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A trilogy of Science Fiction novels by Michael Moorcock, describing a possible far future Earth, the ultimate fin de siécle.

* * * * 1/2 (explanation)

Michael Moorcock has a penchant, nay a gift, for describing decadent, amoral societies that meet a sudden end.  This particular decadent, amoral society is set millions of years into the Earth's future: Earth's inhabitants are like gods, immortal, with the power to conjure up anything that whim might put in their minds at the twist of a ring. All this is powered by machines in inconceivably old cities (left to rot) dotted around the world.

Of course, rather than dedicating their time to loftier pursuits, these beings indulge in vast theatrical pretensions, continent-spanning games, historical recreations (usually quite inaccurate, due to the faulty memory banks of the rotting cities), and indescribable deauchery.   The dancers take on names in imitation of those hazy recollections.

Space travelers at the End of Time approach Earth at their peril:  They are usually kidnapped and placed in one of the Dancers' menageries.  Any time travelers visiting the End of Time are trapped there by the Morphail Effect and usually wind up in menageries as well.   Of course, many of the Dancers were former menagerie residents.  Moorcock himself (although not a character) kidnaps another writer's character and sticks him in his own menagerie at the End of Time.

Ok, I'm not fooling you.  The Dancers at the End of Time are a moral (if somewhat hyperbolic) allegory for Western Civilization.  The Dancers suck the Universe dry for their feckless, insipid entertainments. They are the Eloi without Morlocks.

Oh, all right. It's really a love story, of a sort, between Jherek Carnelian, the last human to be born, and Mrs. Amelia Underwood, a rather prim Victorian housewife who becomes an involuntary time traveler.  The entire sequence of events (which will only unfold if you read the books) happens when Jherek decides one day to play at falling in love. The story has so many layers, like millions of years of peeling wallpaper, it boggles the mind.

Moorcock has set a few other stories at the End of Time, notably the novella Elric at the End of Time. Wait till you've finished the above three novels, and all six Elric novels, before you read that. The 1976 story collection Legends from the End Of Time contains three End of Time stories that had originally appeared in New Worlds:

JerboaKolinowski recommends that I also mention the the novel The Transformation of Miss Mavis Ming, also called Messiah at the End of Time in the US.

Moorcock has tied the End of Time into the entire multiverse concept that pervades most of his work. Jherek appears to be an incarnation of The Eternal Champion, although the most feckless Champion imaginable.  Various members of The Guild of Temporal Adventurers make brief appearances.

So take your translation pills,  fire up your time machines, and, if you're female, mind your elbows.

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