I actually liked a lot of Piers Anthony's books when I was younger. This one, however, was one of those that made me realize just what a foul, hack writer he is.
One of Anthony's many flaws is his sexual hangups, and rather like Heinlein, sometimes he lets them all hang out in an ugly, ruinous way. The ending to Heinlein's Friday
is justifiably viewed with revulsion by many fans -- I can't describe it without spoiling that novel. However, in Bio of a Space Tyrant
, Anthony's ugliness comes to the fore in the first part of the book, where the main character describes being turned on as he watches his sister being gang-raped by pirates.
It's not just that bit of ugliness (which, if handled with a defter writing hand, might have made us sympathize with such a twisted, damaged character). It's the fact that Anthony uses rape the way all writers nowadays are taught not to: need us to instantly sympathize with a character? Need to stir reader emotions? Need to show us how evil the villains are? Rape a few female characters, that's what they're there for! Although of course he treats rape as a Very Bad Thing, you can tell that he's taking a lascivious delight in writing about it.
I'll admit the one-star review is probably harsh, because this book was otherwise typical Piers Anthony; decent schlock sci-fi entertainment. However, the brother-turned-on-by-his-sister's-rape is just one of those things that makes me unable to remember much else about the story.