I’d been meaning to read a Gor book for a while- and have been reading one for a while. It was slow going, and my predominant reaction is something along the lines of “thank goodness sci fi / fantasy writing has improved in the last fifty years”.
However, whereas The Fellowship of the Ring continues to sit on my night stand, half read and gathering dust, I did eventually make it through Tarnsman. Remembering the look I’d gotten from a rather toppy gentleman who had strongly recommended that I read it certainly helped.
I am glad he recommended the book, and glad I have read it. Having been brought into contact with the Gorean subculture, it helps to have some understanding of the basics. I can see how the Gorean universe can appeal to some, see some of the elements that have lasting power. But it’s not for me.
I was struck by the harshness of nearly everything described. Nowhere has the phrase “toxic masculinity” felt more appropriate. And yet, the Goreans I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are nothing like this. They have been polite, fun, considerate- normal people.
I’d imagine this is the same reaction that someone judging any of us by the standards of other popular genre novels may have.
From the publisher:
Tarl Cabot has always believed himself to be a citizen of Earth. He has no inkling that his destiny is far greater than the small planet he has inhabited for the first twenty-odd years of his life. One frosty winter night in the New England woods, he finds himself transported to the planet of Gor, also known as Counter-Earth, where everything is dramatically different from anything he has ever experienced. It emerges that Tarl is to be trained as a Tarnsman, one of the most honored positions in the rigid, caste-bound Gorean society. He is disciplined by the best teachers and warriors that Gor has to offer…but to what end?
2 thoughts on “Book of the Month: Tarnsman of Gor”
I read some of these novels in my teens… fun at the time but as I remember they generally fell between two stools – on one hand misogynistic and on the other lacked the courage of its somewhat troubled convictions… actually quite tame.
I definitely share your feelings on the tame-ness on some levels (where was all the spanking???). On the other hand, it almost made the misogynistic elements the more jarring, to be thrown in so casually without the more richly-developed cultural background to support the more severe elements.
Still, I can see how they would be popular in a world where one couldn’t just google away at a much larger free library with plenty of high-quality gems. (speaking of. . . anything new in the works yourself?)