I was just stirring up shirt. Or, to put it another way, I needed someone to contrast Ahthony to, as otherwise the thread title would have had to be something like “Piers Anthony: threat or menace.”
Claremont showed a consistent interest in mind control, particularly of hot women/girls by [del]women[/del] hot humanoid females, but he was never nearly as … disturbing as Anthony was at the time I stopped reading him.
As to some other issues brought up in the thread:
I realize the numbers don’t work, but I still think lIllyana was meant to 15 or 16 in that issue. She always seemed older than Rahne (the werewolf girl) and slightly older than Kitty. I think I was about that age when that issue was published, so at the time I didn’t find anything especially pervy about the situation and the way the characters were drawn. I wouldn’t feel comfortable reading the issue in public now.
The nudity of the serfs was actually ANTI-prurient. Anthony never actually describes any of his characters beyond saying “beautiful,” and it’s clear that Stile (and Protonians in general) are desensitized to nudity. Stile gets aroused when Sheen puts ON clothes, and he’s … discomfited … by the fact that Phazians walk around clothed all the time, the way we’d be put off by a nudist culture.
Even the first Xanth book has Iris using her illusion-casting powers to spy on our hero in the shower before trying to tempt him with sexual favors – sweetening the deal by demonstrating that she can change appearances depending on if he wants full-figured or mature or fourteen, very slender, and innocent.
And there’s the bare-breasted centaur our hero feels up – he was just trying to hold on! He’s not great at riding horses! – plus, as per the title, the story kinda revolves around Bink realizing the perfect woman for him is the stupid-but-beautiful one who tries to offer him sex as payment after they meet at – what else? – a rape-trial reenactment; the point is, even at his most wholesome, Anthony can apparently only write for so long before throwing in the elements he really wants to spend time on.
I never read any Xanth. I was introduced to Anthony by the Apprentice Adept series, of which I liked the first three quite a bit; I don’t find those especially pervy, though my opinion of their quality declined as I read more and better science fiction. I don’t remember the next three very well because they were terribly boring; my problem with them was the increasingly puzzle-obsession of the plots. The Incarnations series suffered the same decay, but it was FIREFLY’s disgusting justification of pedophilia that really put me off.
I haven’t seen anything to suggest something wrong in his personal life. Maybe I just haven’t seen it. He’s been married to the same woman since 1956. They had two children one of whom died a little while back from cancer. They live in Florida. It seems normal. It’s much better if he exercises his demons on the page instead of what Marion Zimmer Bradley did.
Let me jog your memory about one more: yeah, Iris happens to showcase her abilities by offering to appear as an underage girl – but you could forget that detail, because all that’s really important is that she offers to appear as some type of female. And likewise for the rape trial, I guess; it maybe had to be a trial for some crime, but you could of course be vague when it comes to remembering specifics.
But do you recall Trent’s argument for why the mystical shield between Xanth and Mundania had to come down? The one Bink rejects out of hand, but then accepts upon reviewing his own experiences, before our hero ultimately supports Trent’s successful bid for the throne?
It’s that the human population of Xanth is cross-breeding itself into extinction, because people keep getting it on with nonhumans: “breaking down the natural barrier between species” and thus giving way to harpies and mermaids and so on, with all-of-this-has-happened-before-and-all-of-it-will-happen-again inevitability.
Bink is asked if he’s been tempted; he blurts out a no, but on reflection switches to maybe. He’s asked whether other folks from his village would indulge; after thinking about it, he blushes furiously and concedes the point.
Sorry, Skald, but your boy Robert had some kinks about keepin’ it in the family. I read a short story of his (whose title I can no longer recall) years ago, that involved the narrator discovering that her son and daughter are playing Hide-The-Sausage (Family Game Night Edition). She consults her doctor, who tells her that it could be worse, they could be brothers. Finally she walks on Sis and Bro post-coitial and tells them that bonking each other is okay, just keep it on the down low.
He made a couple of comments I recall (perhaps incorrectly), that suggested that in Heinleinverse, incest was more natural than homosexuality.
Alternatively, the OP could have titled the thread Piers Anthony: Dafuq?
That’s just one scene from his final novel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset.
Heck, the novel is one long ode to incest and the acts of consenting adults, given a certain stretchiness in the definition of an adult.
The tale you refer to is not a short story, but rather an incident from Heinlein’s last novel, TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET. The characters in question are Maureen Johnson, mother of Lazarus Long (with whom she knowingly had an incestuous relationship, though not the short of incest she initially thought she was having), and the brother and sister, though the youngest of the children of her first marriage, were at least in their late teens, and both competent to make a sexual choice.
Incest is certainly discomfiting, and when it happens because of a power imbalance (as is always implicit in a relationship between an adult and a child) is immoral. But it’s not unnatural, any more than homosexuality is. It happens all the time. When one partner is forcing or manipulating the other into the relationship – parent, older sibling, funny uncle – that person should be sanctioned, by which, frankly I really mean shot in the head. But when both participants are on the same level and are engaging in the sexuql activity of their own free will, it’s nobody else’s business.
Anywho, the real offense of a Heinlein/Anthony comparison ia literary. Bob was brilliant; even his pointless digressions into ballistics and genetics and whatnot are interesting. Even if you ignore Anthony’s pedo issues, his work isn’t ART; it’s typing.
Lazarus Long would necessarily have a different view on adulthood than people today. For one thing, his formative years were in the early 1900s, and he’d see a girl as eligible for marriage when she was in her mid to late teens, not the mid-20s more typical today. For another, he was thousands of years old, and a thousand years older than the next oldest human; and among the Howards Families of his time, people could literally reverse the aging process. Being used to that, he would not, I daresay, see much difference between a woman of 22 chronological years (Deety Carter, say), one who looked 22 but was actually a hundred (Hamadryad), and one who both physically and chronologically in her 40s (Hilda).
There’s also the part of the date-rape scene where the judge (and Bink and the narrator agree) says that hey, if some bimbo chose to go out with a guy and he rapes her, well, the slut should have known better. And, regarding Chameleon: “How could she avoid being seductive? She was a creature constructed for no other visible purpose than ra—than love…”