John Norman

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John Norman is the pen name of John Frederick Lange, Jr. (born June 3, 1931), a controversial, reactionary philosopher and Utopian/soft science fiction novelist best known for his "Chronicles of Gor" series and its male dominant/female submissive BDSM content (though most of the original Gor book series was published before the modern BDSM movement coalesced, and Norman has not been influenced by it). Lange holds a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University and was a philosophy professor at Queens College of the City University of New York before retirement. Followers of Norman's philosophy are termed Goreans.



Science fiction:

  • "Chronicles of Gor" series, also "Chronicles of Counter-Earth" or "Gorean Saga" (1966-1988; resumed 2001-present)
  • "The Telnarian Histories" (first three books published 1991-1993, fourth appearing 2015)
  • The Totems of Abydos (2012)

Historical fiction:

  • Time Slave (1975)
  • Ghost Dance (1979)

Short-story collection

  • Norman Invasions (2009)


Norman started out by imitating Edgar Rice Burroughs to some degree, and his influential Gor series contains parallels to Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series (especially the first few Gor books). His novels include lengthy philosophical and sociological dissertations contrasting the malaise of modern society (everything from common dishonesty to nuclear holocaust) with the remedial beauty of natural society. Placing emphasis on living in accordance with a Nietzsche-esque natural order, he sponsors a hierarchy of talent.

From this hierarchy and his use of evolutionary psychology to analyse gender differences, he then suggests that woman is the submissive natural helper, and figurative slave, of dominant man. His work often, but not always, takes this observation literally: heroes enslave heroines who, upon being enslaved, revel in the discovery of their natural place. Norman and Goreans have been criticised for this tenet of what they consider honouring nature.

Personal Views

Some enthusiasts believe that the book Imaginative Sex indicates that Norman is not a misogynist but rather a pioneer in human sexual behaviour firmly entrenched in BDSM's fantasy and safe, sane and consensual elements. However, this favourable reading is by no means universal; lesbians and feminists are presented in a very poor light, and the books cast women almost exclusively in a submissive role.

Norman, also a political activist, modified his alignment from conservative to libertarian during his effective censorship. The extent to which he himself is Gorean is unclear.


Norman's career as a philosopher/writer underwent four stages:

  1. Early 1950s-early 1960s: Norman begins his academic career. He obtains his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska in 1953, and his Master of Arts degree from the University of Southern California in 1957. While at USC he married Bernice L. Green. Norman became a Doctor of Philosophy in 1963 from the Princeton University.
  2. Late 1960s-early 1980s: Norman's books are quite successful. His rise may be attributed to the willingness of rebellious or disaffected Americans during this period to consider his social alternatives.
  3. Mid 1980s -mid 1990s: Increasing political correctness, especially feminism, prompted consumers and interest groups to take action against the sale of Norman's books, including petitioning retailers. Norman's books were no longer carried by many small bookstores and libraries (shelved among ordinary science fiction books), as had previously been the case. Though his books still had fervent fans, and were still profitable, interest among general science fiction readers waned, and his publisher abruptly halted the series in 1988. Norman accused publishers of blacklisting him.
  4. Late 1990s-present: Acceptance of BDSM and growth of the Internet allowed the resurgence of Norman's ideas without the participation of large publishing houses. Goreans assembled on the Internet and in real life while smaller publishers attempted (at first with limited success), to "bring Norman back."

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