The Trouble with Heroes

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The Trouble with Heroes

Editor: Denise Little

In school I was one of the students who would ask the smart aleck questions when the teachers would talk about wanting us to be more open with our opinions.  I remember one in particular in Film as Art class being along the lines of 'Its all well and good that she's grateful he saved her--but he lives in the woods, eats with his hands, sleeps in the same clothes that he fights in, doesn't wash those clothes nor can she even stand to be near him let alone want to kiss him when he must be rank?' when talking about Robin Hood.  Thanks to Jean Rabe I have my answer!

This collection is a whimsical look at what it means to be the background support for a hero.  Everyone from Heracles to Robin Hood to Oberon gets a showing and the tales often surprised me with the paths they took.  The Robin Hood story, Merry Maid by Jean Rabe, for instance tells the tale from Maid Marian's viewpoint and offers insight to her true feelings about the so-called 'Champion of the Poor'.  The truth about King Arthur, Guinevere and their PR problems are dished by Laura Resnick in The Quin Court and the martial troubles Odysessus faced when returning home very very late to dinner are given epic verse by Pauline J. Alama in Honey I'm Home.

The range of authors is wide, some I know quite well while others were completely new to me (but didn't impress as often).  The stories themselves were often amusing, occasionally sad and a few proved that not every hero is wanted (or needed) and some should stay in stories and movies.  Only three stories bored me, or just fell flat for me, but a larger number I read and was amused in the moment, but promptly forgot the story as I moved on.  Denise Little, who's done a number of other anthologies for DAW that I have enjoyed, did a fine job of having a diverse cast of writers, but even though the stories stayed centered around the truth behind heroes they felt disjointed otherwise.

A few of the stories probably would have been better if there was more space (Annie Reed's For a Few Lattes More was interesting, but the 'hero' character, the cowboy was underused), but for a quick read and behind the scenes look at heroes this was certainly satisfying.

Book Blurb for The Trouble with Heroes

These 22 all-new tales pay tribute to the true heroes-the people who enable and put up with heroes. From what it's like to be Hercules' wife )complete with an appearance by Hercules in drag) to the trials of H.P. Lovecraft's housekeeper, from the perils of being King Kong's girlfriend to the downside of dating a shapeshifter, this anthology turns heroism on its head, revealing the behind-the-scenes drama, as opposed to glorious rescues. From the Pied Piper's power trip to David acting like a giant you-know-what after slaying Goliath, these stories show heroes in all their ignominy and shine a light on the unsung faithful standing in their shadows.

Night Owl Reviews Nov, 2009 3.50