An Alien Heat

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An Alien Heat is the first novel in The Dancers at the End of Time trilogy by Michael Moorcock featuring Jherek Carnelian. It is followed by The Hollow Lands. It was originally published in the United Kingdom by MacGibbon & Kee.

The universe is dying; at the End of Time the last remnants of Humanity live amoral lives of decadence, constantly seeking new diversions and sensations. So when Mrs Amelia Underwood is mysteriously transported to the End of Time Jharek Carnelian decides to fall in love with her, but when Amelia returns to her own period of history, Jherek follows her and finds himself plunged into the strange world of Victorian London.

Publishing History (UK)

  • Hardcover, MacGibbon & Kee, 158pp., ISBN: ISBN:0-261-10015-7, 16 Oct 1972
  • Mass Market Paperback, Mayflower, 160pp., ISBN: 0-583-12106-3, 13 June 1974, Cover by Bob Haberfield
  • Mass Market Paperback, Granada, 160pp., ISBN: 0-583-12106-3, 1982, Cover by Bob Haberfield
  • Mass Market Paperback, Grafton, 160pp., ISBN: 0-586-20812-7, 27 Jul 1989, Cover by Paul Damon

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Omnibus Publication

Publishing History (US)

  • Hardcover, Harper & Row, 158pp., ISBN: 0-06-013004-0, Feb 1973, Cover by Mark Rubin & Irving Freeman
  • Mass Market Paperback, Harrow Books, ISBN: 0-06-087059-1, 1973, Cover by Sue Greene
  • Mass Market Paperback, Avon Books, ISBN: 0-380-01749-0, 1977
  • Mass Market Paperback, Ace, 160pp., ISBN: 0-441-13660-5, Jul 1987, Cover by Robert Gould

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Omnibus Publication

Title

The title of An Alien Heat is taken from a poem by Theodore Wratislaw:

Hothouse Flowers
I hate the flower of wood or common field.
I cannot love the primrose nor regret
The death of any shrinking violet,
Nor even the cultured garden's banal yield.
The silver lips of lilies virginal,
The full deep bosom of the enchanted rose
Please less than flowers glass-hid from frost and snows
For whom an alien heat makes festival.
I love those flowers reared by man's careful art,
Of heady scents and colors: strong of heart
Or weak that die beneath the touch of knife,
Some rich as sin and some as virtue pale,
And some as subtly infamous and frail
As she whose love still eats my soul and life.

Synopsis

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 Carnelian is far more interested in Mrs Amelia Underwood, a time traveller from Victorian England, as he is fascinated by the 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.

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 Lord 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.

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