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From a letter to the Gorean Group, for Gor fans, September, 2000. Previously published at the World of Gor Forum.

TopHow The Internet Can Change Lives!

A thousand underground newspapers can thrive; new worlds can be discovered; friends can find one another at last; speech, at least for a time, before the thugs of a tyrant state can bring their bayonets to bear, can sparkle in secret, refreshing places, in little-known channels, outside the guiding, cement causeways of a docile, engaged, massive media, subservient to the agendas of their masters, the enemies of freedom, the statists, collectivists and authoritarians. On the Internet, let it be remembered in the future, there was a moment, now, in which the original intent of the First Amendment of a maligned, perverted, treasured document was recollected, recollected before the new falling of the censor's night, a document drafted by men freshly come out of a bloody war, men who understood the price of freedom, and were only too well aware of the dangers and terrors of the state. How hard it is to recall old lessons, taught on battlefields whose meaning has been forgotten.

So one does not know how long one may speak to one's friends. The time may not be long, so perhaps this is the moment to break a long silence. There is no thaw in the ice of censorship and blacklisting, of course, but to the side of the titanic glacier which chills an entire intellectual hemisphere a few drops of warm water, nursed by the sun, may trickle toward the sea, until in time an armed winter may be again imposed on even such pitiful drops.

With the coming of the Internet I have been amazed, and delighted, though it also fills me with some trepidation, to learn that the best efforts of the editorial establishments of science fiction and fantasy have been unable to expunge from the history of the genre the recollection of the Gorean phenomenon. Gor is a continent in science fiction. Many may wish it did not exist, but it is there. It is not hard to find, really. Just look for a world that lies a thousand degrees north of monothink, a thousand degrees east of orthodoxy, a thousand degrees west of ideological conformity, a continent far from the placid waters of predictable mediocrity, a different world, one real, one like no other, one beyond the familiar world's horizon, one emergent from far, tumultuous, untamed seas, a world alert to deep currents, which listens to secret whispers, which wears stars in her hair. The maps of ideologically servile cartographers may choose not to show the Gorean world, but it is there, a wonderful, forbidden continent. Some of you know her, and have been there.

How strange that John Norman has not been forgotten. To be sure, it is hard to forget what one most hates, or most loves. How rare is the truly dissenting voice, and how perilous the consequences of its utterance. Does John Norman not understand this? How amusing that so many style themselves noble and courageous when their claims to bravery consist in mouthing the approved bromides of the establishment. Who would object to them, really? Caligula, Commodus, Torquemada, Calvin, Cromwell? I wonder if they would have spoken out so boldly in the days of those fellows, with flames and pikes at their elbow? Today, they are threatened by no one who has any power. Rather they are telling those in power what those in power wish to hear. How often pusillanimous sycophants pose as heroes! Lickspittles can carry flags in parades; men carry them in battle.

Let the servile be saluted. Let them be acclaimed and rewarded. They have added, each, their bricks to the penitentiary that America is becoming. They are the accommodating suppliers of inspected produce to an imprisoned genre, the servitors of its wardens. No files in the cakes of those fellows. So give them their prizes, prizes tainted with the yellow of cowardice, while a once robust genre lies perishing of inanition, and what was once a bold, wild country, with its meadows of possibility, and its dark forests with a thousand as-yet untrodden trails, withers for the lack of sun and rain, and becomes a wilderness, and is forsaken and despised by prowling beasts who will track only worthy game.

Glory to the brewers of decaffeinated science fiction. Some of us can remember when she was not idea-free, when she flew a multitude of flags, when a thousand songs rang in the air, when she was rich in warring principalities. But climates change landscapes. Mice thrive where lions starve.

Advice to those who would publish today: Celebrate the ideology of the editor. (Note: Best results along these lines are obtained by doing this publicly-and frequently, as well, as one's skill will improve with practice. Make certain, too, that this comes to the attention of the editor; otherwise it is largely a waste of time. Too, few things are as humiliating as selling out and not being noticed.)

But let's get down to business here. The storm troopers may have already left the barracks, intent on saving us from ourselves, resolved to protect us from the perils of thought, and the assorted jeopardies of inquiry and liberty. In the time that remains let us share some of the groceries of the spirit.

Be sure to speak loudly and clearly into the listening devices. This is courtesy to all moles and spies. Pound a drum, blast a trumpet. Let them know we are here. Our dissent is not covert. It never has been. It has only hitherto been unable to be heard. But now let us speak, if only briefly, in this tiny locality, somewhere in this vast, mysterious terrain of cyberspace, before it is regulated into compliance, and all dissenting voices are at last silenced. Truth crushed to earth may rise again. -I suppose that is possible. But if it didn't, who would know?

First let me say "thank you" to the many individuals, my many friends, the thousands who have honored me with their interest and respect. This means a great deal to me, and whereas I can stand alone, and have, it is a welcome intelligence for me to realize that I am actually not alone, that there are thousands of men and women of courage and integrity who understand the Gorean world, and rejoice that it exists. Our lives, and those of many others, are richer for it. The literary world of science fiction and fantasy is today characterized by conformity and monothink, and is dominated by ignorant, unquestioning, catechized nincompoops still mindlessly adhering to a bankrupt ideology, one refuted in the furnace of history. And so one sees the hegemony of the small-minded and uninformed, the irrational and impervious, to whom nothing gets through, of the belligerent and petty, the smug and nasty, the hypocritical and slanderous, the fearful and insecure. The principal weapons of these people are smear and intimidation; their appeal, like all of their ilk, is to the emotions; whereas the appeal of history, and of truth, is to the mind. They have learned nothing from failed totalitarianisms and more than a hundred million shallow, silent graves. You cannot divorce the means from the end. And when you choose the end you accept the means. Control, coercion, force, violence, imprisonment, the bayonet, the scaffold, the stake. How pretty the words, how dark the means.

May the outposts of Gor thrive! They have value not only in themselves, but, too, as sanctuaries for life and meaning. Let them continue to be "safe houses" for the mind.

I should also mention that I have arranged with a publisher, New World Publishers/E-Reads, to reissue the entire backlist of Gorean titles, all 25; further, the artists associated with the Gorean Group, the folks behind the World of Gor site, are now working on new and striking covers for these new editions. I tend to be a bit pessimistic and skeptical, of course, because, for years, I have been made well aware of the power of the pack, the insecurity and hostility of the marionettes of the left; it is not necessary to burn a book, if one does not permit it to be published; indeed, that even saves on matches. Yet, what a remarkable thing this morning of freedom, this springtime of liberty, is to look forward to, particularly when considered against the ugly background of media control, market-managing, suppression of diversity, cognitive cleansing, ideological litmus tests, censorship, and blacklisting; perhaps America is not yet finished; let us hope for the best, but not, as yet, naively discard the flak jackets; we must be wary, vigilant and armed; the war is not yet done; the establishment is the superpower; we are the dissidents, the outsiders, the heretics, the guerrillas. But what if others should hear our voices? But that is not our worry, that is the worry of the Old Regime, of the dogmatists, of the orthodox, of the Bourbons of science fiction.

Things might change. That is possible.

Literature is a complex, wild, surprising place. Who knows what she may hold, and what we may see in the future. Even now, unseen, she contains eagles, serpents and lions. And dragons. Do not confuse her with that walled, low-roofed commune, a stuffy, indoor swamp, reserved for obsequious toads. She is more than that. Indeed, if the commune is shattered, we may hope that even the toads, freed at last, once the imagination is no longer hostage to politics, once integrity is no longer penalized, once it is no longer necessary to bend the knee to ideological orthodoxy in order to publish, may turn into powerful, joyful dragons and, for the first time, extend their wings and try the ladders and winds of new skies.

One hopes, you see, that even in toads there burn the secret seeds of waiting dragons. Perhaps their metamorphosis requires no more than the kiss of freedom.

But then again perhaps toads will always be toads, and dragons dragons. Such may be the biology of creativity.

One does not know.

We shall see what happens. In the world, in literature, and here, in this surprising place. Maybe something will start here. Who knows? Maybe something has already started here. Who knows? Reality is a strange country.

I might mention, in passing, that electronic publishing gives me the opportunity to revise, enlarge and improve the books, some more than others. I welcome this opportunity to do better in some cases what I hope I once did pretty well to begin with. Too, won't it be nice to have all the books available in new editions, which are affordable? To be sure, one supposes that the earlier editions of the books will, as classics, early editions, first editions, and such, continue to be of interest to collectors. Certainly they are of interest to me, personally.

These new editions are scheduled to come out over the next two years. They should be available in e-book formats for delivery to desktop and laptop personal computers and to dedicated handheld reading devices. The publisher's site, ereads.com, is under construction and will presumably be operational at the end of this year, but friends, too, will be able to purchase these books through all book stores, as well as online retailers. I might add that New World Publishers/E-Reads will be the only authorized publisher for my works and no other firm is permitted to publish my work. If you learn of pirated editions on the Internet please contact us. They are unauthorized. I would also, of course, appreciate your patronizing the authorized sites, if you are interested in obtaining the books.

As some of you know, given the blacklisting, there are two Gorean books which have never been published, but have been written, Number 26, Witness of Gor, and Number 27, Prize of Gor. Naturally I would hope to eventually have these two books also available for Gorean readers. The Internet, happily, at least for a time, gives us an opportunity to do an end run around the blacklisting. Whereas this may be distressing to the blacklisters, who have attempted to destroy my writing career, as it fails to conform to their political requirements, some other folks may have better things to do than wring their hands and gnash their teeth, such as enjoy the books. At present it is anticipated that these books, if the censors do not get more power than they already have, which is considerable, will be published by New World Publishers/E-Reads. The involved rights, please note, are not held by any other company. I mention that because there may be some confusion on the matter, having to do, naturally enough, with some business shifts, and some regrettable economic and publishing vicissitudes in the past. Hopefully the original company interested in doing the books is now recovered and doing well. But much water, since that time, has passed under the bridge. Good luck to them! But the books are now with New World Publishers/E-Reads.

I am looking forward to being able, now and then, to communicate with my readers, presumably through the World of Gor site. I do not expect to be entering into dialogue, however, or at least not much. I would rather spend the time writing. I think that is the best way to do well by my friends.

I wish you well,
John Norman

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