Xanth series has paediophilia?

Over in this thread: Big Science Fiction OR Fantasy Worlds in Literature, jayjay says:

I’ve never gone very far in the Xanth series; could someone elaborate?

Well, it clearly wasn’t a tract praising pedophilia; it wouldn’t have been published if that were so. However, there are suggestions and hints and discussions of underage sex in some of his works. Nothing explicit. Here’s an article on the subject.

His Xanth books (that I remember) aren’t nearly as explicit as his descriptions in Firefly but rather are a bunch of creepy descriptions of young girls’ underwear and young boys grabbing centaur boobies and kids getting caught swimming naked and things of that nature. The issue with it is that it seems to come up all the time, not a single instance in one book and the cumulative result starts to feel a bit unsettling.

OK - to elaborate on my follow-up in the same thread.

To one degree or another, Piers played with a plot-line in the series best called the “Adult Conspiracy”. The short version is that at the age of 18, you are inducted into the AC and learn the secrets of adults like calling the storks, swearing, and being able to see underwear. A couple times, as part of the plot, he allowed children into the AC or wrote children born with/given powers to overcome it. Several books also dealt directly with the subject such as “The Color of Her Panties” soooooooooo - instant pedophilia.

Add to that is the fact (I believe) that a lot of his continuation of the Xanth series was at the request of a young girl who often wrote him as a fan and who he mentioned in several books and articles. Does he push the line here and there? Yeah - no doubt. But its not the first time an author has gotten the claim and it won’t be the last.

Note that the link in the other post isn’t the Xanth series. And that I (personally) agree with Tom Lehrer
All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder,
For filth (I’m glad to say) is in
The mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd.
(I could tell you things about peter pan,
And the wizard of oz, there’s a dirty old man!)

If you don’t mind the puns, the books are pretty good up to Question Quest. That’s the last book where he wasn’t just writing to the formula, and is probably one of the better books in the series, going back and filling in a lot of history. It makes a nice one to end on and hang up your Xanth boots.

But yeah, Piers seems to have a thing for ~14 year old girls. Particularly, he seems to favor black 14 year old girls. The level of explicitness varies by book/series, but I think every 14 year old girl in a Piers Anthony novel ends up falling in love with an older man (e.g. 30yo+) and they have sex. Sometimes lots of sex. I stopped reading his stuff in the early 90s, so I think everything was presented in a reasonably tame fashion but I have to imagine that, by now, he’s writing hardcore porn - or would if his editors allowed it. (Last I saw a thread about Piers Anthony, I think the topic was that he was self-publishing a smutty novel…)

Any one book that he writes, you can kind of say, “Okay, well, she may be 14, but she’s just solved the problems of two kingdoms, slain some dragons, put a slew of adults in their place, and proved herself the better of her own parents. PLUS, she initiated the relationship and he seems to just be thinking of her as a person, not a youngun that he can take advantage of. So…all cool?” But, after seeing the same scenario pop up three or four times, you start to get the hint that Piers has something else going on in his mind. It is rather creepy.

What Sage Rat said. Except for one Xanth novel where I think he really stepped over the line (I can’t remember the title, but one of the 10-year-old triplet princesses ends up having a sexual relationship with an adult character, with extenuating circumstances involving magical mental maturity, but still), most of it is stuff that, if you take it by single book, isn’t THAT bad. The cumulative effect is very off-putting, though.

Add to that the kind of relationships he was writing toward the end of the Incarnation series (the judge and the girl in “…And Heaven”, for example), and you have a portrait of a somewhat disturbed elderly creepo.

The book I was trying to think of was Xanth #32 “Two To The Fifth”. Princess Rhythm (12 years old) ends up having an adult relationship with the main male character of the book. A spell that ages her 10 years one hour a day is Anthony’s step-around, but while the physical relationship only gets indulged during that hour, they’re still having an emotional relationship the other 23. I just don’t think the aging spell workaround actually works around the problem, and that really made the book more squicky than usual for a Xanth novel for me.

Actually, read some of Anthony’s pre-Xanth stuff and you’ll get a creeper vibe, too - A Spell of Chameleon was really a change for him in many ways.

Yeah, there were a few stories in “Anthonology” that made me go “ick”.

A thread I started on Piers Anthony from 15 years ago:

Freaked out by Piers Anthony

Huh. I wonder if Anthony used to hang out with Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Anthony seems to have the view that sleeping with minors is morally okay if they are mature enough to consent. In a novel, that’s fine, just so long as we recognize that in the real world things don’t really work that way. Some minors are mature enough, some aren’t, but the law can’t really distinguish between them.

It’s interesting that as a kid I didn’t find his writing creepy or troubling at all. As an adult, it’s harder to read.

I’m still a little the “Piers” side of neutral. I can’t help but remember some of the rumors spread about Heinlein in the way-before-pre-internet days about “his obsession with young boys”. Most of that was because he wrote a combination of juvenile and adult works. Folks had issues with the same person who wrote something like Starship Troopers and Starman Jones also writing Glory Road.

In other words, I wonder if it would have been as active a thought if a lot of kids hadn’t latched onto the Xanth series and if he hadn’t basically started writing (in part) to them? If the books stayed more just adult in readershiplike a lot of his stuff would he be more a Steven King in most peoples minds? Now I’m curious myself and may just have to track down a copy of the “autobiographical ogre” book he did.

Lolita Sue, is that you?

Humbert Sue, rather.

As a kid, that aspect of it kind of goes over your head. Often, especially pre-teens and early teens, you’d identify with the precocious characters. It’s only after you’ve accumulated sufficient life experience that you recognize the ethical/moral pitfalls in that kind of scenario and you start feeling the creepitude.

The later Apprentice Adept books devolve into these themes as well. I found it uncomfortable and not in a “This writer is challenging me” way but in a "this guy is kind of a perv"way.

Don’t be absurd.

Everyone knows that Heinlein was obsessed with having sex with his mother.

The AV Club’s “Memory Wipe” series, in which their writers revisit pop culture works from their younger days, covered Piers Anthony a while back. The article (titled “Revisiting the sad, misogynistic fantasy of Xanth”) focuses on the first Xanth book, A Spell for Chameleon, which is nowhere near as bad as some of Anthony’s other books in terms of lusting after adolescent girls, but the article does talk about that as well: Revisiting the sad, misogynistic fantasy of Xanth

The one that made me stop reading Piers Anthony was the one with the five year old girl and the seven year old boy travelling together and somehow discussions of sex get involved - while no, the kids don’t have sex themselves. Just completely creeped me the fuck out and with previous deviations into that area, I’d had enough.