John Lange was born in Chicago, Illinois, to John Frederick Lange and Almyra D. Lange (née Taylor).
He began his academic career in the early 1950s, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska in 1953, and his Master of Arts degree from the University of Southern California in 1957. While at USC he married Bernice L. Green on January 14, 1956. The couple have three children: John, David, and Jennifer.
Norman’s fiction attained popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s with an estimated 6 to 12 million copies sold.
John Norman’s Gorean Saga is a long-running series of adventure science fantasy novels, starting in December 1966 with Tarnsman of Gor. The series was put on hold after its twenty-fifth installment, Magicians of Gor, in 1988, when DAW refused to publish its successor, Witness of Gor. After several unsuccessful attempts to find a trade publishing outlet, the series was brought back into print in 2001 with the publication of Witness of Gor. Norman has also produced a separate science fiction series, the Telnarian Histories, plus three other fiction works, five non-fiction works, and a collection of thirty short stories.
Norman has said that the three major influences on his work are Homer, Freud, and Nietzsche.
According to Norman, his Gor books are science fiction or adventure fantasy works which are also “intellectual, philosophical, and psychological novels”.
His fiction depicts fantastic worlds where male-dominated bondage relationships are natural and widely practiced and respected culturally, whereas characteristics of modern society are criticized and philosophical themes are explored, specially from a Nietzschean view.
Although the bondage in his Imaginative Sex guide is directed to sexual practices, the bondage and slavery presented on “Gor” follows along the lines of societal or legal slavery; a common way of life as reflected in ancient Rome and other societies. While the philosophy presented is unquestionably that of male dominance, male characters are themselves often enslaved by powerful females.
In an interview with Polygraff magazine, Norman stated that he believes that it is obvious that all societies are based on dominance and hierarchy.
His non-fiction works cover philosophy, ethics and historiography.