What on earth is Isaac Asimov--teller of outer-stellar tales, popular science explicator, etc.--doing with Shakespeare? Indeed what he should not. Although purportedly confining himself to "historical, legendary and mythological background," these are capricious annotations of the bard's near-total output. Re Brutus: "Not only is he vain and envious, but he is rather stupid too. . . ." Who but a popinjay would fall for Cassius' planted fan letters! Then there's Hamlet whose real gripe was that his crown had been intercepted and whose "extreme" remarks about Uncle and King and extravagant mutterings about Hyperions and satyrs were "scarcely objective. . . nothing we see of Claudius directly matches Hamlet's low opinion." Did you know that the relationship between Antonio and Sebastian in Twelfth Night was undoubtedly homosexual? And that Venus' approach to the reluctant Adonis was solely a device for gay tributes to the Earl of Southampton? Mr. Asimov knows, as well as he is certain from his research that 16th century Puritans (re Malvolio) were "self-consciously virtuous men who were equally conscious of the vices of those who disagreed with them." "A fine volley of words. . ./ and quickly shot off" (Two Gentlemen from Verona)--the top of the head.