do to gain or maintain power. 4.5/5

Where Their Worm Dieth Not-- James Maxey
fable like tale of the ultimate end of superheroes 4/5

Secret Identity-- Paul Cornell
When an average man changes into his super alter-ego, what else changes. A solid story but ultimately fails to fulfill in the end. 3.5/5

The Non-Event--Mike Carey
The story of a robbery gone
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Doug
Nov 29, 2010 Doug rated it liked it
Lou Anders’ anthology of original superhero-themed short fiction caught my eye not so much because I’m in love with the genre, but because I liked the idea of a contributor list including both writers from the comic book world (like Bill Willingham, Mike Baron, Peter David, Marjorie Liu, and Gail Simone) and prose sf authors (like Stephen Baxter and Ian McDonald).

And in fact, the prose authors delivered several of the high points. My favorite story was McDonald’s “Tonight We Fly” — brief, moving
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Cheryl
Jul 21, 2010 Cheryl rated it liked it
Masked is more of an inside look into what makes a superhero in their truest form. So if you are looking for lots of action and adventure then you may be a little disappointed. I mean there was some fighting going on but I was expecting this anthology to be like the comics and television series I grew up with. Though, I have to say that I did really like some of the stories featured like: Where Their Worm Dieth Not (kind of like the stories I was used to reading. Also it reminded me some of the ...more
drey
Oct 02, 2011 drey rated it really liked it
Masked is a collection of short stories about superheroes--the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've never reviewed something like this before, so I hope the format works. The stories (and my thoughts on some of 'em):

Cleansed and Set in Gold by Matthew Sturges
A somewhat-disturbing story about where The Wildcard gets his powers. I'll let you read it to find out for yourself, but, ewwwwwww. However, the story does make you wonder what you'd do in the name of the greater good.

Where Their Worm Dieth Not
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Tobey
Jun 28, 2011 Tobey rated it liked it
As I was reading and enjoying the superhero stories that made up this anthology book, I thought a lot about why I don't read many short stories. I used to. I bought lots in middle school and high school, collections about dragons and wizards and dinosaurs. But Masked is the first collection I've read since Joe Hill's (perfect) 20th Century Ghosts a couple years ago. I think it has something to do with how slow I read. I figure that if it is going to take me a month to get through a book during t ...more
Eric
May 28, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it
Superheroes, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing. “Always playing to the media, their public acts of altruism little more than a bullshit patina glossing over the ugly truths—alcoholism, malignant narcissism, anger management issues. Their slightest charities aggrandized, their failings easily forgiven and forgotten, inculpable colossi towering over their lessers, imposing themselves and shattering lives with a casual indifference born of self-affected ambition.”

Full review here: http://s
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Joe Danger
Nov 17, 2015 Joe Danger rated it liked it
Let me say right off the top, that Cleansed and Set in Gold by Matthew Sturges is not only one of the best superhero stories I've read, it's one of my favorite short stories period. It's just one of those almost perfectly-crafted tales that have an inevitable progression from beginning to end, but gets there in an interesting way.

It's the first story in the book for good reason, but sets the bar too high for what follows.

Downfall is the only other one that might be considered in the same breath
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Andres Halden
Jun 20, 2015 Andres Halden rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the best pieces of superhero media I've ever read.
Jerry M
This is an anthology of short stories centering around the super hero (and super villain) genre. I have not read too much in this genre, but I do know a good short story when I read one. This work has good short stories in spades (and probably spandex, as well). Each story is unique in its own perspective of the author's perceived idea of what it means to be a super hero or a super villain. Some are quite serious in their treatment whereas other stories have a more whimsical approach, some are t ...more
zack
Jul 30, 2014 zack rated it it was ok
Neither exceptional nor earth-shatteringly disappointing.

The main problem: Masked's thesis states that by presenting us with these classic comic book tropes in a literary format, it's ending the debate on whether or not comic books can be a form of literature.

Sure, comic books can be a form of literature. We don't need a wordy foreword to tell us this. But these short stories about superheroes--though entertaining and clever at times--aren't really literature. Most sort of just toss around crin
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Moogigon
Feb 18, 2014 Moogigon rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of superhero stories in a world without many collections of superhero stories, this is a book well worth reading for anyone with even the slightest fancy for capes and cowls. There's a great deal of diversity (in tone, story approach, structure, and character) contained within these stories that go a long way towards showing off just what a superhero story can be in the right hands. I hope for more books like this (and the superb Sidekicks!) that succeed in creating a spa ...more
Trike
Sep 16, 2014 Trike rated it really liked it
A short story collection of 14 brand-new superhero tales written just for this book. Overall this is a terrific collection. There are a couple stories which aren’t as good as the rest, but they don’t detract too much from the general quality. A few of the stories have adult language and themes, so it’s not for little kids, but certainly fine for teenagers and up.

Everyone knows that Superman is a dick. There’s even a whole website devoted to just that. So it is en vogue to make fun of big-time ov
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Melissa
Jul 24, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it
This anthology is an exploration of the superhero and villain. It explores a lot of aspects never seen before within this genre. You have superheros of various sexual orientations, religions and races. It also explores the reality of someone trying to be a superhero in the real world without any special powers as seen in Avatar. There is also a few villain stories. One where the villain isn't evil, but because he looks evil fights for that side as seen in Thug. You also have other stories as to ...more
Cinnamon
Jul 22, 2010 Cinnamon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-review
If there is one thing that can brighten my day, it's getting introduced to a new book or author. I just love experiencing new stories so, although I don't buy them all that often, I love anthologies.

There's something about an anthology that typically makes it a quick read. Perhaps it's the shorter length of the stories or perhaps it the treasure chest of fun that I just can't wait to sort through. Whatever the reason, I usually try and ready my anthologies slowly, savoring every little bit.

That
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Wendy Hines
Jun 25, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it liked it
Like superheros? Evil vs Good? Comic books? If you answered yes to any of those, you will want to check out Masked! An anthology of epic proportions, filled with superhero fiction from some of the biggest names in fantasy, comics, and science fiction.

Some of the titles of the short stories really made me take another look - very catchy. For example:

Message from the Bubblegum Factory (by Daryl Gregory)

Where Their Worm Dieth Not (by James Maxey)

Had to read those just to understand the title! Yep,
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Patrick O'Duffy
Mar 12, 2012 Patrick O'Duffy rated it it was ok
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 simp
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Synful
Jul 04, 2011 Synful rated it really liked it
A compilation of short stories about superheroes. It took me a while to get through it, probably because I'm not the biggest fan of the short story genre, but it was worth it. I think the best thing it has going for it is that although it's about superheroes, these are about different types of superheroes than what most people of as such. Some were even heroes who were heroes through stealthy and more villain-like behavior. Some stories did fall a little flat, but I think it was more because the ...more
Marcus
May 22, 2011 Marcus rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: comic book fans
You know those books that you have trouble putting down? The kind you want to pull out in the middle of a work day? This one was it for me.

Disclaimer: Although I haven't bought a comic book since I was a kid, have never been to a ComicCon, and don't watch Saturday morning cartoons, I'm a fan of the superhero mythos. I loved the tv show Heroes (until it started to suck) and have seen all the big screen adaptations of comic book heroes: Batman, Hulk, Spiderman, X-men, et al.

Although the book is c
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Marc
Oct 03, 2010 Marc rated it it was amazing
Lou Anders rocks. Lou has edited Masked, an anthology of Superhero short fiction. He was also co-editor of Swords and Dark Magic, which I raved about. Well, here we go again. This collection is also fantastic. How fantastic? Well, I wanted to call in sick and read it. (I didn't. And if I had done such a thing, do you think I would post about it on my blog?)

Back to the anthology.

Superhero prose fiction is a weird beast. These are comic book stories, without the visuals. Would it work if the reade
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Alan
Jan 28, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it
There were a couple of reasons I picked up Masked (a 50% coupon, advance reviews and Lou Anders growing reputation as an editor), because it falls into a sub-genre I usually avoid. Yes, while I read comics and saw the Incredibles and the last Iron Man movie I usually avoid the super hero genre in prose. Writers usually either fail to write interesting stories. One of the few exceptions for me over the years was Superheroes edited by John Varley. Truthfully after all of these years I remember onl ...more
Drew
Dec 06, 2010 Drew rated it liked it
I really wanted to enjoy this. I really did. On paper, Masked, an anthology of original superhero stories penned by a motley crew of authors and edited by Lou Anders, sounds like it should work. And for the most part, it does. There are some definite highs ('Message From The Bubblegum Factory' and 'Vacuum Lad' were clear highlights) that manage to demonstrate how superheroes (and villains) have evolved since the Golden Age of Comics as well as showing just how human they actually are beneath the ...more
Richard
Mar 07, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
This an anthology of short stories about superheroes.Despite the huge numbers of comics and movies being published in this genre, prose stories like these are still very rare.Each story begins with a biography of the author, so it feels rather a sampler for the authors to attract new readers for their other works.Some of them are comics writers, some prose.The editor, Lou Anders, is a ******** who opposes filesharing, according to his blog anyway.Here is what I think of each story.

"Cleansed and
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Beth Cato
Oct 17, 2012 Beth Cato rated it liked it
I have wanted to read this since it came out a few years ago. I'm not a comic book reader, but I have always loved superheroes. Hearing the theme of Superman (Christopher Reeves!) still gives me chills.

Unfortunately, this anthology feels terribly uneven in quality. Several of the stories feel overwhelming, as though I were dropped into completely established worlds and expected to already know who everyone is. The sheer numbers of characters became overwhelming, as though the authors felt they n
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Sophie
Oct 26, 2010 Sophie rated it really liked it
An overall very enjoyable collection of stories about superheroes and supervillains. The best kind of prose stories about superheroes I've read so far.

My impression of the individual stories as collected in my Goodreads status updates:

"Cleansed and set in gold" by Matthew Sturges was good (and rather disgusting), but it had one major plothole: how in god's name did Wildcard ever *discover* his powers? But despite that, it was interesting, and even the first person narration worked for me.

"Wher
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Lexie
Mar 13, 2016 Lexie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned-read
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 "
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Alisa Russell
Sep 03, 2012 Alisa Russell rated it really liked it
I picked up this book this summer for two reasons----one I had decided that I would make the effort to expose myself to new reading material I had never read before and the other was because I was familiar with one of the story writers as I follow Joseph Mallozzi's blog. This anthology delivers on both counts. Mallozzi's story, Downfall, was excellent, and I also read several stories from authors I had never read before. My favorite stories of this group included: Vacuum Lad by Stephen Baxter, C ...more
Princessjay
Aug 28, 2011 Princessjay rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
1. Cleansed and Set in Gold - Matthew Sturges. 3 STARS. The unglamorous story behind one reluctant hero.

2. Where Their Worm Dieth Not - James Maxey. 4 STARS. An exploration of the realities of being a comic book hero in a comic book universe.

3. Secret Identity - Paul Cornell. 3 STARS. In the closet, backwards and up-side-down.

4. The Non-Event - Mike Carey. 3 STARS. Serviceable story about a bank heist from the villain's point of view.

5. Avatar - Mike Baron. 2.5 STARS. A superhero story as it mig
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Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of Norse-themed fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A pro ...more
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