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[Where I Read] John Norman's Gor series

Afterburner

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Yeah, I'm going there.

I can't guarantee for how long I will go there, because I have a short attention span. But, at least for as long as my attention holds out, I'm going there.

Some background: I have actually read several books in this series already. I read them 25+ years ago in high school. About 10 years ago, I re-read the first few. I actually like the first few, which are long on sword-and-sandals planetary romance in the vein of the Barsoom stories, with only a light sprinkling of BDSM themes here and there. The writing is turgid, but the world-building is actually not terrible.

In preparation for this thread, you are all hereby instructed to go read Houseplants of Gor, which really captures the essence of of Norman's writing style. It will take you MAYBE three minutes to read it (though it may seem like an eternity), and you will come away with a greater understanding of how the books read.
 

Afterburner

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Book 1 - Tarnsman of Gor
Chapter 1 - "A Handful of Earth"


My name is Tarl Cabot. The name is supposed to have been shortened in the fifteenth century from the Italian surname Cabato. As far as I know, however, I have no connection with the Venetian explorer who carried the banner of Henry VII to the New World. Such a connection seems unlikely for a number of reasons, among them the fact that my people were simple tradesmen of Bristol, and uniformly fair-complexioned and topped with a blaze of the most outrageous red hair. None the less, such coincidences, even if they are only geographical, linger in family memory–our small challenge to the ledgers and arithmetic of an existence measured in bolts of cloth sold. I like to think there may have been a Cabot in Bristol, one of us, who watched our Italian namesake weigh anchor in the early morning of that second of May, 1497.

You may remark my first name, and I assure you that it gave me quite as much trouble as it might you, particularly during my early school years, when it occasioned almost as many contests of physical skill as my red hair. Let us say simply that it is not a common name, not common on this world of ours. It was given to me by my father, who disappeared when I was quite young. I thought him dead until I received his strange message, more than twenty years after he had vanished. My mother, whom he inquired after, had died when I was about six, somewhere about the time I entered school. Biographical details are tedious, so suffice it to say that I was a bright child, fairly large for my age, and was given a creditable upbringing by an aunt who furnished everything that a child might need, with the possible exception of love.
Mr. John Norman, ladies and gentlemen!

So...yeah. That's how the book starts off, and it's fairly representative of Norman's approach. The exposition is indirect, overly verbose, and focused on minutiae. Some books open with a bang and get us right into the action. Not so Tarnsman of Gor. This book opens up with a brief explanation of the origins of the protagonist's last name.

The rest of the chapter continues on in this vein. We learn (indirectly) that Tarl knows how to use a sword (because he fences with one of the phys. ed. professors at the college where he works), that he's in good shape (because he "takes a turn around the track" every now and again), that he's British (a fact I had forgotten), that he's got red hair, that he's gotten an instructor position at a small New England college despite having only a 4-year degree from Oxford, etc etc. All delivered in this passive, purple prose.

Speaking of purple prose, I give you the following passage.:

Accordingly, slowly and calmly, I set about tending the fire, opened a can of chili, and set up sticks to hold the tiny cooking pot over the fire.
This is from the middle of the chapter, after he has started on a weekend excursion into the woods of rural New Englandia. Stephen King is spinning in his grave at the use of so many adverbs to start a sentence.

Anyhow, as Our Hero wanders through the woods, he comes across a curious metal envelope that is addressed specifically to him. He eventually figures out how to open it, and discovers that it's a message from his missing father, dated 300 years previously. After a brief bout of running aimlessly through the woods in fear, he finally winds back up at his campsite just in time to see a flying saucer land. The door of the flying saucer opens up. And Tarl does just what any sane, rational man would do in these circumstances: He gets on board.
 

Kinetic Energy Weapon

flouveida
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Yeah, I'm going there.
I'll light a candle for you.


In preparation for this thread, you are all hereby instructed to go read Houseplants of Gor, which really captures the essence of of Norman's writing style. It will take you MAYBE three minutes to read it (though it may seem like an eternity), and you will come away with a greater understanding of how the books read.
I made it through 8 whole lines before bailing!
 

Beckett

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If Houseplants of Gor is any indication, well, better you than me.

I've been somewhat curious about the series, particularly since I get frequent interlibrary loan requests for the books. Just not curious enough to actually read them myself. I'll be interested in how it goes.
 

Oblivious ignorant elf

And beware the dwarves
As a pervert and fetishist, I'm actually interested if there are any good parts to *that* side of gor. The whole d/s philosophy of it is no go, but I'm curious about whatever gimmick restraints that appear in the series. Does mr.Norman(no relation to to men who conquered the Isled of Britain, etc) go into fantastically detailed descriptions of every pair of cuffs?
 

Sundancer

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I confess to having read seven of the Gor books when they hit the German market in the 90s, but let me say in my defense that they were pretty much my first contact with the planetary romance genre, and the first three weren't actually that bad.

As I check the titles, it appears I've read 1, 2, 3, 9, 20, 21 & 23, which, in hindsight, explains why some things made no sense to me after the third book. The jumps in sequence number were not advertised as such back then, I thought I had books one through seven.
 

Guvmint Helper

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Yeah, Gor starts out as a mediocre sciency-fantasy. As the series goes on, the books get longer, but the sciency-fantasy part of the books gradually shrinks to make room for more time spent philosophizing about why women are supposed to be slaves, and occasional graphic sex.

As far as restraints go, I seem to recall that during sex most of the female participants are restrained primarily by their helplessness in the face of awesome virility, and their submissive female natures. There are occasional cuffs and chains, too, though.
 

The Wyzard

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And Tarl does just what any sane, rational man would do in these circumstances: He gets on board.
Wait...is that sarcasm?

You guys wouldn't get on board a flying saucer?
 
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