Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Books, Both Oz and Otherwise

Here are some thoughts on a few books I've read recently (online, in the case of the last three, but in regular print for the first two):

Gulliver's Travels - I think this one is pretty high on the list of books you would probably expect me to have read, but that I hadn't. Actually, I believe I tried to a few years ago, but had a little trouble with the writing style. (Hey, it WAS written almost 300 years ago, and in character at that.) In some ways, it seems to be the precursor for a lot of the other stuff I read. I'm sure Jonathan Swift wasn't the first writer to use fantastic settings and people to make satirical points on his own society, but I'd be surprised if L. Frank Baum and Douglas Adams in particular didn't draw a fair amount of influence from Gulliver's story.

Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far) - This is a collection of Barry's write-ups on the years 2000 through 2006 (excluding 2001, because he didn't want to suddenly switch over to a serious take when he got to September 11th, or else ignore the terrorist attacks altogether). He's been doing these for a while, apparently. I remember reading one for 1984, which is probably the only reason I have any idea who Mario Cuomo is. I think they all have a lot of the same basic jokes, but are still funny in kind of a familiar way. Barry did a lot to shape my own sense of humor back in the day.

Shipwrecked in Oz - This a pretty good story set in the Nonestic Ocean, which features significant roles for Jinnicky and Captain Salt, both of whom are true to character. I was a little disappointed that, even though King Rinkitink shows up, he doesn't have any lines. Another quiet character is Menisthles, the villain of the piece, who says one word throughout the entire thing. The other characters even admit that he's a mysterious figure. It would have been nice to see more of his personality, but I guess the fact that we don't is kind of the point.

The Magic Book of Oz - Like Paradox in Oz, a significant part of this story concerns someone accidentally changing the history of Oz. It includes an altered version of the events of Wizard, with Dorothy as an old woman, the Wicked Witch of the West still in power but without her more human qualities, and interesting fates for Ozma (yeah, I know she doesn't appear in Wizard, but her story does feature in Magic Book) and the Cowardly Lion. I had actually been considering doing something similar with my story about Jenny Jump going back in time, but it ended up working out differently. I've been meaning to revise that story, but I haven't been able to get very far in that. Anyway, Magic Book gives yet another account of Lurline's enchantment of Oz and the fate of Ozma's grandfather, both of which have been covered in other stories. I guess it makes sense that accounts of something that happened that long ago would diverge somewhat, but I tend to be someone who, if someone else has come up with a good explanation for some aspect of Oz, I'd rather not revisit the same territory. There are plenty of other Oz writers who don't care at all about consistency, though. Scott Dickerson even goes so far as to say he's only trying for consistent with L. Frank Baum's own books, although there really isn't much in Magic Book that contradicts the other Famous Forty authors. Nonetheless, even though Dickerson's stance on consistency is quite different from mine, his writing was quite enjoyable, and included some clever humorous exchanges.

Ruggedo in Oz - Another Bruce Dickerson story, featuring the main recurring villain in the series, the former Nome King. There are a lot of fan-written stories starring Ruggedo, most of them inconsistent with each other, although the character himself remains largely consistent. Actually, Dickerson's Ruggedo maintains more of the philosophical side he showed in his original appearance in Ozma of Oz. He's also made of rock (which seems to be a common misconception about the Nomes; Baum said that they LOOKED like like were carved from rock, but I believe there are several references indicating that they're actually flesh-and-blood beings) and has the power to manipulate minerals (sort of like his son Rikiki does in Sherwood Smith's Oz books). Overall, this tale isn't as good as Magic Book. I wasn't so keen on the way the young American visitors' dialog was written, but I got more used to it is the story progressed. The repeat visit to the underground lands in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz was interesting, although I think Melody Grandy handled the same thing better in her The Disenchanted Princess of Oz.

In non-book news, I received my copy of the new Ditty Bops album today, and I'll probably have something to say about that in the future.
Tags: books, oz

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