I enjoy John Norman’s science fiction series of Gor, the “counter earth,” and find his writing style intriguing, though at times a difficult read.
The story’s protagonist/antagonist, one Mr. Tarl Calbot of Bristol, is a transplanted school teacher (perhaps much like the author himself), who draws from an educated background of experiences on Earth, then attempts to adapt this to the strange world of the Goreans, learning of their customs, yet often failing to put the square peg of Earth modality into the proverbial round hole of Gorean tradition, thus finds himself in predicaments fueled of his own making, or complications over cultural misunderstandings.
The planet Gor is monitored by an advanced alien race, the priest-kings, who intentionally keep its inhabitants in a developmental state similar to earth’s medieval era. Historically we find Gor’s human males are generally placed as masters of their domain, human females generally placed as submissive slaves to be bought and sold as property, however that is a harsh generalization of a more complex system that spans over the scope of the book’s epic tales, so, there are certain exceptions given to contradict this ideal. On the surface, one may think Gor appears to be a patriarch world, yet it could just as easily be matriarch society, depending your perceptions or lack thereof. There also exists what are referred to as free persons and people who are rogues or outcasts that defy Gor’s societal structure altogether evenasmuch as they are a part of it.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I will say, I think metaphorically the relation of Gorean slave women to Gorean masters could point to underlying messages about self-mastery and equality, drawing parallels to Eastern philosophy or could just as easily point to other culturally-inspired theology, and may hint at some enlightenment, if one were to read between lines enough to see what may not be obviously stated. Indeed, many themes are repeated and many discussions debated within the books that point to social disorders on Earth more than customs on the alien world of Gor.
That’s my humble opinion and may be a stretch to bring basic writings to a lofty platform, though, look at how prolific Gor is today: Having begun around the early 1960’s, the storyline continues today with about 30 books in the saga, the latest novel only recently released!
In his ninth book, “Mauraders of Gor” we learn of peoples existing in the far Northern regions of the planet, known as Tvoraldslanders; These ficticious peoples are said to have originated from Vikings, who were transplanted from Earth around 700 AD. As ancient Norse is of my real world family tree, I look forward to reading this, to hear the authors interpretations of them; what notions from real Vikings may have ended up within these novels.
His books often parralel the cultural diversity and events across ancient (historical) earth, so we find races on Gor which emulate castes such as native americans, romans, greeks, egyptians, and so forth.
On the virtual metaverse of (Linden Labs) Second Life, as well other places on the Internet, people have created Gorean-themed areas, forums, groups, etc. to entertain fans of the stories. My next post will touch upon some of the experiences I have had with that, but I’m not going to get too personal or in-depth on those experiences, more so a 3rd-person, detached view written in an intentionally vague style, so that the reader is left with the concepts more than account of specific people, places or events. This is because the said Gorean-themed areas are filled with lifestylers who may not enjoy having me publicly detail what may be viewed as sacred or secret ongoings.
Anyway, back to the books, I’ve read all the books up to Witness of Gor, one of the more recent works, and will continue to read or listen to the novels on audiobook until I’ve read them all — I believe they are that good and will hold your attention if you find the material enjoyable (which I do!) .. as well, I think one will find that many science fiction works of today draw from things John Norman wrote about some 30 years ago in his books.
Yeah, this post is getting a bit random now so I’ll end it on that note! 🙂 As always, your comments, criticisms, banter, praise, reviews, anecdotes, thoughts, whatever are welcome!