One of the most prolific fantasy writers ever. He has a pattern of starting a new series with a fresh innovative idea, and then never stopping it unless the publisher begs him to
. Thus, he is one of the most prolific fantasy writers without
writing many Doorstoppers
Piers Anthony has written several series, including:
- Xanth, mostly set in a world of magic and puns about the size and shape of Florida (both the world and the puns).
- Incarnations of Immortality, where being an Anthropomorphic Personification is just a job.
- The Apprentice Adept series, about two mirror worlds; one hi-tech, one magical.
- The Bio of a Space Tyrant, about the titular tyrant's rise from refugee to supreme power in a Sci-Fi Counterpart Culture based on Earth in The Eighties.
- The Cluster series, where all Faster-Than-Light Travel is done through possessing aliens.
- The Mode series, which is about characters traveling across dimensions—each of which has fundamentally different rules—on foot. (Literally, every ten meters they are in a new dimension they could not see before, stepping across the boundary is very dangerous, and they'd have to do this for hundreds or thousands of dimensions before reaching an (hopefully) stable "anchor" dimension).
- The Battle Circle trilogy; about the conflicts between a heavily ritualized warrior culture and a hidden technocratic culture in a post-apocalyptic Earth.
- The Jason Striker series, co-authored with Roberto Fuentes, which had a Fair for Its Day depiction of martial arts as a mix between a highly technical sport and mystical mumbo-jumbo.
- Of Man And Manta, a trilogy of science fiction stories exploring the nature of sentience and human interaction with Starfish Aliens, Energy Beings and intelligent animals across several worlds and parallel universes.
He's also written many stand alone novels and collaborations. His story "In the Barn" was included in Harlan Ellison
's anthology Again, Dangerous Visions
His work includes examples of:
- Author Appeal: Nudism / Innocent Fanservice Girl, in spades. He also tends to use Rape as Drama and Lawful Stupid a lot.
- Author Filibuster: A variant: Anthony concludes most of his novels with a chapter-long "Author's Note" in which he writes about the novel itself, what happened in his life while writing the novel, and whatever else he feels like.
- "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Happens a few times in a form of a kick.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: In Omnivore, the fungus-derived mantas use biological radar to "see" their surroundings.
- Black Comedy Rape: The entire point of his "adult-themed" comedy Pornucopia.
- Dirty Old Man: Self-professed even. Not really a surprise to anyone who has read anything he's written.
- Disposable Woman: Nearly all of his books have these; very often as Distressed Damsels. Women in Bio of a Space Tyrant seem to exist solely to be brutally raped and murdered.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: In "Possible To Rue", a young boy's pleas for a pet pegasus leads his father to look the animal up in the encyclopedia and show that they're mythical. So are unicorns. To the father's astonishment, so are zebras, mules, and even horses, which he distinctly remembers placing bets on. It's implied that, by denying zebras are real to avoid having to buy one, the father has inadvertently begun erasing these creatures from the universe.
- Genius Loci: A few of these, most notably the titular Chthon.
- Hurricane of Puns: Particularly in his Xanth series, almost every one of which are reader submitted (and credited).
- Honor Before Reason: A common trait of most of his protagonists. Mr. Anthony has repeatedly said that he believes heroes should be Lawful Stupid. In the Battle Circle trilogy, the entire Nomad culture is based on this.
- I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: All over the place. He likes to hammer this point home by having a woman become a man briefly — upon returning to normal she will be full of surprised gratitude to her male companions for restraining their beastly urges.
- Inside a Computer System: Killobyte has the main characters trapped in VR.
- Magic A Is Magic A
- Mermaid Problem: Piers Anthony goes out of his way to analyze mermaid physiology in several of his series.
- Naked People Are Funny / National Geographic Nudity: Piers has said on several occasions that he doesn't understand why people consider human nudity to be shocking/harmful/etc. He tends to mix it into his stories.
- Mermaids in Xanth are nudists, as are pretty much any Half Human Hybrids as a rule. In one novel the heroine — a Mermaid who turns human — spends a significant amount of time in the book before she gets any clothing. The most intelligent race, Centaurs, go topless except for utility and mate in the open, on the grounds that natural functions are, well, natural.
- The Apprentice Adept series starts off on a colony world named Proton where only the members of the ruling class (called Citizens) are allowed the privilege of wearing clothing. The majority of the population consists of their indentured servants, called "serfs", who are required by law to go naked at all times.note
- Only in Florida
- Parental Bonus: Quite a bit, actually. Lots of the puns in Xanth are likely to go over the primary audiences' head. Some of the somewhat adult situations (characters losing clothing etc.) are shrugged off by the characters, since they're too young to realize the connotations. Having said that, there's a huge amount of Childhood Bonus — lots of these books are much more of a Guilty Pleasure than they appear at first glance. Mr. Anthony definitely knows his target audience.
- Pirate Girl: Several in The Bio of a Space Pirate.
- Protection from Editors: As he says in his Author's Notes, Piers Anthony does not like people making changes to his work, and after his books started selling, he became determined to never let an editor meddle with anything he wrote ever again.
- Pungeon Master
- Rape as Drama: Nearly all of his books feature this prominently.
- In Fractal Mode, the time spent with the rabble includes mental images of rape (provided by Darius, transmitted by Seqiro) during the duels with the rabble (in the form of ribbon bondage). This is in addition to Colene's memories of rape near the beginning of the book.
- Xanth tends to have a lot of near-rape moments in it, just not actually carrying through.
- Discussed in Incarnations of Immortality when the Incarnation of Fate is in the clutches of a demon that means to rape her. Since she's incapable of being physically harmed, she speculates that rape would be just... interaction.
- In Split Infinity of the Apprentice Adept series, the hero, Stile, forces a robot to show him a printout of her program, and they both agree afterwards that it was a form of rape.
- Pretty much every woman in Bio of a Space Tyrant is subject to this.
- In the Chthon books, the Minions, a modified offshoot of humans, treat torture, rape, and incest as normal sexual practices, and love as a potentially lethal perversion.
- Sapient Cetaceans: In his stories about a human dentist abducted by aliens to serve as their on-ship oral hygeine practitioner (Prosthro Plus), the intrepid orthodontist is called upon to do some filings for a life-form on a wholly aquatic planet, who turns out to be the son of a whale-like species who are planetary rulers and who can therefore pay the fabulous costs of tons of gold used to restore the cavity-laden rotten teeth. After several days of work with JCB's to excavate the rot and a portable blast furnace to melt the gold for the fillings - all done inside the creature's mouth as it really is that large - the dentist asks what caused catastrophic rot in the first place, learning that over-indulgent parents had allowed too many sweeties and not imposed a good enough teeth-cleaning regime...
- Signature Style: Pretty much everyone in every Piers Anthony book speaks the same way, with the same dialect, and has an impressive command of old stories, mythology, and trivia. Basically, you know you're reading a Piers Anthony novel if a guy in a black cloak with a skull for a face walks around and people, no matter where they're from or what their level of education is, are just as likely to shout "Thanatos!" as "Death!"
- Starfish Alien: Whenever aliens are encountered (as opposed to alternate-universe humans), they're almost guaranteed to be this trope. Piers Anthony may be unique in not only creating convincing and unique three-gendered-alien sex in the Cluster series, but also finding a way to create a rape scene with it.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: The Battle Circle trilogy is made of this trope. No one ever seems to get what they (used to) want, except in the worst possible/least satisfying way. Overused to the point of a Broken Aesop ("Desire only leads to disappointment.")
- You Keep Using That Word: "Alicorn" to refer to a Winged Unicorn.