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    Our fantasy and sci-fi correspondent Will Friedle returns!¬†And he’s picked a doozy for us to read.

    Piers Anthony has written dozens of hugely popular fantasy novels, and many of them are set in the magical, pun-filled land of Xanth. Will asked us to read A Spell for Chameleon, the novel that began it all.

    And boy, has it not aged well…

    We thought Sweet Valley High was rapey. There’s literally a rape trial in the first 30 pages of this book, which seems aimed squarely at 12 year old boys.

    Join us for this hilarious and disturbing episode, as we marvel at what was acceptable for kids to read 30 years ago.


4 Responses to Episode 121: A Spell for Chameleon

  • Bill Searight wrote on March 8, 2018 at 3:00 //

    Thank you for this discussion. I had forgotten so much about Piers Anthony’s novels, that my attempts to rehearse the stories in my mind entirely omitted the horrific depictions of women. I had considered returning to them to see what I found so interesting in them as a pubescent boy. Now I have my answer.

    I would love to hear Will’s take (or that of any of you) on the Apprentice Adept series by Anthony. Especially the seventh, Phaze Doubt, which I remember having a female character who came out as lesbian. Anthony included in the Afterward that he changed her character in the novel to recognize and honor the growing number of people discovering their sexual identity (I’ve made a very poor paraphrase of what he actually said). That novel was published in 1990 and it was the last of Anthony’s writing that I read. I had not thought about him until This American Life did a story about a fan seeking and finding Anthony’s home in Florida. I am wondering whether the small expansion of understanding about sexuality ever translated to an improvement in his views of women in general, or if he keeps to his Maxim magazine mentality?

    • literarydisco wrote on March 10, 2018 at 6:59 //

      Yes, I loved that This American Life episode. Man, hopefully Anthony grew a bit with the culture. However, a lesbian character could easily fit an exploitative stereotype — the straight male fantasy version propagated in porn — as opposed to a progressive, inclusive view of sexuality. Based on re-reading this book? I don’t have a lot of faith.
      Thanks for listening.

  • Valerie wrote on March 9, 2018 at 6:41 //

    I heard about your podcast from Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next with Rider and I haven’t stopped listening since. You make me laugh out loud and I love the book discussions. It’s a great resource for me as a librarian to learn more about books I haven’t read and be entertained at the same time. This episode was hilarious and I loved the Hartford references – I live in neighboring Manchester. The Whalers comment had me doubled over in laughter! Keep up the great podcasts!

  • Karen wrote on March 16, 2018 at 8:49 //

    I really hope you guys follow up on Will’s suggestion and read Pawn of Prophecy. Polgara (and her eponymous spin-off novel) are the best part of the Belgariad/Mallorean.