Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Chrichton; Gor

Hard to imagine a more staggering or influential career in popular fiction than that of Michael Chrichton. Jurassic Park alone made him immortal, on film if not in literature. I prefered his early novels, A Case of Need (his Edgar winner as by Jeffery Hudson) being my favorite. I also really amdired The Great Train Robbery--a masterful historical and a damned fine suspense novel. And that's not to forget Wstworld, which is still a lot of fun to watch.


Back in the Sixties stoners of the male variety used to sit in college dorms and read passages of John Norman's Gor novels out loud. I knew a few guys who actually believed that they weren't for real, that somebody at the National Lampoon (then at its zenith) was cranking them out as a goof. I mean, they were beyond sexism, delving into (you should pardon the verb) a view of women that was really too insane to take seriously.

Part of the fun of any romantic relationship is the give and take out of which lasting bonds are made. I've been told (and I suspect it's true) that women can be smart, tough, industrious, loving, tender and just sort of wonderful to have around. I even suspect that they can be funny as hell. I also suspect that in most ways they're superior to men (Carol being proof absolute--no kidding there).

I hadn't thought of Norman for many many decades but then he shows up cited on the e-fanzine Ansible:

"John Norman plugs his new Gor novel: 'What man, in his deepest heart, does not want to own a female, to have her for his own, utterly, as a devoted, passionate, vulnerable, mastered slave, and what woman, in her deepest heart, does not want to be so intensely desired, so unqualifiedly and fiercely desired, that nothing less than her absolute ownership will satisfy a male, her master?' "

Ed here: The thing is I no longer believe this old fart is kidding.


Vince said...

Oddly, I just watched WESTWORLD again the other day. Still a fun film that exemplifies Crichton's unfussy approach and his emphasis on story. Truly a remarkable career.

Fred Blosser said...

Norman had a long run with Gor via Ballantine and DAW, so somebody must have been buying. As I recall, at some point in the early '70s there was (as it turned out, unfounded) speculation that Norman might have been another of Michael Crichton's pseudonyms.

Anonymous said...

Michael Crichton showed us how much drama and story can be derived from the outer world, science, nature, or our own biology.

Story dilemma rising from these sources can be more riveting than the dilemma built around the weakness or folly or perversity of characters. The problem with the noir formula is that it invites uncaring readers-- if the hero is that dumb, why care about him or her?

That is why Mr. Crichton's novels and films achieved such universal attention.

Richard Wheeler

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite Crichton novels is "Eaters of the Dead," about an Arab trader falling in with a band of Vikings and going on to live the tale of Beowulf and Grendel... great, great book... made into an, eh, film...

A great smart storyteller... saw him at the Edgars once, a very *tall* drink of water as they say.

He will be missed.

Todd Mason said...

Fred, the "John Norman"/Crichton confusion was largely furthered by Crichton using John Lange as a pseud early on, which happens to be Norman's real name. (Members were reminded on FictionMags today that MC and his brother collaborated on a novel they signed Michael Douglas...the man lived to frustrate bibliographers, albeit Douglas was surely as much a non-entity to the Crichtons as Lange was to MC at time of use.

It's the blithe assumption of the Old Fart that Every woman, as opposed to a small but vocal and fannish minority, enjoys playing at Gorish games. There are other "lifestyle submissives" and their keepers/mates (and not all female) than those who read or play at Gor, but there is famously a Gor subculture in the UK and presumably elsewhere.

Fred Blosser said...

thanks Todd. I'd forgotten about the Michael Douglas name, but once you mentioned it, I thought that (the real) Michael Douglas starred in the early-'70s movie that was made from the novel in question, DEALING, but from a quick glance at IMDB, apparently not.