Piers Anthony: Books I've Read

I can't remember if it was A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series, or Sos the Rope, the first book in the Battle Circle series, that I first picked up from the Wasatch Junior High school library in 1986. I was looking for works like Tolkien's, and the work of Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (P. A. D. Jacob, or Piers Anthony) stood out to me.

I have followed others authors closely (e.g. Isaac Asimov), yet many of the books I once owned were sold after the .com crash to pay rent. Anthony is one of the few, like Tolkien, that I kept. Here are short notes of each of P. A. D. Jacob's books.

Notes

Book order is roughly chronological by the edition that I own, noting the date of completion before publication of the first edition. This is a tricky thing. Some novels are finished long before they are published. Once published, sometimes there are editorial changes made along the way, an author's note updated, or even rewrites to portions of the novel, like happened with Mercyle. The dates are gleaned from author's notes, autobiographies, and newsletters. Sometimes this is a bit of a guessing game, so one criteria is the author's note and a kind of reading order of the books in general. The order I give here may be readjusted as I learn more. Bio of an Ogre orders by first (presumably American) publication date. Later Anthony began identifying dates for first draft completion, submission draft, often the galley reviews, author's note dates, as well as first publication date (especially in Britain), without consistency. Republication has tended to go by his existing final draft copy, (if he still has it; I understand some of the Xlibris prints were scans from his author's copies). I thus note the edition of the book I read, as later editions have draft corrections or even revisions, though he does not appear to rewrite old works once published.

These notes began when I first started rereading my Piers Anthony collection in 2016, going back to old favorites (e.g. Battle Circle), then ultimately starting chronologically from the beginning, which led to me tracking what was known of writing order (vs publication order). The first reviews were published on Amazon then Google+, where I'd take a screenshot of the book and give a review. This carried over into Twitter (and selectively longer reviews on Facebook on my second account (replacing the first deleted account). Thus starts this page. I want to keep my on my own site, instead of ending up on Goodreads, Amazon, or elsewhere. These do not duplicate the old reviews, some are shorter (at least initially), but will be elaborated on as I go.

Review Contents:

Anthony's first book was Unstilled World, written as a Bachelor's thesis in 1956, and was never published.

Omnivore hardcover

Omnivore

Published December 1968, I read the Ballantine hardcover, book club edition. It is the oldest Anthony edition in my collection. There is no author's note, though there is an author's bio-blurb on the back cover with a photo of a very young Piers. The front cover is eerie, but heavily influenced my imaging of the characters and landscape. It looks like an overexposed photo, but well done for the time.

Omnivore was surreal with its intelligent, fast moving fungi-based creatures, and engrossing with its character development and interaction. Though perhaps dated in the 21st century, it was excellent science fiction for the time and worth a read for science fiction fans.

Orn hardcover

Orn

Finished under its working title Paleo 27 June 1969. I read the 1970 Nelson Doubleday hardcover, book club edition, with cover illustration by Frank Franzetta.

This is the sequel to Omnivore. It has the same threesome of human characters, and the fungi aerial creatures called mantas they befriended. They are sent on a mission to Earth 70 million years in the past, or an alternate reality Earth. A postscript by Calvin Potter explores the science in the book. Modern reprints of the book have an afterward by Anthony looking at the viability of the idea from today's science.

Prostho Plus British hardcover

Prostho Plus

I read the Victor Gollancz Limited hardcover, published in 1971. This book was finished in October 1970. A couple of the stories are published in the Athonology short story collection.

This is a collection of short stories about becoming the first Earth intergallactic dentist. It reminds me of the humor from Asimov's Azazel, and is Anthony at his best.

Rings Of Ice British hardback

Rings of Ice

First published in 1974. I read the 1975 Millington Ltd hardcover, with afterward by Donald L. Cyr.

This is one of Anthony's more obscure works, it seems, but the idea of a flood with a scientific, non-Biblical explanation, set in the modern day (for the time) US, was a fun read with interesting characters. Gripping, classic SciFi. The story takes place in an RV motor home, and the interest is in the characters they meet and save, at least initially. Having read this many years after its publication, I was mildy reminded of the Xanth novel Yon Ill Wind.

Triple Detente British paperback cover

Triple Detente

I read the Sphere Books Ltd first paperback edition from 1975, originally published in 1974, but finished in 1972 (as an elaboration on a short story, The Alien Rulers, from from Analog, 1968).

This is a space invaders plot with a twist, as suggested by the title. Two worlds conquer each other, and in their manipulative intrigue work out a resolution against annihilation and for a wicked interspecies cooperation. Then another party intervenes and throws off the delicate, disliked balance.

0X hardcover

0X

I read the 1976 Nelson Doubleday, Inc. book club edition hardcover.

This is the conclusion to the Manta trilogy, where two men and a woman have adventures in parallel universes, befriend by the aerial Manta fungi-based creatures. 0X (i.e. Zero-Ex) is about artificial intelligence based on Gardner's the game of Life. There is a brief author's note about it.

Hasan paperback

Hasan

I read the Borgo Press trade paperback edition, printed in October 1977, with illustrations by George Barr, Afterword by Richard Matthews, cover design by Judy Cloyd. This book is Anthony's fourth published novel, his fifth written novel, and the second stand alone work. The publication is elegant, the illustrations well adapted to the story, aiding in visualization.

This masquerades as historical fiction, bringing to life the Arabian Nights tale of Hasan. I did not expect to enjoy this tale as much as I did.

0X hardcover

Battle Circle

I read the Avon, January 1978 paperback, with an unattributted cover art that in my mind is the best of all the editions of these books. Sos the Rope and Var the Stick were first printed in the UK, I believe in hardcover. This may be the first edition that prints the entire trilogy, in this case in the US.

Sos the Rope

This won the Pyramid Fantasy and Science Fiction Award in 1967. It was first published in October 1968, I believe in the UK. Of all Anthony's books, it is one of my favorites, based on a part of Anthony's Bachelor's thesis, Unstilled World, and one of the earliest that I've read of his works around 1987.

This is a classic dystopian, post-nuclear apocolyptic story of the future. It focuses around the idea of the battle circle as the arbiter of justice and dispute resolution in a world where there is no government. This story follows Sos as he gets wrapped up in the vision of a mentor, who defeats him, to unify the remnant tribes of humanity. It reminds me of the movie Bloodsport as if it were in the world of Stephen King's The Gunslinger.

Var the Stick

This story is so much about Var and his experience in the dystopia world of the battle circle. He is a lonely brute character that the author makes you love.

Neq the Sword

The conclusion to the series. Neq is the youngster who brings the world back to civilization, following the visions and works of Sol, Sos, and Var.

Pretender paperback

Pretender

I read the Borgo Press trade paperback edition, printed in 1979 by Griffin Printing & Lithograph Co., with cover and illustrations by Larry Ortiz (cover package design by Judy Cloyd). The publication is elegant, the illustrations well adapted to the story, aiding in visualizing the story.

This book was Anthony's first book length collaboration, with Frances Hall, and the second book completed, sold in 1967. Pretender is historical fiction reframed as science fiction by Anthony to make it more saleable. This adds an engrossing story line and beginning to the portrayal of ancient Babylonian life that makes this story so interesting.

Magic of Xanth hardback

Magic of Xanth

I read the Nelson Doubleday hardcover, with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko. Originally, I read the 1977 Del Rey paperback of A Spell for Chameleon in the 1980s.

A Spell for Chameleon

Spell won the August Derleth Fantasy Award 1977 for best novel. It was written from June-November 1976. After some of the conflicts with Ballentine, discussed in Bio of an Ogre and to a degree in How Precious Was That While, where Ballentine's name is mentioned explicitly, Anthony was burned with working with that publisher until Lester Del Rey reengaged the relationship, and with science fiction being with other publishers by that point, Lester suggested Anthony try Fantasy. The result was Anthony saying yes, but not taking Fantasy seriously, so created a funny fantasy framework that turned out to be successful: a fantasy realm mirroring where Anthony lived based on puns for Anthony to make fun of magic in sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle ways (e.g. easter eggs for readers to find and enjoy).

Bink is the underdog of his community. He has no magic that anyone can see. His girl friend his hesitant with this disability, as is his community. What Bink doesn't know is implications he is not aware of. This is a great introduction to Xanth, and one of the pillars of the series. Is it the best? Not necessarily, but it is the ultimate book of the series. If you read Anthony, this is a must.

I'm aware of a revised Spell that comes from a reader suggesting a less advanced language. The language level is higher with Spell because of a preference from Lester Dell Rey for a more adult series. However, Anthony has kept the series readabile by youth while still following an old fashioned approach to adult allusions and inenudo in the series. I for one prefer Anthony's final product, and am not keen on the dumb-downed language from another author, though approved and updated by Anthony, but I don't think the overall story is impacted, and future Xanth novels are not as intense of Spell.

The Source of Magic

What is the source of Xanth's magic? Why does Florida have a magic proximity that is separate and independent from Florida? Bink wants to know. I liked the goblins in this story, but the answer I found kind of lame, and the reoccuring theme in later Xanth's ranges from funny to here-we-go-again (though Xanth as a series always is enjoyable). Millie and her background was a highlight of the book.

Castle Roogna

King Dor is a funny character, or more to the point, his magic talent his hilarious and Anthony plays it for all it's worth. Castle Roogna explores the history of the castle, introduces zombies and the Zombie Master, and the battle behind that history. It also introduces Grundy, an endearing side kick of the earlier series. This is an early favorite of this series for me.

Split Infinity hardback cover

Split Infinity

I read the Del Rey (Ballantine) April 1980, first edition hardcover, with an iconic cover illustration by Rowena Morrill, and map by Chris Barbieri.

After Anthony's switch to fantasy with Xanth, Lester Del Rey asked for a second series. This was a mix of science fiction and fantasy, using a story similar to what Terry Brooks did later with Magic Kingdom, but with a world overlay similar to Xanth but with a science fiction theme, and on another planet. This is quintessiantial Anthony with a layered love story of a woman, a horse, a planet in peril, and the game (a plot device Anthony would come to use in other books and series).

Centaur Aisle hardback cover

Centaur Aisle

I read the Dell Rey 1981 hardcover, with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko.

Dor and Irene reach the height of flirtatousness in this hilarious fantasy that plays up Dor's magic talent in funny ways. This is the first time since A Spell for Chameleon that an adventure takes the questing companions to dreaded and dreary Mundania. This story really made me laugh, but it is Xanth after all.

Ogre, Ogre hardback cover

Ogre, Ogre

I read the Dell Rey 1982 hardcover with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko.

This is a Xanth novel in search of quest, with an answer to a human woman's question to travel with an ogre who never asked a question, but is also given an answer as a quest. There's something about Anthony's Xanth, and certain leaps forward with certain novels in the series. This is one of them, and is one of my favorites of the series.

Double Exposure

Double Exposure hardback cover

I read the Nelson Doubleday, Inc. book club edition hardcover, with cover art by Victoria Poyser, and map by Chris Barbieri. The map, I suspect, is the same as that in Juxtaposition. This is a trilogy collection of Apprentice Adept: Split Infinity, Blue Adept, and Juxtaposition. The About the Author page in the back has the same text that is in my edition of Split Infinity.

Blue Adept

Stile faces deportation in the science fiction realm of Proton, risking his life and status in the fantasy realm of Phase. His only hope is to take risks in the hope of becoming a citizen. The only thing I don't like about reading the Double Exposure edition of this book was the lack of the sexy cover of the Del Rey edition that had first got me interested in this series.

Juxtaposition

This is the conclusion to the Stile focused Apprentice Adept trilogy, exploring the relationship of Phase and Proton, which Stile must save risking the power of both citizens and adepts. I read this in the Double Exposure book club edition.

Night Mare hardback cover

Night Mare

I read the Dell Rey 1982 hardcover with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko. The novel was completed 28 October 1981.

The night mare is Anthony's daughter's horse. Like it's sequel, the author shows his versatility by making the main character that horse (which is also Stile's horse in the Apprentice Adept series) escaped (or perhaps freed) from the gourd dream world.

Dragon on a Pedestal hardback cover

Dragon on a Pedestal

I read the Dell Rey 1983 hardcover with jacket painting by Bob Stuhmer. This is the first Xanth novel with an author's note, at least from their original publication. It was finished in October 1982.

Ivy is Dor's young daughter. Like it's predecessor novel, the author shows his versatility by making the main character a three year old little girl. Ivy gets lost in Xanth, and Dor must find her before she is hurt or killed, but little do they know that Ivy is about to make Xanth history.

Incarnations of Immortality hardback cover

Incarnations of Imortality

I read the November 2013 Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) Omnibus Edition, with jacket art by John Jude Palencar. This is by arrangement of Random House and Del Rey, and the two first books of the trilogy, On a Pale Horse and Bearing an Hour Glass, appear to be unedited (other than perhaps the needful copy editing for typography) from the originals.

On a Pale Horse

Finished 17 May 1982 (according to the author's note, and the Xlibris Refugee author's note). Author notes started about 1981 for Anthony, as observed in this novel. I suspect that the writing of the author notes in On a Pale Horse, and the author's recognition of him reaching age 50 about the same time as reaching the authoring of fifty books (as noted in his About the Author blurb, (see Night Mare), inspired the writing of BiOgre (as Anthony's second autobiography called it), and the author's notes followed there after with most of his novels. Author's notes really never existed, as far as I can tell, before then.

This novel is a favorite. Maybe that's because, like the Battle Circle trilogy, this was an early novel of Anthony's that I had read, and like the author has observed with Xanth, the first read seems to become the favorite. (Oddly, I didn't like Xanth as much until I reread A Spell for Chameleon as an adult.) It's dealing with the macabre, the far off fear of the pain of death, and the odd unsurity of what happens after, if anything, is dealt with so well in this story. Many allusions to the Christianity of our culture are found here, some serious, some facetious, but also dealing with other legends and mythologies that our species uses to grapple with our finite existence. (Other than the Latter-day Saint movement, there don't seem to be many that grapple with what came before our existence.) Clearly, we don't want to stop being ourselves, and watching others stop, in gruesome and peaceful (if there is such a thing) ways, is appalling. This isn't funny fantasy, but it is not entirely serious either. Perhaps that's the way death should be considered.

Bearing an Hourglass

The manuscript was finished 24 May 1983, a week before its deadline. (See the Mercenary and Bearing an Hourglass author notes.)

Hourglass shows Anthony's versatility as an author in telling a story in unique ways without distracting the reader from being immersed in the story, the reservation of their scepticism of the fiction of the tale. This story tells about a being that lives backward, living from end to beginning, and the beginning is passing on the hourglass while existing with its use until the beginning point. A fascinating story and a fascinating spin on the previous tale around the theme of death. A fitting sequel.

Crewel Lye hardback cover

Crewel Lye

I read the Del Rey 1984 hardcover, with jacket illustration by Ron Walotsky. The manuscript was finished 23 October 1983. This is the book where things start to fall apart between Anthony and Lester Del Rey. Already disgruntled by the author's notes from the last Xanth novel and the first two(?) Incarnations novels, according to the author's note, the first chapter was deleted because of too many puns. Clearly the note is written after, or at least updated, so I wonder if the author's note too was trimmed originally. The missing first chapter is found in the collaboration Visual Guide to Xanth. I'm happy to have first read this novel with it, did notice that the second chapter had been slightly edited to not be too jarring starting there (not jarring reading it with the first chapter), and commented to the author that when republished it should be restored. He didn't seem sure in his response.

This is another Ivy story, and is about what you'd expect. It seems like a sequel to Castle Roogna, perhaps a bit, too.

Anthonology hardback cover

Anthonology

I read the March 1985 Tor hardcover, with cover art by Joe Bergeron.

Along with BiOgre, this documents the beginning of the author's career, which began with the short story Evening in 1954. This includes stories published between 1963-1972, compiled for this collection in 1984, including some original to it, (though it is not always clear when they were written). These stories give a clear sense of the tone the author will use throughout his career.

Race Against Time paperback cover

Race Against Time

I read the Tor paperback, printed September 1985, though first published in 1973. The first chapter of Hasan is found in the back.

John Smith. What a character name. He's a teen boy in the 1960s. At least so he thought, but things don't add up, and his cloistered, disciplined life doesn't seem right. This is a fun science fiction story, billed for teens, but as other Anthony children's stories, the writing is adult even if the content is more PG than is norm.

With a Tangled Skein hardback cover

With a Tangled Skein

I read the Del Rey 1985 hardcover, with cover painting by Michael Whelan. The manuscript was finished 11 April 1984.

This story brings failed love (again?) into the motivation for taking over as one of the fates that weaves the fabric of history for human individuals, only to find her intrigue with the incarnation of Satan becoming its own political hassle as she discovers her own line of fate and what happened to her love lost.

Uncollected Stars paperback cover

Uncollected Stars

I read the Avon Books, February 1986 paperback. This is a collaboration with two others genre authors.

A collection of previously unanthologized classic science fiction tales, each editor gives a small introduction to each story. If you love classic science fiction, this will expose you to stories likely otherwise unread, unless caught from its original publication in the respective genre journal, but worthy of further publication. A typical theme for Anthony: the worthy otherwise passed over, or ignored.

Shade of the Tree hardback cover

Shade of the Tree

I read the May 1986 hardcover published by Tom Doherty Associates, cover art by Linda Garland. Is this the one Anthony said he wrote as a trade off with Stephen King for their daughters, the one that resulted in The Eyes of the Dragon? Does anyone have the reference where Anthony claimed this?

This is Anthony's foray into thrillers, though he calls them horror. Shade of the Tree succeeds in its characterization, plot, and environmental focus that are typical of Anthony's work. This is up there in my Anthony favorites.

Ghost hardback cover

Ghost

Written originally as a story (see Anthonology), it was expanded into a novel in 1972, then expanded further in February 1976 by editorial request. I read the TOR September 1986 hardcover, with cover art by Ron Walotsky.

Captain Shetland takes the time ship Meg II to the edge of space and time, looking for a new energy source for an energy exhausted Earth, that has recently recovered from its poluted history and doesn't want to repeat the mistake.

Golem in the Gears hardback

Golem in the Gears

I read the Dell Rey 1986 hardcover, with jacket painting by Ron Walotsky. The Lexicon of Xanth is offered as an appendix, compiled by M. J. Langley and Ass-osciates Michael and Keith. The manuscript was finished after the But What of Earth? restoration in August or perhaps September, 1984. This is the last of the Dell Rey Xanth novels, written shorter so as to avoid Lester's editorial knife.

Following Grundy, who was introduced in the first trilogy, Golem in the Gears introduces his romance with Rapunzel, yes that's "pun", and the sea hag that steals identity. Grundy is an irascible character, but that's why we love him.

Wielding a Red Sword hardback

Wielding a Red Sword

I read the Del Rey 1986 hardcover with cover painting by Michael Whelan.

The Incarnations series seems to work in pairs, except for Being a Green Mother and Under a Velvet Cloak, which are more conclusion novels than books that run in seeming parallel themes. There's a kind of Siddhartha-as-Buddha story here, but instead of enlightenment, a prince wants to ameliorate violence in the world by becoming the incarnation of war, but it becomes a fight against Satan. He meets a woman who makes him feel comfortable with his stutter, and this is a kind of bridge story line between With a Tangled Skein and Being a Green Mother. The series has settled down here, and the past figures are coming back to revisit for the readers of the trilogy.

Out of Phaze hardback cover

Out of Phaze

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover, cover art by Darrell Sweet. The maps are signed by Storrings. The submission draft was completed end of August 1985.

A new Adept trilogy that can stand alone from the first, from a new publisher, this follows Stile's child, Mach, who doesn't know about Phaze, at least at first. Naturally, he has his own magic and counterpart in Proton.

Tarot paperback cover

Tarot

Finished in September 1977, I read the Ace November 1987 trade paperback, with excellent cover art by Kinuko Craft. This was originally published in three volumes: God of Tarot, Vision of Tarot, and Faith of Tarot. This edition is noted as a revision to the original text, finished in March 1987. The changes are mostly in titles, and introductory texts to the chapters (instead of quotations) and book.

The development of Paul in this story has no where near the same feel as But What of Earth? where he is introduced. The book is long, drags on in parts while Paul has his visions, and parts of it are offensive and crude if you don't keep your eye on the purpose of the story. It's a good story. Tarot should be read while reading the first two books of the Cluster series (and after But What of Earth?, which should, but doesn't have to, be read first before all of them).

Vale of the Vole hardback

Vale of the Vole

I read the Avon 1987 hardcover, with jacket art by Ron Walotsky.

So, the perspective of a vole, diggles, wiggles, and the swarm at the end. This continues the Xanth trilogy of trilogies under a new publisher. This brings all the normal characters we are used to from Xanth, reintroducing them for new readers, but the Good Magician, whom is carries the Xanth stories along like a kind of Deus ex Machina, is gone, vanished without a trace, a metaphor for the breach of relationship with Lester Del Rey.

Being a Green Mother hardback

Being a Green Mother

I read the Del Rey December 1987 first edition hard cover, with cover painting by Michael Whelan.

Songs, a follow up on Mym, and an interesting relationship with Satan that lead to an unexpected climax of the series. The Llano runs throughout: a musical book of nature, longing, finding our place, love, and peace in unexpected places.

Bio of an Ogre hardback cover

Bio of an Ogre

I read the Ace May 1988 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Darrell Sweet. This book was finished fairly early, about 1984, but sold late. It covers up to the publication (writing?) of his 50th book, and includes one of his first short stories in an appendix (not included, but mentioned, in Anthonology).

This book is a must have for Anthony fans. I've read it more than once, and have enjoyed the honest relation of his life and writing. It is not as detailed as Asimov's biographies, but gives a feel for Anthony's first half of his life and work.

Robot Adept hardback cover

Robot Adept

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover, cover art by Darrell Sweet. The maps are the same as from Out of Phaze.

More adventures from Mach, in a way a forbidden love story, maybe a spin on Romeo and Juliet, but with two worlds, errr their world, to save on top of it.

Heaven Cent hardback cover

Heaven Cent

I read the Avon 1988 hardcover, with jacket art by Ron Walotsky.

We met Morrow Bones, a lovable creature of the gourd realm, who has been asked to take Bink's grandson on a Xanth adventure. He has so many questions, from mushy adults to a grandmother's waning talent, to where in Xanth has the good magician gone too. Some things in Xanth don't follow Mundanian mores.

For Love of Evil hardback cover

For Love of Evil

I read the William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1988 first edition hardcover, with jacket design and painting by Rowena. The manuscript was finished December 1987.

The incarnation of evil actually played out much better than I had expected. Go figure that the primary plot is a good man falling in love with a good woman, something bad happens, then the slippery slope to taking over as the incarnation of evil occurs. This crisscrosses a bit over old territory, but from Satan's eyes. The build up to the end of Being a Green Mother happens in unexpected ways. If anything, Piers Anthony knows how to finish a story.

Chthon hardback

Chthon

Written in 1965, sold 27 June 1966, and nominated for a Hugo and Nebula in 1967. I read the Xlibris hardcover, published in 2000. This edition has an author's note explaining some of the difficult parts of the novel.

Chthon is a prison story about a man condemned for falling in love with a woman that finds pleasure in torture. There's more to the story of course as her existence threatens the galaxy.

The Ring paperback

The Ring

Sold October 1967. Finished January 1968? I read the Xlibris 2002 softcover, which has a 2002 copyright, so may have had some small revisions to the text. There's no author's note.

Geoffrey Font Jr is convincted of a crime, and sentenced to a decade with the ring, a good behavior enforcer that is implanted. However, when Jeff must defend himself and others, his ultra conscience keeps him from doing the right thing because it is the wrong thing. This is a fun, suspenseful science fiction mystery. It's the first of the books I read (and that was written) with Margroff, and remains my favorite of them.

The E. S. P. Worm softcover

ESP Worm

Sold 1969, published 1970. I read the Xlibris 2002 softcover, which has a 2002 copyright, so may have had some small revisions to the text. There's no author's note.

A difficult, alien, run away child needs to be returned to its home planet, and Harold has been selected to do the job.

Dead Morn hardback cover

Dead Morn

Written in 1970-1972, I read the Tafford 1990 first edition hardcover with jacket illustration by Jeff Myers.

This is the first collaboration between Anthony and Fuentes. It originally described Fuentes experience in Cuba working for Castro's rebellion and government until he was able to escape to Florida. Anthony turned it into a science fiction novel, but the science fiction is mainly at the beginning. Though its premise seemed solid, the events of Cuba's revolution overwhelm the story. It's good reading, and comes to a resolution for both the science fiction element, and the main character within the Cuban missle crisis.

Hard Sell hardback cover

Hard Sell

I read the Tafford 1990 first edition hardcover with jacket art by David Welling.

This is the complete collection of science fiction stories about Fisk Centers, first conned by a salesman then he becomes one, when he'd rather retire. Like the Prostho Plus stories, this is a funny romp through experience with sales propaganda, but in a interstellar framework of aliens and humans getting the best of each other.

Steppe hardback cover

Steppe

Steppe was finished in 1972, at least as a science fiction novel. (It appears to have originally been written as a historical novel.) I read the September 1985 Tor hardcover, with the sexy dust jacket painting by Boris Vallejo.

This approach, started with his first collaboration novel Pretender, doesn't always pay off. Anthony has done it to get the books into print, since he's recognized as a science fiction and fantasy genre writer, not a historical writer. What I've noticed is that the science fiction trapping often is nothing more than that: an encasement that doesn't always follow through on the science fiction ideas presented. Steppe had times where the science fiction element got in the way, and other times it felt unfulfilled (especially with such an engrossing beginning), but the story comes to terms with itself and the threads aren't abandoned. The story itself was fun and enjoyable, and the historical imagery realistic.

Jason Striker Martial Arts Series

I read the Xlibris three volume compendium, the third of which includes story extras, the unfinished draft of book 6, as well as other work related to the series.

Kiai! soft cover

Kiai!

Written in 1972, Kiai! was the second novel written with Fuentes after Dead Morn. Apparently, it didn't take off with the publishers until the TV series Kung Fu aired with David Carradine, at which point it was suddenly popular. Kiai! is about Judo sensi Jason Striker who joins an underground tournament, meets an Aikido sensei that he befriends. This reminded me of the movie Blood Sport.

Mistress of Death

Not quite sure when this was written. 1972-73? Like Kiai!, it wasn't published until 1974. This is where the plot starts to get interesting and a bit more bloody. The mistress is the new antagonist who uses drugs to capitivate her victims. It's basically a drug ring and Striker wants to bring it down. Meanwhile, his dojo and students become imperiled.

Jason Striker volume 2 soft cover

Bamboo Bloodbath

Likely written in 1973, Bamboo Bloodbath introduces a strange antagonist, the Hyena, and Striker gets involved to take down this weird, nefarious character after Judoka in his dojo are injured. This relies to a degree on Fuentes' experience in Cuba.

Ninja's Revenge

Written in 1974-75, Ninja's revenge revisits the old Aikido master of the first novel, and a mysterious Ninja legend of a ghost from the past, and the polution of a local village.

Jason Striker volume 3 soft cover

Amazon Slaughter

This is the final installment, written in 1975. A curse, a black castle, and a Judoka to save the day.

Curse of the Ninja

This is the unfinished sixth installment. It can only be found in the Xlibris edition, and gives the wrap up to the series, even if only in the author's summaries for what they had planned to write.

Phthor hardback cover

Phthor

I read the Xlibris hardcover. This is the sequel to Chthon.

Anton's son is tempted and seduced by the Minionette with the existence of the universe hanging in the balance because of it. This looks back at more history of the species of the Minionette, and explores life in the catacombs that was once Anton's prison.

But What of Earth?

But What of Earth? paperback cover

Finished June 1975, I read the TOR July 1989 paperback edition with cover art by Don Maitz.

For Anthony, this rates as his least favorite novel, probably from the circumstance of its writing and publication. There are two naratives here.

The first is the short novel that would become the prequel of the Cluster series. From notes in But What of Earth?, Tarot, and the Open Road Integrated Media, Inc. edition of Cluster, it's not entirely clear if ideas for Cluster came before But What of Earth?. The Introduction is the only place that it is suggested the ideas for Cluster came first, and Earth? became a prequel to it. Certainly, I can see after the fact why it would be thought of that way, but it appears that the ideas didn't develop that way. Earth? can be ignored by Cluster series fans without taking away from it.

The second is the story of the butchering of the novel. In this, and other places, Anthony brings the case that editors should not change the work of an author without agreement. Editors have been known to change and improve an author's work (Hemingway is an example) as well have authors sign their copyright in various degrees over to the publisher. Strictly, from a copyright point of view, Anthony is absolutely correct: the copyright is to start with. From Anthony's writings it is clear that publishers tend to do what they want regardless of contract. Anthony's problem really is he expects publishers, that is corporations, to honor their agreements. It's made him a bit of a pariah. I can't help but agree with him. A contract is only as good as the word of those who sign it.

Earth? is not my favorite of Anthony's work, but it is definitely one I have fond memories of. The character of Brother Paul in this book shines, and I enjoyed the exploration of the idea that population increase and decrease, especially in aggressive change, affect the level of civilization. I also love that unlike much science fiction, space travel constraints are recognized, and a different, and interesting way forward is explored in matter transmission. Other than a bit of an abrupt, raw start to the novel, I found it enjoyable and worth a reread.

Mute paperback cover

Mute

Mute was originally written in 1979. It was restored in early 2001. I read the Xlibris trade paperback. I couldn't find it on Xlibris and had to contact the author to get a copy from them, which he noted in one of his newsletters. Thank you Piers!

This is one of Anthony's epic novels, a mixed science fiction and fantasy, like many of his after Split Infinity. A mute mutant discovers his memory is wiped and gets caught up in an interstellar conflict. I never read the abridged version published by Avon, but I'm not sure how it could have been better. Anthony had queried about whether there was interest in a sequel Moot, which I responded in the affirmative, but he apparently lost his notes on it, and ultimately decided against the sequel. Bummer.

Refugee hardback cover

Refugee

I read the Xlibris hardcover (June 1999). The book was originally finished 26 June 1982, almost two months after On a Pale Horse.

This is pure science fiction, which Anthony tends to excel at. The story and characters are gripping, but the situation is rough and graphic, modeled after some of the trammatic stories of Cuban immigrants to the United States. Though analogies abound, it provides an interesting glimpse into what a solar system full of human colonists might look like, however typical of Anthony's style and hopefulness for greater sexual openness (at least in entertainment print).

This series seems to be, or at least towards, the beginning of his break from standard publishing, and moving towards greater authorial freedom.

Mercenary hardback cover

Mercenary

I read the Xlibris hardcover. The book was initially finished on 22 July 1983. Spoilers to follow.

This book has some beautiful and imaginative scenes on and around Jupiter, and some epic spaces battles and politics. This is volume 2 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Refugee. Hope and his family begin to integrate in Jupiter culture, having successfully immigrated.

Politician hardback cover

Politician

I read the Xlibris hard cover edition. Finished May 1984. This is volume 3 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Mercenary. Spoilers to follow.

Having immigrated to Jupiter, Hope becomes popular and begins a local governor, catching the political eye of a rival who is running for president and wants Hope out of the way.

Executive hardback cover

Executive

I read the Xlibris hardcover. Finished 27 December 1984. This is volume 4 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Politician. Spoilers to follow.

This is in some ways the pinnacle of the idea behind the Space Tyrant. Between revenge against the pirates that brutalized his family in Refugee, and his taking control of not only Jupiter but the rest of the solar system, this brings forward some of the political and environmental ideas that motivated Anthony to write the series in the first place. If you had absolute power to fix societal problems, what would you change and how?

Statesman hardback cover

Statesman

I read the Xlibris hardcover. The book was finished 24 November 1985. This is volume 5 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Executive. Spoilers to follow.

This follows the rest of Hope's life, exiled and deposed. The conclusion to the series, or so it was at the time it was written in the 1980s.

Balook hardback cover

Balook

I read the Underwood-Miller, 1990 first edition hardcover, with illustrations by Patrick Woodroffs, including the jacket art. This is an elegant, beautiful edition, with multiple illustrations, thick glossy paper, and stitched binding. The writing (not sure about the illustrations) was finished in early 1987.

This is a children's story about a large, prehistoric zoo animal that becomes attached to a child. When the animal escapes, causing havoc in the country side, alarm spreads and the boy goes after him. A simple, fun story about the bonds we form with animals other than humans and some of the environmental implications our power over animals has, this has got to be one of Anthony's most elegant children's/young adult novels.

Unicorn Point hardback cover

Unicorn Point

I read the Ace/Putnam 1988/1989 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Darrell Sweet.

A game for power over Proton and Phaze leads Mach and the other children into an adult battle for their future. The book follows each character in sets of 3 chapters, each chapter dedicated to following a particular character. This is the conclusion of the second trilogy following Mach.

Adventures of Kelvin of Rud: Three Complete Novels

I read the 1993 Three Complete Novels Wings Books hardcover edition of the Adventures of Kelvin of Rud trilogy, with cover art by Mel Grant.

Adventures of Kelvin of Rud trilogy hardback cover

Dragon's Gold

Once Anthony got the bug from a mixed science-fiction/fantasy realm with his Apprentice Adept series, it seems to have forever colored his approach to fantasy. Put a different way, I think Anthony is a science fiction writer, not a fantasy writer, though the fantastic elements of his most of his books (he has published some historical fiction that didn't need it being made into science fiction) begs the difference.

Dragon's Gold begins with a brother and sister sneaking away from home to steal gold scales from a dragon. Little do they know that this will fulfill a prophesy that will change their sense of who they are and where they came from.

Serpent's Silver

Alternate realities are introduced and Kelvin learns how to jump between them in his bid to save Rud and fulfill the prophecy. This book forwards the series concept further.

Chimaera's Copper

More reality jumps. More intrigue and war. More Kelvin saving the day. It didn't feel like much development of the series was done here, though it lays the ground work for the sequel.

Total Recall

Total Recall hardback cover

I read the William Morrow and Company, Inc. first edition hardcover, published September 1989, with jacket illustration by John Berkey.

The hardcover initial release was based on the original script. There are some minor differences, e.g. Quail instead of Quaid (following Dick's original name), and a sexy scene with Quail walking through the 3D light projection of a beautiful woman. The paperback follow up was changed to more closely match the movie as produced. I think Anthony's first edition novel was more fun, though Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone were great to watch. I think that Anthony's rendition of the script, as originally printed, does justice to Dick's story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, updating this 1960s pulp (F&SF) science fiction classic for the current culture (though even that has aged since). Of course, the movie story is far more elaborte than Dick's: there's no Martian terraforming, political consipiracy, underground, mutants. Quaid's job is not a clerk, but more suited to Schwarzenegger's muscle. In some ways, I like Anthony's rendition the best.

Through The Ice hardback cover

Through The Ice

I read the 1989 first edition hardcover from Underwood-Miller, illustrations and cover art by R. Daniel Horne. Finished in July 1988.

This is a basic, fun fantasy: an enjoyable way to escape for a few hours. A group of youngsters are chosen. Seth is one of them, pulled from his harsh reality in Michigan. They go on a trek to defeat the evil emperor bent on world domination.

Phaze Doubt hardback cover

Phaze Doubt

I read the Ace/Putnam 1990 hardcover, with jacket painting by Lisa Amoroso.

Is it a surprise that the grandchildren are going to save the world in this concluding adventure to the Apprentice Adept series? Now, the threat is external, an invasion fleet that wants the resources of Proton, and its magical capabilities. The grand children befriend one of the invader informants and choices must be made.

Firefly hardback cover

Firefly

I read the 1990 Morrow first edition hardcover with jacket design by Linda Kosarin and photo by Lisa Stein.

This is a horror novel, but like Anthony horror it is heavy on character and theme. This story has an environmental theme, and one of sexuality. It treats some subjects of sexuality sensitively, but it is graphic. A monstor begins romping the Florida country side, eating people from the inside out, but there is no sign of struggle. It's almost like people are allowing themselves to be eaten. Anthony excels at horror, equaling his hard science fiction, but he doesn't write it much.

Tatham Mound hardback cover

Tatham Mound

I read the Morrow first edition hardcover, with jacket illustration by Jerry Lofaro.

This is one of my favorite works of Anthony's, not a fantasy (maybe a little) but history. It is based on research the author funded of a tribe that lived in Florida and was effectively destroyed by the Spaniards (de Soto). It is a large book, but kept my interest page for page. It follows Hotfoot through his life beginning as a new warrior traveling up and down the American coast, following the guidance of his ancestors.

Orc's Opal hardback cover

Orc's Opal

I read the TOR, October 1990, first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet.

Piers Anthony potrays child characters well and seems to have fun with them. This story is a rather weird, but perhaps typical, switch-a-roo, wicked witch story.

Virtual Mode

Virtual Mode hardback cover

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover with jacket illustration by Daniel R. Horne. This was finished 8 March 1990. The jacket illustration is beautiful, and forever fixed my impression of the protagonist of the story.

This is one of Anthony's classic fantasy series and is perhaps my favorite of his, and is certainly suitable as young adult fiction. Colene (pronounced like Colleen: Call-een) is a depressed, suicidal teen, backed into a corner by peers, abused, and ignored by parents with their own problems. Then she finds a man, beaten on the side of the road, and can't help but help him. Little does she know, the man is royalty from a magic kingdom, and he is searching for her.


Letters to Jenny hardback cover

Letters to Jenny

I read the TOR August 1993 hardcover, with jacket art by Jael.

On 9 December 1988, a drunk driver hit a teenage girl, put her in a coma, and left her paralyzed. Knowing she was an Anthony fan, her mother wrote asking for help: write Jenny and see if that will wake her up. It did. This book is the first year of letters that he has written to her since.

Caterpillar's Question hardback cover

Caterpillar's Question

I read the Ace October 1992 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Romas.

This is the adaption of a short story by Anthony, turned into a first chapter, then rotating between the two authors, at least initially. An alien seduces Jack, who needs him for protection until she can morph into a powerful creature capable of moderating the tyranny of a galactic empire. This is a romp around the galaxy in a science fiction story typical of both authors. Each chapter in some ways is a separate story, and in some ways eggs on the collaborator to find a way to continue with get-out-of-this-one cliff hangers. For instance, chapter 9 ends with ...yet there seemed to be no alternative. Chapter 10 starts with, Then he saw something. It reminds me of some of the early Weiss/Hickman D&D plot advancements.

Mouvar's Magic

Mouvar's Magic hardback cover

I read the TOR, August 1992, first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet.

This concludes the series and gives the final revelations about Kelvin's father's origins. Books three and four (Chimera's Copper and Orc's Opal) are a kind of pair, similar to books one and two, but focused more on character development of the series. Orc's Opal also moves away from Kelvin as a primary character. This book returns to the series concept and wraps up the series.


Volk hardback cover

Volk

Volk was originally started in 1980, but Anthony was unable to get an sale based on the initial chapter and summary, apparently because it wasn't his typical fantasy. In 1990, with the additional successes of his other novels, he decided to finish the book, and did so in 1991. However, it remained unpublished until his investment with Xlibris. I believe it was the first book he published through them in 1996. I read the 1996 hardcover.

Volk is based on Anthony's parent's experience in Spain as Quakers volunteering for peace service during World War II. The story is about a Quaker woman who does the same who falls in love with a German officer, is captured, and the officer tries to save her. I enjoyed some of the lesser known history, and the slightly odd Quaker English that isn't quite the same as that which we read in Shakespeare, or the King James Bible. This was a fun love story.

Mercycle hardback cover

Mercycle

I read the 1991 Tafford first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Ron and Val Lindahn.

Originally written in late 1971, this a rewrite of the original finished around May 1990. It reminds me of the novel Ghost, though the plots are dissimilar. Most of this story takes places under the ocean off Key West, Mexico, and Cuba on a mission that is not explained but taken out of individual desperation.

Fractal Mode hardback cover

Fractal Mode

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover, with jacket illustration by Daniel R. Horne. The book was finished 22 November 1990, after Isle of View and the expansion and revision of Mercycle.

Traversing the modes, the new friends land in a mode realm where the mandelbrot set is a literal fractal reality, with different cultures and sizes of people exist within each iterative level of the set. The level they land in is in a magical transition period, and they meet Nona the most powerful magician of the land, and future ruler, in a despotic environment ruled by men for which she wishes to escape.

Alien Plot

Alien Plot hardback cover

I read the TOR October 1992 first edition hardcover, with dust cover by Carol Russo.

This is a second collection of short stories after Anthonology. Apparently, Anthonology was originally a collection of unsold stories in 1969. Instead, what sold was a collection of published stories, with a couple of unsold additions. Alien Plot thus adds the unsold stories, plus more recent stories, some of which were sold. Like the first, each story has a small author's note introduction. This is about on par with the first volume, if you liked it, but with some newer stories. The final entry is not a story, but an article that I originally read in The Writer, called Think of the Reader, which I remember enjoying at the time. This version is the unedited one, naturally.

Killobyte hardback cover

Killobyte

I read the Ace 1992/93 hardcover, with jacket illustration by Den Beauvais. The book was finished in September 1991 (or at least its author's note was), and was written in the summer of 1991, including some reader feedback at DragonCon that year.

This action thriller is a kind of fantasy within a virtual reality game, with two misfits who become lovers, and a power hungry player who ups the stakes to deadly interactions. Anthony seems to like this virtual reality approach, but unlike other series and short stories, this stand-alone novel is a gem on the cusp of the internet era.

If I Pay Thee Not In Gold

If I Pay Thee Not In Gold hardback cover

I read the Baen July 1993 hard cover edition, with jacket illustrtion by Darrell K. Sweet.

Anthony had some criticism of this collaboration. It was initiated by the Baen editor. Anthony thought the novel he received, written by Lackey was subpar, and decided to rewrite it. From there it seemed a trilogy was planned, but was scrapped when Anthony's payment for his work was almost neglible. I understand there was a lawsuit over it.

The novel itself, in its finished form, was epic. I found myself immediately engrosed by the character. The Roman-like historical setting was believable, and described in a way that kept interest in the surrounding and the characters. The politics was a believable matriarchy. When the main character is left homeless, and becomes involved in a classic type of fantasy quest, the outside world from the matriarchal city-state is drastically different, and the contrast is again engrossing. This was a fun novel. It's a shame it got buried in the politics of the publishing Parnassus (as Anthony calls it).

Chaos Mode hardback cover

Chaos Mode

I read the Ace/Putnam 1993 hardcover with jacket illustration by a new artist this time, Romas Kukalis. The new character Burgess is shown on the cover.

Chaos Mode is the third novel in a series beginning with Virtual Mode, and is the sequel to Fractal Mode. The series start in a way stands alone, though clearly not reaching the expected fulfillment. This is installment seems to revisit the issues of the first and second book, wrapping up loose ends, creating a new one with Burgess, and bringing to a head the conflict with Ddwng and the attempt to finally get to Darius' home mode. (My best pronunciation of Ddwng, following Anthony's explanation, is Dee-Doong, not quite D-dung, which was my temptation.)

The ending is a cliff hanger, and must have felt insufferable to readers to have to wait 8 years for the conclusion from a different publisher. I had been reading other Anthony books at the time, so thankfully was able to read the conclusion in without having to impatiently wait. Anthony's newsletters provide some of the context for the writing of the final book, DoOon Mode.

Isle of Woman

Isle of Woman hardback cover

I read the Tor September 1993 first edition hardcover, with cover art by Eric Petersen. The text was finished either in August, or sometime thereafter (September?), 1992.

Geodyssey is a series of books that is a collection of short stories and novellas, beginning in evolutionary pre-history and finishing in the relatively near future. It ties the stories, and with some characters the books, together through characters that seem to have souls that transcend their physical manifestations, adapting to the local culture and situation, but being sufficiently recognizable to make interesting stories, and even plot strands shared between the individual stories.

Isle of Woman is the first of five books in the series. It has some information that later books refine or even find not to be entirely accurate. The stories and ideas themselves are worth reading, regardless, and tend to lend to a kind of suspense of what-really-happened? as the series progresses. This first volume introduces some early ideas around human breasts being an mating attractant early on, instead of mammary glands that swell only when fertile, suggesting that going into heat is something human evolution abandoned, as well as exploring the mating of Neandertal and modern human.

Some of the language is a bit dated by modern standards, having seen a shift in the period this was published, plus the author is starting to show his age (and perhaps temperment). All in all, I really enjoyed this series, on the same level or better than Tatham Mound. Exploring different cultures of history and time periods was fascinating, and Anthony does well making them come to life (as even his earliest books, e.g. Pretender do), as well as be entertaining. Each ends with more of a science fiction focus, and this one's final story, an apocalyptic ending to the book, shows us what may happen if we don't get control of the environment pollution of the biosphere, but paints a potential way forward too.

Shame of Man

Shame of Man hardback cover

I read the Tor October 1994 first edition hardcover, with cover art by Brad Schmehl.

Some of Anthony's explorations here include his ideas on dreams being a kind of collation mechanism for thoughts, how left handedness might have been perceived among early humans, the need to escape from Africa due to volcanic activity, an idea on the origins of Easter Island, and another science fiction projection of a burdened world finding its way back to civilization from environmentally sound food and communal living.

Tales From The Great Turtle hardback cover

Tales From The Great Turtle

I read the first edition, December 1994, TOR hardcover, with jacket design by Bonnie B. Butler.

If you liked Tatham Mound, you'll enjoy these stories. One of them is from Anthony, and reminds me a lot of Tatham Mound, and some of the stories from his Geodyssey series. There's authors I remember from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Asimov's Science Fiction, e.g. Mike Resnick, Kristine Katherine Rusch. There's a lot of good fiction here, some angry stories, and a few wild ones, but all in theme and entertaining, some educational, some gritty, but ultimately a satisfying collection.

Spider Legs hardback cover

Spider Legs

I read the January 1988 TOR first edition hardcover, with eery jacket art by Latif Kazbekov. This is a story about a super lobster that is hungry and begins eating humans.

Anthony writes very good horror and thriller novels, and this is one of my favorites of his collaborations. The Candian coast is itself and eery, beautiful landscape to imagine and explore, especially for the environmental theme Anthony adds to the story. Plus, the romance and characterization Anthony contributes to the story is spot on for a tale of this type, certainly more low key than Anthony's more adult sexuality in his other stories. Certainly, this is an adult story, and the gore is certainly shocking in places, but such is the horror genre. Anthony wraps this tale up nicely, as he always does. As he says often enough in his newsletters, this is my kind of junk.

Dream A Little Dream hardback cover

Dream a Little Dream

I read the TOR January 1999 first edition hardcover, with jacket illustration by Tristan Elwell, though I understand this is based on, or actually is, Julie Brady's painting in the foreground.

A depressed woman with lucid dreaming begins to create her own fantasy reality that she can disappear to, until her bad dreams risk overtaking her fantasy and reality. Not one of my favorite Anthony collaborations, but I strongly approve of Anthony's work with new offers to get them published. Some go on to write their own novels, some stop with the one collaboration. This appears to be one of those.

The Gutbucket Quest

The Gutbucket Quest hardback cover

I read the Tor May 2000 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

It's not quite clear when this novel was completed. For certain, inbetween 1989 and October of 1999 (when his author's note is dated). As Anthony's memoir indicates, the collaborative novels last sold to Tor were done so in groupings, and this one was essentially after Dream a Little Dream, though the publishing order is not the same as the writing and sell order.

Gutbucket refers to a guitar, and this novel is a 60s style love story. It is about the love of the blues, and it is about finding love in unexpected places, especially when that place is an alternate fantasy reality. What happened if the civil war was won by the South? It goes farther from there, but likely not the way one might think. I really enjoyed this book.

The Willing Spirit hardback cover

The Willing Spirit

I read the Tor December 1996 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell. It was finished June 1993.

This is a saucy tale of fantasy from Hindi folklore and theology. An easy, fun read.

Quest for the Fallen Star

Quest for the Fallen Star hardback cover

I read the July 1998 Tor first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell. I have gone through a couple copies of this hardcover, and each one, no matter how gently I treat it, cracks along the inner front and back lines where the paste down block is attached. Something with this particular binding was flawed. An old glue? Inexpensive outer pages to the block? The book was finished after Yon Ill Wind in 1995.

This is a typical, but utterly engrossing, epic fantasy. Richey and his collaborators really did a thorough job with it. The characters are alive and interesting. The fantasy elements, however seemingly typical, are in the mix the right thing to hold reader interest. Though the book is big, and the writing pace slow, that pace keeps marching forward with interest. Expect the novel to feel slow at first, but that pace is relentless, the descriptions interesting and detailed, and the story line and characters everything they should be.

Hope of Earth hardback cover

Hope of Earth

I read the May 1997 Tor first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

Hope of Earth fits into my category of Anthony favorites, it is my favorite of the series for sure, and apparently is Anthony's favorite of the series. One might think that writing the same novel over and over, starting in ancient pre-human pre-history and ending in the near future, exploring the environmental impacts of human exponential growth, would soon get dull and boring, but the different places in archelogical and evolutionary past and historical places of the known human past with different character streams and interactions hits its pinnacle with this novel. Each book in Geodyssey improves the flow and academic foundations from the previous, sometimes refining previous ideas, but not repeating them. Anthony also hired a researcher for this series (originally Tatham Mound?), so a lot has gone into it, not only Anthony's whim of how he sees the world.

How Precious Was That While

How Precious Was That While hardback cover

I read the Tor July 2001 first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The illustrator is the same for Bio of an Ogre (referenced in the book as BiOgre) and the relationship between the art shows.

This is a memoir. It is stand alone, does have some clarifications to BiOgre, and does not run chronologically as BiOgre more or less did. It is both a sequel and a stand alone book that references BiOgre for more more detail. BiOgre goes to the author's age of fifty. How Precious Was That While has a reprise chapter of the first book too, and then reflects on different periods to age sixty. Alas, publishers don't seem to be keen on his autobiographies, and it is with difficulty that he is able to publish them, so who knows if there will be further follow ups. As he indicated in the first author's note of any substance in On a Pale Horse, they are a kind of sequel to BiOgre, and now How Precious Was That While.

He is much more open with this memoir than the first, nor does he hold back in mentioning by name the swine (as he nicknamed them in BiOgre) he encounters. Some names are still kept out for safety or privacy.

Reality Check hardback cover

Reality Check

I read the Xlibris hard cover, originally published by Pulpless. They renamed the title from Candle. This was finished in March 1997.

Perhaps one of the more fun fantasy stories that Anthony wrote in this period, this is about a grandchild who goes to stay with her grandparents at a rented house, which turns out to have doors the open on other places, and seeming other worlds. The house seems haunted, except that doesn't seem to fit the situation.

The Secret of Spring

The Secret of Spring hardback cover

I read the Tor March 2000 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

The cover art nails it. It's a scene from the book, captures the two main characters well, and also gives a sense of what the whole book is like. This story is funny, sauncy, and a classic science fiction, fantasy adventure. Herb, the main character is a walking, humanoid plant, young and looking for a good time with women. Though he's is in love with Lilly, something isn't working for him, so he leaves his planet for an extended bachelor party to figure it out.

Spring is the daughter of a scientist, who has imbedded his scientific secrets in his daughter. The only way to get them out is a romantic, sexual encounter. Zygote is the evil wizard that Professor Gabriel is trying to protect his secrets from.

Muse of Art

Muse of Art hardback cover

I read the Tor May 1999 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

This is book four in the Geodyssey series, and the first after the originally planned trilogy, a sequel (though not dependent on) Hope of Earth. For me this had ups and downs. Anthony can get destracted with sex in his stories, and sometimes it's fun, and sometimes it just becomes too much, overwhelming the story. This one was border line, but ultimately worked out in the end. (I like a saucy story from time to time, like I imagine most people do.) The North Italian Celts story was fascinating, and one of the highlights for me, seeing early Rome before its dominance. The story in Stalingrad was excellent, showing another aspect of the war between Germany and Stalingrad Russia. This reminded me in a way of the movie Enemy at the Gates.

These novels are getting old enough, that the final stories are starting to become dated (with the exception of the fifth novel). In this case, it is literally dated with a plausable enough future scenario (especially with the scare from Russia of going on heightened nuclear alert with their invasion of Ukraine) in 2024. Thankfully, Anthony's concerns in the first four books have not reached fruition, though they all remain possibilities to me.

The Iron Maiden paperback cover

The Iron Maiden

I read the Xlibris trade paperback. Finished March 2000.

The Iron Maiden retells the story of Bio of a Space Tyrant from the perspective of Hope's sister. It both stands alone as a novel and rexplores the original series.

DoOon Mode hardback cover

DoOon Mode

I read the Tor April 2001 first edition, with jacket art by Daniel Horne. Yes, the original trilogy was published by Ace/Putnam. I'm not aware Tor ever published the older novels.

This brings the Mode series to its conclusion, and a fitting, expected conclusion it is, with both a twist, and a recognition of some of the issues presented from the beginning. Perhaps expected is not the right word to use, considering the twist(s), but by the time you get to the end, it is expected and it is fitting. DoOon Mode returns to the animal androids, introduces a dragon version, and begins slowly to tie up the lose ends of the trilogy.

Tortoise Reform paperback cover

Tortoise Reform

I read the Mundania Press, September 2007 first edition paperback, with cover art by SkyeWolf Images. This appears to have been finished September 2001, but the author's note is October 2004. Not sure of the disparity in time frame there, but likely publishing issues.

Billed as a children's story, I found this slower paced, with more nuanced thinking and language than I would expect of a child. This is a teen's story, I think, more than a ten year old's. It is about befriending and saving animals, dealing with depression, and finding an alternate reality to escape to, at least at first. I found the story well considered, clearly written by a parent with daughters, and insightful and sensitive and I've come to expect of Anthony's more serious work.

Climate of Change hardback cover

Climate of Change

I read the Tor May 2010 hardcover. The jacket cover seemed like a basic clip art, no real illustration. This is the fifth and final book in the Geodyssey series, published a decade after most of the book was written. It was finished between May and July 2008. The book binding seems to be an improvement over past volumes (and Quest for the Fallen Star). Maybe there was an issue with those couple of years at Tor, but the binding glue would crack and the block sever with even careful reading, and consistently, in previous Geodyssey volumes. There are no maps in this one either, and it was the only volume written at least in the last part without his researcher.

There's a lot of history here that's fascinating to have visualized and explored, similar to previous volumes, but this seems more history thick. It is a worthy conclusion to the series, which I'm sad to see had to stop, like other series of Anthony's. All good things must come to and end; well, except Xanth.

Pandora Park paperback cover

Pandora Park

I read the Premier Digital Publishing (PDP) 2011 paperback edition. Oddly, neither the PDP, nor the Open Road Media Kindle, edition have an attribution for the cover artist, whom I thought did an excellent illustration for the book. This book was written in November 2005, after the Xanth novel Air Apparent. According to the December 2007 newsletter, a publisher was never found for the book. PDP is where this was published finally in 2011. PDP was bought by Open Road Media, so is now found there, but without the publish-on-demand option that PDP offered.

Of all of Anthony's children's books, this is my favorite, though Balook is a rough tie with it, especially because of the elegant illustrations of that book. The park in question has a magical forest that a boy from the States, and a girl from China, are able to meet and interact, and get to know one another. Having had such experiences in real life (not literal magic, but certainly magical), this story brought back some fond memories.

Writer's Retweet paperback cover

Writer's Retweet

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 edition paperback of Writer's Retweet, with cover art by Macario Hernandez III. The November 2011 newsletter indicated that Anthony was doing a new thing. Instead of having blog posts retweeted on Twitter account (maintained by his blogger and publisher), he would have tweets that would be pieces of a story. In the end, that was five stories in all, averaging over 100 tweets per story.

You can tell the paragraphs are small, but the stories follow from their own merit, and sometimes it seems that paragraphs contain several tweets as the book improves the typography and text layout. Typical Anthony stories with a new publisher that appears to be a common secondary publisher for him now, the main one being Open Road Media.

Service Goat paperback cover

Service Goat

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 paperback, with cover art by Macario Hernandez III. This was written in June and July of 2016. My edition print is dated 06 December 2016.

This is a fantasy and science fiction mix, with a goat with mysterious powers, and alien UFOs. It's fun for a light, quick read.


©2022, 2023 David Egan Evans.