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The Alteration

The Alteration By Kingsley Amis The Alteration In Kingsley Amis s virtuoso foray into virtual history it is but the modern world is a medieval relic frozen in intellectual and spiritual time ever since Martin Luther was promoted to pope back

  • Title: The Alteration
  • Author: Kingsley Amis
  • ISBN: 9780881844320
  • Page: 322
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Alteration By Kingsley Amis In Kingsley Amis s virtuoso foray into virtual 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 ouIn Kingsley Amis s virtuoso foray into virtual 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 Art, after all, is worth any sacrifice.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 equal to 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.
    The Alteration By Kingsley Amis

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    One thought on “The Alteration

    1. Glenn Russell on said:

      The Alteration Surely one of the most imaginative and oddest novels I ve ever read, a striking cross between, believe it or not, Anthony Trollope and Philip K Dick, as if Kingsley Amis wrote his novel on the weekends after sipping tea and chatting with Mr Septimus Harding from Trollope s The Warden on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and enjoying the time bending hallucinogenic drug Chew Z from Philip K Dick s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch on Tuesday and Thursday Sound incredible It is incre [...]

    2. Scott on said:

      Nuts Cojones Balls Balls, Balls, Balls If you re going to read The Alteration, get used to thinking about testicles Amis could just as easily have titled this book Never Mind the Bollocks or, most aptly considering the main drama of the narrative, A Farewell to Balls.For make no mistake, this is the story of a young man and his dearly loved, but direly threatened gonads.You may not think a book about the fate of a set of pre pubescent nuts is your bag, but I d wager you d be wrong Amis story is [...]

    3. Tony on said:

      I pick up Kingsley Amis with some trepidation, fearing misogyny than the recommended daily allowance But this was different No alcoholic, adulterous husbands here.This is, well Philip K Dick calls this an alternate worlds novel And he should know, as he s in the novel, or at least his novel The Man in the High Castle is in this novel Not quite science fiction It s a world where Sartre is a Jesuit priest, and Beethoven wrote twenty symphonies, and the most impressive battleship is the Edgar Alla [...]

    4. Bradley on said:

      Off With His Balls Or maybe, another alternate title, What PKD would have written if he was mired in Lutherism and he wanted to write something to counteract the hedonistic oddity that was Gravity s Rainbow Seriously, this is what Philip K Dick would have written if he was focused on Popes and the total emasculation of humanity And rather than Pynchon s Gravity s Rainbow, we ve got a ton of snipping or at least talk of snipping going on Let me talk about the world building It s all way below the [...]

    5. 4triplezed on said:

      Very good Very clever use of historical figures and cultural references Those historical and cultural nods do make it a very cynical book This novel is an attack on organised religion, in this case the Roman Catholic Church Science is frowned upon and even suppressed in some cases Even the enlightened practise apartheid and are ethnocentric.I have been thinking about this book and Pavane by Keith Roberts Amiss gives a nod to Pavane in this book as one of the many cultural references The similari [...]

    6. Luke G on said:

      Before this I had only read a little of Lucky Jim, and Kingsley Amis seemed a little too macho and mean spirited a writer for me This book has that feel too, but it is still pretty good This is an alternate history narrative, like Philip Roth s The Plot Against America Events take place in a social conservative s wet dream version of England, circa 1970 almost every instance of technological or social progress starting with the renaissance has failed to happen The Vatican still rules the western [...]

    7. Nicholas During on said:

      Kingsley Amis does sci fi well If you re willing to call this sci fi, which I m sure many aren t But whether you want to call it genre or not, Amis gets into the mood with this book and does what sci fi, or speculative fiction, is meant imagines a world very different from own In this one the Reformation never happened Luther became pope England stayed Catholic And the world is therefore a much backward place Science is a dirty word and the rituals and power of the Romish Church are omnipresent [...]

    8. Erik Graff on said:

      This alternate history novel was given me as a birthday gift Well chosen it was It is cited by Philip K Dick as possibly the best of the genre and introduced in this edition by William Gibson both of whom appear, indirectly, within it Dick, I d imagine, liked its context, that being of a contemporary western world dominated by a reactionary and repressive Roman Catholic Church Gibson praises it, exaggerating a bit, as representative of steampunk literature I note it as being erudite, subtle and [...]

    9. Keith on said:

      What an incredibly ingenious noveld what an incredible story This book is a good lesson in not being swayed by genera classification, or any classification for that matter, when deciding what to read Although listed as alternative history or generally as science fiction, it could be either or neither as it works so well on so many levels The creation of an alternate present day reality, complete with familiar yet transformed, language, culture and customs works elegantly and the subtlety of mod [...]

    10. Fred on said:

      Another quick review This is a very fun novel, but one that took me three or four tries to get into Once I did, I read the whole thing in about three days The beginning is very dense the central idea takes some time to manifest itself, and in the meantime the reader is left puzzling over what the hell is going on A melange of highbrow culture is referenced and re figured in the alternate world Amis has created, and it takes some time to work through it At least one course in Art History or Archi [...]

    11. Sue Davis on said:

      Fantastic Why no African slavery in the southern part of North America Without the reformation, many fewer settlers, thus less need for labor Note the names of the priests in the second to the last part of the book Maserati designed car for Mussolini , Satterthwaite mathematician, theorem for determining statistical significance, inferences, and Berlinguer leader of Italian communist party in the other world of the novel, the three discussed with the pope various ways to solve population problem [...]

    12. Nazim on said:

      A young boy Hubert has got a very brilliant voice His father, mother and brothers are very proud of him Certainly they wish cloudless future for him An Abbot in one of the churches in England heard him singing many times His voice captivated him He thought up a nice plan And here who said that radical religious monks are complete illogical folks So the Abbot proposed a deal to the Hubert s family.Hubert was to be altered to serve for the will of God as a singer in the Abbot s church What s the a [...]

    13. Justinbwood on said:

      Fascinating book The Alteration is a treasure simply for the wonderful uniqueness of its premise a 1970s dystopia controlled by a Catholic church that never experienced the Reformation and Protestantism It s a singularly fascinating riff on Philip K Dick s Man in the High Castle, and written with a quality that makes me wonder if it is a taunt than an homage, a flamboyant gesture seemingly saying that s all you did with the idea I m sure Amis intended it as a clever homage, directly referencing [...]

    14. Fábio Fernandes on said:

      I can t believe I never heard of this book before I always liked Kingsley Amis novels, but apparently I hadn t read too many of them Early this week I found it in a bookstore here in S o Paulo and I was amazed by the synopsis and by the William Gibson introduction you can t go wrong with such a recommendation So I bought it, naturally.I read it in three days and that s because I had work to do, alas The Alteration is Alternate History of the best kind Imagine PK Dick s The Man in the High Castle [...]

    15. Bethany on said:

      Kingsley Amis s clever alternative fiction novel, The Alteration is equal parts disturbing and engaging The world of the novel is one in which the reformation never took place and in which the church and the state remained closely intertwined and corrupt Amis s deft and creative imagining of such a world is offset by his signature dark satire and the overall pessimistic tone out of which the characters of the novel are unable and indeed ultimately unwilling to escape The story centers around Hub [...]

    16. Robert on said:

      One of the most clever alternative history novels or CW, as it s referred to in the book that I ve had the pleasure of reading On one hand, you have the puzzle of figuring out exactly what happened to turn the world into a repressive, anti science theocracy On the other hand, you have a compelling account of a young boy s struggle to understand the importance of sex and love in the face of losing out on those experiences forever In other words, Amis combines the grandiose sweep of history with t [...]

    17. Miruna Caragheorgheopol on said:

      Out of my five book set I assembled to start a foray into the realm of alternate history thanks to certain dystopic world circumstances , The Alteration was the first As good an introduction to a new literary genre I wanted to explore as any, it also left me wanting to read The premise to alternate history is that a certain historical event took place or was somehow changed In this case, the Reformation never took place, Martin Luther became a pope and the UK in the 70s is a bright center of Ca [...]

    18. Shel on said:

      I originally rated this three stars when I finished it last night, because I did enjoy reading it and it went very quickly, but upon reflection am downgrading it to two stars because of the ending view spoiler First of all, I hated the contrived irony of Hubert finally managing to escape his fate only to get his testicles all twisted literally and need them removed anyway I guess I m glad that he did end up with a successful singing career, since he had to go through the procedure anyway, but it [...]

    19. Aaron Mcquiston on said:

      The Alteration is an alternative universe where the Reformation never happened, and the Catholic church still had as much influence over the world as it had before Even though Amis does not go too in depth with how this has changed the world, you get a good sense that there are things that never progressed due to the church So it is 1977 and still the superstitions and dogmas are in place in a way that cause the church to still be the ultimate authority Bring in Hubert Anvil, a ten year old with [...]

    20. David Schwan on said:

      I somewhat uneven novel The authors descriptive abilities are impeccable The plot was fine until the ending It felt like this was written under a deadline and that the author had grander plans for the book Late in the book we are introduced to a plot line that the Pope and his advisers are thinking about, that plot line was either filler or something that was to be bigger in scope The split between Europe and North America was interesting with Europe Roman Catholic and North America Protestant T [...]

    21. Chipgc on said:

      I recently reread this clever, amusing, and rather frightening attack on the Roman Catholic church and found it as good as I first had over 30 years ago The skill and thoroughness with which Amis imagines a world which had taken a different turning in the early 16th century is remarkable the events of the novel are highly plausible given the initial premises the characters are given surprising depth considering that the novel is short There is some good evocation of scenery, and some remarkably [...]

    22. Lee on said:

      Entertaining and engaging, a tale questioning the perspective of morals I very much enjoyed the idea of this book.My first KA book and was pleasantly surprised by the mordern , for want of a better term, feel of the book I ve read a few of Martins books, which appear to be an echo of this style, with quality to match.I will definitely be keeping my eye for other titles.

    23. Bill on said:

      This is an interesting piece of fiction in which the setting is Europe in 1976, bute reformation never happened The story is fairly unpredictable and the word pictures are vivid Worth reading.

    24. Rory on said:

      Alternative history where Martin Luther never kicked off the Protestant Reformation, so a Christian England is forcing a young boy to get castrated to preserve his singing voice.

    25. Artur Coelho on said:

      intrigante como Kingsley Amis consegue criar um ambiente de hist ria alternativa de uma forma insidiosamente subtil, quase sem recorrer ao cl ssico infodump Quando a meio de uma conversa entre personagens solta uma linha do g nero o vice rei do Brasil proclamou um dito quem se recorda minimamente da hist ria fica a saber que em 1960 o Brasil era uma col nia portuguesa Mas h melhor Casualmente lemos que his eye passed over St Lemuel s Travels and The Wind in the Cloisters, slowed down at a collec [...]

    26. Brad on said:

      James Gandolfini s arm is long beware the intrigues of the sociopath with power when they feel their authority is being bucked but they need to maintain the appearance of propriety and the moral high ground, they like to pretend they re in waste management The deception is almost worse than the reality Oh, but those Je chord suits do like their Alto Soprano songsters don t they Just ask The Who It may be speculative fiction but the new boss sure smells a lot like the old one It smells like the l [...]

    27. Ivy Bedworth on said:

      I was looking for some information on Henry VIII s son Henry Catherine of Aragon s son , when I came across this title Kingsley Amis s The Alteration is another interesting what if story It even has a reference to The Man in the High Tower as being a world where people in 1976 live in our alternative universe with vehicles that fly, etc This is the alternative universe of the Reformation not having happened, and Henry VIII not becoming king, therefore there was no break from the Church Martin Lu [...]

    28. The Idle Woman on said:

      I really didn t get on with Lucky Jim, the only Amis novel I d read so far, but just couldn t resist this piece of counterfactual fiction What if Henry VII s eldest son Arthur hadn t died and Henry VIII had never inherited, never married Katharine of Aragon and never needed to divorce her What if England had remained Catholic What if Martin Luther, rather than hammering theses on doors at Wittenberg, had been listened to, respected, and allowed to exercise his desire for reform as Pope And what [...]

    29. Craig Dickson on said:

      This was really good, an alternative history or as they d call it in the story, a Counterfeit World story set in the heart of the English Empire in 1976 Martin Luther didn t stay in Germany but instead went to Rome and became Pope, instituting some limited reforms As such the Reformation never happened and European and World history was entirely different.The upshot is that Britain is a brutal theocratic police state, electricity is shunned as devilish, and choirboys face some difficult situatio [...]

    30. Pep Bonet on said:

      That was a curious book to read I couldn t see why there was a need to set up a parallel world where Henry VIII was never a king and England, not Britain, remained catholic, just to tell a story about a castrato to be This kind of situations are always curious to read about, but one wonders what s the final aim of all this But the story works, because it s a very English one the Pope, who is an Englander by the way, is a bad guy and the Romanists are not much better Society is dominated by bigot [...]

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