Born in Clapham, South London, educated in London and Oxford where he read English in 1941, Amis served with the Royal Corps of Signals during World War II. He became a writer after the war and published his first successful book, Lucky Jim in 1954. Amis was a lecturer at the Univerisity of Swansea, Princton and Cambridge. Married and divorced twice, he had three children and received a knighthood in 1990. He died in 1995, after suffering a stroke.
A mainstream novelist whose teaching and literary work won exceptional praise throughout his life, was only periphrelly active in the SF genre. In 1960, Amis wrote New Maps of Hell in which he critically surveyed the SF genre. A well known conversation with Brian Aldiss and C.S.Lewis concerning science fiction took place in 1962. Like Aldiss, Amis was interested in addressing SF as a literary and academic pursuit and not just an exercise in mass pulp writing and publication.
The work in which he acheived fame and a Campbell award in the SF genre was the novel The Alteration, which postulates an alternate history/dystopia in which the Protestant Reformation never occurred in Europe and where Henry VIII never ascended the throne of England. The novel exercises the notion of a theocratically dominated England and Europe and its repressive features. It postulates a 'What If' scenario regarding the Protestant Reformation.
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