Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Author of the Gor Books' Greatest Fan: The Author of the Gor Books

Reader seaofstarsrpg commented with a link to another interview with John Norman. It's here.

Apparently I was wrong to declare that the Gor series is a ripoff of the John Carter of Mars series but with bondage instead of adventures. John Norman (real name John Lange) says that "pretty clearly, the three major influences on my work are Homer, Freud, and Nietzsche. Interestingly, however obvious this influence might be, few, if any, critics, commentators, or such, have called attention to it." Presumably the critics haven't read Freud's influential work Masturbating to Frank Frazetta Paintings Is Too A Philosophy.

He's barely even heard of John Carter, despite what I, Wikipedia and the interviewer all say. "I can remember Tarzan books by Burroughs, but I do not think I knew about his various science-fiction works until many years later." Anyway, they're not that similar. In the John Carter series the title character travels to the primitive, low-gravity planet of Mars, whereas in the Gor books the main character has a completely different name. Edgar Rice Burroughs originally used the pen name 'Norman Bean'. 'John Norman' is a pen-name which...isn't completely the same.

He's a master-craftsman of language. Take this for example: "As the family legend has it, when my father's company slashed its employee list, he was the last fellow retained, namely, the cut-off started with the next fellow. For example, if there were one hundred on the list, and half were released, and we were counting up from the bottom, he would have been number fifty-one." Barely twice as long as it needs to be.

John, sometimes geniuses are misunderstood in their time, they are called stupid and deluded, and their ideas are dismissed. But this also happens to people who are stupid and deluded.


  1. I think we should all devote a day worth of posts to slagging this guy.

    "Ethical Naturalism" and the latent themes of Gor (minus the soft-core porn) all smack to me of the badly-digested Nietzscheanism of early fascism. Not the curse word "fascism", but the real doctrines of the 20's and 30's: natural hierarchy, biological roles, corporatism (note the cheerful caste system of Gor), etc. Blech.

  2. There's always that one thing that stopped me from reading this schlock: Rape. Now, I'm one of those people who has little sense of humor with regard to this word, so take this for what you think it's worth. I could just never get past the ridiculous (oft-repeated) idea in the Norman books that slaves just looooove to be raped, like it's a treat or something. Like there's nothing better than a good rape (Who needs chocolate?). It's just squicky, you know? Then you have all of these douchebag fanboy types who think that's just peachy, and Norman's work is somehow representative of a grand philosphy by which to live one's life. I wonder how many of them play FATAL?

  3. I've always wondered how long John Norman himself would last on Gor. Would his natural gifts be recognized or would he quickly be raped to death by a horde of crazed illiterate barbarian warriors after having arrived on Gor? I mean, because if we are going to go all 'survival of the fittest according to Gor,' I suspect novel writing professors will rate somewhere well below catapult fodder in terms of 'being worth the cost of enough food to barely keep them alive' in the Nietzschean fantasy world. Or am I wrong about that?


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