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David Hines [userpic]

the most horrifying thing Piers Anthony has ever written

January 25th, 2010 (09:02 pm)

Some of you folks may recall that a while ago I mentioned that the curious thing about Piers Anthony, to me, is that while people often dump on Anthony for being weird, skeevy, disturbing, and that sort of thing, nobody doing so ever mentions the stuff that *I* find to be really disturbing. (And remember, when we say "Piers Anthony" we're talking about the guy who wrote protoplasmic sex scenes and a story with a dude boinking a mentally retarded woman who was hooked up to a milking machine.) This is odd as hell, because I remember glancing at the book when it first came out, doing a massive double-take on reading that passage, and thinking, "Holy dogshit, this'll get him run out of town on a rail." Curiously, that never happened.

I'm referring to TATHAM MOUND, in which Piers Anthony's hero boinks a ten-year-old girl, using honey for lube.

Thereafter he had the favors of many maidens, some quite young. In the Castile tribe a girl was not supposed to indulge in sexual activity until she was married, which could be some winters after she was fully developed. Here she was free to do it the moment her breasts formed, or even somewhat before, if she felt inclined. Already he had learned enough to know that age was not the criterion; the will of the maiden was. A man could not force a woman, unless he was married to her; he could only do what she wished. Among them was one who seemed to be hardly ten winters old, and her body was not yet developed. She had no prior experience. But she desired the favor of the handsome visitor, and he was obliged to render it. She alone came to him purely for love; she was smitten with him, and afraid he would depart before she grew old enough to attract him, so she came now. It was his first conquest of a genuinely inexperienced girl, and he had the wit to proceed with caution, so that she would not be hurt. In fact, he moved so slowly that she grabbed his penis impatiently and crammed it into her cleft, which was overflowing with honey. In her naïveté she had used too much. Honey squeezed out and got all over everything, but it did make the penetration easier. He was afraid that it was hurting her even so, but she seemed not to care. Everything was clumsy. Evidently he succeeded in initiating her appropriately, despite his misgivings, for the following evening Mouse Pelt returned, and expressed her pleasure with him in a most thoroughgoing manner. What a difference experience made!


ETA: it has been brought to my attention that this is far from the worst thing Piers Anthony has ever written. In his novel FIREFLY, Anthony wrote a detailed thrust-by-thrust (or, to be more precise, wriggle-by-wriggle) pedophilic sex scene, described by a five-year-old girl, who is depicted as quite literally asking for it. The five-year-old is being interviewed for the trial of the guy who was molesting her. She is eidetic and demonstrative, even to the point of having the (female) interviewer act out positions. At the end, the child realizes that her molester is In Major Trouble and starts crying, because she knows that telling the truth has gotten the guy sent up the river. She says she wishes she'd never done this, that she's sorry and such is the depth of her True Love that --

"So am I, dear," the interviewer murmured, wiping her eyes. "I wish I had
never done this."

* * *

The courtroom was quiet as the videotape ended. The Jury sat stunned. Several
jaws hung slack. One jury woman was openly weeping. No one had anticipated a
story like this.

The Judge refocused his eyes and mopped his brow with a handkerchief. "Is—is the
Defense ready to proceed?"

"We are, Your Honor. We believe that this poignant tape establishes that though the Defendant may be technically guilty of the charge against him, he is not morally guilty. He did not seek the girl, he did not force his attention on her. He demurred at every stage, by her own testimony. It was entirely voluntary on her part. In fact, they were lovers, in the truest sense, age no barrier. The law may say he is guilty, but the law is sometimes an ass."

Several members of the Jury nodded their agreement.

Then he turned to the Jury. "If there is guilt here, then surely it is that of the father, who set her up by incestuously toying with her. And of her brother, who practiced sodomy on her with a candle. Remember, it was to escape that abuse that she first fled and found the Defendant. The Defendant never hurt her. He did only what she asked. He gave her what no other man did. He loved her. We may take issue with the manner of the expression of that love, but we cannot deny its reality. She came to him of her own accord, again and again, because what he offered her was so much better than what she received at home. Her family should be on trial!"

Spoiler: the dude goes to prison anyway.

Incidentally, when the little girl (who goes by "Nymph" in the story) tells the molester about her home life, he explains, and that explanation leads into their sex scene. Thusly:

"Your father wants to have sex with you, but doesn't dare, and your brother wants to, but doesn't know how."

"What's sex?"

"That's when a man and a woman—a grown man and grown woman—get together and do it. Children aren't supposed to.'

She didn't know what he meant. A look of great perplexity showed on her face.

"What do they do?"

"They take off their clothes and lie on a bed and, well, they do it."

"What do they do? I don't understand!"

"Well, he puts his—I guess you don't know the words—his thing in her thing."


"Because it's a hell of a lot of fun, kid!"

"You mean like when Daddy plays with me?"

"Yes, only more so. A lot more so."

"I want to do it!" she told him.

I refuse to transcribe any more of it.


Posted by: That Chick with the Evil Laugh (sparkymonster)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)


Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)

Oh, thirded. Thirded. Oh, the knowledge of how much time and money I spent on that dude. :/

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
H. Beam Piper

My suspicion is that Piers Anthony was so successful with Xanth because he anticipated Terry Pratchett's audience. There was a huge market that wanted a funny continuing series with lots of puns and recurring characters that was set in a satirical but true-to-itself fantasy kingdom. The first Xanth novel came out six years before Pterry put out THE COLOUR OF MAGIC, and there was a three-year gap with no Discworld books at all between THE COLOUR OF MAGIC and the second book, which was THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, so Piers Anthony essentially had nine years in which he completely dominated that particular segment of the fantasy market. Then Pterry started churning out a Discworld novel or two every single year, and because they offered everything Xanth did *and were actually good books* readers began to seriously accrete. And when folks who'd read Anthony as kids moved on, a lot of them moved on to Pratchett.

So, yeah: before Terry Pratchett was Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony was Terry Pratchett.

Man, seriously, *thank God for Pterry.*

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)

There's probably a lot of truth to this, but I think it's incomplete. I think especially those of us who read it when we were teens: we wanted the sex! We didn't necessarily want deeply horrifying, psyche-scarring sex, but we were teens and we were interested in Anthony's fairly PG-13 (at least at the beginning, IIRC) but deliberately sexual content. PTerry, God love him, stays pretty far the hell away.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)

I don't think it's bad that curious/horny teens want to read about sex! Even, especially maybe, kind of fucked up sex!

I think it's bad that Piers Anthony is what was on offer. :/ I guess authors who have any sense of shame steer more clear of sex for the YA market? Even Judy Blume, she wrote about kids being curious about sex, but I don't recall any sexy readin' for fun in hers.

Posted by: [will fuck for sex] (anatsuno)
Posted at: January 26th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
inner darkness inner strength inner spac

I don't think it's bad that curious/horny teens want to read about sex! Even, especially maybe, kind of fucked up sex!

Yes, amen to that. Not that I am NOT horrified by this Piers business - I don't remember reading any, ever - but I think we sometimes fail to remember or imagine what it's like reading fucked up sex stuff younger. We have our adult sets of values and reactions now, and it's.. well, different.

Posted by: and things we're all too young to know (darlas_mom)
Posted at: January 28th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)

Even Judy Blume, she wrote about kids being curious about sex, but I don't recall any sexy readin' for fun in hers.

So I take it you never read "Forever." ;-)

Posted by: SithRose (sithrose)
Posted at: January 27th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)

In a touch of irony...I quit reading his work because I was tired of his sex-obsession. In my mid teens. Mind, I read almost all of the Xanth books before Jenny was introduced. But...Wow. I need brain bleach too!

Posted by: Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic)
Posted at: January 27th, 2010 06:13 am (UTC)

The thing that had me deeply unimpressed and later actively angry after I had the training to realize it for what it was, was when Chameleon was in the pokey with her future husband, in smart-and-ugly phase. She asked for a curtain for the potty, for privacy. Their captors granted it. The protagonist thought "Oh, perfectly understandable: she is ugly so she wants and deserves bodily privacy. A pretty girl would like to be looked at." NOT ALL PRETTY WOMEN ARE EXHIBITIONISTS, THE BATHROOM IS NOT WHEN ALL WOMEN WHO ARE EXHIBITIONISTS WOULD LIKE TO BE LOOKED AT, AND WHO THE HELL SAYS THAT YOUR FUCKING MALE GAZE IS THE GAZE THAT ANY GIVEN PRETTY WOMAN WOULD LIKE TO DISPLAY HERSELF FOR?!

Once I'd parsed that one, I was done with him.

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