This is the introduction John Norman wrote for the second volume of the Dark Horse omnibus edition, which was scheduled to contain Nomads of Gor, Assassin of Gor and Raiders of Gor, but was sadly cancelled. It is published here with the kind permission of John Norman.
The concept of an unknown planet in our system, of a particular and interesting sort, rather unlike other planets, perhaps a mysterious sister or visitor to more familiar worlds, is quite an old concept.
The expression in Greek, transliterated into English letters, is "Antichthon," which we may translate as "Counter-Earth."
The Greeks, you see, had the concept of another Earth, a different Earth, a "Counter-Earth."
It is interesting to speculate on these matters, to wonder, for example, from whence came this ancient, provocative concept. Had they evidence we do not? Had something touched them, perhaps carelessly, or inadvertently, long ago, at a given moment, a moment which was seldom, if ever, repeated, or, if repeated, repeated more selectively, less obtrusively? In any event, the universe is a mysterious place, and when it first opened its eyes, here or there, in one species or another, for it is through the eyes of its children that the universe sees, it doubtless began to suspect how unusual and strange it was, how sublime, mighty, vast, beautiful, terrible, indifferent, and cruel it was, how lovely, and strange it was.
In any event, speculation on the existence of the Counter-Earth is ancient.
I do not think there is much point in going into the Pythagorean cosmology in which this concept figured.
Suffice it to say that the Greeks, as the expression makes clear, did have a conception of the Counter-Earth.
I find this exciting.
Doubtless there are many Earths, grains of sand washed up on the scattered, endless beaches of space, but let us concern ourselves with one such world, a possible world, which we will call the "Counter-Earth." Surely it, or something like it, exists somewhere.
Might it lie as close to us as was speculated, or feared, by ancient astronomers and mathematicians, whatever might have been the basis of their conjectures, whatever might have been the foundations for their belief?
One does not know.
Surely somewhere there is a Gor, or something like a Gor. Is it not a mathematical certainty? But perhaps not. But, if not, is it not a tragedy to suppose that our own world is the only world, so to speak, the only world in a cosmos in which galaxies are as plentiful as blackberries, endless horizons of blackberries? Could the universe not do better than produce our world, with its spawn of hatred, pollution, greed, corruption, misery, and fanaticism? One would hope so.
The Gorean world, of course, is not perfect.
To be sure, many would exchange it, quickly enough, happily enough, for ours.
It is surely not a Utopia but who would care to spend one's life in a Utopia; would you not attempt to escape at the first opportunity? Some seem prisons, others cribs, perhaps padded cells, appropriate enough for any so foolish as to seek them. One notes that most propounders of Utopias wisely forbear specificities, preferring to leave the details of their projected paradises conveniently obscure. In this way, one may fill in matters with much the same liberty as is accorded to the reader of Rorschach blots. Fill in the blank checks as you wish, but, alas, there is no bank on which they may be drawn. Too often the road to paradise leads to the gates of hell. Did not Hegel lead to the Gestapo and Marx to the KGB?
So the Gorean world is far from a Utopia. It is replete with hazards and perils, and there are humans there, and humans come with natures, natures forged in the smithies of hunger, suffering, and war; natures alert to the small sounds of a predator's paw, to the broken twig and dislodged pebble, to the scent of game, to the menace of strangers, to the grace of a lonely, uncaptured female, to the scarcity of resources. Human beings are complex, rich, and deep. Would you have them otherwise, really? But Gor is a green world, a fresh world, a world unpolluted, a world such as our Earth might once have been, and may never be again. One misses the grasses of Gor, flowing in the wind.
Let us embark on some remarks, having to do with Gor. There are many premises on which this unusual series is based, and it will not be remiss, I suppose, and it might be helpful, to call our attention to two or three of these. There is much to be said concerning each of these premises, incidentally, but the constraints of time and space effectively militate against any extensive explanation, against informative, multiplex detail.
1. Gor is near. Presumably it is an immigrant to our solar system, governed by masters of gravity, perhaps having sought a viable sun, deserting a dying star, and may emigrate, should it be deemed judicious, and be the will of her masters.
2. The word 'Gor' in Gorean means "Home Stone." Gor and Earth have a common star, which we call Sol, and which in Gorean is spoken of as "Tor-tu-Gor," which would translate as "Light upon the Home Stone." It is not easy to convey to one unfamiliar with Gor the nature, the meaning, of the Home Stone, so we will not attempt to do so, certainly not within our present limits. Let it be said that a city, a town, a village, will have a Home Stone; too, even a peasant's hut is likely to have its Home Stone, and the peasant, in his hut, with its Home Stone, is, in effect, a ruler, a king, a monarch, a Ubar. A human being without a Home Stone is a fragment, a leaf at the mercy of the wind. He is alone, shorn of fellowship. He lacks brethren. Who will care for him? Should he be in need, who will stand with him? Those with whom he shares a Home Stone. Without a Home Stone how is he important? How shall one justify his existence who has no Home Stone? The humans of Earth, and their domiciles, and their cities and towns, many of them, it seems, lack Home Stones. One wonders if they understand the emptiness of their skies, their poverty.
3. The human being is not the dominant life form on Gor. That form is the Sardar, or, as Tarl Cabot, whom one will encounter in the series, will have it, the "Priest-King." These are the masters, even the gods, of Gor, at least for those limited to the First Knowledge. They have imposed technology restrictions on humans on Gor. It is, after all, their world, and they see no point in risking its ruination at the hands of a reckless, unsupervised hominid species, one brought to Gor over millennia, largely for aesthetic and scientific purposes. Gor, for the Priest-Kings, you see, is rather like a zoological or botanical garden, or an observational laboratory, if you wish, which they have stocked, bit by bit, with an interesting variety of species, exotic and otherwise, from throughout the galaxy, over millennia, as it pleased them. Priest-Kings, on the other hand, it should be noted, while enforcing their technology restrictions on humans, particularly those dealing with weaponry, transportation, and communication, accord human beings almost total freedom, allowing them to behave much as they like, killing one another, loving one another, whatever be their wont.
I wish you well,
Copyright © 2008 by John Norman. All rights reserved.