Books by Piers Anthony

LUCK OF THE DRAW by Piers Anthony
Released: Dec. 24, 2012

"A fantasy that will mainly satisfy dedicated Xanth aficionados."
Anthony (Well-Tempered Clavicle, 2011, etc.) serves up the 36th entry in his pun-packed Xanth fantasy series. Read full book review >
CLIMATE OF CHANGE by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 2010

"For diehard fans only."
Anthony (Jumper Cable, 2009, etc.), best known for his popular Xanth fantasy novels, delivers the final volume in his historical-fiction Geodyssey series. Read full book review >
PET PEEVE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

"A patently silly tale: all in all, fun, humorous light fantasy."
Anthony returns for the 29th time to the perennial pot of gold known as the Xanth series. Read full book review >
SWELL FOOP by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Twenty-fifth gravitational sinkhole in Anthony's heroically unbalanced Xanth series, with Swell Foop just as dreadfully glum as Roc and a Hard Place, Harpy Thyme, and the stoic Faun and Games (1997), graveyard items all, girding us with Hamlet's "I do not set my life at a pun's fee." Unjustly accused of being an Ogre, Anthony kindly notes the ups and downs of self- publishing on the Internet for the 99 out of 100 writers who otherwise won't see print. As for Foop's cosmically demonic plot, the very flabber of the words leaves us poggled as pigs aghast on the roofs of barns. Read full book review >
HOW PRECIOUS WAS THAT WHILE by Piers Anthony
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"This unsparingly forthright second memoir should ruffle some feathers that badly need ruffling."
Sequel to the prolific fantasy writer's previous autobiography, Bio of an Ogre (not reviewed). Read full book review >
DoOoN MODE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: April 1, 2001

Fourth and—probably—final installment of Anthony's reality-hopping Mode series (Chaos Mode, 1994, etc.) combining alternate-world adventures with advice on hang-ups and personal growth. Here, our often troubled characters—neglected, young-teen rape victim Colene; sexy, magical free-spirit Nona; Darius the magic-powered king of a not-Earth; Seqiro the telepathic horse; Burgess the indescribable alien; and, this time, various Felines, Caprines, Ovines, etc.—must contend with Ddwng, the extremely powerful but similarly distressed emperor of the title's Mode. As previously, the adventure's the baggage, teenager self-help's the point of it all—and if any of it really does help, who are mere reviewers to cavil? Read full book review >
THE GUTBUCKET QUEST by Piers Anthony
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2000

The latest collaboration from Anthony and newcomer Leming, a Native American, differs sharply from the usual fantasy balderdash. Aging, broke bluesman Slim Chance gets zapped by an upward-striking lightning bolt and finds himself in a fantasy land called Tejas, where the evil T. Bone Pickens and his Vipers have stolen a magical blues guitar. Makes a change from the customary mellifluous witches, wicked wizards, enticing hybrids, and leering lechery: worth a try. Read full book review >
THE SECRET OF SPRING by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: March 6, 2000

Anthony's latest collaboration (after Dream a Little Dream, 1999, with Julie Brady, etc.) with one of his more persistent admirers features the standard combination of cute witches, evil wizards, lovable quasihumans, and jocularly lascivious romancing (puns and lovers) in a reasonably inventive, Anthonyfantasy setting where hero Herb, heroine Spring, and villain Zygote have lots of neat stuff to do. Read full book review >
MUSE OF ART by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1999

Addition to the Geodyssey series (Hope of Earth, 1997, etc.) wherein Anthony hopes to present the true essence of history, as opposed to boring old facts. He's not kidding: "when you start seeing novels like this one in the classroom along with the dry texts, you'll know that the schools are finally getting serious about teaching real history." Once again, he will explore, explain, relate, and admonish, from prehistory with Homo erectus through ancient Egypt, the Kelts, the Khmer and Napoleon to Stalingrad and World War Three, illustrating along the way such arts as drama, seduction, justice, and politics. Over to you. Read full book review >
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 12, 1999

Independent fantasy from the prolific Anthony (most recently, Zombie Lover, p. 1075) and newcomer/collaborator Brady. Trapped in an abusive relationship with her rape/violence-prone partner, Nola Rollins takes refuge inside her serial, lucid dreams, where she visits an elaborate dreamscape called Kafka. Complete with the usual fantasy trappings, Kafka does however lack cockroaches, castles, trials, and whatnot. Unknowingly, Nola is a Creator'she's actually dreamed certain aspects of Kafka into existence. But now evil creatures called Frens, led by their baneful wizard King Reility, have dammed the River of Thought (it's composed of human dreams: Kafka's inhabitants can't dream) with indestructible dreamstone, and all of Kafka will die. Only Creators can dissolve dreamstone. So Mich, son of King Erik, travels to Earth along with Esprit, a winged black unicorn (Nola's dreamed both Mich and Esprit) to obtain Nola's help. Once she accepts the fact of Mich and Esprit being real, Nola agrees to travel to Kafka and help remove the dam. After various adventures—things don't go entirely according to plan—they return to Earth to add Tina to their group: a down-and-out street kid, Tina has also Created part of Kafka. Once back in that land, they learn that King Erik has vanished and the situation is getting worse. All Nola has to do is believe in Kafka and disbelieve in the Frens and their dreamstone dam. Of course, what with the will-they won't-they Nola/Mich romance, it's not as easy as that, and various complications ensue. Conventional ideas given a breezy, well-rounded workout: standard fare for Anthony fans. Read full book review >
FOR LOVE OF EVIL by Piers Anthony
Released: Nov. 18, 1998

Sixth installment in Anthony's popular Incarnations of Immortality series: here, the motives behind Satan's vast and cunning plots in books one through five are revealed. Actually, Satan's not such a bad chap, as we soon learn. He begins life as Parry, a sorcerer's apprentice in medieval France, and marries the lovely and talented Jolie. But then Jolie is murdered by religious fanatics (she persists as a ghost, riding around in a drop of blood on Party's wrist). So Parry becomes a monk, routing out heretics and evil sorcerers, until he's tempted—by Jolie, ironically—to break his oath of celibacy; the lissome demoness Lilah completes his corruption. Eventually, in hell, Parry catches Lucifer by surprise and deposes him. Parry, the new Satan, views his job philosophically—he's winnowing out the unfit souls—and can't abide pointless cruelty. So what is the point of the contest between God and Satan over the fate of human souls? Satan ascends to heaven to consult with God, but the latter is occupied in contemplating his navel. So Satan bargains with Gabriel for the victory (hence all Satan's plots), only to lose everything when he falls in love with another Incarnation, Orb; he destroys himself rather than betray her. All is not lost, however: the new Satan turns out to be such a horror that the other Incarnations conspire to overthrow him and reinstate Parry. One of the most appealing entries so far—Party's about as lovable a Satan as you'll find—with God still to come for the series finale. Read full book review >
ZOMBIE LOVER by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Another Xanth adventure featuring the Florida-shaped fantasy land where anything goes and the puns pack every page—though the author admits attempting to restrain their proliferation. Here, young, green-eyed, dark-skinned, beautiful Breanna of the Black Wave, with her safety spell and her talent for seeing in the dark, must somehow repel the unwelcome attentions of Xeth, King of the Zombies, after she accidentally takes a nap in his Pavilion of Love, thereby incurring an obligation to marry him. What more do you need to know? Well, there is one thing. The thrilling Chronicle of the Author's Teeth continues, this time with three root canals—ouch!—to report. Remember to brush after meals, kids, and visit your dentist regularly. Read full book review >
QUEST FOR THE FALLEN STAR by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: July 27, 1998

Boilerplate fantasy, of which a substantially different version was written originally by Richey, rewritten by Anthony's researcher Riggs, and finally tweaked and buffed by Anthony. Young elf-enchantress Chentelle accidentally intercepts a message from Marcus Alanda, the High Bishop of Norivika, summoning the apprentice of the wizard A'pon Boemarre. Chentelle sets off to deliver the message and, along the way, saves Sulmar, a banished warrior prince (he has an evil black dragon tattoo but is basically a good guy) from an evil-magic Ill-creature; Sulmar naturally becomes her devotee. She delivers the message to the irascible, drunken A'stoc, a survivor of the last battle of the Wizards' War, in which the Dark One was vanquished (but not, of course, killed). A'stoc reluctantly picks up his Thunderwood Staff, the magic of which he can no longer command, and agrees to come. Also receiving a summons is Lord Dacius Gemine of the Legion; despite Dacius's vorpal sword, his ship is attacked by another Ill-creature and he barely survives to reach Norivika. The Bishop, meanwhile, has received from the mysterious disembodied voice that he calls his Protector a knowledge of the evil he must face. All these characters will be involved together in the quest to locate the evil Fallen Star. The Thunderwood Staff, you see, must ignite the Sphere of Ohnn, which alone can destroy the aforementioned Star. Pleasant. Read full book review >
SPIDER LEGS by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 1998

Man-made monster yarn written by nonfiction author Pickover and rewritten by Anthony (Faun and Games, p. 1167, etc.) into a school-of-absurdism ecological rant. In the waters off Newfoundland—an island where, according to the authors at least, all four seasons occur simultaneously, and drunken Dutch dwarfs are a notable feature of the population—a sea spider the size of an elephant attacks a boat, ripping a woman to shreds and driving her husband insane. Visiting St. John's, luckily, is Harvard invertebrate-expert Nathan Smallwood, who'll team up with some of the locals—cop Natalie Sheppard, fisheries officer Elmo Samuels—to investigate. Also on the scene is Elmo's irascible sister Martha, proprietor of a tropical fish store, karate black belt, biology whiz, and secret hater of humanity. Martha and Elmo look scary, having inherited their father's abnormally long teeth and fingers. Anyway, Martha has genetically engineered the giant sea spider as a predator to reduce the human population. Nathan and Natalie take a ferry trip to try to capture the creature, with mayhem the predictable outcome. Meanwhile, cross-country skiers set off despite the absence of snow; more ludicrously still, Elmo (father's name Elmo) was born in Milan, while Martha (Jewish father Ismar) hails from Silesia; other inconsistencies abound. Some promising characters blundering around in a madhouse: a showcase of what goes wrong when writers, editors, and publishers sleepwalk through production. Read full book review >
FAUN AND GAMES by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

What can a hapless reviewer possibly find to say about Anthony's Xanth yarns—here the 21st of that ilk—that hasn't been said before? Astonishing as it may seem, Anthony has found the present puns-and-anything-goes format too restrictive, so he's introduced a miniature planet called Ptero that contains (wait for this) everything in Xanth that is or ever could be! The future sure won't have been what it used to be. So: evidently, nothing much—but stay tuned for next year's adventure (according to reports from Ptero, it'll be about zombies). And, meantime, in the author's afterword, you can catch up on the latest news about Anthony's teeth. Read full book review >
HOPE OF EARTH by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1997

Third in Anthony's series of ecological message novels (Shame of Man, 1994, etc.), each structured as a succession of (this time, 20) story-chapters that follow the fortunes of a single family while illustrating millions of years of genetic and cultural evolution. Way to go. Each chapter comes with an implicit admonishment (sometimes not so implicit) to mend our ways. Every story has a foreword to explain what's going on and an afterword to explain what's happened. The book also has an Introduction to explain the author's message (in case it doesn't register as you read) and an Author's Note at the end to explain everything else that might possibly need explaining. One thought just won't go away: Why not cut out the middle man and just write the explanations . . . and explanations of the explanations? Read full book review >
THE WILLING SPIRIT by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

New collaboration from Anthony (Yon Ill Wind, p. 1110) and Tella (Sundered Soul, not reviewed)—though the latter "did most of the work." In a fantasy India, the young, naive Brahmin Ilari sets off on a pilgrimage in search of true wisdom. Meanwhile, the beautiful lesser goddess Mohini and the hideous demon Ravana are engaged in their own contest of wills, and Hari unwittingly becomes a pawn in their game. To win, according to the rules they've agreed upon, Mohini, using only indirect means, must help Hari accomplish the seduction of seven different women. After every seduction, Ravana, again indirectly, will attempt to arrange Hari's demise. So, will honorable, well-favored, quick-witted, and forever innocent Hari succeed in his pleasant task before Ravana's machinations bring about his downfall? The details don't matter: This is a lighthearted, agreeably diverting yarn, duly respectful of India's cultures and customs. Something like a thinking reader's Xanth—without that series' more ludicrous scenarios or tedious, relentless puns. Read full book review >
YON ILL WIND by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Another Xanth yarn from Anthony (Geis of the Gargoyle, 1995, etc.), again structured like an interactive computer game to capture the attention of today's youth. This time, the Demon X(A/N)th agrees to a contest with his fellow-demons: If he wins, he becomes the top demon; lose, and he returns to the bottom of the pecking order. His task: In a regular body he must enter Xanth and win the affection of the chilly-hearted girl Chlorine, causing her to shed a single tear of love or grief. The complications: His fellow-demons put him in a grotesque and garish body with a silly voice, and impose other unlikely conditions; meanwhile, a Mundane family named Baldwin get blown into Xanth by a hurricane. Fluff, just the thing for pun-happy funsters. Read full book review >
GEIS OF THE GARGOYLE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Feb. 1, 1995

Another addition to Anthony's already voluminous Xanth fantasy series (Happy Thyme, 1993, etc.). Florida-shaped Xanth is a land of puns, dragons, illusions, and problems to be solved. The formula deviates little. This time, Gary Gargoyle, whose geis, or quest, is to purify the polluted waters of the Swan Knee River, is tempted by the wacky half-demon Mentia to seek out the Good Magician Humfrey and ask him for a more convenient way to purify the water. This, of course, leads to an adventure wherein Gary, temporarily given a human body, must tutor the unruly child named Surprise, a girl so magical that she can accomplish any magical task — but only once. The entire land of Xanth is threatened. And Gary must overcome a treacherous philter named Hanna. Ephemeral amusement for pun-struck Xanthonauts. Read full book review >
SHAME OF MAN by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

The second of Anthony's uncircumscribed rants against humanity's plundering of the Earth's resources is structured, like its predecessor (Isle of Woman, 1993), as a succession of story-chapters propped up by expository paragraphs in which Anthony's tsk-tsking is all but audible. Though some characters from the previous book recur in minor roles, the archetypes this time are Hugh, a musician, and his beloved Ann, a dancer. Beginning eight million years ago with what appear to be cogitating chimpanzees, the chapters move briskly through various prehistorical scenarios to Orkney megalith-builders, the biblical Philistines, Carthage, third-century Japan, the Syrian Caliphate, Easter Island, Genghis Khan, 16th-century Basque whalers, the Chinese opium wars, modern ecological activists in Oregon, and finally the development or a sustainable society in 21st-century Tasmania. "Edutainment" for sound-bite mentalities. Read full book review >
CHAOS MODE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 4, 1994

Third of Anthony's Mode series (Fractal Mode, 1992)—a reality-hopping adventure combined with advice on personal growth, with an overly complicated premise but solidly agreeable character interactions. Of the cast—currently: neglected, young-teen rape victim Colene; Darius the magical king of another reality; Seqiro the telepathic horse; and beautiful, sexy, magical free-spirit Nona—one major addition is made per book (here, it's Burgess, an indescribable creature from a set of alternate Earths where vertebrates never evolved) while another drops out (Seqiro, after victory in a magical/telepathic duel with a rival). Though this episode lacks firm direction and a strong plot, the Modes notion continues to be one of Anthony's more thoughtful, hard-working, and substantial series. Read full book review >
HARPY THYME by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

Another installment in Anthony's long-running Xanth fantasy series (Demons Don't Dream, 1993, etc). As all fans will know, Xanth is Florida-shaped—a land of puns, dragons, illusions, and problems to be solved. This time out, young Gloha, the only harpy goblin in existence, must travel to see the grumpy Good Magician Humphry to ask him to create a mate for her—which leads her to seek out the ancient, about-to-expire Crombie; which leads Gloha to a suddenly rejuvenated King Emeritus Trent; which...you get the idea. Milkweed fluff for Xanth-happy punsters. Read full book review >
ISLE OF WOMAN by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 20, 1993

Start of a new series—maybe (Anthony isn't sure)—entitled Geodyssey, attempting to frame, in ecological terms, no less than the entire history of the human species: Now that's ambition. In a series of stories—often no more than vignettes—braced by paragraphs of quasi-facts, Anthony writes about two families whose members are continually reborn: firetender Scorch, his mate Ember, and their daughter, Crystal; Bunny, her mate Blaze, and their son, Stone. The stories begin in the days of Lucy the Australopithecine, and swiftly move through Handy Man and Erect Man to the discovery of Australia, Neanderthals, cave art, the discovery of America, the beginning of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent, an early city in Anatolia, war in Mesopotamia, contending Hittite and Egyptian empires, Etruscans and Romans, the struggle for control of the Silk Road in the first century, the T'ang dynasty in China, 13th-century Lithuania, 17th-century Kuba (Congo), India and Britain in the 19th century, and, finally, starvation and cannibalism in a 21st-century America beset by climatic change. Throughout history, Ember and Blaze desire each other, but something always intervenes—until the last episode when they come together and recall their multiple pasts. The prolific Anthony (most recent solo outing: Demons Don't Dream, 1992) means well but all too often is astoundingly wrongheaded. Again, many of the stories here are a long way short of compelling—with the author's juvenile tendencies well to the fore. Amiable twaddle, then, intended for a wider audience than usual. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1993

Inventive but rather superficial fantasy written by Lackey from a summary provided by Anthony, then revised and edited by him. In Mazonia, only women possess the ability to produce illusions through conjuration, and so men are their slaves; the most powerful conjuror becomes queen. Young Xylina, mighty but inhibited and unambitious, acquires a talented slave, Faro, by defeating him in the arena. But Xylina falls victim to a series of untoward events and fails to prosper. She begins to suspect not ill fortune but the machinations of a potent enemy. The demon Ware, despite his oath to obey Queen Adria, lends Xylina money and reveals that Xylina's enemy is in fact the Queen. Then, when Xylina is unable to repay her debt to Ware, Adria agrees to guarantee Xylina's debt—but as payment Xylina must lead an expedition to remote lands to secure a crystal fragment that will make Adria immortal. Slowly, Xylina comes to trust Ware, who loves her with strictly honorable intent; numerous complications, created by the demon's ludicrously bizarre sexuality, ensue. After various adventures, Xylina obtains the crystal but decides to keep it for herself—so forcing a magical duel with dangerous Adria. Intriguing social fantasy that grows ever less persuasive and appealing once the enterprise gets hijacked by subplots about halfway through, leaving many promising ideas undeveloped. Still, a huge audience is guaranteed. Read full book review >
DEMONS DON'T DREAM by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

Anthony's popular fantasy series set in the world of Xanth moves into hardcover; this, entry #16, kicks off a new cycle of yarns based on interactive computer games (cf. Killobyte, p. 1338). Fans will recall that: ``Much of Xanth is illusion...the rest is puns and dragons.'' Nerdy young Dug (no, that's not a misprint) gets a copy of a new role-playing computer game and within minutes is hooked: indeed, so convincing does he find it that he soon falls through the monitor screen and into Xanth itself. The game's prize is a special magic talent for use in later scenarios—a talent that may be won by solving weird problems and overcoming oddball obstacles. Each player chooses a stalwart Companion, knowledgeable in the ways of Xanth (though there's also a chance that the Companion will be False and, therefore, treacherous). Dug selects luscious princess Nada Naga, who can assume serpent form at will; more realistic romantic input is provided by Dug's opponent, the plain but charming Kim. Oh, yes, and the whole package is actually a higher- level contest between the two demons who control, respectively, Mundania (Earth) and Xanth. Pleasant, harmless, undemanding fare unerringly aimed at the teenage market. Series fans will find themselves right at home. Read full book review >
KILLOBYTE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 5, 1993

Near-future jaunt into virtual reality: that is, a computer-derived total-immersion fantasy experience—a simulation that, while it lasts, is indistinguishable from reality. Policeman Walter Toland, injured in the line of duty and now a paraplegic, takes refuge from a bleak existence by playing Killobyte, a virtual reality role-playing computer game with numerous levels of expertise and an enormous variety of settings. In one such—a magic castle where the object of the game is to rescue a princess—Walter meets and falls in love with Baal Curran, a likewise lonely, plain, diabetic young woman. But their celebrations are short-lived, interrupted as they are by the Phreak—a disturbed young computer hacker whose pleasure is to fix upon game players, deny them the means to quit the game, then bug them to death. Both fall victim to the Phreak, finding themselves unable to retreat into reality; but unless Baal can give herself regular insulin injections, she will die. Aided by the Killobyte helpline, whose operators are eager to capture the disruptive Phreak, Walter and Baal tussle with the Phreak through a kaleidoscope of violent scenarios. Familiar escapist, teenage-oriented romance-adventure, at least superficially, but whose bright, positive, wholesome images clash disturbingly with the unplumbed darker aspects of the fantasy (e.g., the encouraging of casual slaughter in situations indistinguishable from reality). Overall, far from reassuring. Read full book review >
ALIEN PLOT by Piers Anthony
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Only the second story collection (Anthonology, 1986) from prolific novelist Anthony: a mixed bag of 18 pieces, 1970-91, ranging from vignettes and quasi-essays to fiction novellas, and including seven works previously unpublished for one reason or another. In the long title piece, an alternate world where magic works confronts the military might of our world. Also above average: an entertaining fantasy about a young investigator who must solve a puzzle to win a nymph; and a feminist piece featuring a supposedly helpless young woman who defeats some alien invaders in best Schwarzenegger style. Plus: a couple of satires on editors, alternate pasts, a new wrinkle on May-December couples, sex role reversals, humor, babies, reality changes, emotions, dinosaurs, and a story written for the ElfQuest collaborative series. Extremely diverse and politico-sexually impeccable, but slight and all but weightless. The author's introductions are like having your big brother hanging over your shoulder while you read. And most annoying of all is Anthony's blithe assumption that everything he writes is both essential and salable; he's wrong on both counts. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1992

Fifth and concluding volume of the series (most recently Orc's Opal) about Kelvin of Rud, the Roundear of Prophesy, and the magical tussle between the good (and mostly offstage) wizard Mouvar and the evil Professor Devale. The latter and his sidekick, the malignant witch Zady, will make one final attempt to destroy Kelvin and his allies, and prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy that will unite all the lands under one benevolent ruler. At first Zady seems to gain the upper hand, ensorcelling Kelvin, kidnapping various of Kelvin's telepathic children, bamboozling Kelvin's other offspring, the human-dragon Horace. But gradually, as the powerfully magical orcs perceive the threat and join the battle, a balance is struck. Finally, with the help of the three-headed chimera, Kelvin defeats Zady and Devale, and Mover pops up to tell Kelvin that the whole exercise was a sort of game between himself and Devale. Understandably, Kelvin is not thrilled at the news. Loads of improbable action, a frenetic pace, monsters and magics galore, and no claim to seriousness: precisely the formula that has succeeded throughout the series, and a satisfying finale for the fans. Read full book review >
FRACTAL MODE by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 9, 1992

Anthony's latest series (beginning with Virtual Mode, 1990) started life as a fantasy involving parental neglect and child abuse, but here it meanders off into standard reality-hopping adventure. Our heroes—abused 14-year-old Colene from Earth; Darius of the sympathetic magic; Seqiro the telepathic horse; and Provos, who remembers only the future—fall across the "modes" (realities) to magic-world Oria, where the highly magical Nona, the ninth child of a ninth child, hopes to overthrow the "despots" by transforming their male "animus magic into female anima" magic. To achieve this, Nona must journey to Earth (where Colene will save a friend from special abuse and torture) to learn about fractals—Oria, you see, is part of a fractal universe, and Nona must be able to orient herself in order to effectively wield her magic. Not too much more than a fantasy Time Tunnel—our heroes fall away into a new adventure at the end of each episode—displaying the usual Anthony rewards and drawbacks. Read full book review >
TATHAM MOUND by Piers Anthony
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 23, 1991

Anthony, author of innumerable bestselling light fantasies, weighs in with a more seriously intended Native American/Spanish Conquest saga based on excavations made at Florida's Tatham Mound. During a raid on an enemy tribe, young warrior Throat Shot takes an arrow in the shoulder and falls unconscious on the ancient Toco tribal burial mound. The powerful spirit Dead Eagle saves his life, takes away his fear, and orders him to search for a magic crystal that will avert a future danger from the East. Throat Shot, who has a knack for languages, wanders far and wide as a trader's interpreter, learning songs and stories as he goes. After various adventures, and renamed Tale Teller, he marries a widow and her daughter. The spirits urge Tale Teller to continue with his quest, but he ignores them—and soon his family is wiped out by a mysterious disease. In his grief, Tale Teller renounces the spirits and his quest. Later, following another marriage and more children, he will be captured and enslaved by Hernando de Soto's brutal Conquistadors, and only after many more adventures and great hardships will Tale Teller escape, be reconciled with Dead Eagle, and finally join his wives and children in the spirit world. An interesting idea, but Anthony's dull, flat, uninvolving narrative—despite bolstering by Native tales and myths, and long descriptions of ceremonials and rituals—displays little real insight and offers, at best, average appeal. Read full book review >
BALOOK by Piers Anthony
Released: Feb. 7, 1991

Thanks to genetic reconstruction, Baluchitherium—an enormous, rhino-like creature of the Miocene epoch—lives again. In a contrived, strung-out plot, two of these reconstructed gentle giants (Balook and Theria) plus their offspring (Balooky) survive various present-day challenges—ranging from a cut in research funds to a trial for manslaughter—thanks largely to their teen-age human companions, Thor and Barbara. The animals are engagingly and believably rendered, but Anthony fumbles awkwardly when it comes to people. Barbara is introduced as a "tomboy," since "portions of her body just had not yet done their thing," and Thor is all too capable of lines like "Let me down. I want to touch this realm, to experience it directly." Thor finally persuades the head of a power company that his charges would make good natural tree-surgeons and thus saves them from a second extinction. In a long, self-indulgent afterword, the author attacks magazine editors for not buying this as a short story. Woodroffe's illustrations, many of them in color, are elaborate and affectionate, but even they don't save it as a novel. Read full book review >
ORC'S OPAL by Piers Anthony
Released: Dec. 20, 1990

Fourth in the series, following Chimaera's Copper (p. 616), featuring Kelvin the Roundear's fun-filled family adventures in various magical "frames" as the wizard Mouvar's Prophesy moves toward completion—despite the frothy complications introduced by the contending good and evil characters. Six years have passed; Kelvin's children, Charles and Merlain, are telepathic, while Dragon Horace has grown faster but refuses to acquire human speech. The evil old witch Zady plots to destroy Kelvin and family by secretly bewitching the children during their visit to a Wizard's Convention (in a parallel New York, no less) and so provoking a war with the giant green fishlike Orcs over their Opal, a precious gem that can transport the bearer instantaneously from frame to frame. Guess who comes out on top. A concluding volume is promised for fans who, nothing loath, continue to discover fresh pleasures in Anthony's trite teen-age formulas. Read full book review >
ORC'S OPAL by Piers Anthony
Released: Dec. 20, 1990

Fourth in the series, following Chimaera's Copper (p. 616), featuring Kelvin the Roundear's fun-filled family adventures in various magical "frames" as the wizard Mouvar's Prophesy moves toward completion—despite the frothy complications introduced by the contending good and evil characters. Six years have passed; Kelvin's children, Charles and Merlain, are telepathic, while Dragon Horace has grown faster but refuses to acquire human speech. The evil old witch Zady plots to destroy Kelvin and family by secretly bewitching the children during their visit to a Wizard's Convention (in a parallel New York, no less) and so provoking a war with the giant green fishlike Orcs over their Opal, a precious gem that can transport the bearer instantaneously from frame to frame. Guess who comes out on top. A concluding volume is promised for fans who, nothing loath, continue to discover fresh pleasures in Anthony's trite teen-age formulas. Read full book review >
FIREFLY by Piers Anthony
Released: Sept. 26, 1990

A rare horror novel from the prolific and popular fantasist—and one that is really an adult fantasy at heart, gaudily celebrating the magic and terror of lust and love. The monster here—the "firefly"—snares its victims through effusions of pheromones, then sucks up their flesh, leaving only skin and bones. More eerie than fearsome, Anthony brings it on stage—wisely—only deep into the novella: a Fright Night knockoff of a sea-born blob. Far more interesting are its human foes, charming misfits who are Anthony's real focus. Foremost are "Geode" Demerit, caretaker of the Florida estate on which the first victim is found, and "Oenone" Brown, a poor local housewife whose son, then husband, are consumed by the firefly—forcing her to take refuge in the estate's mansion. Intoxicated by the perfumes of the foraging firefly, Geode and Oenone fall in love, Geode losing his impotency and Oenone her mousiness. Parallel to their love story runs that of Frank Tishner, a local cop, and May Flowers, trouble-shooter for the absent owner of the estate. As these two conspire to destroy the firefly, they also fall in love. Yet both love stories are only flames for the novel's real canvas, a panel of tales that Oenone tells—ranging from a bittersweet fable about a raped princess to a truly shocking story of a sexually abused five-year, old seductress: Oenone herself as a child. And within the cracks between these story-bricks, the firefly hovers, killing relentlessly until it kills one of the lovers—leading to the insect's death: but what about those baby fireflies? In an afterword, Anthony calls this "a special novel. . .of more consequence than my fantasy." Fair enough—though the copious, almost pornographic, sex nearly overwhelms his inventive storytelling, rich with surprising characters and Chinese puzzle-box plotting. Read full book review >
PHAZE DOUBT by Piers Anthony
Released: June 12, 1990

Book seven and last (?) of Anthony's Apprentice Adept series about the two-phase planet Proton (science)/Phaze (magic). Now that the two frames have merged (Unicorn Point, 1989), both science and magic work—but against the tentacled, goggle-eyed Hectare invaders, the planet is de-fenseless; indeed, Citizen Stile, who is also the Blue Adept, instructs all loyal Citizens and Adepts not to resist. Of course, Stile and his son, the robot/magic Mach/Bane, and his offspring, Nepe/Flach, have prepared a vast plan to defeat the invaders. This involves the friendly Hectare spy Lysander, who must be willingly converted to the side of the good guys; a breeding program aimed at creating a Phaze-Proton-Hectare hybrid; and a rotation of the magic-frame Phaze around the black hole it orbits, so that it will fall into another universe and be beyond the reach of the Hectare forever. Absurdly complicated as always, juvenile as ever, and bound to be popular, since nothing dissuades Anthony's faithful. Read full book review >
CHIMAERA'S COPPER by Piers Anthony
NONFICTION
Released: May 21, 1990

Third in a series that began with Dragon's Gold and Serpent's Silver, featuring a prophecy, a young hero, and several parallel magical worlds—in short, the familiar Anthony formula. Kelvin Knight Hackleberry (our hero), along with his half-brother and their father, takes a transporter trip that ends up on the wrong parallel world, where they are instantly captured by the froglike locals and turned over to the man-eating Chimaera. Meanwhile, good King Rufert has been banished by the wicked sorceress Zoanna and replaced by King Rowforth, who looks exactly like him except for the shape of his ears (the only way to tell natives of different "planes" apart). Can Kelvin escape the Chimaera in time to stop evil Rowforth from conquering the world? Given the lifeless writing, and a pack of banal characters who invariably do something stupid at a crucial point in the story, not many readers are likely to care. A very flat performance; the ending promises at least one more installment. Read full book review >
VIRTUAL MODE by Piers Anthony
Released: Feb. 13, 1990

In an interesting mix of sf and fantasy, Anthony examines the effects of parental neglect and sexual abuse against a fantastic backdrop. On her way home from school, Colene, 14, finds Darius in a ditch, beaten and robbed. She shelters Mm and, while teaching him English, also falls in love with him. She doesn't believe him, though, when he reveals he has come from a magic-using reality to find her, and, when she reveals that she is suicidal (with reason), he thinks his love for her mistaken. He leaves, but then both realize they've made an error. Darius can return only by setting up a Virtual Mode, however, a hazardous path that cuts across realities and is accessible only by the five people, each in a separate reality, that form the path's anchors. Colene and Darius are two of those anchors; Provos, a woman who remembers the future; Seqiro, a telepathic horse; and Ddwng, the emperor of the galaxy in his reality, are the other three. Ddwng captures Colene and Seqiro, then Provos and Darius, in order to capture the Chip—the artifact that let Darius create the Virtual Mode—so Ddwng's empire can expand into all realities. Colene's struggle to deal with her past drives the story, but her pain is intellectualized, not felt. Rewarding if you can get past her and Darius's never-ending internal monologues. Read full book review >
VIRTUAL MODE by Piers Anthony
Released: Feb. 13, 1990

In an interesting mix of sf and fantasy, Anthony examines the effects of parental neglect and sexual abuse against a fantastic backdrop. On her way home from school, Colene, 14, finds Darius in a ditch, beaten and robbed. She shelters Mm and, while teaching him English, also falls in love with him. She doesn't believe him, though, when he reveals he has come from a magic-using reality to find her, and, when she reveals that she is suicidal (with reason), he thinks his love for her mistaken. He leaves, but then both realize they've made an error. Darius can return only by setting up a Virtual Mode, however, a hazardous path that cuts across realities and is accessible only by the five people, each in a separate reality, that form the path's anchors. Colene and Darius are two of those anchors; Provos, a woman who remembers the future; Seqiro, a telepathic horse; and Ddwng, the emperor of the galaxy in his reality, are the other three. Ddwng captures Colene and Seqiro, then Provos and Darius, in order to capture the Chip—the artifact that let Darius create the Virtual Mode—so Ddwng's empire can expand into all realities. Colene's struggle to deal with her past drives the story, but her pain is intellectualized, not felt. Rewarding if you can get past her and Darius's never-ending internal monologues. Read full book review >
BALOOK by Piers Anthony
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Released: Feb. 7, 1990

Thanks to genetic reconstruction, Baluchitherium—an enormous, rhino-like creature of the Miocene epoch—lives again. In a contrived, strung-out plot, two of these reconstructed gentle giants (Balook and Theria) plus their offspring (Balooky) survive various present-day challenges—ranging from a cut in research funds to a trial for manslaughter—thanks largely to their teen-age human companions, Thor and Barbara. The animals are engagingly and believably rendered, but Anthony fumbles awkwardly when it comes to people. Barbara is introduced as a "tomboy," since "portions of her body just had not yet done their thing," and Thor is all too capable of lines like "Let me down. I want to touch this realm, to experience it directly." Thor finally persuades the head of a power company that his charges would make good natural tree-surgeons and thus saves them from a second extinction. In a long, self-indulgent afterword, the author attacks magazine editors for not buying this as a short story. Woodroffe's illustrations, many of them in color, are elaborate and affectionate, but even they don't save it as a novel. Read full book review >
UNICORN POINT by Piers Anthony
Released: Jan. 1, 1990

Final entry in the second Apprentice Adept trilogy (Robot Adept, 1988), much the best of the three and approaching the standard of the first trilogy—in energy and complexity if not inventiveness. What with all the exchanging of bodies, minds, frames, etc., it's hard to keep everything straight. But heroes Bane (of magic-world Phaze, now usually to be found in Mach's robot body on science-world Proton) and Mach (vice versa) have, for reasons of love, allied themselves with the Adverse Adepts (Phaze)/Contrary Citizens (Proton), who're plotting to take over both Phaze and Proton. Meanwhile, the aging Blue Adept of Phaze, a.k.a. Stile of Proton, has evolved a complex strategy to delay the bad guys involving the children of Bane and Mach. Another problem for Stile to resolve: the frames of Proton and Phaze are coming unravelled. However, Stile is preparing a vast and cunning stratagem to defeat the opposition and heal the breach between the worlds, involving the introduction of new characters and a magic flute made of platinum. Mostly plot; however, Anthony has put forth genuine effort, the formula returns to workability, and Adept fans will snap this one up. Read full book review >
TOTAL RECALL. by Piers Anthony
Released: Sept. 26, 1989

Action-adventure yarn involving memory implants, aliens, and Mars: based (on a Philip K. Dick short story and a movie script. Big, strong Douglas Quail has a secure job and a beautiful, loving—wife but he's haunted by recurring nightmares of a beautiful woman and the planet Mars. In desperation, he goes to Rekall, a company that specializes in implanted memories—but the treatment dislodges some real memories of Mars, where Douglas was a high-powered secret agent; his parent life turns out to be a sham. His "wife" tries to kill him, as does the bloodthirsty Richter, another agent. So Douglas flees to Mars, where he becomes reinvolved with the ruthless dictator Cohaagen, once his boss. Seems that Douglas volunteered to have his memories altered in order to probe an alien artifact and smoke out some Martian rebel democrats. But he fell in love with the lovely Melina, and also came to believe in the alien No'ui and their gift to the human race. So now Douglas and Melina must defeat Richter and Cohaagen, with the fate not only of Mars but the entire human race at stake. Fast-moving, slick, empty-headed work, with most of the Dickian ambiguities smoothed away. Should make a smashing movie. Read full book review >
UNICORN POINT by Piers Anthony
Released: April 20, 1989

Final entry in the second Apprentice Adept trilogy (Robot Adept, 1988), much the best of the three and approaching the standard of the first trilogy—in energy and complexity if not inventiveness. What with all the exchanging of bodies, minds, frames, etc., it's hard to keep everything straight. But heroes Bane (of magic-world Phaze, now usually to be found in Mach's robot body on science-world Proton) and Mach (vice versa) have, for reasons of love, allied themselves with the Adverse Adepts (Phaze)/Contrary Citizens (Proton), who're plotting to take over both Phaze and Proton. Meanwhile, the aging Blue Adept of Phaze, a.k.a. Stile of Proton, has evolved a complex strategy to delay the bad guys involving the children of Bane and Mach. Another problem for Stile to resolve: the frames of Proton and Phaze are coming unravelled. However, Stile is preparing a vast and cunning stratagem to defeat the opposition and heal the breach between the worlds, involving the introduction of new characters and a magic flute made of platinum. Mostly plot; however, Anthony has put forth genuine effort, the formula returns to workability, and Adept fans will snap this one up. Read full book review >
AND ETERNITY by Piers Anthony
Released: Jan. 24, 1989

Wrapping up the seven-book Incarnations of Immortality series (most recently For Love of Evil) with the Incarnation of Good, better known as God—who, uninterested in, and unable to comprehend, evil, has spent the last half-millenium or so in His highest heaven, contemplating eternity, while things go to hell in a handbasket down on Earth. Orlene, daughter of Orb (currently the Incarnation of Nature), commits suicide after a short and miserable life. But because her affairs on Earth are not complete, she persists as a ghost, and is joined by: Jolie, consort of Satan, now existing as a drop of blood on Orb's wrist; and Vita, a young mortal on the brink of drug addiction and prostitution. Then Nox, the mysterious Incarnation of Night, reveals that she has taken Orlene's damaged baby (one of the reasons Orlene killed herself), and will cure the child if Orlene can obtain valuable gifts from the other Incarnations. But the Incarnations don't just give things away, and Orlene must pass a severe test set by each one of them. All this, however, doesn't solve the problem of God—things are getting still worse, thanks to His inattention; even Satan (he isn't really evil) wants to see a new God appointed. But the successful candidate must win the Incarnations' unanimous approval—and the key, of course, is Orlene herself. Bright and breezy, sexy and fluffy, with far too much chat and a rationale that doesn't really jibe with what's happened in the previous six books. All in all, not a strong finish. Read full book review >
Released: April 12, 1988

Fifth in the Apprentice Adept series (Out of Phaze, 1987), an overextended mega-yarn that now looks decidedly shabby and increasingly threadbare. Once again, young robot Mach of science-world Proton exchanges minds with young magician Bane of magic-world Phaze. This time the pair succeed in exchanging their girlfriends, too—but all this popping back and forth through the barrier that separates Phaze from Proton is causing the system to become unstable. The lads are unsure whom to throw their lot in with: The Adverse Adepts guarantee Bane's and Mach's rights to marry their respective loves, but also threaten to take over both Phaze and Proton; Stile, the Blue Adept, and his good-guy allies will set things to rights, magic and technology-wise, but refuse to countenance Bane's marrying a unicorn or Mach's an ameboid blob. To settle the matter, Mach squares off against Bane in a stylized games-playing contest: if Mach wins, they ally with the Adverse Adepts; if Bane wins, they go along with Stile. The first trilogy, featuring Stile and his quest to become Citizen and Blue Adept, was endlessly inventive and absorbing; the second time around—sons of—that magic has evaporated. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 10, 1988

Sequel to Dragon's Gold (not seen), more sponge-brained magical doings involving various nearby "frames" or paralled worlds. Sound familiar? It should—Anthony's been working the same vein for more than two decades. Young Kelvin of Rud—he has round ears, in a world of pointy-earred characters—has fulfilled the first part pf of a hero-prophesy almost by accident. Now he must enter an adjacent frame in order to rescue his Earth-derived father John from the evil, ambitious Rowforth's unpleasant dungeons. In this frame, instead of gold-skinned dragons, they have silver-skinned, rock-chewing giant worms, along with humanoid serpent people—the worms' remote kin—magical types who can freeze humans with a glance. One subplot features Kian, Kelvin's brother, who ends up in the dungeons with John; another involves Kelvin's wife and her obnoxious father. Magic is provided by the vanished travelling sorcerer Mouvar, whose mysterious devices help Kelvin win the day—and fulfill part two of the prophesy. Juvenile gush. Read full book review >
BEING A GREEN MOTHER by Piers Anthony
Released: Dec. 1, 1987

Fifth and final fantasy in the Incarnations of Immortality series—Death, Time, Fate, and, most recently, War (Wielding a Red Sword). Orb, a beautiful young Irish girl of magical-musical heritage, learns from a band of gypsies of the ultimate music, the "Llano," the most potent magic known. Eventually Orb leaves home to search among the gypsies for the Llano, but the music proves elusive. Bothersome, too, is the prophecy that some day she might marry Evil. (A vast, cunning plot by Satan is de rigueur for the series.) After various adventures, Orb meets and falls for the handsome singer Natasha—but is he a demon in disguise? Natasha passes all of Orb's tests: they marry—and then Natasha reveals that he is Satan himself! (The tests, and the marriage, were all Satan-inspired illusions.) Orb, now in command of the Llano, agrees to become the Green Mother, the incarnation of Nature; in order to foil Satan's design to rule the world through her, she unleashes the forces of Chaos, destroying the world. Satan and the other Incarnations step in: Chronos (Time) agrees to set things right—but the price is that Orb must marry Satan for real. Satan goes through with it—he truly loves Orb—but in the process he destroys himself and releases all the damned souls from Hell, thus losing his prolonged struggle with God. A satisfyingly twisty plot, imbedded in the usual Anthony juvenile gush. Overall: agreeable enough—and bound to be very popular. Read full book review >
OUT OF PHAZE by Piers Anthony
Released: June 12, 1987

A continuation of Anthony's Apprentice Adept series about science-world Proton (whose surface is polluted and uninhabitable; rich, powerful Citizens and their serfs live in airtight domes) and its dimensionally connected counterpart, magic-world Phaze (ruled by Adepts and populated by shape-shifting unicorns, werewolves, vampires, and so forth). On Proton lives Mach, the state-of-the-art robot "offspring" of Citizen Blue and sexy robot Sheen. While introducing the beautiful Agape (an ameboid alien in human form) to Proton society, he accidentally makes contact with his Phaze counterpart, the Apprentice Adept Bane. They exchange minds. Mach, on Phaze in Bane's body, has little idea how to make magic or survive attacks by various monsters; he's rescued by the lovely unicorn Fleta. In Mach's body on Proton, Bane experiences difficulties too (he knows nothing about robots or science). Eventually, the persistent attacks on Mach and Bane prove to be the work of the Adverse Adept Purple (on Phaze) and Citizen Purple (on Proton); the Purples are plotting to bring together Proton's great computer and Phaze's great book of spells, and use both in conjunction to rule both Phaze and Proton. Light and fast-moving in the Anthony manner, and with some poignant moments—but too often dreadfully silly, and not nearly as inventive as the original Phaze/Proton yarns. Still, don't underestimate Anthony's popularity. Read full book review >
WIELDING A RED SWORD by Piers Anthony
Released: Oct. 1, 1986

Book Four of Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality" following With a Tangled Skein (1985). Young, stammering Hindu prince Mym is cheated of his love, the beautiful Orb, by paternal manipulation; he falls for princess Rapture but is balked of her too; so, offered the opportunity to become Mars, the immortal Incarnation of War, he accepts—and at once Satan begins to tempt him. Mym is offered a beautiful concubine, the Satanic construct Lila, but rejects her; Lila tells Mym where he might find a suitable, mortal companion, the beautiful Ligeia—but it's all part of a Satanic plot to trap Mym in Hell while Satan stirs up all sorts of bellicose problems on Earth. Mym, accordingly, threatens to allow Armageddon to occur on Earth unless Satan desists; and, since there is currently more good than evil on Earth, God would win His contest with Satan—so Satan backs off. A technically solid installment, then, creamy-smooth and agreeable if more than a trifle bland. Read full book review >
GHOST by Piers Anthony
Released: Sept. 15, 1986

This disorganized, purposeless hash of pop psychology, pseudoscience, and childish eroticism has the Anthony name-tag going for it, but little else. On a future Earth desperately short of energy, space captain Shetland is totally out of place, so it is a relief to him when he's chosen to lead an expedition to locate new abundant energy sources. He's given a new experimental time-travel ship and, with a handpicked crew, zooms off into the temporal void. Oriented to distant Earth by a psychic beacon, the ship travels into the far future when matter no longer exists; stars and galaxies have become massless ghosts. When the beacon falters, Shetland must interview each crew member to discover the source of the psychic problem (without the beacon they cannot return to Earth). Inexplicably, chemist Alice commits suicide—but then shows up as a voice-only ghost aboard the ship! Soon after, the ship runs into a ghostly black hole and becomes trapped. The black hole, however, is composed of psychic "ectoplasm" that can be manipulated and transformed by brainpower. At first the crew experiment by building weird animals out of the ectoplasm; but soon the stuff invades the ship, and the crew—having retreated into personal fantasies constructed from ectoplasm—are lost. So it's up to Shetland to reintegrate the crew and save the expedition. What with the outdated, implausible plot that doesn't add up, and the narrative bogged down in trite symbolism and idiotic psychologizing: juvenile gush, as bad as Shade of the Tree (p. 251) was good. Read full book review >
SHADE OF THE TREE by Piers Anthony
Released: April 7, 1986

Widower Joshua Pinson and his two children come to live on a rural Florida homestead, bequest of his eccentric uncle Elijah. The property is dominated by a huge live oak tree, beneath whose branches Elijah built a solar-powered house. Unsettlingly, Elijah met his end in a bizarre accident with a chain saw—and the locals tell Joshua that the place is haunted. Sure enough, the fatal chain saw exudes an aura of menace, and soon Joshua experiences various apparitions: a ghost train; the screams of a girl who was raped beneath the tree (she, however, is still alive !); a ghostly rifle shot (a hunter committed suicide beneath the tree); the ghost of Elijah's mistress (but she's still alive too). Undaunted, Joshua refurbishes the house and engages a housekeeper; but the latter, inexplicably threatened by the Pinsons' normally placid dogs, soon quits. An elderly neighbor dies nearby, apparently of fright. The housekeeper is replaced by the nubile Brenna, who loves kids and likes her chances of marrying Joshua. Then Brenna sees the ghosts too: one of the kids is attacked by phantom bloodsucking bugs; Elijah's pony, tethered outside, goes berserk and tries to break into the house; one of the dogs attacks a steer and gets thoroughly stomped; a vile stench and a hot, looming presence leads Joshua to suspect the depredations of a Skunk Ape, Florida's equivalent of Bigfoot. Belatedly, Joshua realizes that the tree is the source of all the weird goings-on. But the promised showdown never happens; instead, the story subsides into a footling conclusion involving telepathy and an unsuspected sinkhole. Serviceable ideas, then, and a solid plot moved briskly along in Anthony's fluent, not to say facile, style—and spiced by some genuinely frightening moments. A persuasive performance—the limp wrap-up notwithstanding—that should swell the ranks of Anthony's already huge audience. Read full book review >
WITH A TANGLED SKEIN by Piers Anthony
Released: Oct. 1, 1985

Book Three of Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality," following On a Pale Horse (Death) and Bearing an Hourglass (Time). When young Irish weaver Niobe's talented husband Cedric is murdered as part of a vast Satanic plot, Niobe descends to Purgatory to appeal to the Incarnations and Satan himself for Cedric's life. However, there's nothing to be done; so when the inconsolable Niobe is offered a position as an immortal Incarnation, she accepts—to become nubile Clotho, spinner of the thread of life, the youngest of Fate's three aspects (along with the matronly Lachesis, who measures the threads, and the crone Atropos, who cuts them). As more facets of Satan's enormous plot are revealed, the other Incarnations take a hand (readers will need good memories to recall what's been happening in the previous books). Later, Niobe decides to retire and once again become mortal; she remarries and has more children, all of whom are caught up in the plot. Then, as Satan becomes particularly threatening, Niobe is induced to emerge from retirement—where, as Lachesis, she must thwart Satan one more time by solving a hoary set of brain-teasers tricked out in fantastical disguises. Sprawling, inconclusive plotting, then, in a routine, rather lumpy drama, with none of the main issues fully explained or resolved. A frustrating affair that will appeal mainly to Anthony fans prepared to stick around for the complete series. Read full book review >
ANTHONOLOGY by Piers Anthony
Released: March 1, 1985

According to the whining introductions here, Anthony gave up short story-writing in disgust circa 1971, having failed to sell several of his efforts. This collection, then, brings together 21 stories, including unpublished work, from his 1963-71 career; and they're mostly a ragged, feeble bunch, in stark contrast to the fast-moving, lightly comic fantasy novels that have brought Anthony to his present peak of popularity. There are exceptions: a chillingly provocative tale depicting humans as cattle; a couple of the splendid "interstellar dentist" yarns that eventually became the novel Prostho Plus; an enjoyable, high-speed trip through a tachyon universe; plus an interstellar log-splitting contest and an agreeable fog monster yarn. The majority of the pieces, however, are dispensable treatments of such subjects as mythic creatures, ghosts and aliens, weird sex and torture, and futuristic products. Far too weak overall for broad appeal, then, although Anthony's myriad fans will want to browse. Read full book review >
ON A PALE HORSE by Piers Anthony
Released: Oct. 1, 1983

The first of another five-book fantasy series from the prolific, YA-ish, popular Anthony—centered on five "Incarnations of Immortality" (Time, War, Fate, Nature, Death) in a messy and illogical science/magic setting. The focus here is on Death, starting with the suicide preparations of guilt-ridden, down-and-out Zane; in comes skeletal Death to claim his soul—but instead Zane shoots Death, and so is obliged to assume the office himself. Zane's ostensible function: to collect and weigh those few dying souls that aren't primarily good or evil, but balanced between the two. But he's really being manipulated by a powerful magician and the other Incarnations. . . who are out to foil Satan, who's hatching a vile plot to start World War III. It's Luna, the magician's comely daughter, in fact, who is fated to stop Satan. And though Satan has therefore arranged for her untimely demise, Zane (having fallen for Luna) refuses to take her soul, going on strike. So Satan abducts the living Luna to hell and threatens to kill Zane. . . but Zane can't collect his own soul: thus, Death has the power to defeat Satan. Rather more seriously intended than most Anthony offerings, with satirical patches and lots of death-ly ruminations: a hardworking but lumpy and not-very-appealing stew—mostly for loyal fans. Read full book review >
BLUE ADEPT by Piers Anthony
Released: May 18, 1981

The second installment in the lightweight, Zelazny-ish fantasy trilogy begun with Split Infinity (1980). Multitalented, resourceful, diminutive hero Stile has the best of both worlds: on polluted science-world Proton, where everyone lives in airtight domes, he's the serf of a fabulously rich citizen and also a candidate in the Games, a computerized talent contest with citizenship as the prize; on the alternate magic-world Phaze, connected to Proton via the "curtain," he's the Blue Adept, master of enchantments, a title that comes complete with castle, grounds, servants, and the works. On Proton he's aided and abetted by sexy female robot Sheen; on Phaze he's attended by the regal Lady Blue (whose love he eventually wins) and a host of admiring unicorns, werewolves, vampires, and elves. Stile's problem is that someone is trying to kill him in both worlds (the same person that assassinated his doppelganger, the previous Blue Adept)—and when he finally catches up with suspect number one, the gorgeous manhating female Red Adept, it becomes clear that she is not wholly responsible: an unseen puppet-master is directing events to as yet unperceived ends. Tirelessly inventive, action-packed entertainment—with a mild comic strain and no claim to seriousness. Read full book review >
SPLIT INFINITY by Piers Anthony
Released: April 21, 1980

A weird blending of robot-serviced cities with charmed, Malory-touched pastoral sorcery: Stile, the best jockey on the planet Proton and a master gamesplayer at the Games, finds himself challenged to a set of mild gladiatorial encounters by glorious android Sheen (she nearly bests him). . . and then—on the lam from some unknown menace who has lasered poor Stile's knees during a horserace—he runs through a shimmering curtain and is transported materially into a fairyland of musical unicorns and magic castles and werewolves. Once again Stile's prowess at games stands him in good stead as he gains magical powers and comes to the attention of a sexy unicorn Neysa—and scintillatingly regal Lady Blue, whose husband is Stile's alter-image and whom he must kill. So there's an ethical climax with three women (well, a unicorn, a robot, and a lady) fighting over the hero—who must choose among them. . . . First volume of a trilogy that promises to be a sort of intellectual, semi-erotic Flash Gordon. Read full book review >
RACE AGAINST TIME by Piers Anthony
Released: April 1, 1973

From an innocuous beginning — a boy and his dog walking through the fields — layer upon subtle layer is overlapped to develop a superior science fiction vision. The boy, John Smith, only extant caucasian male and raised in an enclave environmentally geared to America, 1960, is destined to be mated with caucasian Betsy, similarly raised, in a world populated by a totally integrated race appropriately called "Standards." Through a series of errors (or are they?) they and the society's two other "purebred" pairs (one African and one Chinese) escape their enclaves and investigate the Standard world around them — a world so completely envisioned by Mr. Anthony that he occasionally loses the reader in a reference to some aspect hitherto unrevealed. (This however is not a serious flaw; in fact, it contributes to the compelling style of layered revelation.) The six eventually learn that they are products of procreative banks preserved through the centuries and that Standard is Earth after pollution and human-instigated plague wiped out most of the population. There is considerable ambiguity about the Standards and their true purposes, and the author's apparent assumptions about racial/ethnic interaction may be debated, but it is provocative in the presentation and even the stereotyped characters are believable considerating the nature of their nurture. Read full book review >