Friday, 3 November 2017

Dancers at the End of Time

Michael Moorcock
Orion Books

Enter a decaying far, far future society, a time when anything and everything is possible, where words like 'conscience' and 'morality' are meaningless, and where heartfelt love blossoms mysteriously between Mrs Amelia Underwood, an unwilling time traveller, and Jherek Carnelian, a bemused denizen of the End of Time.
The Dancers at the End of Time, containing the novels An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands and The End of All Songs, is a brilliant homage to the 1890s of Wilde, Beardsley and the fin de si├Ęcle decadents, satire at its sharpest and most colourful.

 I first read this a few decades ago when I was about 19 or 20 and it blew my mind.  I'm not entirely convinced I understood everything but it certainly made an impact.

Here we have a collected edition of the three novels and across them Moorcock tells the story of Jherek Carnelian, a denizen of the utopia that exists on Earth at the end of time.  Into his perfect life is thrown an unwitting time traveller in the shape of a married, Victorian, Englishwoman named Mrs Amelia Underwood.

On a whim, which is how Jherek and his peers do everything, Jherek decides he's going to be in love with Amelia and to that end pursues her through various trials and tribulations from one end of time to the other and beyond.

Jherek is one of the most endearing heroes I've ever come across.  He has no understanding of hate, jealousy, rage or any other negative emotion and when faced by adversity his response is either gentle perplexity or smiling wonderment; he is, in all ways, nice.

Mrs Underwood on the other hand is a woman trapped.  Where Jherek has been raised in an environment of utter anarchy she is the product of the most restrictive societal and familial mores and when confronted by Jherek's purity, born from what she sees as sin, her reaction is to bury herself in her faith and her heritage until his relentless love soon begins to chip away at her resolve.

This is the most wonderful (3) book(s).  It is filled with joyous invention, Moorcock's words dance across the page and his character sparkle.  I am a long time fan of his work and regularly dip into one of his, many, books especially as they tend to be fairly short and fast reads that you can devour in a couple of hours.  I poured over this one and eked it out over a good few days allowing the humour to percolate and the ideas to insinuate and at the end of 665 pages I was still desperately craving more.

Buy it here -  The Dancers at the End of Time: Written by Michael Moorcock, 2013 Edition, Publisher: Gollancz [Paperback]

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