The Dancers at the End of Time is a series of science fiction novels and short stories written by Michael Moorcock, the setting of which is the End of Time, an era "where entropy is king and the universe has begun collapsing upon itself".The inhabitants of this era are immortal decadents, who create flights of fancy using power rings that draw on energy devised and stored by their ancestors millions of years prior. Time travel is possible, and throughout the series various points in time are visited and revisited. Space travellers are also common, but most residents of the End of Time find leaving the planet distasteful and clichéd. The title of the series is itself taken from a poem by a fictitious 19th Century poet, Ernest Wheldrake, which Mrs. Amelia Underwood quotes in The End of All Songs. "Ernest Wheldrake" had been a pseudonym used by Algernon Charles Swinburne.The original trilogy (An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands, and The End of All Songs) was published between 1972 and 1976. The trilogy purports to tell the last love story in human history. An Alien Heat The title of this volume comes from the poem "Hothouse Flowers" by Theodore Wratislaw. An alien named Yusharisp comes to Earth to warn its remaining inhabitants that the universe is coming to an end; his own planet has already disappeared, and the Earth is sure to follow. Earth's inhabitants are unfazed as they believe him to be yet another doomsayer; the End of the Earth has been predicted for centuries. Jherek is far more interested in Mrs Amelia Underwood, a time traveller from Victorian England, as he is fascinated by the Victorian era. Jherek resolves to fall in love with her. Mrs Underwood, at first repulsed by the debauchery of the End of Time, finally comes to believe that Jherek is sincere in his affections and starts teaching him about moral values. She falls in love with him at last; as they are about to embrace, however, she is whisked back to her own time. Jherek, heartbroken, decides to rescue her, and travels to 19th century London, using the time machine from Moorcock's Behold the Man Jherek is inexperienced to the point of naivete about the Victorian Era, despite his interest in it, and a (temporally) local thief, Snoozer Vine, tricks him into becoming an accomplice to Snoozer's latest scam. Not surprisingly, Jherek proves to be a poor criminal, and is quickly arrested, jailed and sent to trial. To his surprise, the judge appears to be none other than his friend, Lord Jagged, but claims to be one Jagger. Jherek is sentenced to death, as the case against him is unequivocal, but he cannot understand why all the people around him are so upset; inhabitants of the End of Time are immortal, and for them death is merely transitory. Jherek is hanged, only to wake up among his friends at the End of Time, who tell him that to them, he has only been gone for a second. The Hollow Lands The title of this volume comes from the poem "The Last Word" by Ernest Dowson. Reunited at the end of Time, Jherek and the other inhabitants of the End of Time have returned to their preferred amusements of parties and games. They are interrupted by a ship of alien musician/pirates, the Lat. Hunted by the Lat, Jherek stumbles into a subterranean school built centuries ago to protect the last children of that era from the tyrant director Pecking Pa the Eighth (a reference to Sam Peckinpah). The time in the school is constantly recycled by a robot nanny so old she has started to break down, and as a result is recycling the same week repeatedly. The teacher-robot mistakes Jherek for one of her children as she has forgotten that there is anything outside her school, and keeps him. When she realises her mistake, she agrees to send him back to 1896; her ability to recycle time means that she can function as a time machine. Returned to the 19th century, Jherek heads for Bromley, where Mrs Amelia Underwood lives. On the way, Jherek meets H.G. Wells and explains that he is a time traveller, but is met only with Wells's ironic disbelief. Jherek is finally reunited with Mrs Underwood but also forced to confront her husband Mr Underwood. Mr. Underwood is so suspicious of their story that a reluctant Mrs Underwood runs away with Jherek. Chased by the police, the two are rescued by a journalist, Mr Jackson who, like Judge Jagger, bears a strong resemblance to Lord Jagged. The police catch up with the fleeing couple, but are interrupted in their attempted arrest by the appearance of the Lat, the Iron Orchid and a number of other residents of the End of Time. Chaos ensues as the police and the Lat start fighting, and the fabric of time itself begins disintegrating. The time travellers start vanishing, and Jackson, who finally reveals himself to be Lord Jagged (also Judge Jagger), takes Jherek and Mrs Underwood to a time machine that will take them to the End of Time. The machine appears to malfunction; instead of delivering them to the End of Time, it maroons them in what appears to be the Lower Devonian period. The End of All Songs The title of this volume comes from the poem "Dregs" by Ernest Dowson. Jherek and Mrs Amelia Underwood, after spending some time alone in the Devonian, meet Una Persson and Captain Oswald Bastable, who introduce themselves as members of the Guild of Temporal Adventurers. They explain the notion of the multiverse as the combination of all simultaneously existing realities before sending Jherek and Amelia back to the End of Time. There, Jherek finds all his friends who had vanished from 1896 alive and well, except for Lord Jagged who has yet to return. Amelia is now more tolerant towards the people of the End of Time, though still occasionally revolted by their lack of morals. She and Jherek resume the life they led in An Alien Heat, which is interrupted by the sudden arrival of a shell shocked, crazed Mr Underwood, Inspector Springer and a dozen policemen, and the Lat. Jherek, the Duke of Queens, the policemen, Amelia and Mr Underwood seek refuge from the Lat in one of the Lost Cities, which hold the energy used by the people of the End of Time to alter matter through their rings, and are surprised to find it crumbling, and the sun gone. They are joined by Yusharisp and the end-of-time resident Lord Mongrove, a manic-depressive giant who explains that the apocalypse has begun, and that they are the sole survivors. The group realises with horror that their energy rings are no longer working. In light of their impending doom, Amelia finally admits that her love for Jherek is more important to her than morals or convention. The Iron Orchid and Lord Jagged, by now assumed to be dead, appear. Lord Jagged reveals himself to be Jherek's father, and a time traveller from the 21st century. After learning of the Earth's impending destruction, he sought to preserve humanity by sending a "new Adam and Eve" to the beginning of time, thus creating a loop that would prevent humanity from spending thousands of years relearning the basics of civilisation. For genetic reasons, he chose Jherek and Amelia and orchestrated their meeting. Amelia and Jherek's marooning in the Devonian was not part of the plan; they did not, in fact, travel back in time, but too far into the future, past the end of the world in which they were currently residing. Upon realising this, Jagged understood that time is circular, not linear as was previously assumed, and devised a new plan. While his friends are devastated, he shows unwavering optimism and surprises everyone by creating a new sun with his energy ring. He proceeds to explain that energy can be drawn from any existing reality within the multiverse; this, combined with the technology that "recycled" time in the underground school, can be used to sustain the Earth forever. Now reassured that the Earth is safe in a time loop and provided with a new source of energy, the End of Timers resurrect their friends who died in the aborted apocalypse, and rebuild their world. Amelia, now comfortable at the End of Time, becomes popular. During a visit to Mr Underwood in the Lost City, she is faced with his conviction that she is damned when she tells him of her belief that God is dead. While she struggles with her conscience and her newfound atheism, her husband travels back to the 19th century and she decides to marry Jherek. When Lord Jagged offers to send both her and Jherek into the future, out of the time loop and after the end of the world to start a new civilisation, they accept.