Add one more Avatar-esque story to the pile James Cameron allegedly cribbed for inspiration. Beijing-based scifi writer Zhou Shaomou believes that Cameron ripped off his online novel Tale of the Blue Crows. What's Shaomou want? A cool 1 billion yuan.
According to Shaomou, much of Cameron's Oscar-nominated film was yanked from the Chinese author's 1997 space epic novel, right down to the details of Jake Sully's space flight:
I wrote in my novel that their space journey took them six years but in Cameron's movie the journey takes them five years nine months and 22 days.
Shaomou isn't particularly sanguine about his prospects of successfully suing Cameron, but he figures he'd be remiss if he didn't try:
Nobody was supportive and many asked why someone as famous as Cameron would copy an obscure work from a little-known author [...] I really wanted to argue back 'why not?'.
Tale of the Blue Crows (also known as Legend of The Blue Ravens) follows remote-controlled human clones that explore distant star systems. Later in the novel, the reader encounters blue aliens and memory transference is used as a plot device. Given the ubiquity of Avatar plagiarism claims, Cameron's clout, and Shaomou's obscurity, the Chinese author has a legal battle up an 89° slope.