Is the 14th of John Norman's series of science fiction porno novels that have, in this age of the internets, become a byword for extreme creephattery and basement-dwelling, Second Life-playing weirdos.
Now, by the time Norman got to writing this one, he was already well aware that his main fandom was BDSM enthusiasts. He was also under siege from feminists. This was, of course, before great Feminist Sex Wars and for a lot of the 2nd-wave feminists of the 1970s, all BDSM was abuse, and to certain of those who belonged to this movement, especially in academia, women who were into it were gender traitors, dupes, or useful idiots of the patriarchy. Needless to say, John Norman, being in academia, and having been best known for a series of novels about a world on the other side of the sun where fem-sub Total Power Exchange BDSM relationships were the norm, this didn't exactly endear him to people, and I am given to understand that there were protests about them by this time.
So. Fighting Slave of Gor. As a reaction to the reaction his books were getting, he wrote this, with a new protagonist, just to try to answer and/or troll up his critics. Sounds like he might be improving as a writer?
The spiritual journey of an ordinary college student from out and out mangina to masterful studmuffin hyper-alpha redpill of Gor.
A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind?
Our protagonist, one Jason Marshall, has a date with a fellow student, Beverley Henderson. She is majoring in women's studies. And on their date, the conversation turns to the proper role of women in society. There is a long dialogue in which it is put to Jason Marshall that there are those who believe that men should be the masters of women, and that this is their biological role in life. But Jason, being a
fairly rational person beta whiteknight manboob, dismisses this idea out of hand. While all this is going on, two background events occur. The first of these is that two of Beverley's lecturers are spotted in the corner discussing things. Much stock is made of how mannish they try to present themselves as being and how Beverley is worried about being seen by them in case she's upbraided for letting her gender down and suchlike. This is put in solely, I'm sure, to troll Norman's critics.
The other is that some rather suspicious looking gentlemen overhear their conversation. Anyhow, one thing leads to another and Jason and Beverley get a cab back to their respective abodes. Only to find that the driver is one of these suspicious looking gentlemen, and he kidnaps them both and drives them to an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere. There, he gets Beverley on her knees, chained up, and crated for shipment to Gor, because she would be pleasing to the men of Gor as a slave. As for Jason? He gives him a Reason You Suck Speech about how he's a disgrace to his gender, how he has allowed his masculinity to be sold down the river for a remote possibility of sex and how he is a traitor for buying into this feminism guff. It is proposed that he be executed there and now, but the other one instead suggests he be chloroformed, crated up and also sent to Gor to be trained as a silk slave. This is a male pleasure slave for the servicing of noble free women of Gor, if you must know. And this is what happens to him.
Well, the next thing he knows, he's in a dank cell somewhere on Gor at the mercy of a dominatrix who is assigned to whip him into shape - literally - as a sex slave. Once again, she explains to him how this is his just punishment for being such a wuss.
It was at this point that I thought to myself, hang on a second, isn't this exactly the same rhetoric used by the manosphere nowadays? They obviously have a downer on feminism, but they have an even bigger downer on the men who think there is something in feminism worth having and accordingly aren't rampaging misogynistical fuckheads like them. Granted, this novel never uses words like "whiteknight," "mangina," or suchlike, but the slavers back on Earth and the lady Gina (the aforementioned dominatrix) both share the same disdain for him as any manospheroid would. And thankfully Norman doesn't mention the concept of the "cock carousel" either. But there's similarities.
Anyhow, Jason Marshall is eventually sold from the block as a silk slave and is bought by a noble woman of the city of Vonda. On a shopping trip to Ar, on which he is taken along, Jason gets into a fight with another silk slave belonging to someone else and seriously beats the snot out the guy. But instead of being punished, he is transferred to his mistress's gladiatorial stables to be trained as a fighting slave.
Basically, after much flapping about, and Jason's subsequent awakening as a proper man who can master women and having them beg to please him and all that, combined with a deus ex machina act of arson that allows him to escape, he gets free and enslaves his former mistress, who cracks many moisties at the prospect. And then it ends. Thankfully.
Now I suppose there's meant to be some sort of metaphor here for a man's intellectual progression from beta bluepill useful idiot to REAL MAN. Bear in mind that this was 30 years before the manosphere ever appeared on the shores of the internets. At the beginning, Jason is effectively at the bottom of the heap. He is literally whipped by women he could have no hope of acquiring, and Lady Gina and her accomplices Lola and Tela, and their roided-out guardsmen Prodicus and Grom, are supposed to be a sort of representation of feminism as an ideology and the pressures that can allegedly be brought to bear on those who will not fall into line, although I doubt that Andrea Dworkin ever had her critics lashed to a St Andrew's cross and beaten with a knout, much as she would have liked to. However, upon realising that simply doing stuff to please women would get him used as a fuck toy for the rest of his life, he has what in the manosphere is called a "red pill" moment, becomes a gladiator, suddenly has access to all the chained naked slave girls in the villa, and then embraces the REAL MAN that lies within him, escapes his slavery, and all the women who formerly used him for their own purposes now are his to do with as he pleases. Ain't life glorious.
Unfortunately this metaphor gets confused by the fact that every single part of the novel is yet another BDSM fantasy. Come on. Being lashed by a dominatrix? Check. Being forced to serve in humiliating ways? Check. Being humiliated as a person by women who, according to the strictures of Gor, should be creaming themselves at being in the same room as him? Check. Being sold as a sex slave? Check. Having a mistress who explains why he's but a slave, "then she aroused me, and raped me" for her pleasure not his? Check. Having a woman thrown to him as a reward for a good performance in the fighting pits? Check. The whole bit at the end with the chain being on the other neck, so to speak? Check. The worst thing about all this, though, is that John Norman can't really do convincing dialogue, and dialogue is very important for stuff like this. Characters repeat things a lot. One stinker of an example is where the Lady Gina asks, "I wager that you were well taught that you were a slave," upon where Jason replies, "Yes, I was well taught that I was a slave." Then there's other lines which attempt to be authoritative and in character and masterful, but which just come over as plain hilarious.
Then there's the sheer derp and rage that the mistress comes down to the dark corners of the gladiators' stables at night dressed - or not dressed - as a slave girl and begs Jason to "use" her. Because although he is but a slave, and she is an important, noble and wealthy free woman, he is a REAL MAN and it's only right that she flings herself at him bodily. Natch.
And another slice of sheer derp and rage is that when Jason is being sold to the free women of Vonda as a silk slave, one of the free women asks what they would do if these well-built wammickers for sale as pleasure slaves would do if they were insufficiently tamed and broke their bonds and suddenly cast down their mistresses into abject slavery mid-tryst. The other free woman says she does not know, but quivers with anticipation at the idea. Christ on a bike.
Well, at least there's the gladiatorial battle sequences, and those should make for good reading, shouldn't they? Well... yes, the scene where Jason Marshall bests the larger, stronger, and heavier Krondar of Ar, who is odds-on favourite, is fairly well written, but that is all the actual fighting that gets done in this novel. We see none of Jason Marshall's tastiness in the pit fights even though by this time he has been, for over a year, the champion of the stables of Vonda. We do see him training by wearing ten-pound metal plated boxing gloves and punching his way through a solid wooden pillar, though, during which a chained naked slave girl named Taphris swings by and begs for him to give her one. This results in my favourite line in the entire novel when they are discovered:
"Were you, Jason, given permission by some free person to engage in slut sport with this lascivious wench?"
Of course, he's a REAL MAN and needs nobody's permission for slut sport, lascivious wench or otherwise. I suppose that the line was supposed to come over as masterful and sneeringly condemnatory, but actually is just hilarious. Do members of the Men's Rights Reddit need permission to engage in slut sport with a lascivious wench, even from the lascivious wench herself? Do they fuck.
See, the only reason this novel exists is basically for John Norman to troll up his feminist critics. There are massive author-tract stretches where he swipes at feminism all throughout the novel just because he can. Most of the other later Gorean novels also have these, granted, but they can be skipped because they have no real impact on the plot. This... they can't. The whole purpose of the novel is to allow spaces to shoehorn in godawful anti-feminist nonsense and show how acting like a rampant misogynist allows Jason Marshall to achieve his every goal in life. Unfortunately, even at that it fails, because only on Gor, where sex slavery for women is endemic, does it work. Here on Earth, it doesn't work like that, and chaining your lady friends to your bed and forcing them to satisfy your every sick need does not result in happiness in slavery but instead results in well-deserved prison sentences. (Boundary-agreed BDSM scenes between consenting adults notwithstanding, of course.)
I think I'll end it there before I start craving the absinthe again. Suffice it to say that this was the point that I definitively gave up on reading Gor for good.