Under the Green Star: Short, fun, and cheap

Lin Carter 1. Under the Green Star 2. When the Green Star Calls 3. By the Light of the Green Star 4. As the Green Star Rises 5. In the Green Star's GlowLin Carter 1. Under the Green StarUnder the Green Star by Lin Carter

Under the Green Star is Lin Carter’s homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and it’s a quick, fun, exciting adventure with some terrific scenery. Our hero (who’s telling the story in first person) was crippled by polio when he was a child and, as an adult, he’s confined to a wheelchair. He’s wealthy, though, so he has managed to get hold of an ancient scroll that describes the lost Tibetan science of eckankar — soul travel. After years of studying, he manages to free his soul from his crippled body so that he can explore the Earth… and beyond!

It’s not long before he finds himself on a green star which supports a beautiful land where people live in the trees and ride dragonflies. When he gets too close to the crystal-encased tomb of one of their ancient heroes, his soul is sucked into the hero’s body which then comes back to life, fulfilling one of their prophecies. He is now the protector of their beautiful princess and, in his new and vigorous body, he has adventures.

Under the Green Star will likely feel derivative to readers who’ve read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I haven’t, but it did remind me of several other works I’m familiar with: Abraham Merritt’s The Moon Pool (both the story and the writing style are very similar), John Norman’s Gor stories (Earth man becomes a hero on another planet) and Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series (diseased Earth man become a hero in a beautiful land).

The best part of Under the Green Star is the setting: a spectacular shady world with trees that have branches as wide as highways (or maybe the trees are normal-sized and the people are tiny — our hero never learns which is true). The people live in cities high up in the trees because dangerous monsters live on the floor of the forest.

The story is fast-paced and exciting and easily read in a day. Although it was really fun, there are a couple of problems with Under the Green Star. Foremost is the severely exhausting infuriating redundant extreme overuse of adjectives and descriptors:

Her face was fine-boned, heart-shaped, exquisite. Beneath delicately arched brows, her eyes were enormous wells of depthless amber flame wherein flakes of gold fire trembled. Thick jetty lashes enshadowed the dark flame of her eyes, but her hair, elaborately teased and twisted and coiffed, was startlingly white: a fantastic confection of frosted sugar, and exquisite construction of spun silver. Her mouth was a luscious rosebud, daintily pink, moistly seductive. A delicate flower of superb and breathtaking loveliness was Niamh the Fair, when first I looked upon her there on the gilt throne, bathed in shafts of somber and ruby light from the hollow dome above.

That makes me want to gag and effortlessly brings me to my next point: that’s about all there is to the princess when our hero decides he’s in love with her. She looks like cotton candy (and her personality’s about as substantial as cotton candy, too). But, what did I expect? I’ve read enough old SFF to know not to expect much more from this type of story. It wasn’t written for me, anyway.

The Kindle version of Under the Green Star is only $2.69 (at this writing) and I was pleased with its quality. I gave the book only a 3 star rating, but because it’s short, fun, and cheap, I recommend it to anyone who wants to further their education in old SFF.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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3 comments

  1. This book appeals to me except that, in my humble opinion,I always thought Lin Carter’s talent was mediocre. (I have very conflicting opinions of the work he and L. Sprague deCamp did with REH’s Conan.)
    I haven’t read this book but based on what little I have read by Carter, I’m positive I would totally agree with Kat’s review.
    I really love this kind of story but I’m almost always disappointed by them, or I have been since I grew-up. I really wish a good writer would revive the sub-genre of this kind and make it more current and sophisticated enough for modern SFF readers.

  2. Since you’ve got a Kindle, Greg, you might want to get this one while it’s so cheap (I don’t know if it will go up). I was tempted to move on to the second book. I actually downloaded the sample of the sequel just so I could see what was going to happen. If it weren’t for the purple prose, I’d read all of it, and maybe I still will someday because I really liked the setting.

  3. At that price, it is tempting.

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