This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
in Volume 1, Issue 2 of Polygraff magazine, in January 2010. Polygraff is a quarterly anthology magazine, containing short stories in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, pulp, thriller, and other intriguing genres. It is published by Canadian publishers Polymancer Studios Inc., and reproduced here, in full, with their kind permission. Interview Conducted by Polygraff Staff Few writers in science fiction and fantasy are more controversial than John Norman, the creator of the Gor series of novels (www.worldofgor.com). Normans' works not only feature sexual themes, but they present worlds in which there is an exclusive male dominance. And it is most likely because of this that his works were so controversial when they came out in the realm of speculative fiction, and in spite of the great popularity of his work. The greater science fiction community's seeming unwillingness to recognize John Norman's popularity and influence says a lot about the cognoscenti of the genre, and perhaps more than a little about the state of contemporary Western culture in general. The staff of Polygraff™ magazine enjoyed a unique opportunity to interview John Norman. We discussed his work, his philosophy (of which he is an honest to goodness professor), and many other fascinating subjects that were every bit as stimulating as a Gor novel itself. We present that interview here for you in its entirety. We do hope you enjoy it. (Note: All text that follows this paragraph that is in bold typeface is a question asked by one of our staff. All other text that is in this typeface is one of the many great answers given. All responses are unaltered and are presented as given to us. They are the words of John Norman himself.) *** Before proceeding, I think a general remark, or two would be appropriate, in order to assist the reader, unwary or bemused, unsuspecting or innocent, to interpret what is likely to appear a most disconcerting, unsatisfying set of remarks. 1. Words are not things. They are counters, valuable, but clumsy and crude. Once we get beyond counting potatoes and giving street directions, their limitations become apparent. At worst, they cannot help but lie; at best, they serve as evidence of what can never be seen. 2. We are all strangers to ourselves. And how can one who is a stranger to
uncharacteristic in a writer. With these annoying remarks in mind. but what one has done may be unknown. however inadequately. let us address ourselves. to say things which to me are important. or for the common doom we face. to some possible questions. responded with exactness. explanation betrayal. It is left to the future and its history. the butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo. from the bacterium to the pterodactyl. unaccountable. an awesome. and regard the night. authentically. and the weather is different in California. I hope. Surely the narrowness. and. The safest thing is to turn away. to some of you. interesting. if only because it is unknown. or at all. and understands that the whole truth cannot be told. doctored to produce a political falsification. like the fusion of chemicals. the rise of fierce. As it is said in Chaos theory. the liberation of capitalism. transitory. global systematicity of living forms. Michelangelos and Shakespeares. and so much is unknown. self-replicating carbon compound. is half a lie. the advent of a hundred putatively representative democracies. not so much because they may be altered to distort my views and misrepresent my convictions. from massive trees to fields of grass. and that is precious. and ramifications is inexhaustible. as we all are. Can I count on you to construct a reality. of necessity. From a bone. as has everyone else. which might not be the bone of the actual beast. It will be noted that I have not. competitive nationalisms. an attack. and dogmatism of Martin Luther did not have in mind the birth of a thousand religions. eventually produce a planet's phylogenetic abundance. and stars. I commonly decline interviews. I have used the questions as a stimulus. honestly. 4. rigidity. who does not even know himself? You will never know me. or because of a zeal for privacy. In addition to being an author of speculative and historical fiction. paraphrase is treachery. and I will never know you.himself. I can love you. In short. the unleashing of technological and economic progress. know another. Rather. as because it is hard to tell the truth. But I know that you are there. from a fragment or a scrap. One does the best one can. then. . Accordingly. hopefully informedly. but I cannot know you. one builds a fantasy. Reality. for yourself. It has no substitutes. to all questions. produces pharaohs and Caesars. 3. and. fragile. relations. in all cases. invasive. one has done something. with its connections. one hopes for the best. producing a tiny. One is reluctant to tell less than the whole truth. Small things. as so much of it is subtle and inexpressible. when I am not sure I could do that myself? Half a truth.
a movement of air. might man exist. except that they do not permit themselves to be forgotten. no streaks in the cloud chamber. are inapplicable. as a colleague once pointed out to me. in the way of the fox. should man exist? The philosopher in man asks a thousand questions. and recurrent. To be sure. I would suppose it is to realize that in ourselves the universe has awakened. stained. tenacious. or clocked. Who else should I be? . one cannot sing without the song. Perhaps it would be wisest. measured. and one singer. Their answers. but. Philosophical questions are inevitable. I seem to have little control over the matter. How. As it is said. as the pen by which it makes its marks. to forget them. Which is more important to your personal identity. but answers which cannot be caught in the nets of the accountant or physicist. How amazing that the smallest grain of sand. pervasive. The writing. a leaf. and learned to its surprise that it exists. The philosopher and the writer are one person. All men are philosophers. I would not be me. author or philosopher? Are they things that you keep separate or does one aspect of your life influence the other? I have written all my life. a seed. a branch. is very close to me. My personal identity is not important to me. Perhaps I would be a better philosopher if I were not a writer. They doubtless have answers. But then. and considers a hundred thousand answers. There is one song. I am content to be me. What is most important cannot be weighed. and perhaps I would be a better writer if I were not a philosopher.you are also a philosopher and a professor of philosophy. leave no footprints in the sand. alas. To them the yard stick and scale. as to many authors. and by nothing we mean not even empty space. it must be important to me. if answers there are. as the voice through which it chooses to speak. the Geiger counter and cyclotron. and the song does not exist without the singer. in so ultimately mysterious a world. should exist. how here?" as Milton's Adam would have it. My work is. why is there anything at all? Would not nothing be more likely. it seems sometimes that the writing uses me. they do not admit of quantification. even as a child. a drop of rain. the most profound and important questions that can be asked. They gnaw at the edges of thought. Accordingly. "How came I thus. can man exist. haunt one in the night. What is it to be a philosopher? In the broadest sense. photographed.
instead of making out a case for Ethical Naturalism. Ethical naturalism. productive. and one ends up trying to show that all is not lost at a certain address in Philadelphia. That. stupid. I think the title was something like "In Defense of Ethical Naturalism. well-sheltered." say. compassionate. right and wrong. in effect. in need of coercive correction." What is that? What relation does it have to your novels. natural context. it consisted of an examination of only one argument. and not realistic. it would be one open only to fellows from a different planet. happy. but it would remain an open question as to whether or not x is good. For example. "good. and then say. it would not make sense to ask if a closed. from reality. to very much simplify things. To take a different example. uninformed. loving. Surely there is some connection between good and bad. if one cannot make sense of morality within some sort of satisfying. That would not be an open question. It would be a "closed question. then. Where else would one be likely to find such things? . Your doctoral dissertation is about "ethical naturalism.I hope that you are content to be you. seems less than reassuring. "Herman approves of x. ethics. civil. if that is an open question. creative. satisfied. nonexistent. "Yes. torturing small animals. too. depraved. if one were inclined to define "good" as that of which Herman approves. is the position that one can ground morality in the real world. and such. then one is likely to end up with no morality. something meaningless. energetic. If the question is "open. and such. One would like to save the world. or mystical and unverifiable. "The OpenQuestion Argument. to me. vicious. healthy. This limited and reductive sort of exercise is not that uncommon in dissertations. One of the problems with not accepting some form of ethical naturalism is that the alternatives seem undesirable. and naturally. To me. that morality. and such. which is less than societally reassuring. especially the relations between the characters in them? It has been a long time since my doctoral dissertation. as I recall." in natural terms must be mistaken. emerge rationally." then the definition would be inadequate. for example. one could meaningfully say something like." with an affirmative answer. dogmatic and metaphysical. let us say that x is a state of the world in which every human being is well-fed." against Ethical Naturalism. the claim that any characterization of. but is such a state of the world good?" It seems to me that. or such. I found myself trying to show that a single argument opposed to it was not coercive. is. that it is nonsense." which has many variations. or that morality is a mistake. Analogously. and the world." On the other hand. Thus. or is likely to end up with a competitive plethora of moralities in which ninety-nine percent of the world's population is convinced that the other ninety-nine percent is unclean. plane figure with four equal sides was a square. say. The "Open-Question Argument.
and not well addressed in this context. and order requires the capacity to enforce order. Bards no longer sing the battles of the gods around the long fires. in my view. might." One found little science in science fiction. alas for Aristotle. if we follow mythology. the internet. environmental degradation. if only by frowns. chivalrous romances are not much around now. if so. In any event. is it likely to continue to exist. man is a political animal. but many machines. one could not have any society without an explicit or implicit dominance hierarchy. one of the staples of "science fiction" would be the FTL drive. dominance hierarchies are found even amongst beasts and. For example." in particular whether or not it ever existed. Is modern society essentially built around dominance of some over others? Yes. bacteriological warfare. Society requires order. these are complex issues. is that the classical "science fiction" may be disappearing. the possible inability to exceed the speed of light. modern society is essentially built around the dominance of some over others. was certainly once familiar. it would not be surprising if science fiction and its trendy offspring. what was called "science fiction. at present. the faster-than-light drive. less favorable now. imprisonment. cultural shifts. amongst gods. genres can vanish. given electronic games. speculative fiction." probably because of the once-favorable connotations of the word 'science'. I sometimes worry that literature itself. And. nuclear and hydrogen weapons.To be sure. television. global warming. movies. On the other hand. and such. As Olaf Stapledon pointed out. as opposed to other forms of literature? What role do you think it should play? Does the general public have an incomplete view of what sci fi is? There are many problems with "science fiction. On the other hand. For example. That is pretty obvious. may be on its way out. is going to save the day. if that is the case. the likely sterility of other planets in the solar system. in view of such things as chemical warfare. As Aristotle noted. industrial blight. My fear." for better or for worse. and so on. and not by fines. and. What traditionally was termed "science fiction. which. and such. As has been pointed out. the population explosion. and such. is not only unscientific. some gang is always going to run things. as far as we know. but impossible. as well. astronomical distances. What is it that makes science fiction different from other kinds of fiction? What is the role that science fiction plays in the great literary scheme of things. and how to get rid of gangs you don't like. and he who is not must be either a beast or god. for . the exhaustion of resources. have been better termed "technology fiction" or "engineering fiction. I find it hard to believe that "Speculative Fiction. The question then is what gang. and the enthusiasm of individuals who find it difficult to publish elsewhere. and. long ago." in spite of its initials. executions. and once much around.
Forrest J Ackerman. And for this. If it is fiction. ray guns. I would personally find this a great tragedy. would anyone who likes to read. will always be with us. cloning. and such. My favorite is 'science fiction'. is the projection of a plausible. and such. make one aware of change and difference. encountering extraterrestrials. . such as stories of the gods.all its pretension. contemporary novels. like philosophy. it didn't happen. usually presupposes a familiar world." with surveying the field. and such. The aware. I suspect that it. Wittgenstein's "Family Resemblance" approach is more sensible. artificial life. and I have been around it for over seventy years. 'science fiction'. All fiction. and so on. What usually makes science fiction different from other forms of alternativereality literature. robotics. detective stories. in one form or another. horror stories. westerns. modern romances. snob appeal. enlarge the consciousness. ghost stories. or with some of us. much-missed. apparently based off the words 'hi fi'. My own view is incomplete. 'Speculative Fiction'. will keep it alive. the love. To be sure. So. short. 'Sci Fi'. was coined by the great. historical fiction. if any. snootiness. genetic engineering. or alternativereality literature. would join the march to extinction." for example. for "high fidelity. sea stories. On the other hand." Several words bob up in the waters. For example. I gather. a portrayal of an alternative reality. the fellowship. is not necessary. like philosophy. 'SF'. exercise the muscles of the mind. behind it. I trust. there are few. I think the general public does indeed have an incomplete view of what "sci fi" is. of alternative possibilities. talking-animal stories. or much more complete. and such. in one sense. Science fiction is a variety of what I like to call AR literature. Ayn Rand's Anthem would count as science fiction on this approach. It seems to me the term which has the history. wonderful. than mine. of course. The term. I would hate to think the public's view is more complete. I am personally very fond of science fiction. either of the past or present. too. To be sure. is. as you probably know. but different. and such. It. happy characterizations of necessary and sufficient conditions for belonging to a genre. by definition. can shake up presuppositions. 'sci fi' which occurs in your question. than with "looking and seeing. reality. a notion of what our world might become. with noting relations. perhaps an extrapolation from our world. "familiar-reality literature. one which is clearly connected with our world but is different. with paying attention to what is there. living mind. One should be less concerned with defining. space ships.
I am willing to pass that one up. In any event. You are free. collectivism. if not celebrate it. and such. There was a period in the 1980s when your books were taken out of book stores and libraries. at least for some. and redistributionism. How did this all start? You are referring to the phenomenon of the blacklisting. at . pluralistic literature. promote an agenda. On the other hand. denounced. yes-men. and maintain the temperature-and-humidity-controlled environment essential to the welfare of delicate plants. I have been blacklisted. the institution of censorship. to be just like them. What made you choose it? Does it have a special significance to it? The use of a pen name seemed advisable." to quote the Marxist term. time-serving. materialistic. publishing and otherwise. The ideal today would be the fellow who seriously. as I would. comes in second only to working as a duck in a shooting gallery. hypocrites. honestly. The point. insecure.Do you think the sci fi market has got too "safe" lately? The market is certainly not too "safe" for me. this narrows the market. authentically. It is not the first time free thought and difference has been abhorred. literary prostitution. or feared. but to preach to the converted. free. of course. controversial. denied admission to conventions. most people can pronounce it. as far as I know. for example. and wholeheartedly. I gather that I am "politically incorrect. if one is in an academic environment. innocently and enthusiastically. politically incestuous. That is fairly common in small. the imposition of a particular political viewpoint. if 'safe' connotes uniformity. ostracized. bootlickers. 'John Norman' seems to me a nice pseudonym. mediocrity. This is his hour. I did not have tenure at my institution. for two reasons. then the market is certainly pretty safe. but such considerations are vulgar. If my name were 'John Szwryptgflkz' you would not have asked the question. statism. sycophants. flatterers. When I began to write. his day. Writing science fiction. it has no correct pronunciation. the toadies. amen-sayers. is not to make money. stagnation. self-reproducing establishments. To be sure. John Norman is your pen name. I suspect if my name were 'John Szwryptgflkz' more people could have pronounced it correctly. in spite of the fact that it is only five letters long and contains two vowels. lately. after all. and considerably reduces sales. narrow. The first reason is that no one seems to be able to pronounce my name. It began or. exiled. and merely economic. conformers. an unwillingness to acknowledge and recognize difference. and such. or encourage a diverse. egalitarianism. commitment to an uncriticized orthodoxy. and such. in spite of the fact that. shut out. But not all freedoms need be exploited. subscribes to authoritarianism. which might die in the wild. The second reason for using a pseudonym is to survive. banished.
in . seeing one's work adapted to the silver-screen can be either a curse or a blessing. I think this is very sad. after serious study. in no uncertain terms. I did write a number of short stories in this period. I gather that keeping John Norman off the bookshelves. One might note. suggested changes. I never attempted to publish any of them. but the only change made was to change the spelling of 'Zeno' to 'Xeno'. who control what you may and may not read. of course. I have not taken him up on it. On the other hand. It was a long time ago. I have been unable to detect any relationship between my work and the films. I think this may have been following a stroke. rather than uniformity and indoctrination.least. or such. and I wrote some sixty pages of single-spaced criticism of the scenarios. Two films were made based on your books. obviously. putatively based on my work. due to the blacklisting. of course. millions of sales. was that no other editor. I am pleased. Why was there a long period with no books? Are you planning a comeback? The lacuna in publication was. A German friend wrote to me that when German authors have similar experiences they commit suicide. On the other hand. until then. The field was closed against me. some seven or eight. and its church. is a consequence of my politics. picked up the series. A number of others have encountered similar difficulties. that the films were made. There would have been no point in trying to do so. was not Rebecca Ferrati worth the price of admission? From 1967 to 1988 you steadily published several of the novels in the series but it was only in the years 2000s that the last books in the series appeared. too. notably concluding with "Prize of Gor" in 2008. including numerous corrections. cries of alarm. afterward. has its establishment. It. That is very nice. I had not realized. because they insisted on being written. To what else could it be attributed? As I recall. despite millions of sales. and how doctrinally uniform they were. I do not know if this was a recommendation on his part or not. how small was the number of editors. a complex. As a writer. of who was in charge of contemporary science fiction. and such. when a particular editor and publisher. became clear. because of the blacklisting. despite thousands of fans. too. Too. At any rate. "Hollywood" is an interesting place. a way of informing writers. That is something. but that. How did you feel about these? What was your reaction to the filmmakers' vision of your books? Two films were made. so to speak. of course. What was surprising to me. was a sort of public proclamation. marvelous man. lost control of his company. of course. and what they had better write if they wanted to be published. and a champion of richness and diversity in literature. and one of the founders of modern science fiction. which favor diversity and freedom. I did have a consultancy in connection with the films. as of yet. and such.
Your remark about "planning a comeback" seems to assume that such a thing is up to me. Not only is there to be only one restaurant in town.passing. and say "Come back. music videos. They are obviously written for adults. One always welcomes new friends. but only one item is to be on the menu. so to speak. if anything. they have their aspect of sensuous romance. were released in 1988 and 1989. philosophical. A careful watch is kept on the docks. than with enterprise. but it is to be the only brothel in town. openness. for example. diversity. popular music. there is not much point to planning a "comeback." but that does not seem to me likely. It is very important to them to turn science fiction. I think you do not realize the political situation in American science fiction. their bunnies. One cannot help but notice that the movies. not detriment. These two developments have had an unfortunate effect on the market. an editor may. When one is marooned on a desert island with no boat. and is possible. difference. might have encouraged some individuals to look into my writings. Too. the power of the antimenites. and their male lackeys. having a movie or two out based on one's work should redound to an author's benefit. and the frequent remoteness of ownership from the editorial trenches. highly . doors are closed. but comics. we missed you." It is not impossible that someone might furnish a boat. it tends to render editors exempt from inspection and supervision and immune from common market considerations. with the reduction of publishing outlets. once the most liberal and diverse of literary genres. and psychological novels. rebellion. how do you feel about how those works seem to be socially acceptable – or at least tolerated – when your own work has been treated very critically? The Gorean books are adventure-fantasy novels. Were these films in any way related to this decade-long absence of Gor on our bookshelves? The long absence of my writing from public view is easily explained. movies. first. and thus the likelihood of diversity. in such a situation. Gor and its sequel Outlaw of Gor. innovation. into a propaganda arm of a particular ideology. it reduces the number of editors. Who would risk such an act of treachery? Walls are high. who reinforce and support one another. With many fictional works out now – not just novels. second. and video games too – depicting graphic violence and sex. Not only is a political brothel to be run. be more concerned with the security of his or her place in a small network of congenial individuals. in virtue of having been kept from public view. defiance. individuality. but they are also intellectual. The movies. For example. risk. Normally. and. and such. that the demographics of the publishing world have changed over the years. respectively. understandably.
than the Gorean works. I have refused to flatter.intelligent and highly sexed adults. as cleverly as possible. some of which is acclaimed. restrained. and Nietzsche. I am an outsider. and I recognize its considerable value. whether he likes chocolate cake or not. There are thousands of cultures and realities which men and women. or much of it. which are unfamiliar in the political precincts of contemporary orthodoxy. throughout history. civilized. Certainly there is much available which is ruder. Other people urinate on them. or commented on it. I am more interested in whether I like it or not. more sexual. halfway to Siberia. I have never read a single critic who noticed this. or he will be on the skids. and I intend to keep them that way. a stranger. I do not object to other writers playing this game. have taken seriously. and ingratiate myself with editors. the critic has his own position in a personality network. Some things are more important than publication. Do you really want to be told what to think? I will give you one last item to think about. Too. and he had better please that network. An objective analysis of a chocolate cake would be deadly. Each person should do what he does best. of both sexes. I suppose that this might be indifferently characterized as stupidity or integrity. rather than preach at it from the outside. cultivate. Is that heresy? Lastly. one might note that criticism is itself a genre of literature. more violent. So the critic tries to tell us. Too. seems to be political. Perhaps the problem is that there are ideas in the books. The criticism of my work. One possible difficulty with the Gorean books is that they examine an alien culture from the inside. I am not really much interested in whether he likes it or not. and scientifically informed. Quite obviously the three paramount literary influences on the Gorean world are Homer. The books do not seem controversial to me. as they are. and lived by. He will be successful only insofar as he tells his audience what they want to hear. criticism is not like the chemical analysis of a recipe. . and that the critic has his own social standing and future to protect. but I am not psychologically arranged in such way as to find it possible. Secondly. Freud. Some people make mountains. and such. Perhaps they have never heard of those fellows. I lack the pack odor. Frankly. while perhaps lavish. which intends to be interesting. My social skills are primitive. So.
that this interest has led. The "Ethnography of Gor" is richly detailed – how did you go about designing this world and what would you say were your primary inspirations for it? The Counter-Earth. and such. and also allows them to conceal its presence in a given solar system. On the other hand. Something is clearly "out there. Yes. or specific. the books. I understand that when a particular Gorean site opened.An entire subculture of "goreans" has grown out of fans of your works." but I know very little about it. to be sure. this technology. and I think appropriately. it seems to me that some individuals may misunderstand my work. who. or life? To be sure. I do not see the Gorean books as having an explicit. in so many words. or history. you see. if anything. unless it be themselves. Speculation on such a world. is ancient. a mountain? Let them love nature. love life. is from Greek cosmology. and elsewhere. as the star's nuclear fuel might be exhausted. A concomitant property . a raccoon. They seem mostly to be the political puritans. and am still trying to master the intricacies of ballpoint pens. to reading the books. Accordingly. but I do not expect to be successful. as the saying is. or biology. one might learn much from nature. have a technology at their disposal compared to which ours would be something like that in the Bronze Age. though. may be happy. And one hopes. love men. or will lead. Does nature have such a message. largely in virtue of the mastery of gravity. whom we might speak of as the Priest-Kings. is with the Gorean world. if they wish. or Antichthon. on the internet. message. Naturally. or such. somewhere. I do understand that there is considerable interest in the Gorean world. more or less. I would like to save the world. How do you feel about them? Do your novels have a "message" that you would like to describe to those who are unfamiliar with the Gor series of books? Do you feel that there are those that profoundly misunderstand your work? I am something of an electronic troglodyte. I know very little. somehow. of course. which might be conveyed to someone. love women. of course. One of the premises of the Gorean series is that a race of aliens. seem to be dreadfully afraid that someone. the writing. one is grateful for interest in one's work. and life. allows them to move their world from star to star. What is a flower about. it received several thousand "hits" in the first week or two. My primary concern. For example. history. about a Gorean subculture. For example. it seems pretty clear to me that many thousands of readers have a pretty good idea of what the Gorean books may be about. predictably. biology. they are not really about anything in particular.
more importantly. to protect the environment. and so we judiciously refer the interested reader to the books themselves. and this commonality is encouraged by the Priest-Kings. Light Upon-TheHome Stone. tarns. and such. than themselves. allow these life forms the surface of their world. occur in Gorean. Along these lines. minimize the danger to themselves. such as the races of Earth. for example. we may suppose. As the Voyages of Acquisition have taken place over centuries. The PriestKings. for example. and such. and. substantially. that range of Mountains beneath which the Priest-Kings maintain their personal habitat. These two capacities permit the Priest-Kings to conceal their habitat not only from primitives. He was hired. to alter its orbit in such a way as to remain optically undetectable. from various worlds. took on the job primarily as an adventure. we would not arm chimpanzees with machine guns. Priest-Kings were scientifically curious. What was your inspiration for this character? Why did you feel it was important to have him be a British professor as opposed to the usual barbarian figure? Tarl Cabot was not really a professor. human beings. with Gorean humans. and Tor-tu-Gor. many Earth words. One supposes. On Continental Gor and the nearer islands. that different people will see different things. in Voyages of Acquisition. from possible beings as powerful. but there is not so much space left. aside from gravitational concealment. and interfere very little with them. is a professor thrown into the world of Gor. Tarl Cabot. verr. designed." As I am a teacher. He himself notes he was ill-prepared to do this. kaiila. stocked their world with a number of life forms.would be its capacity. at least. presumably as an instructor. concealing itself behind the blaze of the common star. or an opportunity to see the "Colonies. and such. by scribal conferences at the four great Fairs of the Sardar. and such. There is a great deal more which might be said here. and my first full-time teaching position was at . For example. rather as on a roof. The Gorean language itself is spoken generally on the planet. At one time. would be found on Gor. and. sleen. Sorry. presumably. of course. The main character. Gorean is standardized. presumably that they may be able to communicate more conveniently. should the need arise. or more powerful. find one thing or another thing of interest. as well. if not aesthetically motivated. except for the imposition of technology and weapon laws. over centuries. to teach British history at a small American college in the northeast. it is natural that a variety of different cultures. whose habitat is subterranean. Sol. What would you consider are the major themes or the ones that you thought were the most interesting? I do not think it would be wise to attempt to answer this question. but.
Probably this is a cultural thing. it was natural for me to start Cabot off in a milieu I found familiar. and our Cabot manages to reach the Counter-Earth. Beyond this. and different enough to be clearly alien. a bit of faculty exotica. Also. If Marco Polo had been a "barbarian. might be interested in recording his travels. As you probably know. then. and. along with customs and the relationships between these? Did you. what do they do. What do they look like. Gor. there is a romantic resonance for the name. What can you tell us about this and is it taking place in one of the "Steel Worlds" as commonly believed? The novel. Why not? I am a teacher. find the process easy or difficult? One of the pleasures of writing science fiction is the development of.such a college. discovering the northeastern coast of North America in 1497. so why should he not be a teacher? Very nice. reportedly entitled "Kur of Gor". Also. the college was probably more interested in having a British accent on campus. For example. to a certain degree. though not a historian. Englishmen seem to make good heroes." we might not have had an account of his doings in far-off Cathay. Snob appeal is not unknown in American academia. alien life forms. how do they enjoy themselves. of course. To me. In a sense. an Italian captain. I thought it nice to have Cabot be a teacher. I do not think it would have been the same if he were from Moldavia or Guatemala. sailed for the English to the new world. and such. it seems he would make a good observer of Gorean ways. and I suppose to other sciencefiction writers. How easy (or hard) was it to convey different intelligences and viewpoints. One wishes them to be familiar enough to be comprehensible to the reader. One would be surprised. than in finding a more-accomplished scholar for the position. One would not wish. what do they eat. John Cabot. if it were. and so on. Kur of Gor. it is not unique to American academia. but its action takes place primarily on one of the several "Steel Worlds" of the Kurii. what is their world view. how do they reproduce themselves. of course. the name shortened from 'Caboto'. There are several alien races in the books. how do they live. what is their science. and other than human. as I am an academic. except perhaps for the date. if they do." an artificial satellite of Gor. educated. how do they communicate. this is very easy. so it seemed nice to make Cabot English. I suppose. except in costume. and characterization of. what is their history. an aggressive alien life form . You are currently writing a 28th book. for example. redoubtable heroes. begins on the "Prison Moon. Beyond that. familiar heroes. acceptable heroes. and such. as a writer. as Cabot is a teacher. and one of its three Moons. It seemed right. the alien to turn out to be another human being. it allowed me to make an observation or two on the academic world.
The "Steel Worlds. Indeed. cunning. have shared its excitement and beauty. destroyed its own home world. but they have. however. and their own habitat. to the best of my knowledge. as well. may be somewhat naive. relatively complacent. one might even approve of that. viable. to them. Your books are sometimes compared to other works like Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter Warlord of Mars novels. resolution. remote. are concealed within the asteroid belt. unspoiled world. that is not the way of Priest-Kings. back in 1966. as a complex. one has no objection to letting them rove about in the wilderness. by means of which Gor itself might be eventually imperiled. most carefully worked out single-world series in the history of science fiction. beautiful. it seems that they regard the Kurii. with its pollutions. They leave that to those of Earth. and is now zealous to obtain another. Also. the Gorean world. On the other hand. publish a 28th book in the series? The Gorean series. of course. Aside from the considerable risks which would be involved. ecological degradations. One does not wish to let wolves prowl amongst one's children. peculiar. which seems to be a tolerant. one they do not really understand. pursue the Kurii to their lairs and destroy them there. the Priest-Kings extend their defensive aegis to cover the Earth. and one very dangerous. been unable to do so. nearly 42 years later. is the longest. The extermination of life forms does not appeal to them. They protect us from the Kurii. a natural. The Kurii would like to invade and conquer Gor. This attitude on the part of the Priest-Kings. and to others. most complex. it would be preferable to the artificial habitats they now occupy. one might wonder why the Priest-Kings do not mount an offensive war. power. and loved. cared for. both to itself. do so. did you think that you would. An analogy might be wolves and cities. What is your take on all of this? . against whose advanced technology we would be relatively helpless. as I. or so. perhaps a desire to deny the Kurii a planet's resources. Whereas Earth. content-in-its-own-security-andpower. and. concerned. because of the power of the Priest-Kings. as yet. They do not. The motivation for this policy on the part of the Priest-Kings is presumably one of self-interest. From the human point of view. to protect their own interests. thriving in their own habitat. Naturally. but. interesting life form. It seems clear that they seriously underestimate the tenacity." of which there are several. is less desirable to the Kurii as a world. Priest-Kings seem to view Kurii and humans as rather similar in many respects. and such. environmental ravages. as I. I am very grateful to my many readers who have. Interestingly. live-and-let-live species. naturally.which. When you published "Tarnsman of Gor" in 1967. I did not realize that this might happen. as they do humans. on the other hand. long ago. and terribleness of a life form very different from themselves.
and into such a world fantasy sometimes bears its redemptive. and certainly the possessor of one of the great imaginations of all time. That being the case. the editor was from England. pointless. How do you feel about breaking that record? In 2007. As I recall. and boring. It is not apart from the real world. and who. if dubious. This much said. and well-deserved. Edgar Rice Burroughs might have written several novels but none of his series reached as many books as the Gor series. It can remind us of what we are. hostile. and that there exist such things as meaning and nobility. I think that my work and that of the great Mr. and determination. namely. should be published. as luck would have it. like the imagination itself. joyful torch. I simply wrote a book. Certainly we both have in common a love for adventure fantasy. How did this make you feel? I didn't notice. the early days when you started on your journey to create this world and these adventures. So. At the time. and had not yet been indoctrinated by the science-fiction establishment as to whom she was supposed to publish. lighting a way to better things and deeper understandings. and celebrate simple. The world is often disappointing. mean. I. without an agent. and millions of others. and how lucky I was. it is obviously flattering. and a willingness to feel deeply. removed from it. a part of the real world. and celebrate him. I did not realize how unusual this was. whom I greatly esteem. Burroughs. one of the gang. Edgar Rice Burroughs bore that torch well. thank him. or his to mine. important things. and had it accepted for publication. It makes the world better. dark. Gor celebrated its 40th anniversary. It had not had time to make it clear to the editor what. How do you feel about breaking that record? Edgar Rice Burroughs might have written several novels but none of his series reached as many books as the Gor series. Our readers would like to know how "Gor was born". The gang was caught off guard. now that you have pointed it out. But it is nice. the .I think Edgar Rice Burroughs is a wonderful writer. How did you go about publishing the first book? Any interesting anecdotes about your relationship with the publisher and the publishing process. such as courage. shallow. but. was new at her job. His position in the history of science fiction is unique. to have my work compared to his. a love for human beings. and can become. sent it into a publisher. secure. are quite different. wonder. The easiest way to see the difference is to read both.
safe. rather than suppressed. approved. At that time. a larger. Today. Today. I began to publish in a very different world from that which now exists. Today there is one. Indeed. and the press is likely to be only one of several properties owned by such an entity. is likely to be insulated from market forces. based on your own experience? I think the answer to this question. remote from accountability. Controversy was rampant. that company will not even consider a book unless the author has already published at least one book. recommended. but it is commonly hidden. at that time there was not even a fence. and such. Accordingly. At one time. and such. Given shifts in publication. A. I have been told. is implicit in my response to your last question. of course. what was the publishing world like for speculative authors? What did someone need to do in order to get published? How is it different today? Have things changed for the better? What hasn't changed? What advice would you give to an aspiring author today. for lack of knowing any better. provided. as I recall. as I understand it. uninspected and unsupervised. which makes it difficult for authors who do not have a professional agent. the gate was open. Back when "Tamsman of Gor" was first published in 1966. there were something like seventy to seventy-five presses in New York City alone which were possible outlets for science fiction in America. a relatively unimportant property of such an entity. a hobby press. and it is commonly concealed. there are very few. market-responsive business. It is very real. That was my lucky break. or part of the answer. perhaps even stationed abroad. preceding. Difference was celebrated. typically modest sales. Pluralism was paramount. rather than typical. to this question I will content myself with a remark or two. happily relied on her own judgment and went for what seemed to her good. more diverse. more adventurous world than now exists. that at one time.editor. it seems that today the ownership of a press is likely to be far removed from the press itself. or such. and would presumably be. a press more concerned with the support of a congenial in-group and the propagation of a particular ideology than a market-driven. freer. instead of trying to respond seriatim. One does not expect editors to . B. prescribed. really good. which makes it difficult for authors who have not yet published one book. A consequence of this arrangement is that an editorial staff. I was fortunate to have shown up when I did. given typically modest sales and such. as I understand it. science fiction flew a thousand flags. mergers. There are also presses today which will not accept submissions except from professional agents. a patronage press. routine. it continues to manage its expected. This tends to turn a theoretically professional press into something more akin to a vanity press.
. they will probably believe you. it is much clearer what should be written. and you are male. and that. or been replaced. Politically. and how it should be written. 5. If the editor is female. unicorns. that there are forms of publication. wriggle yourself into conversations. 4. From my point of view. writers. 2. for example. flattery. when you can give them what they should want. and such. get yourself known. It seems to me that almost everything has changed. for example. It seems that only broad or generic things have not changed. so you will know what is being bought. Why give them what they want. witches. arrogance. magic wands. One cannot even say that science fiction has not changed. and you are female. typical human constants persist. vanity. 7. E. then things are doubtless much better than they once were. and how to write it. brown-nose. but this is a personal view. and the petty abuse of power. conformity. flatter editors. C. Go to conventions. and so on. considering the invasion of English majors. censorship. There are two sorts of advice. which I might call to the attention of the aspiring writer: Success One: Commercial success in the contemporary science-fiction market. One misses it. snobbery. this view is not without precedent. there is no reason why readers should be taken seriously. for example. each pertinent to a different sort of success. Now. brown-nose. Try harder to write what is being bought. stagnation. try to meet editors. go to work on him. particularly young female. magic rings. young male is best. wizards. If one likes monothink. 6. If the editor is male. this is comforting and valuable. 1. pretend to stand in awe of them. repetition. Read product. puerility. go to work on her. They are manipulable. as we all are. D. Brown-nose. things have not changed for the better. but without businessmen in the mix. For individuals who wish to know what to write. and dragons. on the human side. Perhaps it has not changed. that some folks are in charge of them. 3. and despicably human. narrow-mindedness. participate in conventions. If you lay it on thick enough. Desperately try to write what is being bought. so much as that it has disappeared. writers. narrowness. ask questions.be businessmen.
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