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Coy Amis

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Mark O’Connell has written quite a funny piece for The Millions on Martin Amis’s out-of-print classic Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines, a book that Amis has done his best to disown. ‘I recently discovered a copy in the library of the university where I work,’ O’Connell writes, ‘and I don’t think the librarian knew quite what to make of my obvious excitement at this coup.’ Tom Shippey reviewed Invasion of the Space Invaders in the LRB when it came out in 1982:

This is a coy, coy book. It is funny, though, and what’s more there is in the middle of it a really useful account of how these games differ from each other and how you can learn to win. The appeal of PacMan is brilliantly conveyed in the vignettes of great loutish bruisers reduced to ‘helpless giggling nursery-talk. “’Ere, look, that red bugger’s munchin’ after you… Hoo-hoo-hah-hoo! Whoops – he nearly got you then. Cheeky.”’ Dead right, Mr Amis. Considered soberly, PacMan ought to create much the same amusement as Defender or Missile Command. What’s the odds if it’s Munchers chasing Lemons, or Mutants and Swarmers v. Defenders and Humanoids? But the difference is there. In all the Munchman variants the combination of childish bizarrerie with extreme complexity has a strangely crumbling effect – it’s farce instead of primary epic.

Comments on “Coy Amis”

  1. alex says:

    Nice piece, thanks for the signal. There’s a copy at the university where I work, too. Can’t remember if it was Amis himself or a critic who described him as having a stylistic prowess out of proportion to his emotional development: but this subject seems commensurate to his talents, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

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