Savage Empire

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Name: Savage Empire
Creator: Jean Lorrah
Date(s): March 1981
Medium: books
Country of Origin:
External Links: Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire, Archived version
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Savage Empire was a book by Jean Lorrah.

It was deliberately crafted to appeal to fans of Sime~Gen, Kraith, and Night of the Twin Moons, as well as to fans of Katherine Kurtz's books.

Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire Publishing History, Archived version

Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire: Some About the Books and Fandom, Archived version

The Fandom

The author probably also had hoped for a robust fandom, but while there was some fan interest in it, the fandom never really took off.

There was one zine: Wulfstone, by Winston Howlett. Howlett was a fan and big promoter of this book.

The Author's Description

Nothing is exactly as it seems. That is the basic theme for the Savage Empire series. Enemies may not be the evildoers they seem, and your closest allies may be holding knives behind their backs, waiting to strike. In a time before telephones, computers, and automobiles, two lands are locked in constant battle. In the Aventine Empire, Readers - Humans with telepathic abilities - struggle to live among the normals, while their borders are under daily attack by the residents of the Savage Empire - Adepts, with abilities to heal, create fire, even move boulders, with their minds.

But are they really enemies? Or are there even greater evils in the Frozen Isles, and the deep forests of Africa?

Find out, in Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire. [1]

Its Inception

In May 1979, Jean Lorrah wrote about her new book, "Savage Empire." which she hoped would become a "savage" series:

That's right, folksI One reason work on Channel' s Destiny is not going as fast as it might is that while we 're writing it, Jacqueline and I are each independently writing another book. You've already heard about Jacqueline's Molt Brother series. Well, the summer of '78 spawned another series: SAVAGE EMPIRE, by Jean Lorrah. In February, 1979 (as a matter of fact, just as I was heading out the door on the way to FebCon), I received a letter from Sharon Jarvis telling me that Playboy Books is buying SAVAGE EMPIRE.

This book will be the first in a series (what else?), and the second thing I've written that developed from a title. (For trivia fans, the first was the humorous "Sarek and Amanda and Kirk and Spock." Someone made that up as a parody-title for an NTM-universe story, and I couldn't resist supplying the story to go with it. It's in The Obsc'zine #3.)

The conception of SAVAGE EMPIRE was most unusual, considering that there are four progenitors, all female. While I was staying with Jacqueline last summer, finishing the first draft of First Channel, she gave me Katherine Kurtz's novel, Deryni Rising, to read one Sabbath. That's where I got the.inspiration to write a heroic fantasy, but that's all I had—just the vague notion that I'd like to write something like that if I ever got around to it.

Most of July and August, Jacqueline and I were writing madly Monday through Thursday, and running off on weekends to appear at conventions. The end of First Channel seemed to retreat as we went along. In the last two weeks we made two immense changes—the point of view, and the ending. The last con we had scheduled was August Party, from which Jacquline would fly to California and I would drive to Kentucky. The last pages of First Channel were actually written at Mary and Vic Schmidt's house in the morning, before we went over to August Party in the afternoon!

But then it was done. Oh, there was still an immense amount of work to do, but the inspiration part was over, ill the ideas, from beginning to end, were down on paper. My mind was free for other ideas.

Neither Jacqueline nor I was a guest at August Party, so to save money we shared a room with Anne Golar and Katie Filipowicz. Anne decided to go see the film, Doc Savage, being shown as part of the con. She came back to "the room to announce, "Anything with the word 'savage' in the title is sure to selll!" Jacqueline said, "There's the title for your novel, Jean. Savage something."

Now you understand that at this point there was no novel—just Jacqueline's urging that I write something on my own, and my vague notion that I might attempt a heroic fantasy something like the Deryni books. But just for the fun of it, I started playing with titles—Savage Blood, Savage Swords, Savage Heritage. The next morning, as I was brushing my teeth, it came to me; SAVAGE EMPIRE! I shouted it out. It sounded good to Jacqueline, Katie, and Anne. I had a book!

Um . . . well ... I had a title for a book—a title to spawn a whole series of booksi Swords of the Savage Empire. Savage Sorceress. Prisoner of the Savage Empire, et cetera, ad nauseum. What I didn 't have was plot, theme, or characters.

The four of us went down to breakfast, discussing the concept of a savage empire, for of course that is a contradiction in terms. I soon realized that there was an empire, beset by savages. I wanted to dp something with ESP powers; by the time breakfast was over, I had a civilized empire with a small portion of the population having internalized ESP powers—telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, etc. Some of the attacking savages, on the other hand, have externalized powers—psychokinesis in all its varied forms. It was Jacqueline who wrote down the first words ever written about SAVAGE EMPIRE, on a napkin from the hotel coffee shop: "Percept: Implementers. Utilizers. Impose." know how Jacqueline's mind works.

Now I had a society—but I still didn't have plot, theme, or characters. They weren't long in coming. By the end of August Party I knew that the basic plot would be a Jean Lorrah special: a man of the empire and a woman of the savages, each with the strongest of his own people's powers, each--in the grand occult tradition—sworn to virginity to preserve those powers. I knew I had to create a situation that would force them to work together, to get to know one another— and finally, each must decide independently that the other is too powerful, too dangerous. Each decides to sacrifice his own powers to put the other out of commission—each decides to seduce the other. Inagine a seduction scene between two thirty-year-old virgins!

SAVAGE EMPIRE developed even more as I drove home. I'm not sure how safe, a driver I am, as I seem to spend most of my time on long trips in an alternate universe! The characters began to develop; scenes began to play out, the book came to life. I had fifty pages and an outline done by IguanaCon.

I now know that the first novel in the series is about the creation of the savage empire. The main characters now have names, Lenardo and Aradia. Lenardo is a Reader of the Aventine Empire. Aradia is an Adept of the savages (who don't think of themselves as savages at all). So far, I haven't figured out how to fit in the traditional Lorrah shower scene (there's one in First Channel), but I do have a rather funny non-sexual bath scene that may or may not be cut. [2]

Strong Women

In May 1980, there was much discussion in Interstat about the role of strong women, and often the lack thereof, in Treklit. After reading this fan's comment: "Trek-lit seemingly always uses at least one of the three main characters," Jean responded, and mentioned "Savage Empire" in this context:

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy play very minor roles in the NTM universe. However, I developed that universe after many years of writing other kinds of stories. "Visit," "Parted From Me," and other of my early stories always concerned the Big-Three—and never had Joanna Russ's requirement of female friendship. The reason the Russ criterion that Leslie Fish quoted seems so right to me is that I can see the development in my own work from conscious attempts at feminism to the unconscious genuine feminist attitude as I slowly came to trust women as much as I did men as partners in writing and business. At first I tried to write strong women, and to play up some of the anti-feminist problems I had run into in my own career. For example, I have been "Jean," never "Jeannie," since I entered high school. When one of my male colleagues attempts to denigrate me by calling me "Jeannie," (and, believe it or not, this happens!), I respond by calling him "Billy," "Johnny," "Davy," or whatever. But, if Jimmy Carter can be President, why can't Mary Louise Webster captain a starship (EPILOGUE)? Sorry, Mary Lou, I invented Molly Webster several years before I heard of you; it is neither tribute nor parody. In another story I had a captain named Mary Jane. These names, and the roles, were quite deliberate. As to the Russ criterion, my early stories simply never had friendships between women. By the time I wrote EPILOGUE, I gave Molly a best friend, Margie Jones, but I neglected to give Margie a role to play! I just said she was Molly's best friend; I didn't show it. By the time I wrote THE NIGHT OF THE TWIN MOONS, however, something had happened to my subconscious. The female-dominant Penthesilean society, Amanda's role as Ambassador-- those things are the conscious feminist aspects of the novel. But how about Rille, Velinde, and Shira? I had never heard of Russ's criterion (how could I, if she didn't formulate it until last year?), but like all the best criticism, her comment makes me say, "Of course! Why didn't I see that for myself?"

Ever since NTM, all my heroines have had female friends. In FIRST CHANNEL, Kadi's best friend is Carlana. In SAVAGE EMPIRE, Aradia's best friend is Lilith. My point is not to brag about what a great feminist I am (I'm not a feminist at all to the most radical feminists), but to point out that I began writing female friendships into my books unconsciously. Damnitall, I'll be doing it consciously from now on, but the original natural outgrowth of my relationships in fandom was the quite unconscious development of female friends in my writing. I'm sure I'm not alone, this kind of development is most certainly taking place among other women in fandom. Why doesn't it show in their writings? How many other women writing Treklit today published their first stories in 1968. As I said, it's not an instantaneous change. Furthermore, back in the dark ages there were stories about female friends in Treklit. The two-girls-aboard-the- Enterprise stories were a staple in the early days of fanzines. [3] Usually, though, one got either Spock or McCoy, and someone came along and labeled them "Mary Sue stories" and scared them out of the fanzines. Too bad. Had they had a normal development, we might be seeing two-women-aboard- the-Enterprise-who-remain-friends-and-find-fulfillment- in-some-way-other-than-marrying-one-of-the-Big-Three stories. And I don't mean lesbian stories. [4]

Fan Art


  1. ^ Jean Lorrah's Savage Empire, Archived version
  2. ^ from A Companion in Zeor #4, May 1979, archived online at: What-- Another New Universe?
  3. ^ One example are the Dorothy-Myfanwy Stories in T-Negative.
  4. ^ from Interstat #31