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View Full Version : Just wondering: What do you think of Piers Anthony?



smsarber
03-18-2007, 09:17 AM
Anyone who has read my story in non-fiction in SYW knows I have spent time in county jail and prison. Our county jail library was a collection of donated books, many Louis L'Amour's, and other good ones, and a lot of Piers Anthony. His stuff is so weird I probably wouldn't have read it if not for all the spare time I had. But it is really funny, and the character, plant, creature, place names he comes up with...Wow! So let me hear some opinions. I teem with curiosity.

Zoombie
03-18-2007, 09:54 AM
The first Piers Anthony book I read was a Spell for Chameleon. I feel in love with the Xanth series from then on, right up until The Color of Her Panties...by that point the Xanth series had gotten a bit funny in the head. Like...stupid funny. So I stopped reading him.

But Piers Anthony is still one of my favored authors. Just cause Xanth has gone all boogidy doesn't make the first 13 books or so any worse. Oh and his Juxtaposition trilogy was another really good one. So yeah, I like Piers Anthony.

benbradley
03-18-2007, 05:34 PM
Anyone who has read my story in non-fiction in SYW knows I have spent time in county jail and prison. Our county jail library was a collection of donated books, many Louis L'Amour's, and other good ones, and a lot of Piers Anthony. His stuff is so weird I probably wouldn't have read it if not for all the spare time I had. But it is really funny, and the character, plant, creature, place names he comes up with...Wow! So let me hear some opinions. I teem with curiosity.

Saying the name Piers Anthony covers a good bit of ground, though most people think of his Xanth series. He wrote one good SF novel a while back, Macroscope, then apparently discovered that fantasy sells bettter. I did read the first four Xanth books, but it seems his target audience for that stuff is much younger than me. The first two or three "Incarnations of Immortality" held my interest. There was one set in an Islamic country titled "Hasan."

wyntermoon
03-18-2007, 05:40 PM
I loved the early Xanth series as a teenager and the Incarnations of Immortality are still first-rate. I sort of grew out of his writing style as an adult, however.

Ashtal
03-18-2007, 07:33 PM
Same here: I read the first few Xanth books, and then switched over to his Incarnations of Immortality books ... which I loved.

I remember hurting my brain with Bio of a Space Tyrant, but I believe I was too young when I picked it up (like, 10!) .

veinglory
03-18-2007, 08:25 PM
His fiction never really did anything for me, but I respect him immensely as a professional and a writer interested in epublishing.

Sage
03-18-2007, 08:33 PM
I read one of his Xanth books & really enjoyed it, but I'm not certain I could handle the overuse of puns if I read many more of them. I bet I really would have liked them when I was younger though.

Cathy C
03-18-2007, 09:23 PM
I loved the Incarnations series. I still have them and read them from time to time. The Xanth series really didn't do it for me. I felt like I was reading Douglas Adams. Guess I like a littler darker stuff.

preyer
03-18-2007, 09:31 PM
i read him a lot up til about tenth grade, then, i dunno, i think i got burned-out. i'd read a few of his non-zanth books, and i remember them as being good, but i lost interest and haven't read him in many, many, many years. i respect his work, eventhough i'm not into it anymore. but, jeez, talk about a guy who's milked an idea, lol.

i guess it's rather a dream of fantasy writers in particular (and probably mystery/suspense/crime writers) to be able to carry on in a series indefinitely. it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we all didn't dream of being able to write about our own universe, collecting paycheck after paycheck, up til the point where we got bored with it. i know there are potential series in some of the things i've put down (by that i don't mean to sound pretentious ~ any series depends on its popularity ~ just that the idea itself *could* go on nearly forever), but that wouldn't be something i had as a goal. sure, it might pay the bills, it's just something i don't think i'd find satisfying for 20 plus years. so kudos to anyone who can keep their interest level up for that long. i don't ever want to be a one-trick pony, either.

oh, yeah, piers anthony. you could do worse, much, much worse. (and a prison that didnt have LL in it ain't no prison i'd want to be in.)

smsarber
03-18-2007, 10:44 PM
I read one of his Xanth books & really enjoyed it, but I'm not certain I could handle the overuse of puns if I read many more of them. I bet I really would have liked them when I was younger though.

I concur. After my firt stint in hell, I came home and tried to explain to my wife what his xanth was all about. But how do you explain blueberry-pie bushes?

Does anyone know the name of the book with a guy who travels back and forth thru time, plays a game in the future, has a robot lover, etc...

All really good posts, thank you. I agree his stuff was better for YA. Which was part of my curiosity: Why would they have about 25 of his books in a jail? ( The obvious answer is "donations", but it's a rhetorical Q anyway.)

AnnieColleen
03-18-2007, 10:49 PM
That's the Apprentice Adept series, I think. Not back and forth through time, but between two parallel worlds, one with science & one with magic. I really liked the Game, would've liked to see more of it.

I do like the earlier Xanth books (I love puns!), but once it got to the point of refusing to kill off the original main characters ("Main characters don't die, they just fade out gracefully" -- only they didn't), I quit reading. I don't really care for his darker stuff.

I also liked Prostho Plus and Mercycle, but nobody much seems to know about them.

Jamesaritchie
03-19-2007, 03:04 AM
A not very good writer with a great imagination. I enjoyed his Xanth novels when very young, but I find I can't get through two pages of one now. They just aren't written at all well, and one I got past the imagination, there was nothing left to hold me. Not a stylist by any stretch.

He talks about being blackballed, and complains that publishers only want his Xanth novels, but, honestly, as an editor, I wouldn't buy anything he's written, including his later Xanth novels.

JBI
03-19-2007, 03:14 AM
I don't particularly care for this author. His writing, in my opinion, is nothing special, and I have no time for mediocre books.

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 09:34 AM
I am....more or less in James' camp. I interviewed him at length through e-mail for the second issue of BBT and was very impressed that he responded as quickly as he did (I sent ten questions; an hour later, I had lengthy answers).

But the more reading I did and the more discussing we did of his views on the publishing industry, the more iffy I got. Now, I'm entirely unsure, but I don't know that I like him. I debated it at length after the interview.

It bothered me enough, the discussion of publishing, that I added a note to the interview at the very last minute, reminding authors that e-publishing and POD publishing are useful things in their own rights (though I don't know if I view them quite as the godsends he does) but they must please, PLEASE be careful when considering POD or e-publishers.

I have quite a lot of his books around the house. I confess, I can't get through all of them with ease. I enjoyed his Bio of a Space Tyrant, and I read my way through Letters to Jenny.

This is a reference I'm hesitant to clarify on, but in quite a lot of ways, Piers Anthony falls into the same category, as a person, as Robert Crumb...

rugcat
03-19-2007, 07:49 PM
This is a reference I'm hesitant to clarify on, but in quite a lot of ways, Piers Anthony falls into the same category, as a person, as Robert Crumb...Except that Rober Crumb is, as an artist, an unqualified genius

I liked Anthony's pre Xanth work a lot. Does anybody remember his trilogy Battle Circle? (Sos The Rope, etc). JAR has it right--not a particularly good writer, certainly not a stylist, but with an astounding imagination (He's written what, 100 books?) Maybe that's why he appealed to many of us when we were younger, but eventually we stopped reading him.

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 07:51 PM
That's why I clarified "as a person," rather than "as an artist."

smsarber
03-20-2007, 08:37 AM
So, how about them Cardinals?
I guess the underlying question to my Piers question is this: How does a marginally insane man create and sell what could accurately be described as babble, and I toil to get started in this biz? Maybe I should write a line of fiction predestined for jails. Louis L'Amour meets Piers Anthony-
complete with cotton-candy tumbleweeds and chocolate horses.

JDCrayne
03-20-2007, 10:03 AM
I loved "Macroscope," and was amused by the first couple of Xanth books. (The latter books in the Xanth series lack good structure; not having any real ending.) I thought that Incarnations of Immortality was too mainstream, since the fantasy elements only come in about 3/4 of the way through each book. He's a good writer though, and handles his material well.

weatherfield
03-20-2007, 06:51 PM
I read Castle Roogna when I was eight and really liked it. But I was eight. Over the next couple years, I read a number of other Xanth novels, most of them from that same early/middle time period. I liked Crewel Lye the best, because that was the kind of cynical-whimsical kid I was. I stopped reading them when I was about twelve, though. Even though they're ostensibly aimed at adults, I've met far more people who read the books as kids and then stopped at certain point. My dad is a big fan of William Gibson, Roger Zelazny, and Philip K. Dick, so he thought I was crazy and kept trying to get me to read books of "higher quality" (ideally Gibson, Zelazny, Dick ;)). Eventually I just got old enough to really appreciate those kinds of authors, and my enthusiasm for puns and ridiculous, fluffy plots waned. I still think back with nostalgia on certain Xanth moments, particularly some of the scenes in Castle Roogna, but I don't really have any interest in reading Anthony anymore. I think that if you're not eight, the stories can be fun, but the joke gets old pretty fast.

Tirjasdyn
03-20-2007, 08:50 PM
Interestingly enough his publishing difficulties are chronicled with detail in his Author Notes.

I really like him, both as an author and as a person.

He fully admits that his Xanth novels are written in a month and that they exist to keep steady income flowing. His other recent post-Xanth novels are published all over the spectrum, including epublished or pod.

I really liked Reality Check. Of his earlier novels my fav was probably Orn.

Axler
03-21-2007, 04:15 AM
I was quite a fan of his when I was younger...

Then I was on a panel with him at a convention.

After that...not so much of a fan. Haven't read anything by him since.

veinglory
03-21-2007, 04:47 AM
Given that Piers Anthony runs a whole website to warn people about poor epublishers and learn about good ones I think he knows of the pitfalls. He is also the *only* epublished author I know who posts his exact sales figures even when they are terrible.

I also think it may be a little harsh to call his writing mediocre. I found his books to be entirely readable, my sense of humor just didn't mesh with his. Many of my friends can quote his books at length so they obviously have something very engaging for a lot of people.

Tallymark
03-21-2007, 07:14 AM
Y'know, as a kid I really enjoyed his books, and overall, I still do. ^_^ I know it's not high-class writing, but it's entertaining and fun and light, and y'know, sometimes that's all that I'm looking for. I don't like all of his books; some hit me as duds right off the bat. This has been true for a lot of the newer ones. But there's some old favorites that I'm perfectly happy reading over and over for some cute, mindless fun.

The problem I have had more and more with some of his more recent novels is that, while I like a good dose of puns, they have become so thick that they are choking up the novel. It's like he feels he needs to include every pun that readers send to him, which is a kinda fun thing, but has just gotten way out of control. You can tell where he's had to come up with story-mechanisms to be able to insert more puns, and it just becomes such a sidetrack from the story that it gets tedious. After the third straight page of puns, I just want to get back to what the character was doing, dangit.

But, overall, there's just some sort of indescribable appeal that they have for me. They're fun. What else can I say?

smsarber
03-21-2007, 08:05 AM
Given that Piers Anthony runs a whole website to warn people about poor epublishers and learn about good ones I think he knows of the pitfalls. He is also the *only* epublished author I know who posts his exact sales figures even when they are terrible.

I also think it may be a little harsh to call his writing mediocre. I found his books to be entirely readable, my sense of humor just didn't mesh with his. Many of my friends can quote his books at length so they obviously have something very engaging for a lot of people.

Yes, I could never say the man is not a stand up individual. I checked out his site once and asked a question, and he answered himself. Maybe someone onthese boards knows the answer (he did not): Why is the word dumpster captalized in books? To my knowledge it is not a proper noun, and not the trademark name.
As far as his puns, in the author's note inone it said that he recieves suggestions by the millions. But I can't remember if he said he uses any of the submissions.

Higgins
03-21-2007, 08:05 AM
Interestingly enough his publishing difficulties are chronicled with detail in his Author Notes.

I really like him, both as an author and as a person.

He fully admits that his Xanth novels are written in a month and that they exist to keep steady income flowing. His other recent post-Xanth novels are published all over the spectrum, including epublished or pod.

I really liked Reality Check. Of his earlier novels my fav was probably Orn.

Orn was good. There was time travel and some neat paleontology as I remember it. The first half of Macroscope is a Sci Fi masterpiece.

The destroyer sequence in Macroscope was a great idea. In fact Macroscope was full of great ideas.

smsarber
03-21-2007, 08:08 AM
I don't particularly care for this author. His writing, in my opinion, is nothing special, and I have no time for mediocre books.
But you had time to read this thread, and post on it??

rugcat
03-21-2007, 08:31 AM
Why is the word dumpster captalized in books? To my knowledge it is not a proper noun, and not the trademark name.I believe it originally was a trademark name that became so ubiquitous that in time it became a generic name for large waste containers, much like Kleenex did for tissues, or Band-Aid for, well, band-aids.

My-Immortal
03-21-2007, 08:28 PM
I liked his Incarnation of Immortality series. I've read a few other books written by him - can't recall the titles/series part fantasy/part scifi. They were interesting. I don't really follow his works or read them often - but the books I did read were entertaining so IMO they served their purpose. I don't know anything about the man personally so I see no reason to comment on that.

Take care all -

Summonere
03-22-2007, 06:15 AM
Read Piers Anthony a lot when I was in middle-school, and almost up to my high-school years. Read his Xanth books and his Incarnations of Immortality and his Bio of a Space Tyrant ones, too. Enjoyed his Incarnations of Immortality a lot, his early Xanth books well enough, later ones not so well, and his Bio of a Space Tyrant ones ... well, the first seemed okay, but the others seemed a drag.

Don’t remember much about those books now, nor even how I might react to them these days, but someone who’s cranked out so many books and made a living doing it has surely been doing something right.

I simply moved on as a reader. Seemed I had a good idea of what a PA book would offer and so wanted other things.

Glen T. Brock
03-24-2007, 10:35 AM
Hello folks,

I reviewed his first novel, CHTHON (pronounced Thon btw) which led to a short correspondence and later some basic (very basic)research for MACROSCOPE (that's where my name first appeared in print--in the acknowledgements). Over the years I lost track of him as he strayed away from Campbell's style of writting in Analog. He did a great story for the great John W. about an ET with a tooth ache being treated by a dentist on Earth. What really made the story work well was the idea of tooth imprints being used for communication, making a chipped tooth a big problem.

His writting tended more toward fantasy and literary fiction. My tastes in reading tend toward Larry Niven and Hal Clement so I read less and less of Piers as the years went by. Still, I've always considered him an accomplished writer.

Glen T. Brock

Dave.C.Robinson
03-26-2007, 06:12 AM
I liked the afterwords in a lot of his novels, but found his series became much too long for his ideas. On the whole I liked his SF better than his fantasy but I wouldn't really count him a favorite.

xanthalanari
04-02-2007, 01:28 AM
I was really into the Incarnations series when I was a teenager - the time one being my absolute favourite - but I never seemed to manage to get into his other stuff. Then I went away to uni and the books got left behind. By the time I was reunited with them my tastes had moved away from PA, and so they got traded in at the second-hand bookshop.