I have never cared for Piers Anthony — I’ve always considered him a cheesy hack with some repulsive ideas — so I’ve never been tempted to go back and read his old juveniles. They were tremendously popular, though. I used to get annoyed when I’d go to the second-hand book store and discover that all they had in genre fiction was a mountain of Piers Anthony crap.
But someone who had fond memories of reading the books as an adolescent did go back and read some of the Xanth series. It turns out they’re also twisted misogynistic pieces of shit.
This is the sad crux of Chameleon’s cheerful hatred of women. Bink leers at women, and it’s presented as not only okay, but as the way things should be. In a different part of the Slashdot Q&A above—where another reader asks Anthony about the poor treatment of women characters in Xanth—the author tries to prove how much he appreciates and understands women by extolling their virtues as “thinking, feeling creatures.” Not people. Creatures. You know, like basilisks. And not only that, but creatures whose thoughts and feelings apparently require the validation of someone with Anthony’s authority—that is, someone with a dick. Ultimately, Anthony is the worst kind of misogynist: one who defends his offensive views by saying, in essence, how could he possibly hate women if he’s drooling over them all the time?
A lot of us grew up reading science fiction and fantasy that glorified a particular attitude — the ultra-competent nerd engineer who conquers all of his problems with a high-tech gadget in one hand and the adoring, pretty girl in his other arm. Is it any wonder so many of us are screwed up?
Of course, maybe the reason those second-hand book stores were flooded with Xanth was that they were marketed heavily, lots of people read one, and then immediately dumped it so they could buy some LeGuin, instead.