22 November 2011

Prostho Plus

In his JSB post "The roots of fiction", yesterday, Ray Girvan mentioned Prostho Plus, a novel by Piers Anthony. The protagonist is Dillingham, a dentist kidnapped by aliens, who tries to buy his freedom by practising his profession on a variety of worlds and life forms.

As I said in a spur of the moment comment to the post, “I loved Piers Anthony at a certain age ... but I went on loving Prostho Plus after I left that age...”

I hadn't reread it in forty years, but still vividly remembered parts of it. I was particularly fond of a scene in which the protagonist attempts to solve the oral hygiene problems of Trach, a vegetarian dinosaur diplomat. He tries cleaning Trach's teeth of food debris by filling his mouth with a quick setting foam. I couldn't remember exact words, but even in paraphrase memory it remained hilarious. At Ray's suggestion, I obtained and read a copy of the novel today and refreshed my memory. Here is the foam tooth cleaning snippet; it still makes me laugh just as much at fifty nine as it did when I was nineteen:

The cast seemed to have set somewhat more securely than anticipated. Dillingham took his little prosthodontic mallet and tapped at the mass, finally dislodging it. "See all that green stuff embedded in it?" he asked the dinosaur, pointing. "That's the left-over greenchomp, all yanked out at once."

Trach pointed in turn. "See those little white bits also embedded? Those are teeth."

  • Piers Anthony, Prostho plus. 1971, London: Gollancz. 0575006463.

1 comment:

Ray Girvan said...

Ah, glad you enjoyed it.

It is deeply rooted, so to speak, in the dentistry of its period. Completely unrestrained SF projection on dentistry would not be about mercury amalgams and gold inlays, but (for instance) about tooth transplants and implanting stem cell tooth buds to grow new teeth.

It could be viewed, I guess, as an SF pastiche on the dentistry of the time. But no less good a work for that.