Star of Gypsies

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This stellar performance by one of the grandmasters of science fiction not only portrays a wildly imaginative possible future, but also a larger-than-life protagonist whose witty and wise outlook on life will not easily be forgotten.

Yakoub, the Gypsy King, has abdicated his throne and retreated to a lonely planet where his only companions are ghosts and snow-serpents. The Gypsies are the remnants of an ancient people who were driven from Romany Star when its sun suddenly swelled, destroying everything. Yakoub’s abdication is a ploy to remind his people of their true destiny--to return to Romany Star after the third swelling of its sun. His disappearance, however, creates a power vacuum, not only among the Gypsies but also in the Gaje (non-Gypsy) Empire, whose aged Emperor is dying without naming a successor, and who rely upon the Gypsies to pilot their starships from planet to planet.

Silverberg, the winner of one Hugo and five Nebula awards for his previous works, is noted for the humanistic philosophical content of his fiction and his emphasis on the dignity of individuals. In STAR OF GYPSIES, the author’s humanistic outlook is again evident.

There are unmistakable echoes here of Silverberg’s novel GILGAMESH THE KING (1984), in which a noble protagonist also narrates his mythic life story, but Yakoub is a more endearing character than Gilgamesh. Indeed, much of the book’s pleasure is derived from the wit and wisdom that Yakoub displays as he recalls his long adventurous life and plots his eventual triumph. This novel works on several levels: as a political allegory; as a tract on the triumphs of the outcasts and dispossessed; but most of all as an imaginative work of speculative fiction that is a delight to read.

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Silverberg chose to tell Star of Gypsies as a first-person narrative, a technique used effectively in his historical novels. This...

(The entire section is 336 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Star of Gypsies draws heavily on the history and lore of the gypsies, the people called the "Rom" in the novel. To prepare for a...

(The entire section is 507 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

At first glance, Star of Gypsies seems remote from the major social issues of recent science fiction; however, it provides a lesson in...

(The entire section is 247 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

At first glance, Star of Gypsies does not seem to have many precursors, at least among science fiction novels. However, many works in...

(The entire section is 263 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Silverberg's band of traveling entertainers in Lard Valentine's Castle (1980) suggests a gypsy troupe, and some of Valentine's...

(The entire section is 69 words.)