Four good things about Lin Carter

Author Lin Carter often gets criticized, especially for his “marked tendency for self-promotion” and “the hollowed out derivativeness of the setting and action“. However, there are several good things about him:

  1. He always acknowledged when he was trying to write in someone else’s style.
  2. I don’t think he ever tried to write a pastiche of Lord of the Rings (and presumably not because he didn’t like it: he wrote a book about it).
  3. The Man Who Loved Mars is actually pretty good.
  4. He might have had an influence on the plot of Avatar. I’ve already posted about how that film is partly similar to Carter’s Under the Green Star. I later found out that The Man Who Loved Mars, like Avatar, has a man who rejects near-future Earth society and leads a rebellion against it by tribal aliens. Of course, it could be a matter of them both using the same set of stock plots.

PS I haven’t included his editing the ‘Flashing Swords’ series. I read a couple and didn’t think they were that great.

How to speak Barsoomian

I found a series of blog posts about the language of Barsoom here. It’s obviously quite speculative, because Edgar Rice Burroughs never tried to invent a consistent language. There is, apparently, only one complete sentence of Barsoomian in the series, and it’s one word long (‘Sak!’, meaning ‘Jump!’). But it’s interesting anyway.

For the John Carter movie, Disney hired linguist Paul Frommer to invent a more detailed Barsoomian language. He did the same for the Na’vi in Avatar. However the details of this version of Barsoomian aren’t available anywhere: it’s just something they used for the film. There’s an interview with him about it here.

Finally, there are some more speculations here, based on the premise that the language in Lin Carter’s Martian novels is the same as Barsoomian.

Avatar and Under the Green Star

I watched Avatar on DVD recently. Afterwards, I realised that it has several plot points in common with Lin Carter’s Under the Green Star.

The hero of Under the Green Star goes to another planet, which is covered in a forest of gigantic trees. There he enters a new body, and takes the role of a legendary hero of the local people. All of these things also happen in Avatar, albeit in different ways.

Avatar seems to have more than its share of people crying ‘ripoff!’ on spurious grounds. So let me be clear, I’m not saying that Avatar is even possibly a ripoff of Under the Green Star. There are lots of differences. For example the conflict with the US Army / Blackwater stand-in is completely missing in Under the Green Star; so are the genetically engineered hybrid bodies (the hero of Under the Green Star uses psychic projection, similar to the Barsoom series); the people in Under the Green Star are vaguely medieval rather than hunter-gatherers, and so on.

Anyway I thought it was interesting, and I haven’t seen anyone else raise the connection.

PS What’s with people saying that Avatar is a ripoff of Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas anyway? Is there a deleted scene where Kevin Costner uses his alien body’s tail to connect to a world-spanning psychic tree so he can bring a dead scientist back to life?