Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Muse of Fire (2007)
There are some dangers in choosing a book off the shelf (in this case, the shelf of the Forest Park Public Library) largely because it looks like it could be read in a single day. I did finish it before I made it home on the return trip, so I can find some level of comfort that I didn't need to spend multiple days with this Dan Simmons novella.
Muse of Fire (2007) is over populated with underdeveloped characters, and even underdeveloped alien beings. Much of the supposed description of the characters is really a chance for Simmons to give some (universally positive) opinions on Shakespeare and Shakespearean actors. Never mind that there is an Earth with no oceans but constant rain and overcast skies (which offends my limited knowledge of functional climates and meteorology), Simmons truly tries the reader's patience with his weak, often off-to-the-side narrator, Wilbr. Seriously, the story is told by an actor who wants to spend his time telling the reader how much better most of the other actors are. And those are characters that have little or no other traits.
This novella felt preachy and uninformed. The only good thing I have to say is that it didn't take long to read, but if an aggressive editor had been able to get his or her hands on it, Muse of Fire easily could have been 50 pages shorter (and thus a possibly compelling short story). I wish that there was more to say, but there really isn't. While I am appreciative that Simmons can write in a shorter format than most of his novels (which can run over 900 pages, and average 500+), I think that he has not mastered the format to any degree. Also, given the listed price of the book ($30, $60 if it was a signed copy), I have to think that Muse of Fire saw most of its sales from the remainder table.