Definitions

Gor

Gor

[gawr]

Gor, the Counter-Earth, is the alternate-world setting for John Norman's Chronicles of Gor, a series of twenty six novels that combine philosophy, erotica and science fiction.

The customs, terminology and imagery depicted in these books has inspired a related BDSM-influenced subculture. On- and off-line followers of this lifestyle are called Goreans.

Summary

Setting

Gor is an intricately detailed world in terms of flora, fauna, and customs. John Norman — the pen-name of Dr. John Lange, a professor of Philosophy and a classical scholar — often delights in ethnography, populating his planet with the equivalents of Roman, Greek, Native American, Viking, and other cultures. In the novels these various population groups are actually transplants from earth brought there by space-craft through the behind the scenes rulers of Gor, the Priest-Kings, an extraterrestrial species of insectoid appearance. The Gorean humans are permitted advanced architectural and medical skills (including life extension), but are forced to remain primitive in the fields of transportation and weaponry (at approximately the level of Classical Mediterranean civilization) due to restrictions on technology imposed by the Priest-Kings. This limitation is imposed in order to ensure the safety of both the Priest-Kings as well as the other indigenous and transplanted beings on Gor, who would otherwise possibly come to harm due to humans and their belligerent tendencies.

The planet Gor has lower gravity than earth's (which allows for the existence of large flying creatures, and tall towers connected by aerial bridges in the cities), and would have an even lower gravity if not for the technology of the Priest-Kings. The known geography of Gor consists mainly of the western seaboard of a continent which runs from the Arctic in the north to south of the equator, with the Thassa Ocean to the west, and the Voltai mountain range forming an eastern boundary at many latitudes. There are also offshore islands in the ocean, and some relatively sparsely-settled plains to the east of the Voltai. The word "Gor" itself means home stone in the Gorean language (the native language of the city-states in the northern temperate region, and a widely-spoken lingua franca in many other areas).

Plotlines

Most of the novels in the series are action and sexual adventures, with many of the military engagements borrowing liberally from historic ones, such as the trireme battles of ancient Greece and the castle sieges of medieval Europe. Ar, a Rome-like city in which several of the novels are set, maintains a "margin of desolation" similar to that of Mesopotamia's Gu-Edin.

The series is a planetary romance and the first book, "Tarnsman of Gor," opens with some scenes very reminiscent of the first book of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who helped create the genre; both feature the protagonist narrating his adventures after being transported to another world. These parallels end after the first few books, when the stories of the books begin to be structured along a loose plot arc involving the struggles of the city-state of Ar and the island of Cos to control the Vosk river area, as well as the struggles at a higher level between non-human Priest-Kings and Kurii (see below) to control the solar system.

Books

  1. Tarnsman of Gor (1967) ISBN 0-345-27583-7
  2. Outlaw of Gor (1967) ISBN 0-345-27136-X
  3. Priest-Kings of Gor (1968) ISBN 0-7592-0036-X
  4. Nomads of Gor (1969) ISBN 0-75925-445-1
  5. Assassin of Gor (1970) ISBN 0-75920-091-2
  6. Raiders of Gor (1971) ISBN 0-75920-153-6
  7. Captive of Gor (1972) ISBN 0-75920-105-6
  8. Hunters of Gor (1974) ISBN 0-75920-130-7
  9. Marauders of Gor (1975) ISBN 0-75920-141-2
  10. Tribesmen of Gor (1976) ISBN 0-75925-446-X
  11. Slave Girl of Gor (1977) ISBN 0-75920-454-3
  12. Beasts of Gor (1978) ISBN 0-75921-125-6
  13. Explorers of Gor (1979) ISBN 0-75921-167-1
  14. Fighting Slave of Gor (1980) ISBN 0-75921-173-6
  15. Rogue of Gor (1981) ISBN 0-75921-179-5
  16. Guardsman of Gor (1981) ISBN 0-75921-368-2
  17. Savages of Gor (1982) ISBN 0-75921-374-7
  18. Blood Brothers of Gor (1982) ISBN 0-75921-380-1
  19. Kajira of Gor (1983) ISBN 0-75921-926-5
  20. Players of Gor (1984) ISBN 0-75921-932-X
  21. Mercenaries of Gor (1985) ISBN 0-75921-944-3
  22. Dancer of Gor (1986) ISBN 0-75921-950-8
  23. Renegades of Gor (1986) ISBN 0-75921-956-7
  24. Vagabonds of Gor (1987) ISBN 0-75921-980-X
  25. Magicians of Gor (1988) ISBN 0-75921-986-9
  26. Witness of Gor (2001) ISBN 0-7592-4235-6

Norman has reportedly completed a 27th book, Prize of Gor, which deals with a rejuvenation serum (going beyond the "stabilization serums" or immortality potions of the other books), and is planning a further book set on one of the "Steel Worlds" (artificial space habitats) of the Kurii.

General notes

Most of the books are narrated by transplanted British professor Tarl Cabot, master swordsman, as he engages in adventures involving Priest-Kings, Kurii, and humans alike. Books seven, eleven, nineteen, twenty two, and twenty six are narrated by abducted Earth women who are made slaves. Books fourteen, fifteen and sixteen are narrated by male abductee (and initially slave) Jason Marshall.

The series features several sentient alien races. The most important to the books are the insectoid Priest-Kings and the huge sharp-clawed predatory Kurii, both space-farers from foreign star systems. The Priest-Kings rule Gor as somewhat disinterested custodians, leaving humans to their own affairs as long as they abide by certain restrictions on technology. The Kurii are an aggressive, invasive race with advanced technology (but less so than that of the Priest-Kings) who wish to colonize Gor and Earth. The power of the Priest-Kings is diminished after the "Nest War" described in the third book, and for the most part, Priest-Kings and Kurii struggle against each other only by proxy, through their respective human agents and spies. Some critics have commented that these antipoles — the dispassionate, ultra-rationalist Priest-Kings who find little joy in existence and the Kurii who simply follow their savage instincts and kill in their lack of reflection — are an allegorical appeal to moderate human behavior.

Early entries in the series were mostly plot-driven space opera adventures, with later entries growing more heavily philosophical and sexual. There are many sub-plots that run the course of several books and tie back to the main plotline in later books. Some of these plots start in the first book, but most are underway in the first ten books.

Influences

Many historical cultures of Earth are reflected in the novels of Gor. Although the Greco-Roman is the most often noted of these, this is not the only society presented in some fashion on Gor. There are many similarities to real-life historical civilizations in various regions of Gor (explained in the books by early "voyages of acquisition" which the Priest-Kings undertook in order to populate Gor with humans taken from different parts of earth).

The majority of "known Gor", as the Vosk river region in the temperate north of the continent is often referred to, is reminiscent of ancient Greco-Roman city-states in many respects (aside from the delta city of Port Kar, which is a more anarchic and piratical version of Venice). The most common dating system is Contasta Ar, or years since the founding of Ar (similar to ab urbe condita), and the Viktel Aria road leading to Ar is analogous to the Appian way. In Gor's Torvaldsland, you might think you'd encountered Earth's Vikings. The "Red Savage" peoples of the Barrens are populated with a culture based upon Native Americans, especially the Sioux Nations. The "Wagon Peoples" are a blend of the Mongols and the Gauchos of South America. The Alars appear based on the Alans, barbarians who were later conquered by the Huns. The peoples of the Tahari desert correlate to the nomads of Arabia, the Gorean regions around Schendi to Amazon or Congo River valley populations. The peoples of far north Gor, or the "Red Hunters" as Norman sometimes referred to them, are clearly Inuit — in this case to the point of referring to them as such.

See also

External links

Official sites

Games

  • Gorean Games - A collection site of Gorean games from the books.
  • RPG Land - Roleplayers news site covering the Gorean life in Second Life.

General information

Parody and humor

Movies

  • Two films have been made (often considered generic grade-B sci-fi flicks only very loosely based on Norman's books), Gor and Outlaw of Gor (also known as "Outlaw"); the latter appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

While not officially connected to John Norman's work, Fencer of Minerva is a Japanese animated series containing many of the elements and ideas discused in Gorean Philosophy

Media

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