Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Guilty Pleasure Meme

I've decided to start a new meme and see if anyone picks it up. It's the "guilty pleasure" meme. The point is to reveal something that you're terribly embarrassed to admit you actually like, could be a book, movie, comic, tv show, whatever, and explain why you like it

My guilty pleasure is Piers Anthony's Xanth novels. Even the later crappy ones. ESPECIALLY the later crappy ones! I'm so ashamed!

Really though, I'm not under any sort of illusion that they're great books, though I think Anthony can be really really good when he tries to be. Xanth, though, is pretty much cotton candy in book form. Light, fluffy, sugary, and completely free of substance.

And that's why I like it. Don't get me wrong, I adore angst and violence to a moderately appalling degree, but's good to just enjoy something cute and fun.

Also, the nice side benefit is that I'm now completely immune to the groan-worthy nature of puns. It's like having poison at every meal, eventually you develop an immunity or it kills you.

Sure the plots aren't terribly complex, but reading a Xanth book for complex plots is like trying to find a bird at the bottom of the ocean. It's kind of dumb and both you and the bird ought to realize that. There is an interesting level of complexity that spreads across the series though, that really appeals to me. There are all these connections. Random plot events in earlier books end up taking on great significance in a later book. A random side character, provided he/she isn't a one-shot joke, (and sometimes even if he/she is), will invariably become pretty important in a later book. And previously important characters never completely drop off the map and turn up in surprising places.

I really like that sort of thing.

The characters are (with a few notable exceptions) usually nice, well-meaning, earnest and likeable. They may not be terribly compelling, but sometimes it's just...nice to see nice people have happy endings.

Also, while I'd never argue that the series is even remotely groundbreaking in terms of feminism (or race issues, or alternate sexuality issues...), Anthony does manage to avoid a very common writer's pitfall: he actually writes female characters that can be rivals for the same guy's attention while being still being friends with one another!

Do you have any idea how RARE that is in fiction? I get that bitter rivalries are much more dramatic, but sometimes girls can be in love with the same person and STILL be good friends. It can happen!

Anyway. That's my guilty pleasure. Anyone's free to play along. Or mock me. I can take it. :-)

(Oh, I am specifically tagging Ragnell though, she knows why. :-P)


  • At August 04, 2007 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am totally with you on Xanth.

    I must've run through all those novels over one summer when I was younger. Complete and total pun overload.

    One of the few that I still remember is the Cat Ass Trophy/Catastrophe.

    Did you ever read any of Anthony's other novels? They were called Incarnations of Immortality. They all had titles like On A Pale Horse, Being A Green Mother, things like that.

    Basically, they are about gods who can be replaced. The first book, On A Pale Horse, starts up in the future and features a guy who's about to kill himself. Death arrives and the guy is so shocked that he shoots Death dead instead of killing himself. Now... he gets to be the new Death.

    I remember them being really fun to read and pretty interesting. Each book is a done-in-one, but the characters overlap and swap often. Like, I think time ran backward for Chronus (or was that Death?) so you see them at different ages and maturity levels.

    I liked them better than Xanth, in part because they were pretty varied in tone and content, but it's been years since I read them.

    They'd make a great comic series.

  • At August 04, 2007 7:58 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I only got around to reading the first two Incarnations. Time was the one that went backwards as I recall. I keep telling myself I'll track the rest down since I really did enjoy the first two. :-)

  • At August 04, 2007 8:16 AM, Blogger Siskoid said…

    I was a Piers Anthony nut when I was a kid, probably because he churned em out so quick, it was akin to reading a comics series. Xanth was my first kiss, of course, and a load of fun. I even own the board game and the illustrated Encyclopedia.

    I, too, only read the first two Incarnations, though I own the rest (just never got to them before moving on to other things). They're like a tongue-in-cheek Sandman, aren't they?

    David: Innovation did start doing On a Pale Horse in a painted, prestige format. I have the first issue. No clue if it went further than that.

    Another P.A. series I loved is the Adept series (LOVED IT), and I dug the Bio of a Space Tyrant too.

    In retrospect, Piers' stuff is pretty pedestrian, but for Teen Siskoid, it was food from the gods.

  • At August 04, 2007 8:37 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    My God, I've never even heard of these books. I'm old and unhip. On the other hand, you have given me an idea for a blog entry, and as you know, sometimes, you take whatever you can get, when creativity is not striking...or something.

    God, I need my coffee.

  • At August 04, 2007 11:01 AM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Oh, man, Xanth. I was the biggest fan of those as a kid. I think I read the first... twenty-something before growing tired of 'em. Fun stuff. I've read a couple since then, and while I don't think I'll be getting back into it anytime soon, I can see the spark, the turn of phrase, that attracted me in the first place.

    I also read the entire Incarnations series except the last one, plus Mercycle, Race Against Time, one of the Mode books... heh.

  • At August 04, 2007 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

  • At August 04, 2007 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The hell ... ? The "href" tag was not broken in preview mode.

  • At August 04, 2007 11:56 AM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    "> > /a> I used to be a big Piers Anthony fan.

    Then his obsession with girls' panties got to be too much for me.

    And I'm afraid I don't have any guilty pleasures. Schoolhouse Rock? Captain Carrot? Backyardigans? Aqua's first album? Chocolate milk? D&D? Don't feel guilty about any of 'em; I'm glad if people know I like the things I like.

  • At August 04, 2007 2:23 PM, Blogger Richard said…

    Phil of the Future. (shrugs) Now no one else has any reason to feel embarassed.

  • At August 04, 2007 9:56 PM, Blogger Andrea James said…

    I am a recovering Piers Anthony addict. He actually was very prolific (not sure if he's still writing now) and had several more series beyond Xanth and Incarnations of Immortality and quite a few one-off non series books. There was a point in early high school where I think I owned (or had borrowed off my similarly obsessed friend) every single published book written by the man.

    The funny thing about Xanth, though, was the first book was actually quite good. It was after the first where it degenerated into such a formulaic turning of tired puns. I stuck with it for a long time, but hey, I was young.

    I think Piers Anthony was kind of a real life Kilgore Trout for me. Great ideas. Not always so great execution.

  • At August 04, 2007 10:37 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I read Xanth up to...I'm not sure. When most of the 3rd generation characters were getting married off. I remember the Demon XANTH being a dragon/duck thing in a book...

  • At August 05, 2007 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice! I remember Xanth! I read some of them when I was a wee middle-schooler. I only really read from Castle Roogna to Night Mare. I never got into any of the other books because they didn't have Dor, Irene, ect. I totally love Dor's power of making any inanimate object in his vicinity able to speak. It made for some really funny scenes. I'll probably go dig out my old paperbacks now, thanks to you. :P

    I suspect I have many many other guilty pleasures as well. DBZ isn't the half of it, heh.

  • At August 06, 2007 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The morning radio show here in Philadelphia on 93.3 WMMR. I never like these shows but I do like this one. I wrote about it here:

  • At August 06, 2007 11:45 AM, Blogger ticknart said…

    I'm with you on the Xanth books. When he moved to Tor for publishing, I started to buy the books in hard cover, I was so obsessed. I'm back to paperbacks now. The one thing I'd wish he'd do with the newer books is shake up the pattern. Characters shouldn't have to go to see the Good Magician to start all the adventures and one of Ida's moons to solve the problem.

    And as for the later crappy ones, sure they are, but the robots he introduced are wonderful.

    I've always really liked Anthony's Geodyssey books.

    And my guiltiest pleasure is probably reruns of Lizzie Maguire for their schizophrenic charm.

  • At April 29, 2013 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm awfully embarrassed to admit that my marriage has a strong line of authority attached. It's enforced through ritual punishment spankings. It creates harmony along with the erotic.


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