Witness of Gor — John Norman

Hello, my lovelies. I apologize for my enforced hiatus from book blogging – I just moved, and haven’t had reliable internet access for the last few weeks. But don’t worry. My lack of posting does not mean I haven’t been reading, so look forward to seeing a bunch of critiques coming up soon.

Now, on to the review.

The last time I was on the intarwebs, there was a big to-do going on in regards to the re-release of the Gor series, and the publication of a new Gor novel. For those of you not in the know, Gor is a series by John Norman. It’s the name of his counter-Earth, a planet whose orbit mirrors ours exactly, so the two planets are always on opposite sides of the sun. We don’t know about them, and the average Gorean doesn’t know about us. The only contact we Earthlings have with Gor is when one of ours is brought over by mysterious forces.

Sometimes, these mysterious forces aren’t so mysterious. Women on Gor are slaves. Sure, there are “free women” – but, as you’re reminded over and over again throughout the course of the series, a free woman is just a slave without a collar. And they love it. Only in slavery and in submission do women (both Earth and Gorean) realize their true femininity. Men are real men – they’re beasts, brutes, and warriors, chockfull of honor and honest-to-goodness manhood, not the tepid stuff men from our world try to play off as masculinity. So sometimes? Those mysterious forces have a not-so-mysterious motivation: profit. Gorean slavers often raid Earth in order to kidnap its women, who are known for their “hot bellies” (ease of arousal) and overall craving for REAL MEN.

Already, it’s a mixture for problematically awesome times. There’s the many proud, bratty women (all women in this series are proud and bratty, until forcibly reminded to be otherwise) who realize they in fact love being topped and collared. There’s the men who are eager to top and collar them. There’s the static gender roles. There’s the constant denigration of the feminist movement, the insistence that equal rights squashes women’s sexuality, the idea that lesbian/assertive women just haven’t met the right man, and on and on. Underlying all this is the insistence that these sexualized gender roles are a biological necessity.

This book exhausted me. It truly did. Especially since I used to like Gor. To be honest with you, I read Tarnsmen, Outlaw, Raiders, and Magicians when I was a wee Ria. This is not my first introduction to the series. This is not my first introduction to intrinsic gender roles, to slavery in fantasy fiction, to male fantasies of what real women are like. I liked Gor. I thought it was good fun. I thought John Norman and I were having a romp through the tropes – he was writing a slightly explicit sword-and-sorcery and I was just along for the ride. I thought he was writing self-reflexively, that it was “just fiction.”

Witness of Gor changed that for me. Maybe it’s because this is the first Gorean novel I remember reading from a female perspective (I think I picked up Kajira of Gor at one point, but didn’t finish it). Maybe it’s because I really like who I am. I don’t think I need to be collared or flogged or whatever to realize my truest self. Maybe it’s because Norman’s narrator really clearly shut down any progressive possibilities within the text. The misogyny is just that thick. Our girl Janice can’t even envision being friends with other women. After being kidnapped and subjugated on Gor, and realizing she loves it there, she thinks, ‘Would they [her Earth friends] be able to grasp now that she must obey, that she must please and serve?…What would it be like, I suddenly wondered, to compete with them?… Would we not, suddenly, find ourselves divided against one another?’ (WoG 119).

Honestly? At this point, I think I died a little inside. It’s rare that women’s relationships with one another gets treated well in SF/F. Not only are women biologically designed to be submissive, constantly antagonistic when not properly owned, and only happy in servitude, but they can’t actually have friends. All the other women are competition and all the men are their masters.

What a lonely, lonely existence.

Sigh. I read all 720 pages. I felt dirty when I was done. I felt especially dirty when I got to John Norman’s letter to fans. At the end of it, he asks, ‘How many honest books have you read lately?’ Plenty, really – too bad that number didn’t include this book.

Bleh.

ETA:

here are some John Norman/Gor links:

http://www.pantheus.com/TGV/archive92002/TGV/biblio.shtml

http://www.gor.net/things/challeng.html

Comments

  1. says

    Any chance you could reprint Norman’s letter in full? A lot of the fans who troll anti-Gor posts make the argument that it’s just “fiction”, so it would be really great to have some evidence of Norman himself saying that he thinks what he says about women and men is true.

  2. says

    :blush!: i was one of those fans maybe 5 or 6 years ago.

    Even with the trolling? :o It’s one thing to use the line as a defense when someone’s talking about the book, but the ones I’m talking about will find anything anti-Gor and go type out novel length diatribes about why the person posting is a hypocrite and evil and Norman was just writing fiction and whatever.

    but what i’ll do is, scan the pages/type them out before returning it to the library.

    I would really really appreciate it! It’s hard finding good evidence on the net. I’ve had part of a post in the works on Gor (focusing on the lifestyle, but I want textual evidence to support my arguments) for over a year. There used to be a news article about a Gorean lifestyler who basically enacted the kidnapping and systematic breaking of a woman, but it’s no longer available and I couldn’t find it on The Wayback Machine :(

  3. says

    oh, no. i never trolled anti-gor sites. but, if you’d asked me about it, i would’ve said it was just fiction.

    i remember that news article. it’s odd that it’s not online anymore. hrrm.

  4. says

    WORLD OF GOR
    http://www.worldofgor.com
    John Norman’s official website for Gor

    “A good maxim to keep in mind is that if it is not beautiful it is not Gorean.”
    John Norman

    “A thousand underground newspapers can thrive; new worlds can be discovered; friends can find one another at last; speech, at least for a time, before the thugs of a tyrant state can bring their bayonets to bear, can sparkle in secret, refreshing places, in little-known channels, outside the guiding cement causeways of a docile, engaged, massive media, subservient to the agendas of their masters, the enemies of freedom, the statists, collectivists and authoritarians. On the Internet, let it be remembered in the future, there was a moment, now, in which the original intent of the First Amendment of a maligned, perverted, treasured document was recollected, recollected before the new falling of the censor’s night, a document drafted by men freshly come out of a bloody war, men who understood the price of freedom, and were only too well aware of the dangers and terrors of the state. How hard it is to recall old lessons, taught on battlefields whose meaning has been forgotten.

    So one does not know how long one may speak to one’s friends. The time may not be long, so perhaps this is the moment to break a long silence. There is no thaw in the ice of censorship and blacklisting, of course, but to the side of the titanic glacier which chills an entire intellectual hemisphere a few drops of warm water, nursed by the sun, may trickle toward the sea, until in time an armed winter may be again imposed on even such pitiful drops.

    How strange that John Norman has not been forgotten. To be sure, it is hard to forget what one most hates, or most loves. How rare is the truly dissenting voice, and how perilous the consequences of its utterance. Does John Norman not understand this? How amusing that so many style themselves noble and courageous when their claims to bravery consist in mouthing the approved bromides of the establishment. Who would object to them, really? Caligula, Commodus, Torquemada, Calvin, Cromwell? I wonder if they would have spoken so boldly in the days of those fellows, with flames and pikes at their elbow? Today they are threatened by no one who has any power. Rather they are telling those in power what those in power wish to hear. How often pusillanimous sycophants pose as heroes! Lickspittles can carry flags in parades; men carry them in battle.”

    ? John Norman

    John Norman’s Note to his Fans

    My dear friends:

    You will never know, nor can I adequately express, what you mean to me.

    We will, for the most part, never meet, nor see one another, or talk to one another, but we are together, despite all that, and we are friends. That is possible. That is real.

    Too, this is not so strange.

    Have we not thrilled to the songs of poets who lived while lions bestrode the canopied, stained sands of the Coliseum, who wrote before Leif Ericsson breached his ship on the green shores of Finland, who died before the first cannonade was discharged at Waterloo? Are we not their friends? I should like to think so. To care for someone, to rejoice that they lived – is that not to be their friend?

    So one does not have to know one another to be friends. I hope we are friends.

    So what is happening here, now, in this obscure corner of history? Something, one supposes – but for a few, for us.

    It seems, unaccountably, a book may be published, another song in the Gorean cycle, after long years of slander, calumny, denigration, vituperation, blacklisting, and censorship.

    Have you been patient?

    I have refused to surrender, to submit, to yield, to compromise the integrity of the Gorean vision. Better it die than be betrayed.

    I wonder if our enemies can understand that?

    I suspect not.

    The hounds of hatred are still afoot.

    I find it hard to understand them.

    Are we such a reproach to them? Can they not forgive us for refusing to enter and share their small, dark, ugly world?

    It seems not.

    I worry.

    There are more of them than there are of us.

    But the herd need not be king.

    There is a role, surely, for the hunters, the wanderers, the nomads, the different ones, the lonely ones, the seekers of less trodden paths and greener fields.

    They will try to suppress us, to destroy us. For years they have tried. They may yet be successful.

    But is they are successful, what would be left? Only the desolate flats, the arid deserts, of conformity. How ashen, narrow, and sterile is the tedious, platitudinous world they would impose on us!

    They want us to be free – free to be just like them. But perhaps we would rather be free – to be just like us.

    Liberty is not so terrible; it only seems so to those who fear it. The virus of hate is abroad.

    Our defenses are several, and formidable, the blasting winds of honor, the distance of disdain, the heights of contempt, the sunlight of truth, the approbative collegiality of nature.

    So here is a book.

    Words, but swords and flames, and signals, and cries in the darkness, and reminiscences of brighter, better times, of times before the houses of a once-promising genre were turned into ideological brothels, peddling the politics of intellectual incarceration.

    It is my hope that you will enjoy the book.

    How many honest books have you read lately?

    I wish you well,

    John Norman

    Witness of Gor – 721-724

  5. SunlessNick says

    Liberty is not so terrible

    This message contains information that may be over the heads of the ironically challenged. (Given Norman’s contempt for 50% of the population’s liberty).

  6. says

    heh. keep in mind that norman is referring to biological liberty — the freedom to be the way nature intended, as referred to here:

    Our defenses are several, and formidable, the blasting winds of honor, the distance of disdain, the heights of contempt, the sunlight of truth, the approbative collegiality of nature.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    One of my biggest pet peeves in life is people who know for certain how nature intended us to be. You can’t possibly argue with them in a rational way because if you point out people who don’t conform to their expectations, they just dismiss those people as messed up.

  8. says

    yeah, john norman is scandelous. i wanna do a longer article on kink in fandom tho — it’s absolutely fascinating the way that sexuality and sexual practices are massive wanktastic symbols right now. and yes, i’m looking at YOU, laurell k. hamilton!

  9. says

    I have actually met John Norman. The (surprising, at the time) impression he made on me was “pathetic little man.” Just as a certain leader (whose name I will not mention for fear of invoking Godwin) was the antithesis of his party’s tall, blond, blue-eyed ideal, likewise John Norman would have no place in his own fantasy world. It’s the ultimate irony.

    I criticized him when I met him. Not for the misogyny of Gor, mind you; that has been done far better by others. What I condemned, which led to him looking surprised and (hopefully) a bit hurt, was the way in which he turned what started as a fascinating, interesting world into nothing more than a setting for formulaic, repetitive, third-rate S&M porn.

    And Gor was interesting in the beginning, at least to someone like me who grew up reading Burroughs and others of his style. The warrior societies, the tarn-bird riders, the Priest-Kings, the Kurii, they all had so much potential. The first few novels explored some of that potential. Then the author discovered that trashy porn sells, and the brakes were off. That fascinating world was thrown in the dust-bin and painted theater flats of it were used as the backdrop for ever more pointless S&M.

    I have nothing against porn, or even against S&M porn. I read it. I’ve even written (though not published) some. But oh my God, his stuff is BAD. His writing style is so stilted it becomes almost a parody of itself (Houseplants of Gor nailed him dead-on). Every single character is a 2D cutout. There is absolutely no variety, no interest, nothing but endless repetition of the same worn-out scenes with the names changed. I want to scream “Yeah, dude, we get the point, men are brutes, women are sluts, now would you please make them do something interesting for a change?” But he never does. His whole philosophy, his whole world-view, can’t seem to get any further than his kink. The old saw about “God gave men two heads, but only enough blood to power one at a time” seems ever so apt when applied to John Norman’s writing. I wonder how many of his male readers have decided “if that’s what Real Men™ are supposed to be, I sure as hell don’t want to be one”? I suspect it’s a non-zero number.

    And now he thinks he’s some kind of crusader for liberty. I wonder if he’s reading this? No, Mr. Lange, you’re not a crusader. Not for liberty or anything else. You’re a second-rate writer turning out third-rate porn that appeals to a handful of fetishists and a lot of gynophobic perpetual adolescents who are reading one-handed. Larry Flynt is more of a crusader than you are. You’re just a waste of paper, ink, and air.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s really nicely said. I know nothing about this guy but what I’ve read here and on a few other sites. It seems so many people find the stories very intriguing in some way, then very disappointing or disillusioning in some other way.

  11. Mikeyone says

    Poor John Norman. Like so many writers of his era he lost his originality in favour of personal fetish – he is not the only one. But if he returned to writing stories rather than indulge himself he could be great again. Personally, when reading his Gor Novels I skipped ALL the mucky bits, sometimes whole books in the hope that each book would return to the Kurii plot and contain the sort of detail displayed in the earlier novels, weaponry and so forth – fascinating stuff. If only he could display the originality which I feel sure created Gor in the first place and resolve the Priests Kings v Kurii conflict that would indeed be a Gor book worth reading.

  12. Verisillius says

    I have to admit that I too enjoyed the earlier novels in the Gor series, for the reasons already stated; it really was a clever world, a clever creation, and with just enough of the sort of sex that Robert E. Howard and E.R. Burroughs had hinted at to make it interesting for that reason as well.

    But then it all just went wrong. I have no objection to porn, even kinky porn, if it’s well done, but Norman just started repeating his same old tired ideas over and over again. Part of it really was sad, but honestly, I also found a lot of it funny. And that’s why I sat down one evening and almost as a lark, wrote “Gay, Bejeweled Nazi Bikers of Gor”, which was kindly linked to in the post above.

    It was one of the hardest things I ever wrote, to be honest. Trying to duplicate Norman’s prose required a suspension of my knowledge of English literary style that is hard to describe.

  13. Windwalker Oldwolf says

    I read the early books of the Gor series as a teen and enjoyed them as a Barsoom with a bit of added sex appeal and to be honest Ive read raiders and marauders recently and both are decent,but is it me or did he toss in his reputation for cash after like number 12 or so (with a few exceptions)?

  14. devilschilde2001 says

    I just wanted to let you know that I tried to visit the link at pantheus and this is what I got on the page :

    The file or resource you’ve requested could not be found on this server. It may be that you are trying to access a page with an obsolete bookmark. If so, you can try to relocate the page by entering our site with one of these links:

    Paradise Web Services

    Kaye’s Latch Hook Resources

    Pantheus Books – Online Book Store

    The Gorean Voice

    The Gorean Public Board

    Tahari-Oasis

    If you have reached this page from a link on another web site, please notify the webmaster of that site that the link is no longer functional and visit one of these links directly to find the information you are looking for, and add a new bookmark.

  15. Patrick says

    The little I read of Gor novels didn’t even strike me as high quality, but I must agree that the novels’s view on gender roles is very problematic. I have dabbled in kinkier practices, and the fact that there are really people who not only fashion their sexuality after the novels but adhere to these views is depressing. I can dig a woman saying she’s a born submissive, or a men claiming to be a born dominant (and vice versa, or course, but that’s not Gor), but “all women are supposed to submit to their men”? Gah!

    Why don’t people reenact the world of The Dispossessed? No, gotta be Gor.

  16. Fraser says

    Problematic? That’s putting it mildly.

    I agree that the first Gor book was a wonderful read (back in my teen years, when there were only three books out) but the heroine’s announcement that “If you were a real man, you’d have raped me by now.” still made me uncomfortable. Ditto the second book where the princess confessed how jealous she was of slaves and how she fantasized about being one.
    The third book, where he first came out and asserted that all women were biologically programmed to be slaves was the last straw (it not only offended my feminism, it offended my interest in biology).
    I’m not sure where I’d draw a dividing line between sexism and kink in dealing with this sort of topic, but I’ve no doubt which side of the line Norman falls on.
    As for liberty, I’ll defend his right to print as much loathsome sexist crap as he can find someone to buy, but it’s still loathsome sexist crap.

  17. The OTHER Maria says

    And the thing of it is, what he’s getting mad about isn’t that he’s not allowed to write or express his views… it’s just that no one’s willing to PAY for that. :P

    iz can has PROFITABLE SOAPBOX nao plz?

  18. says

    No one’s willing to pay ? … have you been following eReads, amazon.com, or abebooks lately … he has revised the original books, with as much as 17% added content, and not only are the books being reprinted but they are also selling like the proverbial hotcakes … the older books are still selling well on eBay, amazon, and abebooks ( adjusting for economic conditions ) and are still being sought as more people find out who JN and Gor are … some of the older paperbacks sell for up to $15o, and hardcover, first printings, and signed books even more … sci-fi fans and fantasy fans, especially people in the Gorean community ( and the curious ), are “lined up” waiting for the 27th book being released next month … so, while he may not be getting rich off them, people ARE willing to PAY for them ……

  19. The OTHER Maria says

    Hi Jon –

    How… disheartening. But then, why’s he so hung up on the idea that he’s a lone voice crying out in the desert, censored by a world unwilling to hear the TRUTH? That’s the world-view I got from his letter to the fans.

  20. says

    Greetings, Maria,

    Depends on your point of view … many people hide their true convictions, afraid of public reaction, especially those in the public view … JN has the conviction to say things others keep hidden, those afraid of public reaction like that which has been heaped on him … there are many in the world who agree with the philosophical ideas he espouses … to which letter are you referring ( there are many ) – the one on the official Gor website ( http://www.gorchronicles.com ) or a letter published elsewhere …

  21. The OTHER Maria says

    What depends on my point of view? I’m not sure what you’re referring to in that comment.

    I’m referring to the letter in the back of Witness of Gor, which is located upthread.

  22. Charles RB says

    OTHER Maria: I think he’s saying “John Norman says this stuff _in public_, isn’t that brave and admirable of him?”.

  23. The OTHER Maria says

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “No.” :P

    It seems like, after re-flipping through *Witness,* that Norman’s attitudes about women and sexuality aren’t actually that radical or brave. He dislikes the feminist movement… like THAT’S unusual. He thinks women crave strong women to dominate them. Okay, I call that the bar on Sat night. What he IS doing is wrapping these kinds of ideologies up in kink (which is squicky) and then saying that folks not buying/publishing his ish is evidence of censorship. Now, we got Jon up-post saying that that’s not necessarily the case, since the Gor books are being re-released and are apparrently doing okay. So now I’m not sure WHAT he’s complaining about. Someone not buying your work ISN’T CENSORSHIP… and if people are, then what the dilly yo?

  24. Charles RB says

    I’m guessing the fact people are slagging his work off counts as censorship.

    You could argue the threat to boycott Dark Horse if it reprinted the books would count as attempted censorship, but it’d be a difficult argument and let’s be honest, I doubt it would’ve made much of an impact on them (Hellboy II was coming out, Buffy Season 8, etc). So… yeah, we’re censoring him by saying his book’s are shit.

    They’re shit, y’know.

    I was also amused that parts of his letter read like Simon Furman’s Transformers comics (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Furmanism#CAN_I_DO_LESS.3F), except it’d probably be funner if Simon Furman was writing them and less sexually dodgy.

  25. Charles RB says

    …also:

    “Gorean slavers often raid Earth in order to kidnap its women”

    I now have mental images of them being fought by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce from Doctor Who…

  26. says

    Point of view depends on how you feel about JN’s philosophy … I’m rather glad his books are selling well – shows some people aren’t intimidated by the radical feminists who so despise his works … I just dl’d the new “Prize of Gor” book and will buy many copies when the printed edition arrives … I’ve made lots by buying and selling the older editions and would expect to from this also … there IS a ready market for his works …

    Granted the reading is tedious and the story is more in line with what adolescent boys might read but there is much more involved in Gor than the “women as slaves” or apparent anti-feminism that is complained about the most … one needs to concentrate more on the philosophy, read between the lines, get behind more than the Tarl Cabot saga itself … I’ll admit Tarl is pretty much an idiot at first as he sees Gor from the common-era earth-raised p*whipped wimp of a man rather than the man which men are supposed to be, those who are strong-willed and follow the natural order and haven’t been socially-castrated by the “politically correct” society in which we find ourselves …

    … “read bits of the Gor books, seen synopses of more, and learnt (sic) their basic ideology” … “read bits” – that’s like reading Cliff ‘s Notes on something and going to the final exam – good luck if you’ve gotten enough knowledge to fill your thimble … unless you READ them ( and that can be tough for those without a good dose of philosophy – reading Nietzsche would help ) you cannot make a rational criticism yourself, just follow the Gor-bashings lemmings to the sea … it’s easy to put down something about which you have no real knowledge, just what you’ve gleaned from a slanted point of view – sort of kin to judging all Southerners from a Yankee anti-slavery antebellum periodical …

    John complained about censorship decades ago when it actually happened, when publishers afraid of backlash from politically groups actually decided not to publish his books … whether you agree with him or not this was not good – our society has freedom of speech as one of its basic guarantees and if someone with whom you don’t agree says what you consider objectionable don’t buy into it … I have found the most protest not from those who have actually read the books but from those who haven’t and blindly follow those who are most vehemntly against it …

    I wish you well …

  27. Charles RB says

    What’s this “radical feminists”? Taking a dim view on books that say “women naturally want to be subservient and should be as a natural order” is hardly radical feminism, i.e. hardline, aggressive version of feminism. I’d assume it’d be, er, general feminism. _Moderate_ feminism, even.

    It should also be noticed that it is the right of the publisher to not publish a book if they think it’s not worth the bother – that’s part of how the free market works.

    And from the excerpts, if I read the Gor books I will be _fucking bored stiff_. Because the prose is fucking boring. Also pretentious.

  28. The OTHER Maria says

    Hi Jon –

    If you’re willing to grant the reading is tedious, the story is trite, then why do you expect people to get behind the philosophy, especially when that philosophy negates the experiences of a large segment of its readers?

    I started reading Gor when I was really young. I stopped when I was older and realized how boring they were. The books’re not that serious. I don’t agree with your suggestion that reading Nietzsche would help, since there’s not much you can do to make the priest kings make sense. Plus, really? When you have several thousand pages of text, and the story barely with each new book, you really got to question the role of “plot” and “characterization” in the story. I mean, geez, it’s almost like the stories are a thinly veiled ideologically based erotica or something crazy like that.

  29. Alessandro says

    Thanks everybody for the fun discussion of Gor and John Norman, and for the parodies and letters! Thanks especially to Worldwalker, who described Mr. Lange from a personal meeting. I’ve wondered repeatedly, in reading his books, whether he is a Conan-like mountain of a man in reality, with an unquenchable urge to drive women to orgasm after “slave orgasm,” of an intensity they never knew before they met him, or whether in fact he wasn’t really all that hot. So now I have a little bit of a better idea on that subject. By the way, I’ve read 22 of the Gor books and am struggling to get through number 23. Eventually I’m sure I will read them all, since I do manage to read faster than JN writes. I agree with the posts above about feeling a little dirty after reading some of the later books. That said, people should give a try to some of the early ones which are actually pretty reasonable in quality for this sort of thing, such as Nomads of Gor, Assassins of Gor, Raiders of Gor, Marauders of Gor, maybe a couple of others. Personally I’ve got in the habit of Gor, like eating sunflower seeds I guess.

  30. Aura says

    Best review of Norman I’ve read.
    I’m sure a bunch of people here are on Second Life Gor… yeah, painful, isn’t it?

  31. Anemone says

    I read bellatrys’ review of the first two books on her blog, and that’s more than enough for me. (Though I did like Houseplants.)

    Personally I’m perfectly happy to see this stuff banned as hate speech. No first amendment up here in Canada to worry about. I first found out about Gor at work, at a summer job as a geology student. The guys wanted to know how I felt about the books (an excuse to tell me about them and get a reaction, of course). We luckily escaped them at home, though someone did mistakenly buy a Sharon Green imitation, which was unreadable, and The Coming of The Horseclans, which was marginally better. Thank goodness there are more titles to choose from these days. Back then we were desperate for good reading material.

  32. Martine says

    I don’t need to be sold on the idea that Dr John is cheerfully nuts and actually believes what he writes. I KNOW he believes it. I also know that Gorean philosophy is mean, illogical, misogynist and just plain wrong. But you can’t ban a book because of that. Come on people. Slippery slope. Come on, lets not be hypocrites. I hate that John Norman can sit there and smugly tell me he knows what women want better then women do. For the same reason Im not going to tell a Gorean(is that a real word?) what is good for THEM! Everyone decides for her, or him, self! Lets let it be.

  33. Anemone says

    I doubt people would extend the same arguments to a fictional world that glamourized pedophilia instead of *just* rape.

  34. says

    While I am generally opposed to censorship for reasons I won’t go into just now, I think you’ve missed the best part of Anemone’s point, which was about hate speech: Norman’s books are telling the world “women secretly like it when you rape them – they won’t admit it, but they do, trust me!” It IS encouraging rape, and how is that not hate speech? We don’t classify it as such because we accept rape as normal human behavior rather than a gross distortion of twisted psychology.

    Web hosts tend to have strict rules about hate speech – you cannot, for example, write fiction or non-fiction about how good it is to harm a particular group of people. But you can talk about harming women quite a bit, because we accept that as *normal* rather than virulent hate.

    I see no difference.

  35. Richard C says

    A very frustrating series, because some of the early books show some glimpses of being rather good: particularly Nomads and Assassins. He’s even capable of some wonderful passages in the later books, such as the Kaissa contest between Scormus of Ar and Centius of Cos (in Beasts, or maybe Marauders, not sure), but it’s so weighed down and drowned out by the staggeringly tedious ‘philosophy’ he so relentlessly pursues. I agree with some of the earlier comments: the earlier books were really good fun in a Burroughs kind of way. A shame.

  36. says

    Jon,

    I realize I’m coming to this conversation years too late, but I’m doing research for a video blog entry on the Gor novels and I have to point out: censorship is when the government refuses you the right of expression. It IS NOT when private enterprises refuse to publish your writing. It is their right not to publish what they don’t wish to publish. CONGRESS shall make no law abridging the right of the press.

    As for standing up to radical feminism, he isn’t. He’s giving in to them. Standing up to radical feminism would be to say that they are wrong about men. Norman is not saying that- he’s saying that their very worst assumptions about men are absolutely correct. He is, in his own twisted way, the ultimate Uncle Tom.

  37. Cloudtigress says

    Re-discovering this conversation, and (re)enjoying it again. A pleasant way to pass an hour.

    Incidentally, if anyone wants a more realistic version of how Gorean culture would actually work, read C. S. Friedman’s book _In Conquest Born_, and its sequel, _The Wilding_. The Braxin culture can best be described in shorthand as based on Gor, but done as it might actually exist in reality (i.e., the women are allowed to refuse unwanted sex from strange men for only two reasons: when they’re on the clock, and when they’re “owned” by a man). Friedman takes the time to explore how and why this system exists in this form, and what keeps it from being overthrown by a women’s — or anybody’s — revolt.

    Good books. I recommend them.

    • Maria says

      @Cloudtigress

      You know, that’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought of those two works in that way, but I wonder if CS Friedman was deliberately poking at that genre of SF/F which treats societies like that as sexy or edgy ideals.

  38. Cloudtigress says

    Maria,

    Could be. My first thought when reading Conquest was that the Braxi culture was based off of Gor, given how the average woman was treated in that empire. My other thought was that Friedman was also playing with the warrior society tropes found in much of SF/F, and seeing how those might actually work in the ‘real world’ by using them with the Braxi. And on the other side, using the rival Azean empire to explore the limits and problems of living by the ‘pure science’ tropes. (Anza being legally treated as a second-class citizen despite being the scion of the oldest and very prestigious bloodline simply because she was not born with gold skin and white hair like the rest of the normal Azeans have.)

    This is a very complex world Friedman created, without it turning into an incompressible mess. Next time I find that book, I should do a re-read to see what else might be in there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.