I didn’t get a chance to write about the 1993 Oziana last week, so I’m doing that now. I quite like the cover this time, Bill Eubank’s version of Mount Rushmore with the big four characters, drawn in MGM style. I just have to wonder what we can call it. “Mount Ozmore” seems the most obvious, but also kind of stupid. Mount Speedmore? No, that would presumably include Speedy and Notta Bit More.
“The Merchant of Oz,” by Chuck Sabatos – The author of “There’s No Place Like Oz” returns with a sort of retelling The Merchant of Venice that also tries to tie up some of the loose ends in the early Oz books. It’s set after Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. I read the story before I’d read the play, and it was impressive to me when I finally did read Venice how many plot elements Sabatos managed to work in while still remaining faithful to the series. I’ve written before about Boldkey, the titular merchant. The Oz version fortunately lacks the antisemitic portrayal of Shylock, but the character is still portrayed as coming from a different cultural background than his neighbors, as he maintains a blue house within the Emerald City.
Jack Pumpkinhead takes out a loan from Boldkey in order to establish his pumpkin patch, and the Tin Woodman agrees to a pound of his tin as collateral. It turns out that Boldkey is trying to get revenge on Nick for what he considered an earlier slight. The three caskets are here made by the Wizard of Oz and used to decide who will accompany Ozma on her visit to Queen Zixi of Ix. And the equivalent of Shylock’s daughter Jessica is Margolotte, who elopes with Dr. Pipt.
I see the Pipts as a couple who have been together as a long time, but I guess there’s no actual contradiction. Peter Schulenburg wrote his own versions of how Nick and Jack’s homes came to be, which are somewhat at odds with the ones in this tale. We also find out just how Ozma decided to ban money, which seems to be the case by the time of Road. The illustrations are by Chris Sterling, and the opening one shows a stack of Ozzy versions of Shakespeare’s plays.
I’m kind of disappointed that he just went with “Much Ado About Oz” instead of referencing the earlier Oziana story “Much Ado About Kiki Aru.”
“The Silver Jug,” by Eric Shanower – This is presented as an unfinished story, with a contest allowing readers to write their own endings. I remember writing one of my own, although it was rushed, and I’m not even sure I got it in the mail on time. What’s here involves Amanda, an enthusiastic but rather careless handmaiden at Glinda’s palace. After several mishaps, the Sorceress gives her a test in the form of a jug, telling her she can choose to open it or not, but either way she has to return it as she received it. It’s up to the contestants whether she opens the jug, what’s inside, and whether Amanda passes the test. At least it was at the time, but Eric later wrote his own official ending, which appears in the collection The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories. I haven’t read it in a while, but I remember it going off in a very different direction than I would have expected from this set-up. The two winning entries are published in the next issue, but I’ll probably reread and comment on the official one as well when I get to that.
“Jubulut,” by Onyx Madden – According to the introduction, this is an excerpt from a book Onyx Madden (AKA Jim Nitch) was working on, with Robin Olderman as the editor. I’m really curious as to whether the manuscript is still around somewhere, as it was never published, and both Jim and Robin have since passed away. According to the brief summary at the beginning of this chapter, the unicorn Nicker and Mr. Wainwright, both introduced in Mysterious Chronicles, play a part in this story as well. By the way, the latter character’s name is given as “Dcim Wainwright” in Chronicles and “DCIM Wainwright” here. Is that initials, or a difficult to pronounce first name? An American girl also named Robin has ascended into the clouds using Mr. Tinker‘s ladder in an attempt to ride a cloud across the Deadly Desert to Ev. She meets up with Polychrome‘s less flighty sister Tracey, explores the dwellings of the sky fairies, and visits the titular character who’s a Cloud Tender, a man who heals ailing clouds. I have to wonder when this tale was supposed to take place. The fact that Jubulut refers to the Nome King as Roquat suggests it’s before Emerald City, but that would make it unlikely that Robin could have read about Polychrome. Maybe Jubulut didn’t know about the King’s name change, but there’s really no way to know without reading the rest of the book.
Aside from a picture of the Cloud Tender himself that I think Robin might have drawn, the illustrations, including the one on the back cover, are John R. Neill’s from Sky Island.
As sort of an update to my 1992 Oziana entry, I heard at OzCon that Everett Avila, author of “The Tale of the Pink Goat,” died in 2020. On a more pleasant note, the next Oziana review will include a story about a fictionalized version of Bill Eubank, another look at the Nine Tiny Piglets, and a ghost story, as well as the winning contest entries.