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