Pendexter’s Laboratory

Today, in my ongoing look at obscure Oz books, I’m looking at the work of Hugh Pendexter III. He dives into some unanswered questions from the series and includes quite a few references, although he mostly uses his own characters, at least one of them based on a real person.

Oz and the Three Witches – I believe this is the first published detailed look at the history of the Wizard of Oz, trying to tie together the references in the books and address how he’s remembered as a villain in The Marvelous Land of Oz. After Ozma invites the Wizard to live in the palace during the events of Dorothy and the Wizard, Glinda shows up to question him about his three secret visits to Mombi, during which he gave the baby Ozma to the Witch. Questioned by the Sorceress with her Truth Pearl, he explains that he didn’t really know who either Ozma or Mombi was, and while he didn’t trust the Witch, he thought leaving the infant in her care was the best way to protect her from the even crueler Wicked Witches of the East and West. He also gives details of how he used various props and disguises to fool the Witches. Ozma had been hidden at the old castle in Morrow, as visited in Lost King. Oddly, the text describes it as being near the Winkie Country, although it’s shown on maps as being closer to the Munchkin side of the Quadling Country. One explanation I’ve come across is that there was more than one place called Morrow, and while possible, I’m not sure why Pendexter would have even used the name if he didn’t mean for it to be the same. And this story does explain why Ozma remembers hiding out from Mombi there, and how the Wizard had heard of it when other residents of the Emerald City hadn’t, as indicated in Lost King. The first version of Donald Abbott’s How the Wizard Came to Oz, which differs in some details, was published in Oziana the previous year. For the most part, the best way to fit it together is probably to say he arrived in the Winkie Country first, relocated to Morrow after being driven out by the Winged Monkeys, then finally had the Emerald City built. That doesn’t explain how the Monkeys would have been under the WWW’s control in this story, but they don’t play a major role, so maybe that should just be considered an oversight.

The Crocheted Cat in Oz – Pendexter had already written two books about two children and their crocheted animals before this. I read Tales of the Crocheted Cat a few years ago, long after reading this crossover for the first time. I have not read the follow-up, Farhold Island, which introduces the Sioux boy Lone Badger and the poodle Hannibal. In this story, the Wiseman of Throomb has discovered that the Golden Witch has managed to sneak into Oz and steal one of Ozma’s birthday presents, so he sends Lone Badger, Hannibal, and Theobald the Crocheted Cat to Oz to get it back. The kids from the other two books, presumably based on Pendexter’s own, are only mentioned in passing. The chase takes the visitors through the Great Gillikin Forest and a community of lawyers to the Land of Ev. I have to wonder if Pendexter had wanted to use the animals in the Forest of Gugu, but since Magic was still under copyright at the time of publication, he instead introduced the elephant King Magnus and his court. I assume this Great Gillikin Forest is the same one from Glinda, which never made entirely clear whether it was the same as the Forest of Gugu or not. The object the Witch has stolen turns out to be a glass paperweight containing a world created by Saturn to be a new home to the Greco-Roman gods. The book also explains that carnivores in Oz eat fruit that tastes like and has the same nutritional value as meat, which makes a certain amount of sense but contradicts some references in the original books. Pendexter has some interesting takes on magic throughout this story. I found it strange that Ozma’s pet piglet says that Dorothy and the Shaggy Man used Johnny Dooit‘s sand boat to cross the Deadly Desert “last week,” which would make this take place concurrently with Road; but the details don’t all match up. Apparently Pendexter later stated that it actually occurs a year after that. I suppose we should disregard that the glassblower Silico uses the word “robot” for his mechanical helper when it didn’t have that meaning until 1920.

Wooglet in Oz – Chris Dulabone, who published both this and Crocheted Cat, is actually a character here, referred to as Uncle Chris. I don’t know whether his niece Wooglet is based on anyone real or not. Chris’s characterization here is sort of like that of the Shaggy Man or Cap’n Bill, the resourceful sort who treats the child protagonist as an equal. Also accompanying them is the burro Cosmo. The real Chris seemed to think there was time travel in this story, but I really don’t see where it could have come into play. The three of them somehow find themselves in the jackdaws’ nest from Land while camping in New Mexico, and a wish from Wooglet sends them to Takers’ Island. The Takers are people who were exiled from Oz when they refused to participate in Ozma’s sharing-based economy, and instead have created their own barter system on the island. It’s also the home of Dr. Nikidik, who didn’t want to give up his magic. Another magician, Braxus, teams up with the pirate Blaggard to try to conquer Oz, and it’s up to Wooglet, Chris, Cosmo, and Nikidik to stop them. During their undersea adventures on the way to Oz, Pendexter mixes elements from The Sea Fairies, The Pearl and the Pumpkin, and The Golden Goblin. There are some suggestions in the series that Nikidik is the same as Dr. Pipt, but here and in some other apocryphal works, he’s clearly a different person. I’m sure there’s a way to make at least most of the references work together. The Nikidik in this book is definitely a nicer guy than in Phil Lewin’s books.

This entry was posted in Animals, Book Reviews, Characters, Chris Dulabone, Greek Mythology, Hugh Pendexter, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Mythology, Oz, Oz Authors, Phil Lewin, Places, Roman, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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