Friday, 19 June 2015

Hokas And The End Of Time

Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time are immortal decadents who can create whatever they want with energy stored by their ancestors millions of years previously. Consequently, their time is spent neither working nor learning but playing their chosen roles and, in this at least, they resemble Poul Anderson's and Gordon R Dickson's Hokas. Jherek Carnelian does not find himself falling exclusively in love with a woman who has been brought from the nineteenth century but decides to do so and is then applauded by his contemporaries for original thinking.

When Jherek has returned from a visit to the nineteenth century, it takes him a while to appreciate that no one in Victorian London was playing a role. Each was what s/he seemed to be. Anyone who appeared to be old and poor really was old and poor. This would be difficult for an End of Timer to comprehend. Unlike the Hokas, they encounter no practical limitations to the roles in which they have immersed themselves. Instead, they create and inhabit artificial or illusory landscapes and therefore never encounter any contradictions requiring rationalization.

Thus, superior technology enables End of Timers to take Hoka-type role-playing to a higher level. I think that there remains considerable scope for this idea in sf and also that it can be used to comment on our condition which combines material necessities with enacted fictions and pretenses that can be mistaken for realities.

An even busier weekend looms ahead. I do not expect even to look at a computer any time tomorrow.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The most extreme devotees of role playing games would seem to be one real world example of people coming close to behaving like Moorcock's End of Timers. And those who have not gone that far would be more like the Hokas.