Hunters of Gor, by John Norman

There's a reason why the planet rhymes with 'bore'...

To be sure, I was ready to be open-minded. Some people like s/m/b/d fiction, heck, I've even written some. I like classic pulp fiction, of which this is a late, but not bad example. I'm aware that there are women, intelligent, confident, attractive women, who like the books, and even want to live the life of a collared slave. And then...

Perhaps I ought to have read the first book first, though many people consider this a fairly representative book of the series. Apparently, Tarl Cabot (the Earth guy and hero) is trying to hook up with three women from his past that got lost somewhere along the line. I got about two-thirds of the way through. And then...I just hit a wall.

OK, so Gorean women love being slaves. (Except for Panther Women, who hate men, and get all hot and bothered because they can't have normal sex.) OK, so why do you have to tie them up all the time? And, although they mention housework (I'm kind of amused at the fact that this includes ironing, since there seems to be few clothes that really need it.) no one seems to do any, since that would mean less time for hanky-panky. Why are all the women, to the last tribeswoman, between 18 and 25, and have great boobs, despite no kind of support? Silk is the most labor-intensive of all fibers to produce -- and they reserve it for slaves? (In one of his interminable asides Cabot wonders why women like the stuff -- hey, it's not burlap, guy, try it sometime...) The forests are supposed to be jumping with panthers and sleen, which means that there's more megafauna than there are prey species. Men are always screaming the equivalent of "Resistance is futile!" and "Obey or die!" which means the ladies all start with the waterworks and pleading: here again, they're supposed to like this kind of treatment. And of course, if Norman/Cabot is supposed to be comfortable with the arrangement, then why does he feel as if he has to explain (and explain, and explain) why women and men are the way they are. And absolutely no one has a sense of humor...

In real life, slaves, and people forced into coercive living situations, tend to adapt. Some, yes, develop Stockholm syndrome, others develop a tough, cynical shell, some become downright indifferent (even under threats of death and torture...you can only die once), some make jokes about their captors. (The wisecracking slave was a staple of Roman theater, as it was in the American South.)They can even obey! (On the 'master' side, nothing is worse than having someone obey you for the wrong reasons.) Fantasy slavery works, if only because the 'slave' is usually the one who's really in charge: no matter how bad the bad boy is in your dreams, he's unlikely to do anything you really don't like.

But don't you like the *book*? No, not really. It made me want to read Harry Harrison, if only because one of his heroes would have made mincemeat out of the Goreans (and their Mugwump bosses, too!)

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