The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"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 surface, with most of the action focused on this poor kid who's about to get his balls chopped off for the sake of his beautiful singing voice, but right below this is a bunch of straight homages to alternate histories and even a direct love letter to PKD's The Man in the High Castle, only taking the switch back WAY in the past, keeping science a dirty word and the Holy Roman Church in high supremacy.
Pretty cool, right? Well, yeah, I guess it would be based on just this description, but it really just feels like a "Poor me, I'm about to get snip-snipped, all the adults around me are acting REALLY strange, and now I'm getting asked questions like 'Do I play with myself and have you ever wondered what it would be like to do that with a girl?'"
Ahem. This is such a penis-oriented 70's novel. Like, totally. But it's really focused not on the bright side of parading about with a boner, but rather, the fear of losing that big "B" forever. Alas.
And it only gets really funny by the end of the novel with the global implications.
Too bad we didn't get a bit more of that earlier on, right? Alas.
Still, it's a pretty cool book on the straight traditional fiction front, with a lot of characters and grounded explorations, but the SF portion is still kinda light. That's my main complaint. Oh, plus, all the little crazy strangenesses that have crept into Political Christianity over the last six hundred years. :)
I don't know if I'd really recommend this for anyone except fans of The Man in the High Castle and people who like weird major twists in Catholicism.
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