Review of 'The Dancers at the End of Time'

The Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock

At the end of time humankind has reached it's apex living in a world where their every wish is granted. They spend their days building extravagant displays, throwing parties and travelling back in time. After all, what else is there to do when there is no need to struggle? Jherek Carnelian decides one day to fall in love (for the unique experience, of course) with a woman who has been captured from the late 19th century and placed into a “menagerie” – A collection of beings and creatures kept in cages that approximate the environment they have been removed from. Amelia Underwood is not so keen on the idea (she is a happily married woman, after all) and is shocked at the world she finds herself in – the excess and debauchery around her shocks her religious sensibilities. In their travels back and forth in time they discover more about their world and themselves. But, will either of them ever be happy?

This omnibus contains the books “An Alien Heat”, “The Hollow Lands” and “The End of All Songs” published in the 1970s – This is obvious in the themes present in the story: Free love, enjoyment of life free of worries, and the clash of culture with those who would wish to keep the older ideals. I found it interesting that as the book progresses all of these are called into question with movement towards a more tolerant middle-ground. True, perhaps it is still a bit on the sexist side but certainly Amelia is not a push-over with Jherek's advances continually rebuffed and her constant reminding him that she is married.

This book is still a good amount of fun to read though some of the thoughts are repeated so often in the 660 pages that I often felt it could be omitted to allow the story to move on - What story there is. To be honest, not a lot really happens here with the ideas being expressed being first and foremost. The Science Fiction aspects are relatively minor and kept in the realm of “magic” with not a lot of explanation given.

Moorcock is acclaimed as a grand-master of Science Fiction and it is in books such as this that this title is well earned. The characters are well thought out and the prose easy to read. I have to say I have always found Moorcock to have social messages he is trying to push (like Heinlein) but that does not diminish in any way his work. Other novels by Moorcock I have tried to read and failed such as the “Jerry Cornelius” books - The politics just completely overpower any semblance of story and just failed to hold my attention. Here, this is not the case.

Interesting and certainly a product of it's time, The Dancers at the End of Time is a good read and worth the time if you are willing to give it.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2015-05-12

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Grafton

Publication Date: 1983

ISBN: 9780586211601

Other reviewed books by Michael Moorcock: