This picture was chosen as a compromise between Mythosphere and Gor as it actually represents neither, but is fairly close in content to a scene in Chapter 11 of Mythosphere and to many scenes in the Gor books. And, it's about as far from politically correct as anything I could find. I actually have a more objectionable picture from one of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, but don't quite have the nerve to use it. Odd that modern audiences have such delicate sensibilities they can't deal with pictures from a Victorian children's book.
Ideally, the word of a fantasy novel should be far enough away so that you can't get there from here, and close enough so that you can. It should be very like our world, and very diffent--like, so that we can relate complexly to it, and different so that it will be exotic and interesting. For the early 20th century, Mars served that function. It was a close planet, but even close planets are a vast distance away. It was similar to earth, but smaller and drier. It had two moons instead of one. It could support life, for the mysterious canals showed every sign of intelligent construction, and seemed to reflect a long-term effort to make best use of dwinding water supplies. This is where H.G. Wells' invaders came from, and where Edgar Rice Burroughs set the first modern Sword & Sorcery society. It is a long tradition, and the film, Mars Attacks is as much a nostalgia piece as a parody of the tradition. Mars has fallen upon hard times. In the 1950's the canals were shown to be an optical illusion, and those who still clung to the idea have had the belief further tested by upclose views of the planet.
Finally, elsewhere on this website (specifically in the part dealing with Mythosphere) we solicit stories from those who have read the books to add to the web page, and perhaps ultimately to include in a published collection. Those who approach Mythosphere through this page might be interested in developing the D/s element further. The expectations and limitations here are not as rigid as they are for Gor stories, and therefore give rather freer reign to the imagination.
In Chapter 11 of Mythosphere, a young woman named Kara finds herself in very much the same situation as in the picture above. She is even a blonde. The scene, however, works rather differently than it would in the Gor books. This scene is such a standby of traditional adventure fiction that even Kara, who is not very perceptive, recognizes it, and resigns herself rather crossly to playing a role in a melodrama. What really sets her off is the fact that it ends up being done badly, and verges into comedy. It is a rule of genera fiction that the characters not realize that they are acting out stock situations. The reader, too, has to suspend realization of that fact. When doing so becomes impossible, the tradition dies. That is what happened to the hard-boiled detective. Sex, however, is a strong enough drive that readers will tolerate a great deal for it. I suspect the recent decline in "bodice-ripper" novels is less a matter of reader sophistication, and more a matter of overexposure and the pressure of political correctness.
I would not have created this page, however, if there were not one area of obvious overlap. Like the Gor books, Mythosphere has a considerable D/s element, and I will not pretend that we have not been considerably influenced by Gor in this respect--I did read all twenty-five books. In our book, however, slavery is a new phenomenon for most of the characters, few of whom have had any experience with a D/s subculture. It does not operate with anywhere near the consistancy or coherence it does on Gor. This difference is due to the fact that on Gor there is a long social tradition behind the relationship. Seeing how messy things can get on Earth, even in a society with such traditions, however, one has to accept that Mr. Norman is following genera tradition rather than a realistic one. Personally, I have no problem with genera fiction but, as I have said earlier, it is not a very solid soapbox from which to argue social theory.
Things are always less messy in the world of genera fiction than in real life, and on Gor: Page 2, I have pointed out some of the was Norman has cut corners in presenting the human condition. Many of the same advantages can be gained more realistically in a virtual world, for there the gods control even the laws of nature. In Mythosphere those who have been permanantly imprinted have much the same long, unchanging lifespans as those on Gor. No one, though, has yet lived long enough to test the full implications of such an alien state of affairs. It is an issue the Gor books do not consider.
I cannot say that Mythosphere's solution is greatly better or even profoundly original, though it is more original than it seems now. I know of little in the way of virtual worlds before it was begun. The Matrix came out while it was being written. I like the film, but thought the writers made it easy for themselves by simply making the whole world virtual. Mythosphere is a much smaller place than the worlds of Gor and of The Matrix, partially for reasons of realism--how long does it take to create a world? But there are advantages; one can cover it more intimately and fully, and a virtual world can grow. There was also Westworld, an intertaining film from the 70's. There the whole world was based on robots, and the environment is smaller than Mythosphere.
Mr. Norman follows Burroughs closely in many ways, but he updates Burroughs' Mars by creating a world that can have no such scientific difficulties, for Gor is in the same orbit as Earth, and nearly the same size. We may hesitate at the improbability, but come down to saying, "but wouldn't that cause anomolies that astronomers and mathmeticians would catch?" but then we think, "that's probably true, and there probably are, but this is the kind of obscure thing that people outside the field just don't hear about. Altogether, Norman has covered himself pretty well.
Mars has little atmosphere, and it is very cold, quite unsuited for peope to go around dressed like Frazetta's female figure for the dustjacket of Warlords of Mars, (see Sword & Sorcery: Modern, the last button on the green bar to the left.), and what would any Sword & Sorcery fantasy be without underdressed women? Even the lesser gravity which made Burroughs' John Carter a superman with his Earth strength turns out to be scientifically invalid. What one would really do is lose bone and muscle mass.
Back to the index for the Gor pages.
Sword & Sorcery: Modern #2. This page deals with some modern fantasy writers including John Norma and Sharon Greene.
Not strictly Gor, but many of the same themes. A study of Hiram Powers' famous nude in handcuffs, "The Greek Slave."
Saahirah's Erotic Poetry Page: A page of erotic, Gorean style poems culled from Saahirah's own experiences with her Master.