Slide Some Oil to Me


I suppose Oz must use fossil fuels to at least some extent. I mean, the Tin Woodman carries around an oilcan in order to lubricate his joints and keep them from rusting. L. Frank Baum’s father became rich through oil wells, and he worked for some time selling the family’s petroleum products, so I guess it’s not too surprising we’d see such products in his fairyland.

At the end of the McGraws’ The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, Toby Bridlecull’s Suggestion Box is given “a crystal flagon full of the best double-distilled, triple-refined oil in Oz,” so does that mean the fairyland has oil refineries? I just hope Ozma isn’t planning on running a pipeline through the Winkie Country against the inhabitants’ wishes. For the most part, we don’t really see what the power source is for the machines in the series. Tik-Tok runs on clockwork (possibly enhanced by magic, since a little girl can quickly provide enough force to wind him up), so there’s no need for him to burn coal or anything. In John R. Neill’s Wonder City, Professor Wogglebug is seen carrying a gallon can, and claims to be on his way “to a gas station to get this filled with midnight oil.” The midnight oil shows up in a later chapter, an expression that becomes literal, but it’s not clear what an Ozian gas station would be for. What’s interesting is that, in the very next book, Oz suddenly gets automobiles that seem to run on motor oil provided by birds known as peli-cans.

There’s also a substance called flabber-gas, presumably used in the manufacturing process, that makes the Scalawagons behave erratically.

They can regain their senses by being hit with a mallet that Tik-Tok carries.

There are two oil-themed communities in later Oz books. Gina Wickwar’s Toto includes a visit to Grease, an island in a lake in the Gillikin Country.

It’s a dirty, foul-smelling place surrounded by oily water, where nothing seems to grow except greasewood trees. The people live in a black marble city, with King Petrol having a royal derrick built on the acropolis.

The people wear tunics and participate in sporting events similar to those in ancient Greece. It also presumably uses money at the time of the story, as one of the king’s aides reads in the Oil Street Journal that “oil is now selling at fifty ozeroons a barrel.” There’s a mention of the Grease Pit, used for punishment, but the visitors manage to escape before they can be thrown into it. And in Margaret Berg’s Ozallooning, there’s a town called Oilville along the Yellow Brick Road in the Winkie Country, surrounded by oil derricks and inhabited by people with cans or oil drums for bodies.

Much of it is farmland where the Oilers grow sunflowers, corn, and soybeans. In the center is an asphalt lot surrounded by oil pumps, with an oil press throne in the middle.

The ruler is Queen Olivia Oil, whose consort is an old-fashioned gas pump called Prince Primegrade. The royal couple demands that everyone who comes to town owes taxes, or else they have their bodies pressed for oil. It figures that people with that much exposure to oil would have rather oily personalities.

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This entry was posted in Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Gina Wickwar, Humor, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Slide Some Oil to Me

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