Orwell 2007: books that need to burn

Apparently there are still some who think certain books deserve to go in the fire.

This isn’t a case of worried parents about their innocent, grown but still children seeing nipples in The Witcher. It’s instead about another amusing variety: feminists.

I had opened a thread on westeros forum to ask about other worthy fantasy epics missing from my list and someone brought up John Norman’s “Chronicles of Gor” series. If length is a factor this one would be at the top. TWENTY-SEVEN books of about 400-500 pages each! Written by the same author in the span of forty years. I guess dedication is out of doubt here.

The description on the wikipedia was also intriguing:

a series of twenty six novels that combine philosophy, erotica and science fiction.


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.

Most of the novels in the series are action 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.

So I went looking if they were available in a purchasable form, meaning some cheap omnibus editions, and found one that was supposed to be published just these days.

Since the description is weird (one to three months to get a copy? For a book released just now?) I tried to search the Dark Horse site to find out if the book was really out and when/if the following were planned. And found no references. At all.


So I did another simple Google search and discovered some fun facts. The first is that a shop listed the book as “in stock”, but the publisher wasn’t Dark Horse, but Diamond. For those who don’t know Diamond is the retail distributor for Dark Horse comics, so this is weird too. The second fact is that I found bloggers who were also puzzled by the disappearance of the omnibus from Dark Horse catalog. Because it was there. There’s even a Google link to the site that now points nowhere.

One of these blogs gave a first hint:

Apparently a comic book publisher named Dark Horse Comics is planning on publishing a Gor Omnibus, a single book containing the first three novels of the Gor series. For some reason this made the feminist comic book geeks livid! They were all typing away at their little keyboards, trying to organize a boycott of Dark Horse in an effort to prevent publication. And what I found amazing was they didn’t see it as censorship.

And apparently it worked, as one of these activists confirms, quoting a response mail from Dark Horse:

We have not completely cancelled the publication of the Gor Omnibus–but it has been suspended for the time being. Please do check back to the website for any updates.

Some sites give the book as already out and maybe Dark Horse tried to publish it “anonymously” to avoid too many troubles, but it’s only my wild guess.

Some other blogs explain at least the reasons:

As a puerile fantasy novel series that promotes rigid gender roles, idealises the emotional and sexual slavery of women, and demonises women who assert control over their own sexuality, it’s much less entertaining.

The Gor series, by John Norman, dropped off the reprint lists some years back. Being anti-censorship, I was much enheartened by the natural demise of this despicable work.

Now comics publisher Dark Horse is reprinting them in omnibus form, possibly because they have seen the pot of gold at the foot of the misogyny rainbow, or possibly because our culture just isn’t replete enough with fictional examples of women who really – honestly! – want to be raped.

They have a point and their criticism is right and probably deserved… but censorship? That’s never excused. Especially in a work of fiction where you CAN roleplay with absurdity. Where you CAN explore what would be forbidden otherwise.

Because in this case my impression is that those feminists who feel offended by the books are those who are blurring fiction with reality more than the author of those books.

Weird that they think to be feminists, because it’s when you are discriminated that you should truly learn tolerance. And by identifying a danger in a silly fantasy series you actually give it more power than it ever had. You are pouring life back into an enemy that would have no reason to exist today. You should be entertained or smile at the naivete of these books, instead they are given a relevance that they shouldn’t have and probably never had.

How can you fight for equality of men and women when you don’t miss any occasion to mark and exasperate that parting line?

This is also another demonstration of the real, counterproductive result of censorship: you publicize and diffuse what you wanted to hide. I wouldn’t have written about the series if nothing had happened, maybe some will now become curious and buy the books.

And maybe they are even fun to read. Not politically correct, but still fun.

The covers are wonderful. Or maybe they are distasteful too?

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