January 7th, 2009

Woozy

Google for Gillikins, Metaphysics for Munchkins

When I'm bored, I'll occasionally search for an unusual name from the Oz books, to see if anything comes up other than simple texts and descriptions of the books themselves. I recently did a search for Tollydiggle, the jailer from The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

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Speaking of Oz, let me give a shout-out to graycardinal, whose story, "Four Views of General Jinjur," is quite enjoyable.

Not so great were the Oz books by Robert Evans, two of which were co-written with Chris Dulabone. There are some interesting elements, but Evans is WAY too interested in mixing his New Age philosophy in with Oz. The worst book in that respect is the first, Dorothy's Mystical Adventures in Oz. This one contradicts the canon by having Dorothy visit Oz in between The Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, and has very little plot. The version of Oz presented here is full of characters who discuss New Age beliefs (and all in a quite similar way, which makes me wonder why it even NEEDS all of these characters), including a bunch of dead people. I really didn't care for March Laumer's tendency to bring people to Oz after they die, but at least he limited it to people involved with Oz, and not Sitting Bull or the entire contingent of former American presidents (including a mysterious "President Anderson"). Not only does the philosophy totally dominate the story, but it isn't even always internally consistent, as least as far as I can tell. In Chapter Ten, Dorothy says, "I think people should read all the books written on a given subject before drawing a conclusion. Even if they didn't accept everything they read, they would at least be stimulated by the many ideas put forth." But later on, an elf tells her and her friends to avoid what he calls "Wrong Thoughts." If you're going to truly consider all of the ideas on a subject, wouldn't that include some that you think are wrong? This same elf says, "That is why, when someone begins to think of evil-doing or committing a certain crime, it's usually not too long before he actually commits the crime." I can't even BEGIN to tell you what's wrong with that. Really, though, the contradictions in New Age beliefs could make a good-sized post all on their own (which isn't to say I'm necessarily going to write such a post). The thing is, L. Frank Baum himself was interested in some ideas that would now be considered "New Age," but his fantasy books contained only subtle references to these, not long sermons.

The other two books are better, inasmuch as they actually have plots, and reasonably Ozzy ones at that. I'm not sure how much of this is due to Chris's co-authorship, but I think he also might have been responsible for some unusual beliefs about Oz that made their way into The Forest Monster of Oz. There are constant statements that Oz is bigger than the United States, and that Ozma is physically about eight years old, both of which stand in pretty stark contradiction to what Baum told us about his creations. Forest Monster also has a lot of the sermonizing that plagued Mystical Adventures, but not quite to the same extent. It isn't just the preaching that's a problem, though, but also that the action is prone to totally stopping to allow someone to tell a long, rambling diatribe that has little if anything to do with Oz or the plot at hand. Abducted to Oz is much less encumbered by such metaphysical monologues, although there is a chapter where the young protagonist somehow ends up on an airplane with a lot of historical figures. I wouldn't particularly recommend these books, but they ARE available online for free, so you can feel free to give them a try if you'd like.
zoma

ErdrickRolled

I have to admit that I've always liked Erdrick, the legendary hero in the early Dragon Quest games. The first two mention him as a figure from the past, and you play as his descendants. Then, in Dragon Warrior III, you actually play as Erdrick, although you don't find this out until the end. Apparently, "Erdrick" was retconned into a name only bestowed on great heroes by the King of Alefgard. In Japanese, the name of the hero is "Loto" (sometimes spelled "Roto"), and I've seen the suggestion that Erdrick is the guy's given name, and Loto his honorific name. I really don't know why they'd change the name so much for the English translation, but I quite like the sound of "Erdrick." It's also the name of a street in northern Philadelphia, by the way.

In the first Final Fantasy game, there's a grave in Elfland that purports to be that of Erdrick, who died in his twenties. Since DW3 starts on his sixteenth birthday, it's certainly possible that this is the same person, and even allows a few more years for extra adventures. And for that matter, "Alfegard" more or less means "Elfland." (EDIT: It's actually "Alefgard," not "Alfegard," but I guess there could still be some connection.) Oddly enough, I've heard that the Japanese version of this gravestone mentions not Loto, but Link. I can't help thinking of a grand battle taking place there in the distant past, in which both Erdrick and Link were killed. Since it's almost certainly not the same Link in every Zelda game (unless constant time travel and memory loss are involved), it's possible that one of them died on the Final Fantasy world, right? Actually, Captain N had episodes that took place in the worlds of all three of those game series, so maybe the show isn't as far off base as everyone thinks.

There are plenty of other cross-references in video games. Some of them can simply be considered homages (like how the magic whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3 plays the same tune as the one in the original Legend of Zelda), but there are also enemies appearing in both the Mario and Zelda series. Is this a case of parallel evolution, or a sign of travel between worlds? Link and Samus Aran both make cameos in Super Mario RPG, and the enemy Culex is probably supposed to be from the Final Fantasy universe. And while I've never played any of them, I understand that the Kingdom Hearts games have FF characters interacting with Disney cartoons, of all people. So maybe my own often-considered idea of having some video game characters visit Oz isn't as ridiculous as it might sound (although it would probably be just as cheesy).

I'm going to a concert tonight. That should be fun, but the lack of sleep won't be.