When we started E-Reads in 2000 one of the first authors we approached was John Norman. Because his controversial Gorean fantasy universe of male domination and female submission had become politically incorrect at the end of the 20th century (see Are John Norman’s Gors Boy Books?), the series, then numbering 25 volumes, had gone out of print.
But we knew something important: the Internet teemed with Gorean fans, blogs, websites and role players. What capped it for us was that many of the role players were females who did not seem fazed that much of the hostility toward the author came from feminists. In fact, some female fans passionately embraced the roles of willing slaves. We snapped the books up.
Since then E-Reads has reissued the original 25 volumes plus seven new ones along with a non-Gorean trilogy and several other works as well, and Gor is our bestselling fantasy series. Shortly we will be releasing volume #33, Rebels of Gor, and we’re happy to report that Gorean roleplaying has never been bigger. In fact Gor constitutes the largest roleplaying community on Second Life by far, according to New World Notes blogger Wagner James Au.
Au reports that one of his readers “found 710 groups with ‘Gor’ or ‘Gorean’ in the title” and “the sum of all members is 48818.” Even allowing for overlapping memberships “it’s a large contingency based around a decidedly adult fantasy narrative, controversial due to recurring themes of female slavery and male domination, often expressed in S/M imagery. As the above image suggests, it’s also a well-realized and detailed world with its own social structures, competing clans, and emergent culture.”
Here’s a description of Second Life’s Gorean universe written by a blogger surveying the website’s communities:
The people of the Second Life Gorean community have lovingly reproduced much of the world of Gor that John Norman wrote about. One important thing to remember is that Second Life landscapes are built by the fans for other fans, thus making them more complete than many landscapes offered by major players in the MMORPG market. In just my time amongst them for this article I have found a well developed economy, diverse settings, and enough drama to even keep the most cannon role-player happy. It’s all there and ready to be explored. The players have devised an economy that is not based on the linden and accounts for crafting. This economic systems leads to the trade of goods, and to coinage that can be looted in combat, creating even more role-play and drama for the players involved.
We’re glad we followed our instincts ten years ago. Follow yours to John Norman’s fictional world of Gor.