Oz Under Attack

Fwiirp in Oz, by Nate Barlow, Jeff Barstock, Ryan Gannaway, Greg Hunter, Phyllis Ann Karr, R.K. Lionel, Marcus Mebes, Hugh Pendexter III, and Chris Dulabone – Wow, that’s a lot of authors for such a short book! No, seriously, the reason for the multiple authors is that this is one of the Skeezique books, which combine an Oz plot with a lot of unrelated fiction. The stories vary in quality, with Karr’s one about the vampire who sings in a church choir being my favorite. Pendexter’s story about Mars is also pretty good, but seems to be missing some key information. The framing story, which is the only real Oz content, is pretty weak, though. It’s based on Barlow’s idea about an author ruining Oz by writing a story on magical paper, but what remains of it doesn’t really go anywhere. In a way, I think it might have been preferable to just release this as a collection of short fiction by people who have written Oz books and left out this plot entirely. Mind you, I’m not sure I would have bought it if that had been the case, but it would have made more sense.

The Amber Flute of Oz, by Donald Abbott – I believe I’ve now read all of Abbott’s Oz books. Like Magic Chest, Father Goose, and Speckled Rose, it’s an adventure set during the Scarecrow’s reign over the Emerald City. That must have been a much more eventful period than L. Frank Baum let on. The Scarecrow once again teams up with the Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion to combat a threat to Oz, and Glinda plays a significant role as well. I appreciate the historical context in this one, as the plot relies on something a magician king named Ozgood did 500 years previously. Blinkie, the Wicked Witch from Scarecrow, uses her magic to wake the Sand Serpent that Ozgood created and then put into an enchanted sleep when it became destructive. Abbott spells out that Blinkie was the official Wicked Witch of the South, or at least one of the contenders for that title. He also tells us that she lost one of her eyes casting the dangerous Charm of Shadows. The Witch teams up with a rascally magician named Ozwaldo, who also happens to be the only living descendant of King Ozgood. Abbott manages to fit a significant amount of plot into a pretty short tale.

The Giant Chinchilla of Oz, by Andrew J. Heller – Jason Brant, a boy who has recently moved from California to New Jersey, discovers a chest of magic in his attic. He uses this magic to transport to Oz and travel in the company of Button-Bright, a squid who used to work as a cab driver, and a magically enlarged chinchilla named Andy. According to his biography on Amazon, the author has a pet chinchilla, and this is one of the few kinds of animal that HADN’T already had an adventure in Oz. There was a good amount of fairly direct satire that reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth. The bit with the Lesser of Two Weevils is very much in that style, while the Multi-Land and Kingdom of Style episodes comment on some of the shallowness of society. The dialogue has a modern feel, which is fine for non-Ozites like Jason, but seems a little out of place for Button-Bright and some of the others. There’s some humor in Professor Wogglebug being unable to speak in a non-pretentious fashion without magical assistance, and Harvey the squid conversed in a vaudevillian manner reminiscent of King Anko in The Sea Fairies. Hey, maybe they knew each other back in Harvey’s ocean days. There’s an interesting development in Harvey’s desire to start a cab company in Oz, which had sort of already been tried with the Scalawagons.

This entry was posted in Atticus Gannaway, Book Reviews, Chris Dulabone, Hugh Pendexter, Humor, L. Frank Baum, Marcus Mebes, Oz, Oz Authors, Phyllis Ann Karr and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Oz Under Attack

  1. So The Giant Chinchilla of Oz employs a chest of magic from the attic? That sounds vaguely familiar to me. I wonder where that idea came from?

  2. It’s so hard to find Oz books that stay true to Baum’s spirit. I usually enjoy them all, more or less, but I have to say the ones I would consider canon material are very few and far in between. I haven’t read any of these yet, though I do intend to read the latter two eventually.
    Have you read the Red Gorilla of Oz and Santa Claus in Oz? Those tow were pretty enjoyable, if short.
    As a kid I tried to incorporate a lot of non Oz things in my own stories (Greek, Norse, Aztec gods, Alice from Wonderland and the other usual suspects included.) But the older I got I started feeling like Oz deserved better and should stick with Ozzy things. Even Thompson and Neill understood that, with all their whimsy.
    Not saying others shouldn’t have some fun fan fiction style Oz, but I just can’t fit it in with Baum’s Oz when it gets too random.

    • Nathan says:

      It seems that everyone wants Oz books that are true to Baum’s spirit, but not everyone agrees on exactly what that entails. I’ve found quite a few that I liked, but there were some duds in there as well, sometimes by the same authors who wrote the good ones!

      I also used to write Oz stories incorporating classical mythology, and I still have some ideas along those lines, but I have to say it really complicates things. For a crossover to work, it has to operate within the laws of all involved universes. Of course, the expanded world of Oz does include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Father Time, and the Sandman, so there’s some outside folklore involved. Overall, though, there’s just so much to work with in Oz already that it often seems unnecessary to throw in other fictional worlds as well, unless that’s the whole point.

      I generally favor Oz stories that try to remain in continuity with the Famous Forty, and as much as possible with each other as well. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed some far-out Oz tales, but they don’t give me the same satisfaction when I can only imagine them occurring in an alternate Oz.

      Here’s my review of Red Gorilla. I liked it, but there were some ideas that didn’t work so well for me, like the Powder of Life being necessary in animating the Tin Woodman and Soldier. I read a pre-release edition of Santa Claus, but I don’t think I ever reviewed it.

      • I agree. I also think it’s important to note that staying true to the spirit of the original Oz books doesn’t mean they have to be written in the same style. Some of the most dull Oz books tried to mimic Baum…right down to his writing style and narrating manner.
        Another problem I had with the Red Gorilla/Santa Claus books is the portrayal of Glinda as a wicked witch reformed…that doesn’t sit well with me, even if I thought it was intriguing.
        I still remember my first attempt at adding classical myth to an Oz book, I had Hebe act as a guardian of the Golden Apples that kept the people of Oz young (I was a young teen at the time). The tree grew in a forest in Ix. The apples were targeted by a mysterious female spirit and Zixi herself.
        Then I came across the “Enchanted Apples of Oz” by Eric Shanower and was shocked that it was pretty much the same plot…the apple guardian ( I forget her name, started with a V I think) even looked somewhat like the female spirit’s human form, silver haired and all… so I scrapped the idea. It seems Oz fans often have very similar ideas!

      • Nathan says:

        The guardian in Enchanted Apples is named Valynn.

  3. Pingback: Words with Fairies | VoVatia

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