Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

Rating: WARTY!

I got interested in this novel when someone told me the main character, Bink, marries a woman who goes through phases: she's either ugly and really smart or she's beautiful and really stupid. I was curious as to how a story like that panned out. It turned out to be a little more complicated than I as told (isn't it always?!). She actually went through a monthly phase matching the Moon's cycle. As Fanchon, she was unattractive, but very smart. As Wynne, she was outstandingly attractive (all this is by Bink's standards, whatever those are), but very stupid. As Dee, the in-between phase, she was considered average in both departments. The phases cycled into one another by small amounts, and although Bink had met each of these, he had not seen them for long enough at a time to realize they were the same person. So who, really was dumber?

This was published in 1977, but there were problems I had with it almost from the off. The entire value of woman in this novel seemed to be focused around whether or not they were attractive. On page six, Bink is described as "smart, strong, and handsome." The page before, his fiancé is described as "beautiful, and intelligent, and talented. My question is, why are Bink's looks placed last in his trio of traits, but in hers, beauty is placed first? It's genderist and inappropriate, and this turned me off the book. No one has to read books like this when there are so many out there which are so much better written and which do not reduce women to object d'art.

Once I'd seen how women were rated in the Piers Anthony school of thought, I lost all interest in how the Dee trio panned out with their changing smarts and appearance and I quit reading this novel. I can't recommend it.