Here are a few Oz things I’ve read recently.
Dark Wind in Oz, by Tarl Telford – It’s been some time since I read the first two books in the Hidden History of Oz series, but now I’ve finally read the third as well. It’s sort of an alternate history of Oz, fitting with Wizard but not the rest of the series, although it incorporates characters from other books. The Wizard of Oz isn’t just a humbug, but someone who can create things through his dreams. There’s a timeline of rulers and events, and the characters have some rather complex connections. The Wicked Witch of the East has the power to throw things into the air, Omby Amby is a champion of freedom who’s descended from famous architects, and the Guardian of the Gates a former apprentice to Smith and Tinker. Glinda is young and enamored of the Wizard. Come to think of it, Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz also has a young Glinda. She’s canonically centuries old. There’s also a trio of fairies with immense powers.
The Glinda Letters – A follow-up to the main Hidden History series, it’s presented as a series of fifty letters Glinda wrote to the Wizard over the years after he hid himself in his palace, none of which received answers. She gives her perspective on various events that have been occurring in Oz. This includes the birth of Ozma to Pastoria, who here has been ruling in his own castle adjacent to the Emerald City, but with mental issues and a lot of influence from Mombi.
The Giant Garden of Oz, by Eric Shanower – This one is a reread of Eric’s only published Oz novel, which is a thriller of sorts, dark in tone while still fitting in with the main series. I’ve noticed a theme in some of his Oz writing of magic being TOO effective: the Frogman becomes an outcast after bathing in the Truth Pond, Conjo goes into a vegetative state from the Water of Oblivion, and here a growth potion causes a nightmarish scenario. In this story, Dorothy’s Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are given a farm in the Munchkin Country, and Dorothy goes to visit, along with Toto and Billina. Not long after she arrives, the crops start growing to enormous size, and giant moles start digging up the place. Dorothy herself accidentally drinks some of the potion straight, and grows huge, crushing both a friend and the person who caused the problem in the first place. Her clothes don’t grow with her either, marking a change from how L. Frank Baum usually wrote such size alterations. A new character here is Imogene, a cow named after the pantomime character who replaced Toto in the original Wizard stage play, who produces different kinds of dairy products depending on her mood. Both Dorothy and Imogene take a ride in the Wizard’s new balloon, and run afoul of some storm giants. In the end, Dorothy makes the less obvious choice to save her friend, but it works out due to a sort of magic that was mentioned earlier in the story, even though Dorothy obviously didn’t know it would happen. The idea of Henry and Em getting back into farming is one that had previously appeared a few times: Grampa says that they “have a comfortable little farm just outside of the Emerald City,” Mary Rakestraw’s “Journal of a Journey” includes a visit to such a farm, and they intend to start a new farm in Hollyhock Dolls. The Wizard taking up ballooning again also appears in a few other tales.
Sundays at Sam’s, by Phyllis Ann Karr – This book collects Karr’s Computer Wizard stories, and adds several more. The ones that had been published in Oziana aren’t exactly the same here, though, due to copyright concerns. “Foiled by the Iffin” in particular, which used a lot of material from Jack Pumpkinhead, has been rewritten to involve the Gump and creatures who live inside the Yips’ mountain. The collection alternates between stories based on Oz and on Gilbert and Sullivan. I’m not as familiar with the latter, but the stories were still enjoyable, a little looser in format than the Oz stuff. It’s all presented in the context of role-playing, but here not in the future but in a world that’s mostly like ours but with a few differences, and with more people involved in the games. Oziah, Corwin, and Angela from the Computer Wizard stories take part in the G&S sessions as well. The differences between worlds are largely for copyright reasons, but it also allows for the existence of Oz books and G&S operettas that don’t exist in our world. So it’s an account of fictional role-playing set in media that are mostly ones we have here, but not entirely. Yeah, I think it’s a little too high-concept in that respect. Two stories were co-written by Melody Grandy, one reusing the character of Storja from “A Study in Orange” and the other retelling an episode from Zim Greenleaf with a few differences to accommodate Dr. Poe. There’s also a rewrite of much of Wishing Horse that tells basically the same story, including a lot of Thompson’s writing, but with the Computer Wizard instead of Pigasus accompanying Dorothy. The parts with Skamperoo are largely the same, but not exactly. And Bitty Bit doesn’t appear at all.