The Magic Carpet of Oz, by David Hulan – I was in communication with David back when I first joined the International Wizard of Oz Club more than twenty years ago. He offered me some advice on the Oz stories I was writing, and I met him at a Munchkin Convention. I haven’t heard much from him recently, but this Oz novel that he actually wrote years ago is finally available to read online. As with his other Oz works, it takes a very analytical look at the famous fairyland, with details from the original books carefully examined and plot elements meticulously mapped out. Set not long after the events of The Lost Princess of Oz, it explains how Ozma became a formidable magic-worker by the time of Tin Woodman when she showed no inherent powers prior to that. It posits that she developed her own latent magical abilities after being kidnapped by Ugu the Shoemaker, which makes sense. The tale also explores Boboland and the Kingdom of Dreams, locations on L. Frank Baum’s map of the countries surrounding Oz that were never explored in detail in the original series. The titular carpet is a device that plays a major role in Ozma and a brief appearance in Rinkitink, but is otherwise largely forgotten. It enables Ozma and her friends to successfully cross the Deadly Desert without touching its deadly sands, and can be used to pass other obstacles as well.
Here, we learn that it was woven of goat hair by a Fistikin on Mount Mern. In Handy Mandy, the title character is from Mern and is simply called a Mernite, but there is a reference to “the village of Fistikins,” so the name didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s never explained why the carpet could be reduced to “a square of green cloth” in Ozma but has to be rolled up and carried in the Red Wagon in Rinkitink, but no story can explain away all the inconsistencies. The main villain in the book is a renegade Whimsie named Gurkin, who is never really that much of a threat, but Hulan does a good job of exploring the physical and mental characteristics of these creatures that first appeared in Emerald City.
I also appreciated that, since the story takes place less than a year after Lost Princess, the Frogman is still able to use the super strength granted to him by zosozo. I do have to say that, much like Hulan’s earlier Eureka, it’s more of a clever way to fill in the gaps in the series than it is an adventure in its own right, but it’s still a fun read. Speaking of continuity, the first two chapters are basically the same as “A Bungled Kidnapping in Oz” from the 2004 Oziana, except there Jommy Zelv was revealed to be the same as Zif, Professor Wogglebug’s assistant in Royal Book.
In the novel, Jommy’s name instead becomes Tando Makrit, and he remains in Ozma’s palace. Perhaps Royal Book was still under copyright when Hulan wrote Magic Carpet, although it’s in the public domain now. Since Tando doesn’t do a whole lot in the story, I consider the Zif version to be the more accurate one. Bringing it back to my thoughts on the Ozish language, Zif is the second month of the Jewish year, and it comes from the term for brightness. According to Ozma in “Bungled Kidnapping,” it means “industrious” in Old Ozish.
Speaking of Oz fans I was in contact with twenty years ago, I wonder if Margaret Berg is still around, and whether her The Reading Tree of Oz is ever going to be published. It’s been listed as “coming soon” for years now.