Respectful Insolence

I never liked those novels anyway…

First bad science fiction leads to a cult (Scientology), and now bad epic fantasy follows suit.

Back when I was high school and college, like many that age, I was very fond of epic fantasy. But even I didn’t like the Gor novels. How anyone could emulate them so seriously is beyond me.

Comments

  1. #1 firefalluk
    May 21, 2006

    Having brushed up against Goreans a few times (too often), I have to say:

    Uh, Orac, are you really sure you want an answer to this? It aint about the, umm words fail me, ‘literature’ (which I have to agree is some of the most wretched bile ever spewed out onto paper).

  2. #2 Babbler
    May 21, 2006

    Okay, there are weirder people than trekkies…

  3. #3 Bronze Dog
    May 21, 2006

    Trekkies are just mere fans. Trekkers are the guys who go to McDonalds dressed up like Klingons.

    Or is it the other way around?

  4. #4 cmk
    May 21, 2006

    could read them – even a kid who was hopelessly addicted to Edgar Rice Boroughs’ Mars series – couldn’t get through the first book.

  5. #5 Ahistoricality
    May 21, 2006

    As long as S/M is legal, this is just people having fun their own way. No more harmful than Civil War reenactments.

  6. #6 Julia
    May 21, 2006

    Bronze Dog, I think it’s that Trekkies go to McDonald’s dressed as Klingons, Trekkers are a little more low-key about it. I think. (Wikipedia is giving what I’m sure is accurate info, but it’s confusing the heck out of me. I’m neither — I just go to SF conventions and concern myself more with the writers and the filkers. Filk, now that’s fun.)

    I never started into any of the Gor novels; there may have been one or two in the house, but the cover was just a turn-off to me, and I heard as much as I wanted to about them at a couple of SF conventions and decided to stay as far away from them as possible.

  7. #7 Chris
    May 21, 2006

    As far as I can tell, Norman (the author of the books) actually believed that everyone wanted to live like that; clearly that’s false, but *some* people apparently *do* want to live like that, so… it’s up to them.

    “As long as S/M is legal”? Do you have some reason to believe it’s going to be targeted by someone trying to make it illegal? (Probably the theocrats again…)

    Anyway, as long as they don’t try to impose their way of life on everyone else, I have no problem with it.

  8. #8 Ahistoricality
    May 22, 2006

    “As long as S/M is legal”?

    Actually, I think the right to define our own pleasure is often as much at risk — in different ways — from “my side” which has a tendency towards nanny-statism as it is from the missionary missionaries…..

  9. #9 usagi
    May 22, 2006

    Chris, SM is under constant attack in some quarters of both the US and the UK (there was an infamous UK trial, The Spanner Case, that determined individuals have no right to consent to SM acts (if I recall correctly, several of the submissives were charged as accessories to their own assault). Similar cases happen in the US from time to time as well.

    That said, Gorians are more like Furries. They’ve got their own set of costumes and kinks with some overlap into the broader SM community, much like you’ll see a few furries at any larger SF con. I’ve heard of the Kaotians before. I confess, I’m rather biased against them. The ones I’ve known are trying to hide from themselves in their fantasy. That’s fine for a few hours of slap and tickle play on the weekend, but phenominally unhealthy as a lifestyle.

  10. #10 Chris
    May 22, 2006

    Perhaps, but alcoholism and smoking and high-fat diets are clearly unhealthy lifestyles and they pass without comment. (Usually.) I think people’s right to determine their own lifestyles rises above someone else’s concept of “healthy”. Including mine – I wouldn’t want to live their life, but I don’t object to *them* living it.

    I bet there’s some furries that wouldn’t appreciate that comparison, though. The ones I’ve known treat it more as a hobby than a lifestyle – bringing a costume to the con doesn’t mean they wear it all the time.

  11. #11 BronzeDog
    May 22, 2006

    You wouldn’t want to wear ‘em all the time. Those things get hot… I mean, I would think.

    Not like I’d know, personally.

  12. #12 llewelly
    May 23, 2006

    Strange. I recall in HS I had some friends who liked Gor. I hated Gor. I read 1 or 2 due to constant cajoling. Fortunately, these few novels supplied me with endless ammo for teasing the Gor fans about the ‘real’ reasons they liked Gor. I don’t think any of us ever guessed there was a cult based on Gor. I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to role-play it (but I’d never role-play that sort of crap myself), but it’s *awful* to contemplate someone actually believing it!

    Nonetheless … given the huge volumes of fantasy and science fiction I read as child, I’m disturbed to discover what kooks certain fantasy and science fiction writers are. Fortunately, none of the real kooks were my favorite authors. er, that is, except Orson Scott Card. *shudder*

  13. #13 usagi
    May 23, 2006

    I think people’s right to determine their own lifestyles rises above someone else’s concept of “healthy”. Including mine – I wouldn’t want to live their life, but I don’t object to *them* living it.

    I don’t object to consenting adults living their lives however they want (Pot, meet Kettle–my room to judge that count is measured in microns). I meant healthy specifically in relation to D/s, and I was refering to the Kaotians particularly. There’s a false perception in some quarters (reinforced by the tone of the quotes in the article) that slaves need someone to run their lives for them. That way lies disaster. All the submissives I know who live successful as slaves are the most self-aware, self-actualized people you’re likely to meet. People who jump into a 24/7 lifestyle without doing the prep tend to crash very hard. And the Gorian model isn’t noted for flexibility.

    I bet there’s some furries that wouldn’t appreciate that comparison, though. The ones I’ve known treat it more as a hobby than a lifestyle – bringing a costume to the con doesn’t mean they wear it all the time.

    My point precisely (and I doubt a Gorian would appreciate the comparison either). Oh, I’m so far out on a limb here–messy analogy, but come with me: Gorians are like the general furry type. The Kaotians are like what wikipedia describes as “lifestyle furries”.

  14. #14 Thursday
    May 23, 2006

    Ah, John Norman, where is your brillian light now? Anyone who wants a primer of what EVERY BOOK reads like need only turn to the brilliant Houseplants of Gor, located here:
    http://www.rdrop.com/users/wyvern/data/houseplants.html

    Legend has it that Norman was the author who bet that he could publish the worst book ever, as long as it was science fiction where standards were pitifully low. Not only did he win the bet, there were twelve more commissioned immediately. It is also said that the first run of the first book was published under his real name before he very vocally corrected the mistake, but I haven’t been able to get that confirmed.

    Hmm… How much do you really feel you want to know?
    (Generally speaking, here, as this is based only on personal experience, exposure and a bit of research.) The Goreans are pretty heavy into “lifestyle” slavery, rather than straightforward S/M. Most of their play goes on in the mind, rather than on the body, and is much more B&D (bondage and domination). In S/M, there is a fairly high number of “switches”, people who will be dominant to one person (or sex) and submissive to another. This is exteremly rare (I’ve never heard of it) with Goreans: like the books, the masters are male, the slaves female.

    The Goreans have specific training methods they follow as well, imitating what they have culled from Norman’s series: positions, command words, ritual phrases, etc. Not many people keep it up for long, as it’s one hell of a lot of work, master or sub, and there’s a high burnout rate.

    Usagi:
    I have to disagree with you (mildly) about subs being exceptionally self-aware or self-actualized: they strike me as folks who like sex and aren’t afraid of it, but nothing more than that. Lots and lots of folks are in the scene, most quite happily, that still have a lot of work to do in the rest of their lives. I have to admit that I haven’t encountered anyone who is of the subset you mention, or if they are then they’ve only considered themselves Gorean. Perhaps this is regional?

    Odd note: kinksters tend to be a pretty even split between right and left wing politically speaking, but those folks who are more likely to be in the closet about it are on the right. Same story with gays.

    Last note: believe it or not, there are two (yes, TWO) movies based or Gor books: Gor (1988) and Outlaw of Gor (1989). They both have Jack Palance appear. They were filmed concurrently, are both inhumanly awful: for instance, the hero’s name (“Cabot”, American pronounciation) is said over fifty times in the first ten minutes.

    And now you know more than you could possibly have wanted.

  15. #15 usagi
    May 23, 2006

    I have to disagree with you (mildly) about subs being exceptionally self-aware or self-actualized…

    Not subs in general. The cross section of kinky people’s self-knowledge probably looks about the same as the rest of the population (case and point, the Canadian woman in the article who burned her passport and return ticket as admission to the house–what’s up with that?).

    …they strike me as folks who like sex and aren’t afraid of it, but nothing more than that. Lots and lots of folks are in the scene, most quite happily, that still have a lot of work to do in the rest of their lives.

    Like most people. And unlike some, I have no issue with casual players in the scene. A D/s lifestyle (grief, I wish there was a better term) is not for everyone; in fact, not for most people even if they enjoy some kink in their sex lives. My issue with the Gorians (and especially the Kaotians) is that the ones I’ve known substitute form for substance and have very poor boundaries where their private world intersects the everyday. I have no patience with people who drag unsuspecting civilians into their scenes. It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate. It’s non-consensual. And it embarrasses the hell out of those of us who integrate D/s fully into our lives.

    (TMI aside: I’m not a slave, nor do I aspire to be one {nowhere near the mindset it takes}. That’s another myth that drives me up the wall: that there’s some sort of kink hierarchy you’re climbing and the pinnacle is to become a slave {another idea I associate with Gorians, thought it’s not exclusive to them by any stretch}. The idea is to find what you enjoy and someone to share it with you.)

    I’ve known a number of people (into the hundreds if you include those online) who have tried to hide from themselves in a slave lifestyle. It never works. As you correctly observe, “Not many people keep it up for long, as it’s one hell of a lot of work, master or sub, and there’s a high burnout rate.” Subs who put on a collar because they think it’s easy get whacked with the reality stick hard and fast.

    Successful slaves in long term relationships are extremely together. They have to be. Like any relationship, the tests are in the day-to-day, nitty gritty stuff, and they’re constantly facing their choice to be in the position they’ve chosen. Trust me, it’s not for the faint of heart.

    I have to admit that I haven’t encountered anyone who is of the subset you mention, or if they are then they’ve only considered themselves Gorean. Perhaps this is regional?

    I am in San Francisco (it struck me recently that most of the people I know well are in non-traditional relationships of one kind or another), but it’s not like there aren’t enclaves of kinky people everywhere.

  16. #16 Bronze Dog
    May 23, 2006

    Okay… Think I’m learning a little too much at Orac’s place, now. ;)

  17. #17 Orac
    May 23, 2006

    Yeah, this discussion is going in ways I never would have guessed. I thought this was just a quicky post that would quickly fade away without much comment. I was wrong.

  18. #18 Thursday
    May 24, 2006

    Usagi:
    Nothing to argue with in your reply. People who get lost in the fantasy can really end up being a danger to themselves and/or others. With luck, they’ll be dealing with people who can reconise the danger signs. I’m up on Vancouver Island, with very rare trips to Seattle (I’m sure you’re familliar with the scene there), so I’m probably just missing the Kaotians. Admittedly, I steer away from Goreans as a whole, anyways…

    And speaking of “dragging in unsuspecting civillians”:

    Bronze Dog:
    Education is good for you! How can you possibly learn too much? Of course, you’ll need a VERY strict teacher… (Sorry – couldn’t resist the cheesiness!)

    Orac:
    Am I oversharing again? Sorry about that. It was mentioning Jack Palance that put it over the top, wasn’t it? Never again, promise.