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Old December 22 2009, 06:41 PM   #1
The Comedian
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Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Don't get me wrong, I loved Avatar but something about it struck me as very familiar....then I looked around and found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_me_Joe

Huh. So, whatcha think? Should Cameron be writing out a check to Anderson's estate?
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Old December 22 2009, 06:43 PM   #2
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

^ I don't think so. It also sounds like Clifford D. Simak's "Desertion". So there's really nothing original here.
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Old December 22 2009, 06:54 PM   #3
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

There's nothing original anywhere!
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Old December 22 2009, 06:57 PM   #4
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

There are only supposed to be seven "core" stories to be told and everything derives from them. I've never read Poul Anderson's stories but I doubt that Cameron plaguerized the guy either. Convergent ideas and stories crop up all the time. It's unfortunate that Cameron had to give Harlin Ellison money and credit for a similar idea. Harlin is the kind of guy who sues at the sniff of an idea similar to his and Cameron's was just close enough he sued for money and credit.
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Old December 22 2009, 07:15 PM   #5
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Teelie wrote: View Post
There are only supposed to be seven "core" stories to be told and everything derives from them.
As I writer I never agreed with that. It's all very vague "Man vs. Nature"; "Man vs. Man" etc. In the case of this story and the movie, there are details that are the same - man in a wheelchair; using artificial lifeforms to explore planet; etc., although I'm not sure how far the details go having not seen the movie.

Teelie wrote: View Post
It's unfortunate that Cameron had to give Harlin Ellison money and credit for a similar idea. Harlin is the kind of guy who sues at the sniff of an idea similar to his and Cameron's was just close enough he sued for money and credit.
I had heard that James Cameron admitted to using Harlan Ellison's episodes from The Outer Limits as basis for Terminator. Harlan Ellison appears in the credits of Terminator now, so obviously the studio agreed with Harlan at least on some points in the end or they wouldn't have put a credit for him in.

It's the details that are the key, not vague "man vs. himself" descriptions.
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Old December 22 2009, 07:27 PM   #6
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Ellison had a pretty open-and-shut case against Cameron, which is why he won easily. Ellison is not the sort of person who "sues at the drop of a hat," which is why he usually wins.

The only shame is that Cameron didn't have to pay more than he did.

Anyway, as far as Poul Anderson is concerned - it's true that Cameron's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar before, but this idea is so widespread and repeated in fiction written by white guys that Anderson has no claim on it.
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Old December 22 2009, 08:14 PM   #7
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Dennis wrote: View Post
Ellison had a pretty open-and-shut case against Cameron, which is why he won easily. Ellison is not the sort of person who "sues at the drop of a hat," which is why he usually wins.

The only shame is that Cameron didn't have to pay more than he did.

Anyway, as far as Poul Anderson is concerned - it's true that Cameron's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar before, but this idea is so widespread and repeated in fiction written by white guys that Anderson has no claim on it.
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Old December 22 2009, 08:37 PM   #8
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

I've been asking this question since I first heard of Avatar lol...
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Old December 22 2009, 08:53 PM   #9
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

I don't recall Cameron saying or admitting to stealing from Ellison but Ellison has had a great many lawsuits in the past. He's quick to sue and you can't deny that. Whether or not all those suits were because people stole his idea directly is another matter I suppose.

Anyhow back to the original claim, I agree the very simple 7 stories remark is vague but it is true. It's whether someone stole the framework used from another person that matters and again, this idea is not new either. If you looked hard enough you can probably find it predating Poul Anderson too.
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Old December 22 2009, 09:00 PM   #10
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

I thought this was gonna be about cat people thing, this book came to mind (though, nothing in it worth suing over.)

http://www.amazon.com/Cat-karina-Mic.../dp/0441092543
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Old December 22 2009, 09:10 PM   #11
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Dennis wrote: View Post
Ellison had a pretty open-and-shut case against Cameron, which is why he won easily. Ellison is not the sort of person who "sues at the drop of a hat," which is why he usually wins.
Yep. I've never tried to find proof because I wasn't really interested, but it's been alleged to me that Sliders co-creator Tracy Torme' testified for the case that he and Cameron were in a bar one night, and a drunken Cameron openly bragged about how he ripped off The Outer Limits and Ellison. Allegedly this testimony included Cameron spouting off, "Easiest money I've ever made!" among other things.
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Old December 22 2009, 09:15 PM   #12
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

I always take such open bragging claims with a grain of salt. Especially when the words "drunk" and "bragging" are used. Not saying Cameron didn't or it's a lie but such openly brazen remarks to stealing from someone else sound like something you'd hear in a movie, not from a movie maker.
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Old December 23 2009, 02:18 AM   #13
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Cameron gave interviews citing OL as an inspiration, and presumably he wasn't drunk during the interviews, so maybe he just thought he was above the law.
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Old December 23 2009, 05:17 AM   #14
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

Teelie wrote: View Post
I don't recall Cameron saying or admitting to stealing from Ellison but Ellison has had a great many lawsuits in the past. He's quick to sue and you can't deny that.
Of course you can - you know of several Ellison lawsuits, so you declare him "quick to sue." That's bullshit.

Whether you recall Cameron "admitting to stealing" is no more relevant than whether you recall O.J. Simpson "admitting to armed robbery" in 2007. Both lost in court, and for good reasons.
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Old December 23 2009, 06:11 AM   #15
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Re: Does James Cameron Owe Poul Anderson Money?

TemporalFlux wrote: View Post
Allegedly this testimony included Cameron spouting off, "Easiest money I've ever made!" among other things.
That seems unlikely, depending on when this was, seeing as Cameron sold the rights for The Terminator for a dollar.
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