Mar 12, 2015

Michael Moorcock: Bisexual Decadence at the End of Time

Michael Moorcock was a leader in the British "new wave" of science fiction, confusing mishmashes of sci fi, fantasy, and James Joyce..  I liked the beefcake covers, and his name, appealing.  But the novels were impenetrable.

Except for the Dancers at the End of Time (1972-76), a series of novels set in the far, far, far, FAR distant future, when the few remaining humans have practically infinite power.  They can change the shape of the continents and the color of the sky,  instantly.  No one has been born or died for thousands of years; they can be killed, but their friends resurrect them again.

Beings with names like Lord Jagged, Werner de Goethe, the Duke of Queens, Mistress Christia the Everlasting Concubine, Lord Shark the Unknown, and the Iron Orchid spend their time in aesthetic revelry and partygoing.

Sounds like the Aesthete-Decadent Movement of the late 19th century, with power rings.

And substantial beefcake.

They can change their sizes and shapes in order to produce more aesthetically pleasing effects, and what could be more aesthetically pleasing than a gigantic lavender penis?

And the first hints of same-sex activity that I ever saw in print. 

1. Miss Amelia Underwood, a time traveler from the Victorian Era, is horrified when Jherek Carnelian nonchalantly admits to having sex with "a male friend'!

2. An alien named Yusharisp warns them that they have expended so much energy in their various schemes that the heat death of the universe is imminent.  Jherek Carnelian doesn't really believe him, but thinks it would be a lark to accompany him through the universe, warning people.

Yusharisp comes to believe that Jherek is in love with him!

Turns out that Michael Moorcock often included gay-vague or bisexual-vague characters in his novels, although he never actually portrayed any same-sex relationships.

That's a lot more gay content than most science fiction of the 1970s.  Actually, it's a lot more gay content than most science fiction today.

See also: Xanth; Samuel Delaney.