The Dancers at the End of Time Series Analysis

Michael Moorcock

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

An Alien Heat introduces the action that runs through the first three books. At the duke of Queen’s dull party, Jherek Carnelian encounters a time traveler from the nineteenth century, Mrs. Amelia Underwood, and decides that falling in love with her would be a welcome novelty to amuse himself and his friends. Jherek first must acquire her from Lord Mongrove’s entourage. Helped by Lord Jagged of Canaria, he arranges a trade for the “dreary alien” Yusharisp, who has come there predicting the imminent end of the universe. When Jherek declares his love, Mrs. Underwood will not hear of it; she wishes to teach him virtue. They become closer, but she disappears—stolen by My Lady Charlotina in revenge for the stealing of Yusharisp.

Mrs. Underwood is sent back to 3 a.m., April 4, 1896, as she had desired. Despite the Morphail effect, which prohibits people from staying in the past, Jherek, now truly in love, borrows a time machine and is sent back to the same time. In London, he naïvely joins a den of thieves and is executed for his crimes, only to awaken at the End of Time, still longing for his departed love.

The Hollow Lands introduces the Lat, seven small, one-eyed, oversexed space travelers. Escaping them, Jherek falls into an ancient room full of children minded by a robot nursemaid who recycles time. Nurse sends him to 1896 London, where he meets Frank Harris and H. G. Wells at the Café Royal. Wells takes him to Bromley, where he is reunited with Mrs. Underwood. Mr. Underwood also is there, however, and calls the police. After various adventures, the whole group plus the Lat, My Lady Charlotina, the duke of Queens, Lord Jagged, and the Iron Orchid are reunited at the Café Royal. The Morphail effect and Lord Jagged’s time machine send them away, one or a few at a time. Jherek and Mrs. Underwood land in the Silurian age.

Still there at the beginning of The End...

(The entire section is 800 words.)