Piers Anthony stepped up in the golden years of science fiction through the 70s and 80s. Through this period he established himself as one of SF's most prolific writers, turning out stand alone novels, short stories, multiple-book anthologies and more. Having received two boxes of SF and fantasy paperbacks from family that spanned this period of the genre's heyday, you can expect you'll see numerous looks at work by Piers Anthony in this column.
Prostho Plus is a less serious book. At the outset I found it rather banal and probably a bit less adventurous than I hoped. But then again, the story does happen to be about a prosthodontist who is picked up by aliens and shepherded around the world as a "tooth healer." I remember commenting to somebody that, "fifteen years ago, I would have loved this story." As it moved along however, it picked up somewhat, becoming more interesting as we were taken to different worlds where different life forms existed. I found many of them to be somewhat well, stupid. Walking clams and sentient robots and everything that made a 70s-80s science fiction cheese thriller shine can be found here. Anthony throws the "science" part to the wind when designing his colorful and inventive characters. But if you can put down the origin of species level science, you may still find this a whimsical bit of adventure you might enjoy.
Anthony's writing style is smooth and easy. During some areas we find ourselves trapped with Dr. Dillingham, D.D.S., as he is working on various mandibulars of strange creatures. At this time he picks up on the "science" part of the genres name and harangues us with details on tooth care, prosthodontic devices and corrections to enamel. On more than one occasion he delves deep into this, proving he can do his research fairly well (I'm assuming he's not a dentist here), but occasionally leaving the reader wondering if he's reading a dentistry textbook.
Overall the story seems to be more cute than scientific, more slap happy than serious and more whimsical than in depth. It takes on an Alice in Wonderland stance, and messes around with humor in a sarcastic and witty way. While it's not quite surrealistically designed, I'd still consider it similar stylistically and overall to works of Tom Robbins or Douglas Adams. It wasn't the best science fiction novel I've read. But it was fun.
"Prostho Plus" by Piers
Published by Tom Doherty Associates (a Tor Book)
Copyright © 1973 by Piers Anthony