The Alteration

Amis, Kingsley

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Alteration
"In Kingsley Amis's virtuoso foray into alternate history, it is 1976 but the modern world is a medieval relic, frozen in intellectual and spiritual time ever since Martin Luther was promoted to pope back in the sixteenth century. Stephen the Third, the king of England, has just died, and Mass (Mozart's second requiem) is about to be sung to lay him to rest. In the choir is our hero, Hubert Anvil, an extremely ordinary ten-year-old boy with a faultless voice. In the audience is a select group of experts whose job is to determine whether that faultless voice should be preserved by performing a certain operation. After all, any sacrifice is worth it for the perfection of art. How Hubert realizes what lies in store for him and how he deals with the whirlpool of piety, menace, terror, and passion that he soon finds himself in are the subject of a classic piece of counterfactual fiction to equal Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. The Alteration won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel in 1976"-- Provided by publisher.

Publisher: New York :, New York Review Books,, [2013]
ISBN: 1590176170
Branch Call Number: FICTION AMIS 2013
Characteristics: x, 231 pages ;,21 cm


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Jun 25, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"One of the best--possibly the best-alternate-worlds novels in existence."-Philip K. Dick
If you started, as many readers do, with Kingsley Amis's great campus novel "Lucky Jim," you may be frustrated by trying to find another one of his many novels that is at good. He did not age gracefully; his wit curdled, his prejudices became hardened, his sardonic humor turned to crankiness. That's not to say he didn't write some other good books and this, which dabbles in "virtual history," is one of his more interesting efforts. He imagines a world in which Martin Luther, rather than starting the Reformation, became Pope and founded a theocracy. It has enormous promise as an idea and Amis doesn't quite deliver. There are several references to P.K. Dick's counterfactual novel "The Man in the High Castle." You might also like "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Green Man," "Hello America," "Hocus Pocus," and "The Plot Against America." Introduction by William Gibson. Origin of the phrase "Sh**'s about to get altered!"


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