- ANTHONY, Piers
- Working name of US writer Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (1934-) for all his published work. Born in England, he was educated in the USA and took out US citizenship in 1958. He began publishing short stories with Possible to Rue for Fantastic in 1963, and for the next decade appeared fairly frequently in the magazines, though he has more and more concentrated on longer forms; his early work is fairly represented in Anthonology (coll 1985). His two most ambitious novels came early in his career. Chthon (1967), his first, is a complexly structured adventure of self-discovery partially set in a vast underground prison, and making ambitious though sometimes over-baroque use of PASTORAL and other parallels; its sequel, Phthor (1975), is less far-reaching, less irritating, but also less involving. PA's second genuinely ambitious novel is the extremely long MACROSCOPE (1969; cut 1972 UK), whose complicated SPACE-OPERA plot combines astrology with old-fashioned SENSE-OF-WONDER concepts like the use of the planet Neptune as a spaceship. In constructing a series of sf devices in this book to carry across his concern with representing the unity of all phenomena, microscopic to macroscopic, PA evokes themes from SUPERMAN to COSMOLOGY and Jungian PSYCHOLOGY; of all his works, this novel alone manages to seem adequately structured to convey the burden of a sometimes mercilessly hasty imagination. The allegorical implications of MACROSCOPE received more expansive - but less sustained or intense - treatment in two later series. In the Tarot series - God of Tarot (1979), Vision of Tarot (1980) and Faith of Tarot (1980), all recast as Tarot (omni 1987) - various protagonists engage in a quest for the meaning of an emblem-choked Universe. The Incarnations of Immortality series - On a Pale Horse (1983), Bearing an Hourglass (1984), With a Tangled Skein (1985), Wielding a Red Sword (1986), Being a Green Mother (1987), For Love of Evil (1988) and And Eternity (1990) - features protagonists who are themselves embodiments of a meaningful Universe, representing in their very being aspects of the Universe like Death and Fate. The final volume involves a search to replace an increasingly indifferent God. In distinct contrast to complex works like these lies the post-HOLOCAUST sequence comprising Sos the Rope (1968), winner of the $5000 award from Pyramid Books, FSF and Kent Productions, Var the Stick (1972 UK; cut 1973 US) and Neq the Sword (1975), a combat-oriented trilogy assembled as Battle Circle (omni 1978). Here and in other novels PA resorts to stripped-down protagonists with monosyllabic and/ or generic names, like Sos or Neq, or like Cal, Veg and Aquilon, whose adventures on various planets make up his second trilogy, Omnivore (1968), Orn (1971) and Ox (1976), assembled as Of Man and Manta (omni 1986 UK): humanity turns out to be the omnivore. Both these series use action scenarios with thinly drawn backgrounds and linear plots not comfortably capable of sustaining the weight of significance the author requires of them. Perhaps the most successful of such books is Steppe (1976 UK), a singleton featuring Alp, whose single-minded career playing Genghis Khan in a future dominated by a galaxy-spanning computer-operated game (GAMES AND SPORTS) is refreshingly unadulterated with any attempts at significance. Prostho Plus (1967-8 If; fixup 1971) and Triple Detente (1968 ASF; exp 1974) are both interstellar epics, the former comic and featuring a dentist, the latter concentrating on an OVERPOPULATION theme and its solution through culling by INVASION. Far more ambitious - though again by no means more assured - are two series in the same vein. The Cluster series, comprising Cluster (1977; vt Vicinity Cluster 1979 UK), Chaining the Lady (1978), Kirlian Quest (1978), Thousandstar (1980) and Viscous Circle (1982), is an elaborate space opera; it relates to Tarot in its use of Kirlian auras and other similar material in a Universe ultimately obedient to occult commands. The Bio of a Space Tyrant sequence - Refugee (1983), Mercenary (1984), Politician (1985), Executive (1985) and Statesman (1986) - slowly but surely embroils its initially ruthless protagonist in a world whose complexities demand of him a moral (and therefore self-limiting) response. PA is a writer capable of sweepingly intricate fiction, though his tendency to produce less demanding work may obscure this ambitiousness of purview. He is fluent and extremely popular, though his great success has done little to modify the truculent and solitary tone of his utterances on a variety of subjects. The critical apparatus surrounding the republication of But What of Earth? (1976 Canada; text restored 1989 US) with Robert COULSON, related to the Tarot sequence, serves as an extraordinary (and, with the original Laser Books edition not in print, not easily testable) exercise in special pleading; and his autobiography, Bio of an Ogre (1988), similarly reveals a man unreconciled, unforgiving. It might be added, too, that few of PA's numerous fantasies (listed below) seem built to last. When he is helter-skelter - and much of even his better work is marred by hasty-seeming digressions - PA is of merely marginal interest; but the ongoing Geodyssey sequence - comprising Isle of Women (1993) and Shame of Man (1994) - is a strongly argued presentation of humanity's life on planet Earth, conducted through successive incarnations of exemplary human types. It is only, in other words, when he embraces a complex mythologizing vision of the meaningfulness of things that PA becomes fierce. Other works: The Ring (1968) with Robert E.MARGROFF; The E.S.P.Worm (1970) with Margroff; Race Against Time (1973), a juvenile; Rings of Ice (1974), a DISASTER novel based on Isaac Newton Vail's Annular Theory (PSEUDO-SCIENCE); a series of martial arts fantasies, all with Roberto Fuentes (1934-), comprising Kiai! (1974), Mistress of Death (1974), The Bamboo Bloodbath (1974), Ninja's Revenge (1975) and Amazon Slaughter (1976); the Xanth series of fantasies comprising A Spell for Chameleon (1977), The Source of Magic (1979) and Castle Roogna (1979), all three assembled as The Magic of Xanth (omni 1981), and Centaur Aisle (1982), Ogre, Ogre (1982), Night Mare (1983), Dragon on a Pedestal (1983), Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn (1984), Golem in the Gears (1986), Vale of the Vole (1987), Heaven Cent (1988), Man from Mundania (1989), Isle of View (1990) and Question Quest (1991), The Color of her Panties (1992), Demons Don't Dream (1993) and Harpy Thyme (1993), plus Piers Anthony's Visual Guide to Xanth (1989) with Jody Lynn Nye; Hasan (1969-70 Fantastic; exp 1977; exp 1986); Pretender (1979) with Frances Hall (1914-); the Apprentice Adept sequence comprising Split Infinity (1980), Blue Adept (1981) and Juxtaposition (1982), all three assembled as Double Exposure (omni 1982), and Out of Phaze (1987), Robot Adept (1988), Unicorn Point (1989) and Phaze Doubt (1990); Mute (1981); Ghost (1986); Shade of the Tree (1986); the Kelvin of Rud series of fantasies with Robert E.Margroff comprising Dragon's Gold (1987), Serpent's Silver (1988) and Chimaera's Copper (1990), all three being assembled as The Adventures of Kelvin of Rud: Across the Frames (omni 1992; vt Three Complete Novels 1994); and Orc's Opal (1990) and Mouvar's Magic (1992), both being assembled as The Adventures of Kelvin of Rud: Final Magic (omni 1992); Total Recall (1989), a novelization of the film TOTAL RECALL (1990), itself based on Philip K.DICK's We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1966); Through the Ice (1989) with Robert Kornwise (?1971-1987), a collaborative gesture to a dead teenage writer; Pornucopia (1989), a pornographic fantasy; Hard Sell (fixup 1990), humorous sf; Dead Morn (1990) with Roberto Fuentes, a TIME-TRAVEL tale of a visit from the 25th century to a revolutionary Cuba familiar to the book's co-author; Firefly (1990), horror; Balook (1991), young-adult sf; the Mode fantasy series, beginning with Virtual Mode (1991), Fractal Mode (1992) and Chaos Mode (1993) Tatham Mound (1991), a fantasy based on Amerindian material; Mer-Cycle (1991); vt Mercycle 1993 UK), an sf singleton; The Caterpillar's Question (1992) with Philip Jose FARMER; Alien Plot (1992); Killobyte (1992); If I Pay Thee Not in Gold (1993) with Mercedes LACKEY. As Editor: Uncollected Stars (anth 1986) with Barry N.MALZBERG, Martin H.GREENBERG and Charles G.WAUGH; Tales from the Great Turtle (anth 1994) with Richard Gilliam. Nonfiction: Letters to Jenny (coll 1993).About the author: Piers Anthony (1983 chap) by Michael R.COLLINGS; Piers Anthony: Biblio of an Ogre: A Working Bibliography (1990 chap) by Phil STEPHENSEN-PAYNE.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.