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?

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One thought on “Avatar and Under the Green Star

  1. I think the Dances With Wolves comparison comes more from the “noble savages” trope in which colonialist guilt is assuaged by embracing the savages’ culture over one’s own.

    The depiction of aliens as superior noble savages may be slightly less condescending to actual persecuted groups from history, and therefore the Avatar narrative is able to provide a cathartic relief of colonialist guilt without also adding the guilt of reducing a real indigenous people to a post-colonialist western caricature.

    In any case, the comparison is one of derision: with no sense of irony, Cameron spends millions of dollars and cutting edge technology to create a highly profitable disposable commodity that glorifies a white man’s ideal of the life of noble savagery as being superior to a life of disposable commodity.

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