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Muse of Fire Hardcover – Dec 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean (December 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596061812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061811
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,047,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2f9cb64) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa300a8b8) out of 5 stars Do you want to read this book for much less than this price? Jan. 29 2009
By Bornintime - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First off it's not a book really. Well, this edition is a book. But in normal type it's about 60 pages only. Not even a novella, only a mere story that would normally appear with another 10 or 12 stories. If you are like me and want to read all of Dan Simmons' work but don't want to pay big bucks for a collectible edition you are in luck. The exact same story appears in the SF Anthology NEW SPACE OPERA edited by Gardner Dozois. You can get it new for about 8 dollars, used for less, or maybe, like myself, free from your public library. The story itself is very good, everything we have come to expect from a Simmons SF story.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa342d984) out of 5 stars The Purpose of Creation Jan. 12 2009
By J. Brian Watkins - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To those who bemoan word counts, I say that Mr. Simmons' writing is a bargain at twice the price. In this novella, Mr. Simmons successfully channels both Ray Bradbury and Gnostic mythology to bring us a story about creation and the meaning of life. It brings to mind the comment made by Lewis Thomas to Carl Sagan that if mankind were to broadcast Bach to the stars it would constitute bragging but it would be wise to put the best possible face on such an acquaintance. In Muse of Fire, Mr. Simmons posits that the creations of Shakespeare justify our creators' efforts entirely. Perhaps taking a page from Mr. Bloom, Mr. Simmons argues that Shakespeare, properly understood, transcends mere art and constitutes mankind's most valuable contribution to creation.

Mr. Simmons' love and admiration for Shakespeare pervades this story, which is worthwhile not only for its especially novel and creative take on our universe, but also because it encourages its reader to seek out and rediscover Shakespeare's infinitely rewarding art.

Worth every penny.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa395dfcc) out of 5 stars Creative and Literate SciFi Short Sept. 20 2012
By Jason Golomb - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
"They can see and hear and maybe translate the words, but how can you translate Shakespeare to alien minds?" -Wilbr, "Muse of Fire"

This digital version of this short book has been on sale and is well worth the price. In the far future, in a far part of the universe, a space-travelling group of actors wander worlds inhabited by human slaves, performing the works of Shakespeare. Narrated through the voice of a secondary player, Wilbr, Simmons builds a world of creatively crafted aliens, religions and gods.

The title refers to the name of the troubadour's ship. The Muse her/it-self is a being that runs the spacecraft, reminiscent, but in a much less dark way, of John Scalzi's god-driven starships in his short "God Engines'.

Simmons builds his plot around a series of these Shakespearian performances on grand-universal stages to a variety of beings. Even at fewer than 100 pages, Simmons crafts realistic and believable characters and the framework of a fascinating and detailed universe.

In "Muse", Simmons emotes a passion for The Bard and I couldn't help but think that he'd not yet gotten Shakespeare completely out of his system after writing his duology "Olypos" and "Illium", which relies heavily on Shakespeare-driven themes. While not giving the ending away, Simmons may acknowledge that he finally found some creative Shakespearian closure with "Muse of Fire", when an alien suggests to Wilbr, "You people need to learn some new poets."

Simmons continues to prove that his creative abilities go well beyond a narrowly defined genre such as science fiction. He writes so sharply and with an imbued sense of intelligence that his literate capabilities lift the literary sense and pleasure of his readers.
HASH(0xa337b5c4) out of 5 stars A very strong and thought provoking novella about Shakespeare and ... July 28 2014
By woodrow locksley - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very strong and thought provoking novella about Shakespeare and his value to world culture all done within the framework of a highly imaginative sci fi story Would get five stories except for the high price
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa333d174) out of 5 stars Gnostics and spaceships and Bards, oh my! Sept. 18 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Muse of Fire was a straightforward read that has more interesting implications if you care to think about it.

On the surface, the book serves as a sort of travelogue story through Simmons' universe. The main characters are human actors in the company the Earth's Men. They travel through known space staging Shakespeare's plays for human settlements. Humanity has long since been subjugated by a hierarchy of other races, and the Earth's Men are one of the few ways that human culture survives.

Unexpectedly, the Earth's Men are asked to play for the local Archons of one planet - the alien overlords. This kicks off a multiple stop tour, each time with a different play.

The story also serves as a short, layman's commentary on the Bard. Many of the things discussed by the narrator, a skilled but not virtuoso actor, are things that I had already gleaned or read about the plays. Some others led me to consider them in new lights.

Finally, it's a bit of a tour through Gnostic cosmology. The alien hierarchy of races are lifted straight out of Gnostic teachings, and Basilidean Gnosticism is the human religion.

The ending of the tour involves a twist that I didn't see coming, and which raises questions about the parts of the book that have gone before.

Simmons' prose was up to his usual high standard - intelligent, readable, and elegant.

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