Nathan (vovat) wrote,

Tales From the Pipt

One of the mysteries that plagues (well, maybe I shouldn't use that word, considering that Oz doesn't seem to have serious sicknesses, but at least "bothers") readers of the Oz books is the Pipt/Nikidik question. In The Land of Oz, Mombi goes to trade with "a crooked wizard who resided in a lonely cave in the mountains," coming back with, among other things, the Powder of Life. Later in the book, Tip and his companions discover Dr. Nikidik's Wishing Pills, and Tip observes, "I remember hearing her say that she [Mombi] got the Powder of Life from this same Nikidik." The next mention of the crooked wizard appears in Road, in which the Tin Woodman reports that he died by falling off a precipice. (Incidentally, this is the same book that first says no one in Oz ever dies, but that's another issue entirely.) In Patchwork Girl, however, we meet Dr. Pipt, a crooked magician who claims to have invented the Powder of Life, and traded much of it to Mombi. So are Pipt and Nikidik the same person? It seems kind of likely, since Pipt is aware of Ozma's laws against magic. Perhaps he faked his own death, changed the name under which he practiced, and kept performing magic in secret until Ozma learned about it.

There's also a theory, however, that holds that Pipt and Nikidik are two different people. Not surprisingly, this seems to be the most popular with people who want to write their own stories about Nikidik, probably because it leaves him as a canonically established but largely unexplored character. One argument in favor of this possibility is that, just because Mombi got the Powder of Life from Nikidik doesn't mean he invented it. On the other hand, the way Pipt talks about the trade in Patchwork Girl doesn't suggest that there was a middleman involved. It's also possible that Tip had confused the two names, which is certainly possible to do when you've only heard a name mentioned in passing, and Mombi had traded with Pipt. In this case, the items Pipt traded to Mombi would have included three of Dr. Nikidik's wishing pills. (Whether he intended to trade these pills to Mombi is a different matter; it's possible that he never discovered the false bottom on the shaker he was using to store the Powder of Life.) There are a few stories in which Pipt and Nikidik are brothers, or at least compatriots of some sort. One of March Laumer's books gives Pipt's name as "Oliver N. Pipt," and this gave me the idea that there could have been brothers named Oliver Nikidik Pipt and Nikidik Oliver Pipt. (This was inspired by something I'd heard about Elvis having a twin brother named Aron Elvis Presley, but this apparently isn't actually true; the Wikipedia article gives his brother's name as Jesse Garon.) In that way, Pipt and Nikidik could be both the same person AND different people. I'm still not sure if I'll actually use this idea, though.
Tags: books, oz
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