Whenever you talk about a world where men hold women as slaves, a fantasy world that is suitably ancient and exotic, someone will tell you it is Gorean. I find this a bit annoying. I will immediately apologise to the one (see the comments on my last entry) who triggered this, this time. I am not having a go at you, this happens all the time.
So, am I inspired by John Lange, aka John Norman, and his Gor books? Yes, of course. I have read a fair share of them and how could you not be inspired? Everything I see and read and experience inspire me. But my fantasy world is not Gorean, full stop. Unless you mean Gorean in the same sense as USA is Roman because they have an empire or Barbara Cartland is Austen because people marry at the end.
Does it matter? Not really. I just want to make clear that where I go, in my mind, where I have my fantasies play out is not Lange's counter earth, the slave owners in my stories and imagination are not Gorean.
I do find Lange's books fascinating, and inspiring, but only up to a point. And now I am going to rant about what I don't like about his creation.
Life on Gor is highly formalised, at least social relationships. People are organised in castes if they are free and if they are slaves they are property. The main character, Tarl Cabot, is a member of the warrior caste but betrays the code of the warriors and becomes and outcast. Free women on Gor have to have their faces covered and removing the veil from a woman is about the most degrading thing you can do to her, short of enslaving her. It is a world that reminds me more of the Vatican or Medieval Japan than the Wild West or Europe during the Barbarian Invasions.
In addition, Gorean men seem to be scared of women. The relationship between everybody, including free men and owned women, is ritualised and very strict. A slave who speaks in the wrong way or doesn't show enough willingness to serve or in any way doesn't adhere to protocol is severely punished. A slave's life is full of the treatment that is meant to demean her and show her, not just that she is property but also worth nothing. This, to me, speaks of anxiety, not about self confidence and real power.
I can go there, I do occasionally. There is an appeal in this ritualised, formal and very degrading treatment of women. It is strange but part of me wants to be humiliated in fantasies. But I never stay there for long. In my world, my fantasy world, when ruthless men captures women and keep them as slaves, I like to think of them as confident enough to know that a slave is a human, although an owned one, and that there is no need to assert your power during every single second of every single day. The world won't collapse if the owner sits down and laughs with the slave. (If you now want to prove me wrong by finding quotations from the Gor novels where slave owners are friendly with their slaves, please, don't. This is about my overall impression of Gorean society as anxious and regulated rather than wild and relaxed and you are free to disagree.)
Yes, I do have many worlds in my head, some that clash if they would be put side by side. What I am saying is that I do find slave fantasies rather nice but mine are not Gorean, not that often any way, but they are still full of deserts, slave markets, chains, whips, nakedness and ruthlessness.
I can see that this seems superficial and why bother about details? And is there really a difference? I don't know and I will not try to analyse and argue it any further. Call it what you want. But if my world is Gorean, it is as much Hyborian, Barsoomian and of Arabian Nights. I am just tired of the label, as if John Lange is the only one who has imagined how fascinating it can be with a world where slaves are kept for the pleasures of their owners.