Science Fiction Though the Decades

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1992: Alien Plot (Anthony, Piers)

Pulp content and camp delivery: pure chaff (1/5)
From December 19, 2010

Anthony Piers is a prolific author with titles ranging all the way from A to Z. My interest in his surmountable material was minimal as I'm not impressed with a 35-book series about Xanth nor am I really taken to interest with an author who pens spoof novels with a title like The Magic Fart. Not knowing where to start, I thought one of his story story collections (the other being Anthonology) would give me a healthy indicator as to his writing style. If this tame foray into the world of Piers Anthony was a mistake. I've never read just a mediocre collection of stories, half of which rate at 1-2 stars. I admittedly own Macroscope because it was recommended to me by a reliable sci-fi friend. Let's hope I don't chuck that novel across the room like I did with this collection!

Note: all stories are a "shortstory" or "shortfiction" unless otherwise noted.


Alien Plot (1992, novelette) - 2/5 - A scientist/soldier, Duff, of future earth is sent to a parallel universe where magic has manifested itself in the way of conjuring spells, talking statues and a dragon who can look into your heart. Will Duff be sucked into the fantasy world like the prior researchers or will he be able to separate his true self from the fantasy self? 42 pages

Nonent (1992) - 3/5 - A dastardly-minded alien composes a short story to earth's editors to make them numb skulled in order that the populous be starved of the printed medium, but you know how editors are. 5 pages

Twenty Years (1992) - 3/5 - A man defeats a stylized dragon and wins a prize from the stylized nymph; a twenty-year reduction in his age through the deletion of any period of his life, thereby subverting the mandatory euthanasia at eighty years of age. 8 pages

December Dates (1985) - 3/5 - A man in his December-years allows himself the occasional splurge of reverting to his youthful May-years. His correspondence with another elderly lady has him interested in seeing her in her true form. 9 pages

Ship of Mustard (1992) - 3/5 - The space station is full of oversexed females around the planet Athena and the luring of a young technician is within one of their grasps if they could just figure out the crossword clue for a mustard plant. 9 pages

Soft Like a Woman (1988, novelette) - 2/5 - Along with a totally implausible story line scattered with inconsistencies, the sole woman on an eight-man mission and she's being discriminated and harassed. When the party lands, she finds she must deal with a predatory spy and complete the mission alone. 32 pages

Imp to Nymph (1987) - 3/5 - A magical police man goes to a magical castle incognito in order to purchase a nymph, as a ruse, and investigate what happened to a man who never came back from the castle. 25 pages

E van S (1992) - 1/5 - A literally cursed TV set strews endless absurdity and terrible puns, which is Anthony's excuse for a sense of humor. Just unbearably terrible. 14 pages

Vignettes (1982) - 3/5 - Three short, short stories each comprised of a mere fifty words: To the Death (battle to the death with a recluse - 4/5), Transmogrification (brownies invade and loot a house - 3/5) and Deadline (2/5 - something about buying a fantasy novel, dunno). 2 pages

Hearts (1970) - 3/5 - On the eve of Christmas, a man walks down the road and selflessly incurs the negative emotions and pains of others. But the spirit and origin of Christmas will see his accumulated pain dissolved. 4 pages

Revise and Invent (1992) - 3/5 - Anthony's exposé of his very short stories in a form which also includes the letters from the editors who rejected each correspondence and each altered story...all an idea which has been printed before (Carter Scholz's story "The Nine Billion Names of God" in his collection The Amount to Carry). 17 pages

Baby (1992) - 3/5 - A snippet of a story intended to be finished by teen-aged competitors: Taking on a rather dull story of adoption, a reporter soon discovers three separately adopted babies which share birth dates and characteristics. 3 pages

Cloister (1991) - 2/5 - Another pun party by Anthony, who pursues the reader ragged and dares them to skip the ridiculous tale of abbots on the isle of York who are preparing to be besieged by kings, queens and broncs to steal their manuscripts to make hats. 7 pages

Love 40 (1992) - 2/5 - Anthony's excuse for science fiction is this tale of insensitive cultural approach and a doodad device which adjustably alters peoples' emotional state and is installed in a tennis ball-thrower by a mechanic. Two people `fall in love,' both of whom have come to investigate the phenomenon at the resort and who both will investigate the creator so that a Japanese company can reproduce it. 12 pages

Kylo (1988) - 2/5 - A man discovers his neighbor is care-taking for a dinosaur while its owner is preoccupied. He takes it for a walk and discovers everyone else knows of its existence. Anthony says he has done research for this sorry but it reads like common knowledge to a 12-year old. 6 pages

Plague of Allos (1986, novelette) - 1/5 - Elves, wolves, telepathy, dinosaurs... fantasy for people who like fantasy, I guess. I'm not one of those people. 26 pages

Think of the Reader (1989, essay) - 1/5 - Anthony's ideas of what the reader wants is viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of what editors want: an easy plot to follow, simple language and themes which are tried and true. He pretty much says, "The readers aren't too bright so give everything to them on a silver plate."


Like above, this is evident throughout the collection as I predicted the ending to nearly every single story. The level of concentration for the reader is basically set at the 12-14 year level. The science is non-existent for the purported science fiction stories and the fantasy bits (usually un-stomach-able for me) became chokingly unbearable at the extent of its' cheesiness along with the plethora of stupid, stupid, stupid puns. Perhaps this is what Anthony fans LIKE to read but it's definitely not something a serious science fiction fan would ever indulge in. The entire collection screams of pulp, pulp, pulp--mostly cringing follow-through, mostly eye-rolling passages, and conclusions where the reader is left with a mere "humph" as satisfaction.

And why is Anthony so focused on including women and sex in the short stories? It's distracting to the content and delivery. He even mentions a fairly taboo subject of rape three times... and even makes a rape joke. A rape joke, I tell you! Juvenile-minded from beginning to end for a juvenile audience who have the intention of producing pulp fiction on their own. Sorry Anthony has such a chip on his shoulder about editors, but the stuff this guy produces leads me to wonder how any of his stories have passed a single editor. If this is the wheat of Anthony's chaff, I'd hate to see the latter.

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