Reviewing Ann Soforth

Queen Ann and Jodie in Oz: The Complete Ann-Thology, by Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag – I first read Queen Ann in Oz many years ago when Books of Wonder published it, and now it’s been republished with some edits and a sequel. The story is largely a follow-up to Tik-Tok of Oz, which tells how Queen Ann Soforth’s parents left Oogaboo, but never explains what happened to them. Here, Ann goes in search of them with help from the Shaggy Man, Tik-Tok, a group of Oogabooish children, and a miniature dragon. The tale expands on what we know about Oogaboo from L. Frank Baum, explaining more about how the young make names for themselves by raising new crops. It introduces the small Oz communities of Sand City and Barberville (not to be confused with Tonsoria), and tells how the Love Magnet reached the United States. The new follow-up, Jodie in Oz, is shorter and only credits Carlson as the author. It ties up a loose end in the first book, about how Jodie plans to alter the climate of the mountains near Oogaboo in order to plant a forest. She is joined by Dorothy, Trot, and Cap’n Bill; and visits the Mist Maidens and the Cloud King. Finally, “Another Adventure with Ann” is a short play that Gjovaag wrote for the 1988 Winkie Convention, which tells how Ann feels slighted by getting an invitation to a meeting of Winkie rulers too late for her to walk to the Tin Woodman’s castle, and sets out to conquer the country. Fortunately, Shaggy and Tik-Tok manage to talk some sense into her. While there’s some humor specifically tailored for the convention, including Tik-Tok with his thinking wound down listing some attendees, everyone is very much in character. A footnote says, “Although based on an actual event in the history of Oz, dramatic license has been taken for entertainment and comedic purposes.” There are actually several footnotes throughout the book, many added by editor Joe Bongiorno to clear up some troublesome issues. While I also have problems with the idea that people eat meat when all the animals can talk, I think Joe might have been a little TOO thorough in catching all the carnivorous references. Aside from that, not much was changed about the original Queen Ann text, so the main appeal to anyone who’s already read that would be Jodie and the play.

One thing I’ve wondered about as far as Oogaboo goes is that, with only eighteen men, twenty-seven women, and forty-four children (at least at the time of Tik-Tok), doesn’t it seem like everyone would be related by now? According to Queen Ann, Jo Dragon is Jo Files’s nephew, which presumably means that either Jo Egg or his wife is Files’s sibling. Since people in Oz don’t age unless they want to, reproduction is presumably not a concern for the current inhabitants, but what about in previous generations? Oogaboo has apparently been around long enough to have its own traditions, like the oldest male in the Soforth family being the king. Perhaps it’s most likely that outsiders do occasionally move there, even if not all that often, in order to avoid incest among the inhabitants. I also remember there being a discussion on the old Ozzy Digest e-mail list about how, if the pass out of Oogaboo was modified so Jodie could raise a forest there, it’s barren again in David Hulan’s Glass Cat. There’s also the issue of whether we should consider Queen Ann’s marriage in “Nero Zeero: Snoz of Oz,” by Jay V. Groves, to be canonical. If that story takes place around when it was published in 1983, that wouldn’t affect the events of Queen Ann, but Glass Cat might be a different story. Joe’s Royal Timeline of Oz solves this problem by having Glass Cat take place BEFORE “Nero Zeero.”

I find it interesting that a footnote in Queen Ann refers to Amnesia having been named “by an unknown practitioner of magic, who could cast spells at a christening that would affect the child later in life.” I wonder if this magician also named Carter Green and Herby. And my own explanation for what happened to the Love Magnet takes this book into account: it was made by Conjo, given to a sailor who was eaten by a whale, washed up on shore where the sorcerer Kalnorsto found it, stored in Jinnicky’s castle, stolen by the renegade Christmas tree from Jack Pumpkinhead, lost in the Winkie Country, found by Jol Jemkiph Soforth, taken to Kansas by Amnesia, and finally stolen by the Shaggy Man.

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6 Responses to Reviewing Ann Soforth

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for the review! Interestingly, most of the footnotes–while tweaked here and there by me–were written by Karyl and/or Eric, and not a few were from the original manuscript, which Books of Wonder chose to leave out. But I’m a fan of footnotes, so I was glad to keep them in. :)

    I also like your explanation of how the Love Magnet got around and will include it in my own footnotes for this book on the Royal Timeline.

    • Nathan says:

      I guess I figured you wrote some of the footnotes because some of the issues, like meat-eating and guns in Oz, are ones you’ve addressed in the past. I do remember Eric also mentioning plants that tasted like meat, though.

      • Joe says:

        We did have some good discussions about Baum’s gun-tree, Jo Musket, and the idea of kids carrying firearms.

      • Nathan says:

        Peter uses guns in Pirates.

        By the way, is the mention of a railroad in Jodie a reference to anything in particular?

      • Joe says:

        Yeah, Peter frequently chooses violent options in that book. He attacks the castle-ship of Godorkas (one of the worst names Thompson ever gave a character) without the slightest provocation, literally sending a cannon-ball through it’s hull (and preparing to send another). The way Peter opines that he’s got the right to break the Eagle’s Egg (that actually says “Do Not Break!”) if he feels like it. The seriousness with which he takes to pirating, to the point that even Samuel Salt, a seasoned pirate, has to reign him in.

        With the exception of Bob-up and Tandy, Thompson’s boy-protagonists are boorish, easily tempted to violence, and obnoxious. Why Ozma would make Peter a prince is beyond me, particularly as his primary interest is getting home to play baseball and taking with him as much treasure as he can get. I have to assume that she simply doesn’t have all the facts because if she did, she’d sooner banish him than crown him. Peter, thankfully, does not become a permanent resident in Oz.

        As regards Jodie’s mention of a railroad, it’s not coming to mind. I’ll have to look it up!

      • Nathan says:

        Although I haven’t really studied the genre, I get the impression that Peter is pretty normal for the boy protagonist of an adventure story. And he DOES save the kingdom, so that would give Ozma cause to be grateful. Most of the titles Ozma confers don’t seem to carry much responsibility with them anyway, but she does mention letting Peter rule a small kingdom. Fortunately, he refuses, because I doubt it would have turned out well. I don’t like the idea that he’s shut out of Oz entirely, but maybe he’s mellowed in his old age.

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