A special treat for Gor fans!
Conspirators of Gor, the 31st book in John Norman's Gor series, will soon be available, and to whet your appetite I thought you might like to read a little from it. So here's a little snippet for you. Enjoy!
Welcome to John Norman's
Long tables are commonly used in the eating houses, with benches, rather as in Torvaldsland. In such an arrangement, the patron usually spends less time eating. There is no lingering over paga, taking time for a game of kaissa or stones, trying out one or another of the proprietor's girls in an alcove, or such. One is usually in and out, without much ado, which usually means more coins per Ahn in the entry kettle. Two ostraka may be purchased. One pays upon entry. The basic ostrakon entitles one to the general meal of the day, with a mug of kal-da, and costs a tarsk-bit. The second ostrakon, or the ostrakon of privilege, costs two tarsk-bits, and entitles the patron to a choice amongst a number of offerings, and a glass of ka-la-na. Most patrons purchase the basic ostrakon. The ostrakon in question, the basic ostrakon or the ostrakon of privilege, is presented to the girl who serves that section of the patron's table.
"Is Master pleased?" I asked.
"You are a pretty slave," he said.
"A slave is pleased should she be found pleasing by a Master," I said.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"'Allison', if it pleases Master," I said.
"I have not seen you here before," he said.
"Allison is seldom permitted to serve a table," I said.
"You are a barbarian," he said.
"Yes, Master," I said.
"Are barbarians any good?" he asked.
"Perhaps Master would care to try one, and see," I said.
"You are apparently eager to escape the kitchen," he said.
"Master?" I said.
"Fetch more suls," he said.
"Yes, Master," I said.
* * * *
"Hitch up your disrobing loop, properly, pull down the hem of your tunic," said the free woman.
"Yes, Mistress," I said.
I hoped she would finish quickly.
Gorean free women of high caste almost invariably veil themselves in public. Gorean free women of the lower castes tend to be less fastidious, or strict, in such matters. Whereas some will emulate the high-caste women, others will veil themselves more casually, or loosely, exposing more of their features. This is sometimes referred to as half-veiling. In privacy, of course, free women seldom veil themselves. In public, it is easy to eat and drink behind the veil. It may be done with delicacy and grace. It is commonly done in the eating houses. I have seen low-caste free women drink through the veil, but this is rare. It is regarded as barbarous. I have seen some free women, of low caste, on hot days, who will eschew the veil altogether. This is, however, rare. As is well known the female slave may not veil herself even should she wish to do so. That would be an insult to free women. Too, one would not, for example, veil a tarsk.
I moved quickly away from the free woman.
She had come to the eating house alone. I was not surprised. I could see something of her face. What fellow would want her in his bracelets?
There is little room between the tables and one, making one's way, usually slowly, for the crowding, taking orders, carrying platters, and such, often brushes against the patrons. There was a small, oval, bronze mirror in the kitchen, fixed on a wall, and I often regarded myself in its reflection, turning my face one way or another, brushing back my hair, arranging it, and such. It seemed to me that certain changes were occurring in me. It is said that bondage makes a woman more beautiful, and I suspect that that is true. This is doubtless, in part, a function of appearance, and behavior, but I think it extends well beyond a certain deference, a tone of voice, a betraying garmenture, a collar, suitable postures, lowering the head, and such. Bondage, whatever might be its numerous effects, feminizes a woman, radically, and the feminine woman is the most female, the most beautiful, of all women. She becomes soft, graceful, vulnerable, and eager to please. The collar removes many conflicts, which trouble, tighten, and coarsen a woman. She knows what she is, and how she is to behave. Allowed nothing else, and soon desiring nothing else, she accepts herself joyfully as what she is, a female, and a slave, her master's slave, her master's possession.. She is radiant. She has never been so happy. She pities the free women, lacking masters. Too, she now understands herself as a natural, intensely sexual creature. The slave's sexual needs are as natural, and persistent and irresistible, as her needs to eat and drink. In one sense she is at peace with her sex, but, in another sense, periodically, if her slave fires burn, she is its helpless victim, a tormented slave, who will crawl even to a hated master, for his least touch. She now not only wants sex, but needs it, and will beg for it, and strive to be sufficiently pleasing, that it may be granted to her. She is grateful, in her chains or thongs, to be her master's pleasure object, his possession, and plaything. She knows herself his property, and would be nothing else. Who can recount the ecstasies of the possessed slave? Knowing herself a slave, she wishes to belong to a master. She could be satisfied with no man who would be contented with less than owing her, wholly. Gorean men are such. She sings at her work.
One cannot help, you must understand, in the closeness of the quarters, the small space between the benches, brushing against a master now and then. There is so little room.
"Oh," I gasped, startled.
His large hand had closed on my leg, above the knee.
"Please, Master," I whispered, smiling, protesting.
Then I shuddered. His grip was strong, commanding. It would be difficult to free myself. I was holding a large platter of strips of roast bosk, fastened in threes with wooden skewers, one of the choices for the second ostrakon.
I saw Marcella approaching, in the narrow aisle. She was carrying a vessel of steaming kal-da.
She did not look pleasant.
"Struggle," said he.
"I might spill the platter," I said.
"You are rather pretty for an eating-house girl," he said.
In the past such compliments had been few. Of late, they had been more frequent. Too, of late, I had been more often assigned to the tables. Who knows how often fellows will come to the eating house, or why they will seek one table rather than another?
"Would Master not like to have me at his slave ring?" I whispered. "I would try to please him."
He grinned, and removed his hand from my leg.
"May I serve Master?" I asked.
"What have you?" he asked.
"Roast bosk," I said.
"I have paid only the first ostrakon," he said.
"Master?" I said.
"Be off, pretty slave," he said.
"Yes, Master," I said.
"Infamous she-sleen!" said a woman.
I had not noticed that the unpleasant free woman, she who, some days ago, had castigated me for a too-casual tunicking, was again in the vicinity. Once again, which did not surprise me, she was alone.
"Yes, Mistress," I said. "Forgive me, Mistress."
I quickly tried to hurry away, and Marcella, who was now near, between the benches, stood to one side, I supposed that I might pass. I smiled at her. Usually she would have expected me to turn about and move back, retracing my steps, removing myself from her path. I did not really want the attentions of the kitchen master, even though he had, of late, discouraged the other girls from bullying me. Surely she must understand that. She could have him. I wanted better game, higher game.
"Thank you," I said to Marcella, smiling, as I went to move past her, anxious to remove myself as quickly as possible from the vicinity of the free woman.
"Oh!" I cried, in misery, stumbling, plunging over Marcella's extended foot, sprawling between the benches, the platter of steaming meat flying ahead of me, meat and gravy showering about, then the platter clattering between the benches. Two or three men stood up, angrily wiping gravy and hot meat from their backs and shoulders. Marcella, simultaneously, had screamed, and turned, as though it might have been she who had been so discomfited. And I, too, screamed, but in pain, as the scalding kal-da soaked and burned through my tunic, and drenched my calves and ankles. "Clumsy slave!" cried Marcella. "You tripped me!" I cried. "I did not! You tripped me!" she screamed. Several of the masters laughed, some brushing themselves off, some others helping themselves to a three of skewered slices of the roast bosk, which they retrieved from the table, the floor, their laps. I was on my hands and knees, in pain, from the scalding, tears bursting from my eyes. Masters, I knew, did not look lightly on clumsiness in a slave. Too, to make matters worse, if they could be worse, the roast bosk was an item available only for the second ostrakon. I recalled that one of the girls in the kitchen, who had spilled porridge, had been put under the five-stranded Gorean slave lash. I had felt it once, in the house of Tenalion. "You tripped me!" I cried to Marcella. I did not want to be whipped! "You tripped me!" screamed Marcella. "No!" I cried. "Yes!" she screamed. She did not wish to be whipped either. "I saw the whole thing!" said the free woman. "That one," she said, pointing at me, "is to blame!" "No, Mistress," I sobbed. "That one, that one!" repeated the free woman, indicating me. I did not see how she, from her location, could have seen what occurred. I did know that she did not like me. A free woman, of course, may lie, for they are free. Marcella was lying, of course, but she had the words of a free woman spoken on her behalf. "Thank you, Mistress," said Marcella, respectfully, much pleased at the course events were taking. I was sobbing, and still in pain. I did not want to be stripped, tied, and put under the whip. I feared the pain, and terribly, but, too, it is humiliating to be beaten for clumsiness, to be beaten as an inept slave, one who has failed to be pleasing. The slave is to be both beautiful and graceful. If she is not, let the lash instruct her. She is a slave. She is not permitted the woodenness, the awkwardness, of the free woman. "You should be sold for sleen feed!" said the free woman, coming angrily from her place, and hurrying about the table. I was still on the floor, on all fours, miserable, in pain. The boards were greasy. The tunic, in back, was wet, with warm fluid. It clung to my body. My legs hurt.
"Forgive me, Mistress!" I begged.
I felt the slipper of the free woman kick me, twice, viciously, in the left thigh. There would be marks there. I sensed she had spit upon me.
"I am sorry, Mistress!" I said. "Please, forgive me, Mistress!"
I went to my belly, in the grease and scraps, between the benches.
"Oh!' I wept, again kicked.
"Thank you, Mistress!" I said. "Thank you, Mistress!"
Should a slave not be grateful for her improvement?
"Aii!" I wept, again kicked.
"Thank you, Mistress!" I sobbed. "Thank you, Mistress!"
"What is going on here?" demanded a voice. Someone was making his way toward us, pushing, between the benches. My heart sank. It was the voice of Menon, my Master. I had been several weeks in his establishment, but he seldom appeared in the kitchen. I was not sure he would remember the miserable, frightened slave purchased in the Metellan district. I struggled to my knees, held them closely together, and kept my head down.
"This slave tripped me, Master,' said Marcella, indicating me.
"Have you received permission to speak?" inquired Menon.
"No, Master," said Marcella, turning white, dropping to her knees, head down.
"Well, Masters?" inquired Menon.
"They were passing between the benches," said a fellow. "One of the girls tripped, and fell."
"That one," said the free woman, presumably indicating me, "tripped the other!"
"I see," said Menon.
I kept my head down.
"You saw?" inquired Menon.
"Certainly," said the free woman.
Menon turned about, a bit. I took him to be noting the place, across the table, with its dish and mug, where the free woman had been sitting.
"Did any others see?" inquired Menon.
No one volunteered to speak. Most, of course, would have had their backs turned to the aisle.
"That one," said the free woman, presumably indicating me, "should be lashed bloody, to the bone, and fed to sleen!"
"There would not be much nourishment there," said a fellow.
There was laughter.
I could not help it if I were slighter than many slaves, more slender. Many men, of late, I had been given to understand, did not find fault with me on this score. Certainly I had been one of the most beautiful girls in the sorority, and here, in the garmenture of slaves, what beauty I might possess, as that of other female slaves, left little to conjecture.
"Be silent!" screamed the free woman to the men.
There was silence.
I was afraid, as I was now well aware I was a female slave and what that meant on Gor. I would have been terrified to address a free man or men, in that tone of voice, let alone utter words bearing such an import.
What would have been done with me?
But she was free.
There was no band on her neck.
She was not an animal.
She was not purchasable.
She was not owned.
"The house," said Menon, "is distressed that your views have been shown less deference than they deserve."
"You know," said the free woman, "that she, that one, is a she-tarsk, a she-urt, a she-sleen, one who tunics herself provocatively, who brushes against masters, who lingers in serving, who leans too close to the diners, who puts her half-naked body before them shamelessly, who smiles so prettily, like a paga slut at the loading docks, advertising her master's tavern."
"And she is a barbarian, as well," said Menon.
"Yes," said the free woman, triumphantly. "A barbarian!"
Menon recalled I was a barbarian.
"My Home Stone," she said, "is that of Ar."
Menon nodded. Although his establishment was within the walls of Ar, it was not likely he shared its Home Stone. As he was of the peasants, I supposed his Home Stone, the community stone, so to speak, not that of his domicile, would be that of some village in the environs of Ar.
"Is there no way to assuage your wrath?" asked Menon.
"No," said the free woman.
Menon drew his pouch on its strings up from his belt, and opened it.
"No," she said.
Menon fetched from within the pouch a handful of copper tarsk-bits.
"Perhaps," said the free woman, "she needs only be well lashed.
Menon dropped the coins into the palm of the free woman.
"The Master, of course," she said, "will decide, as he pleases, what is to be the fate of a neck-banded she-tarsk."
"Thank you, Lady," said he.
I do not know if she looked again at me, but she hurried about the table, to her place and, a moment later, made away.
Menon was crouching near Marcella, who was shaking.
"There is a mark here," said Menon to her, "on the outside of your right leg, above the ankle."
Marcella said nothing.
Menon lifted up my left leg. "This mark," he said. "is on the front of your left leg, just above the ankle."
My heart leapt. It must be, then, that I had struck against Marcella's ankle, thrust into my path, as I had tried to hurry past.
"You must have been hurrying," said Menon to me.
"Yes, Master," I said.
"What happened?" he asked.
I sensed he knew well what happened.
"I stumbled," I said.
Marcella gasped, gratefully, softly.
"I see," said Menon. He smiled. "You should be more careful," he said.
"Yes, Master," I said.
"You, too," he said to Marcella.
"Yes, Master!" she said.
"It would not do," he said, evenly, "for another slave to stumble in your vicinity."
"Yes, Master," she said.
"Do you understand?" he said.
"Yes, Master!" she said, pale.
Menon turned to me. "You are Allison, are you not?" he asked.
"Yes, Master," I said, "if it pleases Master."
"You are to come with me," he said. "Leading position."
I rose to my feet, and bent over, that my hair might be easily grasped. I felt his hand lock itself in my hair. My head was down, at his left thigh.
"Marcella," he said.
"Master?" she said, apprehensively.
"You will return to the kitchen, and return naked, with a pan of water, and no rags," he said, "and clean this mess."
"No rags?" she said.
"Your hair will do," he said.
Marcella had long glossy, dark hair, which fell well behind her. She was very proud of it. We envied her for it.
"Too," said he, "when this is done, you are to inform the kitchen master that you are to serve the tables daily for the next twenty days, but, in this period, you are not to be permitted clothing."
"Master!" she wept.
"And as your hair will be soiled," he said, "you will have the kitchen master crop it short, as short as that of a mill girl."
"Yes, Master," she said.
"And at night, for this period, of twenty days, you are to be put in close chains."
"Please, no, Master!" she wept.
"Would you prefer all this, and the lash, as well, once daily, for the next twenty days?"
"No, Master!" she said.
"Perhaps, in the future, you will be more careful," he said.
"Yes, Master,' she sobbed.
Copyright © 2012 John Norman. All rights reserved. Published with the kind permission of E-Reads.
Chronicles of Gor
It is my honour to welcome you to this, the new home for John Norman on the internet.
Back in 2001, New World Publishers was formed with the aim of bringing the Gor series back into print. To accompany that, a website was created, World of Gor. That site was set up with the support and input of John Norman himself, and was in many ways his home on the internet. As a result of the efforts of New World Publishers, Witness of Gor was published, the first new Gor book in well over a decade, but despite that achievement, sadly, that publishing effort failed, and the website set up to accompany it was largely abandoned, and left unfinished.
That was not the end of the story though. E-Reads, who had already released some of the series in ebook form, decided to publish the full series in both ebook and printed form. With things once more moving, John Norman needed a new home. As I was already involved with E-Reads, having assisted in the editorial processes for the new E-Reads editions of the books, I was approached with a view to putting together a site, and thus the seeds were sown. It's been a long road since then, and it's not been all plain sailing, but at last, here we are. The seeds have germinated, and from them has grown the site you now see. This is only the start though. With your help and support this site will continue to grow, with new features, and new articles.
This is the new home of John Norman, and I'm delighted to say that every once in a while you will be able to read a message from him. It's also the new home for the Chronicles of Gor, and you'll be able to find the very latest news and information right here.
Now, over the years there has been considerable controversy surrounding the Gor series. Much of this controversy is because of a number of misconceptions about the Gor books, and about John Norman and what he himself believes. We've addressed a number of these misconceptions later on this page, below the personal message from John Norman.
In a moment I'll hand over to the man himself, but first, on behalf of the whole team, to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude, I bid you welcome. Please look around, and explore what we have to offer.
I wish you well,
Simon of Tabor
A personal message from John Norman
How astonishing is the world-wide Gorean phenomenon!
How unexpected, certainly to me, that anything so different, and so remarkable, could occur.
It was not suspected, it was not sought, it was not envisioned.
I sometimes think of myself as some fellow wandering about, say, a thousand years ago, in some wilderness, who might by accident have discovered magnetism, or some new force of nature, one he did not understand, but one whose reality, once glimpsed, was as undeniable as that of iron ore, or rain, or wind, or lightning. He brings his discovery to the halls of indoctrination, mistakenly, and learns to his surprise that reality may not exist without permission and approval. It is permitted to exist only selectively, and then must be authorized, even licensed. The unlicensed reality is to be denied, or, at least, discreetly concealed.
Exploration, accordingly, is perilous.
And discovery seems to be worse.
One can live a three-quarters existence, of course. Most people do, or less. Certainly the nest is cozy; why leave home; the horizon is faraway; maybe it's cold out there; it is different, at least; but one grows weary of worms; and one suspects wings have a purpose.
Is reality so terrible? That does not seem clear. We have been living with it for fifty thousand years, and sometimes we have even acknowledged that fact.
In any event, iron ore, and rain, and wind, and lightning are not voted on; they are not forwarded out of committees; they are part of the fabric of things, and intrude, however inexcusably; they seek no permissions, no approvals.
There is such a thing as human nature, the human heart, the human mind, the human body.
At any rate we did not invent the biotruths of human nature, no more than we invented vision, speech, the circulation of blood, the beating of the heart.
We did not invent men and women.
They are what they are, and what they are not is hollow vessels to be filled with whatever sugars and syrups their betters, the anointed cooks of humanity, the intolerant coveters of power and would-be imposers of values, see fit to pour into receptive, neutral containers, containers empty in themselves. How fortunate are the containers to be labeled from the outside by strangers who do not know them, or themselves, and to be filled with whatever contents these outsiders might deem in their own best interests! Too, the human being is not a social artifact, but a living thing, a remarkable animal; he is not a manufactured product, not a paper knife or can opener, not a party hat or rubber stamp, designed for purposes other than his own, though surely the original animal can be twisted and tortured into a variety of unusual forms. Is there any fact more visible on the assembly lines of society? The fact that a tree can be denied minerals and water, that its roots can be poisoned, its branches and bark torn away, and its leaves removed, delicately, one by one, alters nothing. The fact that the tree is not allowed to flourish, to fulfill its genetic destiny, does not prove that it cannot flourish, nor that it lacks a genetic destiny. Indeed the subversion of such truths presupposes their existence. The modern human is too often a bonsai human, cropped, stunted, and potted. The fact that a living thing can be twisted, torn, and pruned into a diversity of madnesses, depending on the ideology of power-seeking establishments, political, religious, and otherwise, alters nothing.
The dictators of values are short on credentials; their self-certifications are pompous and vacuous; the papacies of their self-canonization are suspect. Sometimes I think they suffer from brain damage; perhaps their halos are too heavy.
With all due respect one might offer the test of life consequences. Is it not worth considering?
If an ideology produces unhappiness, misery, grief, division, sickness, boredom, and hatred, surely this is not a commendation but an indictment.
Let men and women be themselves.
Do they not deserve the opportunity to inquire into their own natures, as they are, not as they are told they should be?
In any event, the Gorean civilization suggests that civilizations need not be prisons, suppressing, injuring, and minimizing their victims, but might be enhancements of nature, indeed, a part of nature, in her development, not her antithesis, not her adversary.
And so, what would be the great harm if, here and there, there might be occasional enclaves of rationality, and honesty, a few scattered pockets of health and sanity?
That does not seem so terrible.
So let the Gorean experiment continue.
And so I herewith welcome, and most heartily, a new, remarkable venue, a new harbor in Gorean waters, a new fortress in her mountains, a new, defiant city to be recorded on her maps, the Chronicles of Gor.
I wish it well.
© 2007 John Norman. All rights reserved.
Misconceptions of Gor
By Lemuel of the Builders
As most of you know, there is some controversy over John Norman's Chronicles of Gor series, but is it deserved? The most common accusation we hear is that John Norman is a misogynist who advocates the subjugation, physical abuse, enslavement, and rape of women. Another common complaint is that John Norman's books are poorly written trash with no literary merit whatsoever. As the title of this essay suggests, I believe these unfavorable characterizations are due to misconceptions about John Norman, his purpose in writing the Gorean saga, and the books themselves.
Let's look at the word misogynist. The most common definition of the word is, "One who hates women."1
Could a man that truly despises women write loving and poetic passages like these?
"Human females are such rich and wonderful creatures. Their sexual life, and feelings, are subtle, complex and deep. How naive is the man who believes that having sex with a woman is so little or brief a thing as to fall within the parameters of a horizontal plane, the simple stimulations of a skin, the results attendant upon a simplistic manual dexterity. How woefully ignorant are the engineers of sexuality. How much to learn have even her artists and poets! Women are so inordinately precious. They are so sensitive, so beautiful, so intelligent and needful. No man has yet counted the dimensions of a woman's love. Who can measure the horizons of her heart? Few things, I suspect, are more real than those which seem most intangible."2
"How subtle and deep was the intelligence of women, I thought. How much they know. How much they can sense. How simple and crude, how naive, sometimes seems the intelligence of men compared to the intelligence of women. What deep and wonderful creatures they are. Who can truly understand the emotional depths and needs, eons old, of these flowers of nature and evolution? How natural, then, it is, that the truly loving man will concern himself not with her distortions and perversions, ultimately barren, but with her emotional and sensuous truths, ancient and deep within her, with what might be called her biological and natural fulfillment."3
It seems to me that those who accuse John Norman of misogyny have either never read the Gor books or have given them only the most cursory examination.
What about the claims that John Norman advocates the subjugation, physical abuse, enslavement, and rape of women? Perhaps the following quote will help dispel those misconceptions.
"The fact, of course, that rape is a common sexual fantasy of women does not indicate that women, in any general sense, wish to be raped. They would surely, at the very least, wish to choose the time and the place, and the circumstances and the man. Rape, as a sociological reality, is commonly an ugly, brutal, unpleasant, sickening, horrifying, vicious act. It degrades the man and it doesn't do the woman much good either. Not only does she receive little or no pleasure, but the whole affair has no more intrinsic worth or dignity than a mugging. Further, sadly, she is likely to be brutalized and, at the least, intimidated. This is to take advantage of a weaker creature, who cannot adequately, in most cases, defend herself. The rapist, unless there are some extenuating factors, such as severe mental illness, scarcely comes up to scratch for a human being. To pick on a woman, because she is smaller and weaker, is much the same thing as to pick on a child or animal; or, it is much the same thing as a young man striking an old man; or a large, strong man beating a small, weak man; it is just something that it is not worthy to do. It is not that it need be a "sick" thing to do, though doubtless in some cases it is; it is rather that there is just no manhood in it."4
Norman appears to have a pretty low opinion of anyone that would actually, subjugate, abuse, or rape a woman.
So what was Norman's purpose in writing the Gorean saga? I imagine one purpose was to earn a little extra money in order to better support his family or perhaps to see if he could write a heroic fantasy in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but the main purpose seems to have been providing a satirical counterpoint to the more extreme rhetoric of radical feminists.
Those of you who grew up in the 60's, 70's & 80's will no doubt be familiar with the following extraordinary statements:
"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the Women's Movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage."5
"Rape is the primary heterosexual model for sexual relating. Rape is the primary emblem of romantic love. Rape is the means by which a woman is initiated into her womanhood as it is defined by men."6
"We name orgasm as the epistemological mark of the sexual, and we therefore criticise it too as oppressive to women."7
It was comments like these that Norman sought to lampoon. The radical feminists equated romantic love and marriage with slavery, so the only romantic relationships Norman explores in detail in the books are, of course, with slaves. The most extreme feminists categorize all sex as rape, so Norman repeatedly has eager and willing slaves beg their masters for "slave rape". Lastly, female orgasm is claimed to be "oppressive to women", so the "oppressed" slave is described as having the most immediate and powerful sexual and orgasmic responses. Clearly Norman is using slavery as a metaphor in order to explore the absurdity of radical feminist dogma.
Norman is hardly the only author to use a distasteful metaphor to explore more deeply into the human psyche. Nancy Springer invariably castrates at least one male character in nearly every book she writes, but are there hordes of people claiming that Ms. Springer is "advocating" the castration of men? Of course not, most people understand that she uses castration to explore the nature of manhood. Was there a huge outcry against Sheri S. Tepper for "advocating" eugenics in her book, The Gate to Women's Country? Or for portraying men as naturally disposed towards violence and war? No - it's obvious to people that Tepper is exploring the ethical and emotional consequences of selective breeding and secrecy. It's a shame that Mr. Norman isn't accorded the same understanding.
Most of you know that John Norman has a PhD. in philosophy, but what is less well known is that he also has a graduate degree in classical history. Norman puts all of his education to work in his novels. He borrows from classical history not only to build the various cultures found on Gor, but also in various allusions to classical mythology. A few more obvious examples are Norman's reference to Beowulf8, the Ring of Gyges9, and to the Gordian Knot10 & Alexander11 (both directly and obliquely).
And, of course, Norman also uses his degree in philosophy to good effect - regularly exploring such concepts as honor, courage, duty, being true to oneself, and love - especially true love - which Mr. Norman recommends highly.
"Many people, of course, fear love, doubtlessly rightly, for love is a vast, tender, profound, binding instinct, which makes great differences in those lives it floods. The human being is both a single organism and a double organism. The human being consists either of a man or a woman, or the two in love. It is natural for the single organism in each of us to fight for its independence, its freedom to be self-seeking and selfish, and self-striving. But it is natural, too, for the single organism to desire its completion in the mated pair. The matter can be argued subtly but those who have been touched by love, usually briefly, have no doubt as to its superiority. Love, once tasted, is in no danger of ever again being regarded as inferior to egotism. Those who have tried both, and we have all tried the latter, would, were it possible, choose the former."12
There will always be those that refuse to see the truth about John Norman and his books, but as Norman says:
"Truth is a strange thing.
There is a danger in seeking it, for one might find it.
That one does not like a truth does not make it false.
How few people understand that!
But there are many sorts of truths, as there are flowers and beasts. Some truths are hard and cold, and sharp, and if one touches them one might cut oneself and bleed. Some truths are like dark stones which do little more that exist unnoticed; others are green with the glow of life, like moist grass rustling in the morning sun/ some truths are like frowns; and some are like smiles. Some are friendly; others are hostile; and, in both cases, their nature is just what it is, not what they may be said to be. Politics is not the arbiter of truth; it may be the arbiter of comfort, safety, conformity, and success, but it is not the arbiter of truth; the arbiter of truth is the world and nature; they have the last say in these matters.
Many may wish it were not the case; and many will pretend it is not the case; but it is, for better or for worse, the case.
Truth does not care whether it is believed or not; similarly, stone walls and cliffs do not care whether they are noted or not; so then let us leave it to the individual to do as he thinks best. Truth, the stone wall, the cliff, are not enemies; but they are real."13
All copyright to this essay, in all languages, formats, and media throughout the world are and will continue to be the exclusive property of the author. You may not, without the prior written permission of the author, copy, modify, reproduce, republish, post, distribute, transmit, or use this essay for commercial or other purposes, provided, however, that you may save one copy to your own hard drive for your own personal reference.
Copyright © 2007 LemuelB. All rights reserved.
1 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company
2 Blood Brothers of Gor © 1982 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - pages 181-182
3 IBID - page 286
4 Imaginative Sex © 1974 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - pages 52-53
5 Sheila Cronan, in Radical Feminism - "Marriage" (1970), Koedt, Levine, and Rapone, eds., HarperCollins, 1973 - page 219
6 Andrea Dworkin, Letters From a War Zone, Dutton Publishing, 1989
7 Judith Levine commenting on a document from Women Against Sex: A Southern Women's Writing Collective - Sex Resistance in Heterosexual Arrangements, 1987
8 Marauders of Gor © 1975 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - pages 281-282
9 Explorers of Gor © 1979 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - page 29
10 Assassin of Gor © 1970 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - page 55
11 Magicians of Gor © 1988 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - page 64
12 Imaginative Sex © 1974 by John Norman, DAW Books, Inc. - page 16
13 Witness of Gor © 2001 by John Norman, New World Publishers - page 586