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John Norman









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November 2001

Posted 30 November:

Posted 17 November:

Posted 16 November:

  • Tina Lewey supports John Lange (John Norman) and is appalled by censorship
  • Marc Whipple explains Dr. Lange's position on slavery, and doubts censorship was involved
  • Howard DeVore suggests another opportunity for John Norman
  • Carl Glover sees the John Norman controversy as an example of why SF will soon be extinct
  • Rick Norwood and Arthur D. Hlavaty follow up on the Harry Potter Hugo discussion

Note: Return e-mail addresses will be posted only if you include it in your closing, or your subject matter specifically requests some sort of response; otherwise it will be omitted.

Glover Agonistes

Dear Locus Online,
     After reading Carl Glover's description of contemporary sf as a Marxist hotbed of "left-leaning, liberal, neo-socialist, politically-correct propaganda," I couldn't help wondering what planet he's been on for the last few presidential administrations. Granted, there are a number of prominent writers who qualify as "leftist" or even (horror of horrors!) "PC," but the last time I perused the skiffy section at my local bookstore, the shelves were positively groaning under the weight of pseudo-libertarian, pro-technology works by the likes of Bova, Brin, Forward, Hogan, Niven, Robinson (Spider, obviously, not K.S.), Sheffield, Steele, Weber, et al. — not all of them doctrinaire conservatives, but hardly a stereotypical bleeding heart among them.
     As for Glover's argument that "real" sf is languishing at the expense of movie/TV tie-ins because the lay public can't relate to a politically correct worldview destined for the dustbin of history (said dustbin undoubtedly already filled to the brim with Jaqueline Lichtenberg novels and Roger Elwood anthologies), then how does he account for the fact that the most popular media franchise is "Star Trek," an unabashedly liberal/PC vision of a socialist utopia? Sf publishing may yet die a pauper's death, but it won't be because of those pesky countercultural McGoverniks (to borrow a phrase from a one-time sf author).

Lucius Cook
24 November 2001

P.S. As for Norman/Lange's plight, might I suggest that he forego conventions altogether and aim for the afternoon talk show circuit? I'm sure Oprah's still scrambling to fill Jonathan Franzen's spot on her show.

Harry Potter and the Cynical Teenager

Dear Locus Online,
     I enjoyed John Shirley's (and special consultant's) review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. My wife and I took our borderline-cynical 15 year old son and his girlfriend to see the film. We were a bit concerned that it would be a seriously uncool event for him, especially with the new girlfriend in tow. Bad enough having parents along, but to go to a "kidflick", and with the girlfriend and all...potential nightmare.
     As it turned out they both loved it. And us adults had a good time, too, but certainly agree with John Shirley that it was no masterpiece. Pretty good, clean fun all in all, though it missed some of the darker undertones of the book and was perhaps too slavish to the book in the telling. I am now hoping that the forthcoming Lord of the Rings will be much better, but based on past experience with Hollywood's approach to such stuff I'm not holding my breath.

John Dodds
22 November 2001

Still More Gor

Dear Locus Online,
     In responding to my 25 October letter, Mr. Marc Whipple says that I point out "a contradiction ... between Dr. Lange (aka John Norman, author of the Gor novels and other works) claiming to be a libertarian, and his expressed philosophies regarding male/female interaction and slavery."
     Well, no: I did not. I said nothing about any philosophies Dr. Lange (or Mr. Norman) may have expressed personally or in fiction. I described what his fiction does as "paeans to the joys of slavery." Perhaps this needs a little elaborating: in the books I read, I repeatedly found people, usually but not always women, being taken by force into non-consensual slavery (and I find myself wondering just what other kind there is!), and discovering that this state brings them joy.
     I don't know whether Mr. Norman (or Dr. Lange — or Mr. Whipple, for that matter) actually believes this. I did find it completely alien to my idea of how human beings behave. And I did, and do, find it ludicrously inconsistent that the libertarian movement (or its SF contingent) is comfortable with these ideas. Libertarians who have trouble understanding why should perhaps add italics to the words "by force" and "non-consensual" in the above paragraph and reread it.
     While I'm at this, I should like, however, to correct at least one statement from my previous letter. I said that I had no reason to believe that the facts of the matter were as Lange/Norman and Gifford said. Having since spoken to a number of folks who were present at MPC, I do now doubt it.
     Most sincerely,

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes
21 November 2001


Dear Locus Online,
     Thank you for publishing the entertaining sequence of recent letters. At the risk of foreshortening the entertainment, I would humbly suggest that some correspondents ought to check with a dictionary before putting pen to paper (or electrons to transistor as the case may be). In particular, I am referring to the standard definitions of "censor", "censorship", and "libertarian".

Chris Lawson
18 November 2001

Eldritch and unspeakable injustice perpetrated at Worldcon, check...

Dear Locus Online,
     I see we're pretty much on schedule for online arguments, having now heard from the contingent that can't understand the difference between

  1. not using John Norman in a program,
  2. deliberately excluding him from a program,
  3. excluding him from a program on account of his beliefs,
  4. censoring him,
  5. censoring and otherwise oppressing him,
  1. deliberate censoring him for failing to write the kind of left-leaning, liberal, neo-socialist, politically-correct pseudo-skiffy propaganda that must inevitably wind up in the dustbin of history;
not to mention
  1. all of the above.
     The correct answer to the question, "What did the Millennium Philcon Programming Department actually do to John Norman?" is of course (a): they didn't use him in the program. All this posturing and attitudinizing by his would-be defenders is no doubt very aerobic, but it's also completely irrelevant.
     Kudos to Howard DeVore for coming up with his helpful suggestion. This is the sort of thing fandom needs more of.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden
16 November 2001

Dear Locus Online,
     I would like to express my pleasure in reading the article by John Lange, "John Norman," and my disappointment at his treatment as pertains to the contents of the letter.
     I have read the majority of his Gor series and find his writings to be both open-minded and refreshing. I applaud his ability to stand for freedom and for his beliefs in the face of such negativity. It's appalling to me to consider that censorship is indeed alive and well in America. Our great nation is better than that; it stands for freedom, not oppression. It sickens me to see such a great man's works drug through the mud by those with narrow minds and motivations to pure self-gain.
     I for one, am an avid fan and supporter of John Lange and his works.
     I wish him nothing but well in the future and look forward to reading many more of his books. You can be sure that I enjoy and respect his ideas enough that I will continue to spend my money in the pursuit of same.

Tena Lewey
9 November 2001

Dear Locus Online,
     In his letter of 25 October, Mr. Dan'l Danehy-Oakes points out what he feels to be a contradiction (to put it mildly) between Dr. Lange (aka John Norman, author of the Gor novels and other works) claiming to be a libertarian, and his expressed philosophies regarding male/female interaction and slavery.
     This observation indicates unfamiliarity with Dr. Lange's stated and written positions. Dr. Lange does not believe, as far as can be ascertained from any of his written works that I have read, that nonconsensual slavery should be a legally enforced element of our society. (His work Imaginative Sex is far more revealing of the positions of Lange the author versus Tarl Cabot, the character.) In fact, he expresses some opinions which would dismay many of his readers, as well as many, many kinky fans that it has been my pleasure to meet. For instance, he claims that a woman (and by implication a man) who wants to experience pain, even during erotic play, is sick and needs medical attention! It is abundantly clear, to readers of this work, his only nonfiction on the topic, that he does not support cruelty or the institution of legal slavery, especially in our modern society, but rather recommends that people use their biological tendencies to enhance their lives in an imaginative way. If you disagree with him that people have biological tendencies, so be it — don't read the book. But if you won't read it, and his other nonfiction philosophical works, don't claim to be able to classify Dr. Lange's moral and political beliefs with such precision from his novels, which are fantasies.
     Insofar as his exclusion from the Con, I agree with his position that an author with millions of books sold over decades, and a fanbase of such unswerving loyalty, should be extended some courtesy by an organization which seeks to promote the genre. However, I can also state with some degree of assurance, having corresponded with people who know him, that he does not suffer fools gladly (or at all) and that he considers many people, rightly or wrongly, to be fools. A crowd-pleaser he is not. His exclusion I disagree with, but while I tend to agree that the reasons he claims for it are the true ones, the reasons extended for it are quite rational and, it being their Con, the organizers were quite within their rights to exclude him. With his claims of censorship I must respectfully differ.

Marc Whipple
10 November 2001

Dear Locus Online,
     I have been following the discussion concerning John Norman in your pages. It seems to me that he has not been given the respect he deserves. I think the problem is that he volunteered for a panel discussion at the Worldcon which is always overloaded with programming. Perhaps if he had volunteered to be on a panel at a smaller, more intimate convention he would have been received better.
     Fortunately there is a forthcoming convention where he would feel more at home. I'm sure if he will write to the Chairwoman at WISCON, PO Box 1624, Racine, Wisc. 53701 they will welcome him with open arms.
     John Norman became a best selling author because of his ability to build novels out of the books of my youth, when they usually consisted of only eight pages of text and illustrations.

Howard DeVore
15 November 2001

Dear Locus Online,
     I am intrigued by the "John Norman" vs. Philcon controversy. I have no idea why Mr. Norman was left off the convention panels (although I suspect it was indeed deliberate censorship), but I do know that he put his finger on the precise reason why I stopped reading contemporary science fiction many years ago. Even then, it was manifestly becoming a literature of left-leaning, liberal, neo-socialist, politically-correct propaganda, a trend which I felt was guaranteed to permanently consign it to a very small niche in the literary ghetto, much as these political ideas themselves, and the movements they spawned, have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Such radical notions do not work in the real world and they do not work for science fiction.
     But, you may argue, science fiction is more popular than ever. Maybe so, but science fiction literature isn't — and not just because fewer people read books. Printed science fiction (as opposed to movies and games and fantasy and all the rest of pseudo-science fiction) appeals to fewer and fewer people because of its increasingly narrow-minded and prejudiced position in favor of leftist/PC viewpoints. It simply does not reflect the ideas of the majority of the literate public in this country. If it continues in this direction (and I believe it will — just listen to the average fan or writer today), it will soon be extinct. I mourn its passing.

Carl Glover
15 November 2001

Dear Locus Online,
     I would like to thank Allen Smith for pointing out that Starship Troopers was published as a young adult novel. And I would like to apologize to D Carr for attributing to him a quote from the unsigned Complete Hugo Voting article on page 43 of the October Locus.

Rick Norwood
SF Site
11 November 2001

[ The quote referred to was that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was "the first fantasy novel as well as the first YA novel to cop the Hugo."
--ed. ]

Dear Locus Online,
     It has been repeatedly stated that the Harry Potter have brought reading pleasure to those who hadn't tried it before. I join the consensus that this is a Good Thing. Some quibbled that some Potter readers did not go on to read anything else. Probably, but that's still better than nothing at all.
     I just wish fewer of them had voted on the Hugos.

Arthur D. Hlavaty
2 November 2001

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