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Virtual mode by Piers Anthony
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Virtual mode (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Piers Anthony

Series: Mode (1)

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1,0921314,116 (3.28)10
Colene does not know what to think of the stranger she has rescued. Darius tells her he has traveled from "his reality" to find her. In proving to Colene that other worlds do exist, he uses up the power of the artifact that would allow them to travel back to his universe.They must try a slower, more dangerous method: the creation of a four-dimensional universe. Darius picks five anchor points in five different universes to set up a skew path, a "Virtual Mode," on which the anchors can walk.Thus begins a tale of romance, danger, adventure, and intrigue as the two travel through a myriad of alternate realities where anything is possible.… (more)
Member:McCoyD
Title:Virtual mode
Authors:Piers Anthony
Info:New York : Putnam, c1991.
Collections:Your library
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Virtual Mode by Piers Anthony (1991)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I first read this series many years ago when it was originally published. While there were most definitely aspects I felt did not stand up to the test of time in general I did enjoy re-reading this series. The characters have very clear points they are trying to portray and I like the scienc"ish" bits in it. ( )
  KateKat11 | Sep 24, 2021 |
Colene does not know what to think of the stranger she has rescued. Darius tells her he has traveled from "his reality" to find her. In proving to Colene that other worlds do exist, he uses up the power of the artifact that would allow them to travel back to his universe.
They must try a slower, more dangerous method: the creation of a four-dimensional universe. Darius picks five anchor points in five different universes to set up a skew path, a "virtual mode," on which the anchors can walk.
  Gmomaj | Jul 25, 2021 |
I KNEW EXACTLY WHAT I WAS GETTING INTO THIS TIME.
Yes I'm going to rant now so bear with me. TW for talk of suicide and sexual assault.

Where to start though? Maybe the cover? Here we meet our protagonist Colene (as in Colene, Colene, Colene, Coleeeene, I'm begging of you please don't take my man) and her psychic horse who is good for absolutely nothing. Colene is 14 and suicidal. You know how we know she's suicidal? She keeps telling us that she's suicidal. Have you ever heard of character development? Maybe allowing a character's actions to show us their inner feelings? Nah. I mean, there are some sad stories in her past that kind of feel like they're supposed to explain her current "depression" and "suicidal thoughts" but it never feels like they are linked at all. Plus the sad stories are so over the top. Her parents hate each other so much that her dad is always out sleeping with other ladies and her mom stays at home and gets drunk every night. On the rare occasions that they end up in the same room together, they scream at each other until they fuck on the floor. Without care that their teenage daughter is hanging around, causing her to peace to the shed in the backyard. Since her parents have no point except to be a terrible thing in Colene's life, they really don't need to be so comically awful. But subtlety is not in Piers's vocabulary.

Alright, lets move on to Piers Anthony's sexism. Which I imagine will be the entire rest of my review. So Colene meets this dude, Darius, from an alternate reality, which are called modes, who is much too old for her but since she has a nice body they fall in love. In Darius's magical mode, people can transfer emotions directly using magic. The grand poo-bah of his society is the dude with the best magic power to multiply emotions, and he goes around the kingdom multiplying joy for his people. He's always a man (even though he doesn't have to be because there's a lady who's really good at multiplying joy and she was refused the post because IT'S ALWAYS BEEN MEN). The way that he spreads joy is by literally sapping his wife of her own joy until she is depleted of happiness. When she's all used up, he discards her for a new, more joyful wife, until he strips her of all positive emotion and gets rid of her too. Every few years he destroys a woman's life and moves on to the next one. I don't think we really need to talk about how messed up and sexist that is. It is explicitly said that women can't be grand poo-bah JUST BECAUSE come on ladies...and nowhere is it said that the person being sapped of their emotions must be female but it always is. OK, so Darius doesn't like this deal and he goes traipsing through the modes to find a lady from another universe that maybe won't be depleted by his job so he doesn't have to ruin people's lives, how nice! There's a messed up scene though where he has to go to an old poo-bah to ask about taking his spot while he's off in the modes, and the guy condescends like crazy to his "love-wife" and they both basically treat her like she's an idiot, all "she doesn't know what she wants, we'll teach her, it'll be a sad lesson, but as men she must know to listen to us because we are right alll the time". That's basically how it goes.

There's a lot of stuff that Colene thinks about everything that could potentially be explained by the fact that she's a 14 year old girl who lives in a sexist society, but Piers Anthony is not that good a writer and I've read enough of his other books to know that all this disordered thinking comes from his brain. She has some dumb ideas about gender roles that are straight from Piers. She has some damaging thoughts about her own gang rape: "I was so drunk I may have even thought it was fun at the time." This would be a good point to address the fact that victim blaming is rampant in our society, and that many victims begin to internalize the idea that maybe it was kind of their fault if they were drunk, but none of this is addressed at all. Piers is DEFINITELY not nuanced enough to show that while his character maybe believe something like that, it is wrong and a symptom of societal problems with how we react to assault victims and gender roles. "It sure taught me to be wary of liquor and of men!" Here's another overwhelming theme of Piers Anthony books: all men are always thinking about sex and are all potentially driven out of control by a lady's body. He doesn't realize how insulting that is to his entire gender? "She did know the nature of men; they were always interested in sex, and took it when they got the chance. That night with the boys--she had represented Opportunity." "With a woman, sex and love were aspects of the same thing. That was why the abuse of sex was so horrible; it soiled love. But with a man they were in different ballparks. A man could love one woman and have sex with another. It was part of the basic misunderstanding between the sexes." EEUUUUUUCCCHHHHH.

Let's go through the female characters, shall we? Colene we've done. Later on in the book, there are some female slaves - bred to serve, basically - who are defined by their sex and what they can provide with their bodies. There are male slaves also, but they're not nearly as sexual...presumably because women don't desire sex outside of love so there's no need for male slaves to be sexual. We just assume that gay people don't really exist here. There's another female character later, who is useful because she can sort of see into the future, but doesn't talk and is pretty much an ignored character because she's an OLD LADY and therefore UNATTRACTIVE and therefore NOT IMPORTANT.

Let us move on to the other most major female character in the book. She has so much potential for being completely bad-ass except for the bad luck of being written by Piers Anthony. Her name is Prima, and she's from Darius's mode. She had great magic, enough to definitely qualify for being grand poo-bah of spreading happiness, but because IT IS NOT DONE she wasn't allowed to do it. "I was attracted to her not for her beauty or personality, for she was not remarkable in these respects..." She is introduced as not being very good-looking, and for the rest of her time in this book, they will not shut up about what she looks like. Because her society was sexist, she set off into the modes to see if she could find a society in which women were equal. Fuckin' A. As Darius moves through the modes, he is captured by sentient dragons, only to find that Prima was captured by them 20 years prior, and, still sharp as ever, helps him to escape. Sounds like she's pretty competent and take-charge! "...I must make obvious attempts to seduce you, so that the dragon will know that we are potentially breedable. I realize that this will be distasteful to you because I am too old and unattractive, but our lives will be at stake, so I ask you to behave in a manner the dragon will find reasonable." "...you have seen my body. Please answer with candor: do I retain sexual appeal?" Oh yeah, did you just survive for 20 years in a prison camp, learning the language of your captors, before planning and executing an escape plan with a dude you just met? And actually the first thing you can think of is how attractive you look to the dude? Nooooooo Piers, noooooo. Don't worry, Darius, true to form as a man, WILL NOT STOP TELLING US WHAT HE THINKS OF PRIMA'S BODY. "She seemed to be about forty and not unhandsome...Her feet were in sandals, and were filthy, the toenails growing down and around in a manner that might be practical in a wilderness for protection against abrasions, but were detestable aesthetically. Her hair was long and somewhat unkempt, as if maintaining appearances was pointless here." Here, being the PRISON CAMP. "Then she removed her worn shirt, showing her haltered bosom. It was a good one, considering her age...he saw that she was lean, rather than plump, but her posterior was well rounded and her breasts were of adequate mass...in the appropriate apparel her body would be attractive enough...she was older than he, and not beautiful (thought not ugly), but she had a good mind to go with her excellent power..." I get the impression that Piers thinks he's doing something good by mentioning her great magical power and intelligence every time he mentions her looks - we may be obsessed with what she looks like, because she's a woman so OBVIOUSLY, but she's also a woman who is smart! Novel, huh? Here's an idea - what about a female character who is strong and smart and capable full stop? And maybe who cares what she looks like? Next time, can we try to use the same amount of physical description words for the lady characters as for the guy characters? Can maybe not every character be constantly thinking about women's bodies? Every character! All the time! It's really hard to get into the story when I have to stop reading to roll my eyes and give the finger to a book.

So probably if I'd read this as a 14 year old I would have been really into it, but as an adult I recognize that Piers Anthony is a sexist dude who will not stop writing female characters even though he's sooo baaaad at it. I didn't comment on much of the story in this review, because while his ideas are pretty creative and interesting as usual, they are just so bogged down with terrible awful terrible sexist awful things. This is a great book to hate read though. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
Anthony has another winner, hope there is another book. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Sep 4, 2019 |
This starts with a suicidal girl, and the beginning has a couple scenes that might be uncomfortable for people to read. However, having dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in my own life, I am actually glad an author has tried to deal with that situation. ( )
  CrissyMoss | Aug 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Piers Anthonyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Crisp, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horne, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacob, CarolAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Colene had a study hall during the last period, and as an Honor student she had a regular hall pass.
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Colene does not know what to think of the stranger she has rescued. Darius tells her he has traveled from "his reality" to find her. In proving to Colene that other worlds do exist, he uses up the power of the artifact that would allow them to travel back to his universe.They must try a slower, more dangerous method: the creation of a four-dimensional universe. Darius picks five anchor points in five different universes to set up a skew path, a "Virtual Mode," on which the anchors can walk.Thus begins a tale of romance, danger, adventure, and intrigue as the two travel through a myriad of alternate realities where anything is possible.

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