18 February 2010

The fate of humanity depends on Shakespeare.

Reading Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons is a glimpse behind the scenes of a horrid future, and backstage of the workings of the universe. Dystopian novels of a world undone compel me to read them; a story of a whole metaverse gone haywire was irresistible.Muse of Fire

The story is narrated by young Wilbr, an actor with The Earth's Men, a traveling performance troupe that specializes in Shakespeare. Their travels take them from planet to planet, entertaining the enslaved humans who toil for their alien overlords, the Archon, a race so alien they seem to take no notice of the humans, except for their work output. Suddenly and for no apparent reason, after a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, the alien's interest manifests itself for a performance request. The performers oblige with the Scottish Play. And then, the overlords of the Archons appear with a request for a performance of their own...

William ShakespeareBy the end of the tale, the performers have given the performances of their lives, and perhaps more than that: they are told that the continued existence of humanity depends upon their skill. Have they passed the test? Or was there any test at all - was the outcome predetermined?

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