Last year, there was a contest to write a new ending to Rinkitink in Oz, the goal being to come up with what L. Frank Baum might have written before revising the King Rinkitink manuscript as an Oz book. There’s some question as to whether he ever even finished the book prior to that, but it did spawn some clever ideas. I had kind of wanted to enter, but really couldn’t think of a possible ending. I guess I could have made it silly, as some contestants did, but Rinkitink was on the more serious side as far as Baum fantasies went. The 2016 Oziana collects all of the entries, including the winning one by Andrew Heller. His ending makes use of the How to Be Good scroll, and provides an origin for Bilbil that doesn’t require him to have been enchanted. I understand Joe Bongiorno has written, or is in the process of writing, a coda that restores him to human form, which isn’t impossible given Heller’s ending. Other endings vary between keeping Bilbil as a goat and revealing that he’s under enchantment. In the stories that use the latter, there are several different identities for the magician responsible. Interestingly, Robin Hess’s ending gives a different culprit than in his Toto and the Cats of Oz. A few different writers picked up on the idea that the King Rinkitink manuscript appears to date to before Ozma of Oz, and that the ornament guessing game might have originally been used there. Some stick to locations from the original book, while others move on to new locations and characters. Both Aaron and Baruch Adelman use the frame story of a new character trying to find out the truth of what happened, and Baruch’s parodies everything from James Bond to Harry Potter in giving different takes on the events.
While I haven’t written an alternate ending, I did come up with a follow-up some years ago detailing Prince Bobo’s return to Boboland. I’ve since revised it to go along with some of Randy Hoffman’s and David Hulan’s ideas about the place. Joe has said it would work well following Heller’s ending and his coda, and I don’t think I’d have to change it much if that’s what I end up doing. I still kind of think it’s best to stick with the ending that most readers know, however. I tend to include a lot of references to other fan-written Oz stories, but still try to keep them accessible to those who aren’t as well-versed in the apocrypha. I also have to wonder whether I should take the names of previously unnamed characters from the revised Rinkitink endings as official in my own mind. Dennis Anfuso calls Nikobob’s wife Daisa, and the man who wrote How to Be Good is called Professor Earnest Blabbergass by Heller and Tooshoos by Nicholas M. Campbell.
Also, in terms of following up on existing Oz books, I came up with my own take on what happened to the three other search parties in Lost Princess. I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have on it.