This is the introduction John Norman wrote for the first volume of the Dark Horse omnibus edition, which was scheduled to contain Tarnsman of Gor, Outlaw of Gor and Priest-Kings of Gor, but was sadly cancelled. It is published here with the kind permission of John Norman.
"Our spirits rouze at an Original; that is a perfect stranger, and all throng to learn what news from a foreign land ..."
Edward Young, Conjectures on Original Composition (1759)
"Rules, like Crutches, are a needful aid to the Lame, tho? an Impediment to the Strong."
Edward Young, Conjectures on Original Composition (1759)
The Gorean series, to the best of my knowledge, is the longest, most complex, most carefully worked out single-world series in the history of science fiction, or, if you prefer, adventure fantasy. On the other hand, the Gorean series has grown, like a forest, in "foreign lands." It is not really science fiction, as that genre is normally understood, nor is it adventure fantasy, in the usual way that genre is understood. It transcends genres and its ships beach on unusual shores. For better or for worse it is an "Original," and it bears all the interest of a new literary form, and risks all the perils of the same. The Gorean books, unlike much science fiction and adventure fantasy, have their affinities not with the politically filtered, formulaic multitudes that today burden the shelves of bookstores teetering on the brink of bankruptcy but serious literature. The Gorean books are not literary baby food. They are more than adventure fantasy, so to speak. They are also, in their way, intellectual, philosophical, and psychological novels. They contain ideas, and, as if that were an insufficiently grievous fault in itself, the ideas do not in all instances echo, propound, and promote the narrow, politically correct nonsense insisted upon by the small number of wary, insecure individuals who, for the most part, control what you will and will not be permitted to read. A fox, it seems, is feared in the hen house. Hence the blacklisting, to which E-Reads, a nonestablishment house, is unwilling to subscribe. More power to them, and to others, who believe in a free press, oppose censorship, favor diversity, despise intolerance, and, in general, do not much care to be told what they may and may not think, and what they may and may not do.
Perhaps one or two further observations might be in order.
The Gorean books are written for adults, not in the sense of WOW, but in the sense that the ideas, the vocabulary, the depth of literary engagement, and such, is beyond children, as well as, apparently, some critics. In any event, the Gorean books are written for adults, highly intelligent adults, and highly sexed adults, of both sexes. Too, they are written for the whole adult, intellectual, psychological, and emotional. They recognize the radical centrality, for example, of sexuality in human life. Most science fiction and adventure fantasy seems to be written for one-fifth of the human being. The Gorean books are written for the whole human being. Further, they are aware of the whole human being, and not the mere one-fifth of a human being which many writers confuse with the entire human being. I wonder if they understand the other four-fifths exist, or give any thought to the true nature of that other four-fifths. Too, of course, ideas, and sexuality, in their ways, frighten many people. I find that surprising, but it seems to be true. Some people would rather die than think, just as some others who can think would rather die than act. I have tried, in my way, to do both, to inquire, to learn, to think, and to act, for example, by writing books which do not eschew or deny that other four-fifths of our minds and hearts. Naturally, this has disturbed a number of people, writers of stagnant juveniles who would like to restrict an entire genre of literature within their own limited horizons, mediocre editors, fearful of a free literature, who are less editors than political partisans intent on imposing their own views on a dwindling readership, and the moral cretins and sexual retardates with which science fiction is so abundantly blessed. They have every right, of course, to deny themselves inordinate pleasures, and they have every right to try to persuade you to deny yourself inordinate pleasures, but you, too, in these matters, have a right, which is that of declining to enter into their small, dark, ugly, Puritanical world.
Secondly, I fear I am a "stranger, from a foreign land," so to speak. I am a foreigner from the point of view of an establishment. I arrived from nowhere, certainly uninvited, and soon resented as an intruder. Worse, I never bothered to establish credentials, or sue for citizenship. I have not condescended to flatter an establishment, though I understand the value of such a thing in securing acceptance and advancement. I do not do that, as I find it distasteful. Similarly, I have never cultivated large frogs in small ponds. So I am an outsider, kept on the margins of the pack. As yet I have not been picked off by the leopards. I am grateful, of course, for the success that I have known, in millions of books sold, prior to the blacklisting, movies made, and the world-wide Gorean phenomenon on the internet, a country not yet under the tyranny of a single, intellectually uniform, politically motivated establishment. This success, of course, is not due to being favored and advanced by the contemporary exponents of monothink, but to my work, and my readers. The market, when it was open and free, was kind to me. One tends to be grateful for such things. I have never written for others, but for myself. To write for others is to be a hack, or, worse, a white-collar prostitute. I do not disparage individuals who write as the political winds blow, or the polls of editors indicate, but I have never done it. In evolution, it is said that genes cast the dice, and the environment selects the winning numbers. That is, in effect, what I did. I wrote as I would, as honestly, as well, as authentically, as I could. And then I waited to see what would happen, and I was much pleased. I have striven for greatness. I do not expect to achieve it, of course, but what is the point of writing, or of doing anything, if one does not strive for that? I have set my course by that star. What else is worth doing? I would rather fail in that voyage than stay at home. Wouldn't you?
I wish you well,
Copyright © 2008 by John Norman. All rights reserved.