Re: [barsoom] Gor 12 and 13
- Well, I read the first one, and I thought it was second tier Burroughs style sword and planet stuff. There's so much that seems utterly flawed, dreary exposition, a rather sadistic scene where man and spider join in sport to terrorize a girl, etc.
For me, the big blower is where Tarl Cabot storms into the enemy castle to rescue the girl and face impossible odds - 25 deadly warriors. And how does he accomplish this rip roaring scene... "I don't know how I did it, the whole thing is a daze...." Cripes!
Nor was that the only sign of writing laziness. There's a frustrating scene in a later book where Tarl's dad (or someone... bear with me, I'm going on fuzzy memory) talks about the Priest Kings and its all hocus pocus, "well, they do all sorts of stuff that overwhelm our logical objections, so let's just go with it, okay."
Essentially, Norman's bad for that sort of lazy writing. Occasionally, rather than do the work of writing a good action scene or fleshing out a character or plot point, he just kind of glosses over. I think that he needed an Editor who wouldn't put up with that nonsense.
I spot checked, reading a few others, and checking out excerpts from a number of others. It struck me as going from uninspired and tired, to tediously weird and fetishistic. The strength of the series is that for better or worse, the author gave his passions and obsessions full play. That's also a weakness, since there's a lot that's unrelievedly repellent.
I'm okay with the S&M and fetishistic content. It doesn't do much for me. But the thing is, that there's something genuinely repellent and mean spirited in some of his heroes and situations. They're assholes, nasty ones, and you can't gloss over that. It's the difference between being thoroughly dominant on the one hand and getting your jollies shoving firecrackers up cat's asses.
The other big weakness was a consuming attention to meticulously trivial detail ... did we really need 40 pages of dissertation on slave girl's collar locks? Norman apparently thought so. But that kind of stuff book after book after book grows tedious. It actually gets pretty deadly the first time you encounter it, and doesn't get better with repetition.
On the other hand, I'll give him compliments on having quite a fully elaborated world with some actual ideas going. There's some very detailed web sites:
I dunno. John Norman's published 27 more books than I have, so I have to give him that. Certainly his books have found an audience and a cult following. On the other hand, I have to say that in my view, Norman's books probably killed the whole sword and planet genre dead. Not that it wasn't already doing a hell of a job on itself already.
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