Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Acclaimed British novelist Martin Amis has passed away at the age of 73, we're sad to report.

Best known for the novels Money, London Fields and The Information, Amis penned 14 novels during his celebrated career and was widely considered to be one of the most talented writers of his generation.

As well as his works of fiction, Amis also wrote several non-fiction books, including 1982's Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines – a tome about the then-burgeoning arcade gaming scene, to which director Steven Spielberg penned the forward. It was notable for being one of the first 'serious' books to examine the impact of coin-op gaming and was a fascinating mix of essays, reviews, photography and tips.

Gaming was still seen as a trend or fad that might vanish overnight as quickly as it arrived, so it's easy to see why Amis was attracted to the idea of writing about it. When quizzed on why he would choose to write a book on the topic, Amis replied that he had needed to find a means to get paid for the time he had spent playing video games (thanks, Simon Parkin).

Not long after its publication, Amis seemed to pretend the book didn't exist. Critic Nicholas Lezard says he once told Amis that Invasion of the Space Invaders was one of the best things he had ever written. "The expression on his face, with perhaps more pity in it than contempt, remains with me uncomfortably," Lezard recalls.

Amis was happy to allow the book to fall out of print for years, a fact which drove up its value on the secondary market – thankfully, it was finally republished in 2018 by Johnathan Cape. He can hardly be blamed for failing to predict the enduring appeal of Donkey Kong, but it's a shame he was so dismissive of a piece of his work which brought a lot of people joy.

Amis died of oesophageal cancer at his Florida home, the New York Times has reported.

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