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Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond Paperback – February 26, 2013
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About the Author
John Joseph Adams is the bestselling editor of many anthologies, such as Epic, Other Worlds Than These, Armored, Under the Moons of Mars, Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, The Living Dead, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,and The Way of the Wizard.A four-time finalist for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award, he is also the editor and publisher of the magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and is the co-host of Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
Douglas Cohen is the former editor of the award-winning Realms of Fantasy magazine. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming from Interzone, Weird Tales,and Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. Oz Reimagined marks his first anthology.
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Top Customer Reviews
Understandably, I was thrilled to return to Oz and read contemporary reimaginings of Oz books. But my response to OZ REIMAGINED was mixed. These fifteen stories, all by reputable authors, are inconsistent in quality and tone - ranging from tasteless cyberpunk (with x-rated rape and violence) and sophomoric writing styles to clever, original retellings that are true to the spirit of Baum and his large repertoire of characters.
Here are my brief comments, with my ratings, on each story included in the book:
*THE GREAT ZEPPELIN HEIST OF OZ (Carson and Finlay): How Oscar, the evil Wizard of Oz, first arrived in Oz and gained power. Includes actual Baum characters such as the Winged Monkeys and Patchwork Girl. One of the best stories in the book. FIVE STARS.
EMERALD TO EMERALD, DUST TO DUST (McGuire): Dark urban fantasy. Dorothy is a street-smart, tough Wicked Witch of the West, investigating a murder which occurs in the downtown crime-ridden slums of Oz. No sex scenes, but Dorothy is a lesbian in relationship with Polychrome. Obscene language. THREE STARS.
LOST GIRLS OF OZ (Goss): A journalist investigates the disappearance of girls who have been physically abused, and transported by Ozma and the Wizard to safety in the Emerald City. Dorothy is a general of a girls' army of liberation. We encounter many familiar Oz characters- Nick Chopper, Button Bright, The Shaggy Man, the Wogglebug. Likely to be enjoyable to Oz fans of all ages. FOUR STARS.
THE BOY DETECTIVE OF OZ (Williams): Orlando is troubleshooting the virtual simulation of Oz, in which a soldier has been murdered and the Tin Man and Lion are fighting over land ownership. A few genuine Oz characters appear but the continual reference to the mechanics of the simulation and the deux ex machina magic solutions to conflicts are annoying. TWO STARS.
DOROTHY DREAMS (Green): Dorothy dreams she is elderly and infirm, and put in a rest home. Author Green needlessly invents a Dorothy who visited Oz only once and left the Wicked Witch of the West alive. Did he actually read the Oz books? Alternately horrific and silly, with amateurish writing. ONE STAR.
DEAD BLUE (Farland): Weak attempt at creating a hip contemporary Oz story. The Tin Man is a cyberborg. Dorothy, accessing memories from the Cloud, seeks to kill the Wicked Witch of the West so that she can become the Wicked Witch herself. Don't bother. ONE STAR.
ONE FLEW OVER THE RAINBOW (Wasserman): Anti-heroine Crow and Dorothy (sporting electric blue hair and black fingernails) are institutionalized in the mental ward of a hospital controlled by the Wicked Bitch of the West. Includes some punk violence, rape and obscenity. The only redeeming feature is the vivid image of the yellow brick road of yellow paint winding through the east and west wings of the hospital. You've probably followed it before, without realizing it leads to Oz. TWO STARS.
THE VEILED SHANGHAI (Liu): A Chinese Dorothy Ghee finds herself in an alternate Shanghai in 1919, at a time when anti-foreigner sentiment is strong. Chinese Emperor Yuan Shikai, the Wicked Warlord of the West, forced the great Oz into exile, and prevails over an oppressive regime. Dorothy and familiar companions such as a boy nicknamed Scarecrow seek the Wizard's help. One of the most original, developed stories in the book. FOUR AND ONE HALF STARS.
*BEYOND THE NAKED EYE (Swirsky). Dorothy, the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Woodman are the final four contestants in a reality show in which the winner will receive a boon from the Wizard - assuming of course, that he is truly a Wizard. The current challenge is remaining awake long enough to escape from a field of sleep-inducing poppies. The narrator, a jeweler, introduces a metaphor in the spirit of Baum: "Watch for the imperfections. Never trust anyone who pretends to be flawless." Clever, well-written, true to the original characters and spirit of Baum, Rachel Swirsky's chapter outshines them all, and even deserves a second read. FIVE PLUS STARS.
A TORNADO OF DOROTHYS (Howard): Well-written but sparse meta-fiction, about the continual arrival of Dorothy's in Oz, since the longevity of the story over time continually requires new Dorothy's. THREE AND ONE HALF STARS.
BLOWN AWAY (Yolen): A retelling of the original disappearance of Dorothy in the tornado from the perspective of one of the farmhands. Is Oz really a circus? FOUR STARS
CITY SO BRIGHT (Bailey): As a result of Oz's industrial revolution, many of the workers of Oz are enslaved by their workplace and prohibited from organizing. One worker dies as a result of unsafe work conditions - or was his death part of an anti-revolutionary purge? Well-written but leaves the reader hanging. FOUR STARS
OFF TO SEE THE EMPEROR (Card): Young Dotty shows a young Frank Baum how to see the Yellow Brick road at the periphery of his vision, and make it real. In search of her mother's stolen wedding ring and the Emperor of the Air, she returns to Oz with her new companion. A few lines in the story will appeal to progressives: "One must never be ashamed of poverty...One must only be ashamed of wealth that one does not share with those in need." Heartwarming, true to the spirit of Baum. FOUR AND ONE HALF STARS
A MEETING IN OZ (Ford ): A well-written beginning ("The last time Dorothy returned to Oz, the silver slippers barely fit, the gingham dress was a dust rag in her broom closet back home, and Toto had been in the ground for fifteen years") but doesn't follow through. An older gun-toting and embittered Dorothy returns to Oz and converses with the aging Wizard. She learns about how events in Oz in recent years resonated with events in her own life in Kansas. All talk, no action; all tell, no show. TWO AND HALF STARS.
THE COBBLER OF OZ (Maberry): Cobbler Bucklebelt of Oz helps Nyla, a Winged Monkey with stunted wings, reawaken the magic in silver shoes so she can fly again. Doing so involves a dangerous journey to a dragon across the sands of the Deadly Desert. In a moral universe where virtue is rewarded, Maberry presents original characters that feel true to the original story. FOUR AND ONE HALF STARS.
In Conclusion: A collection of Oz stories needs only a few emeralds in order to sparkle, even if the rest of the collection includes lowly quartz and glittery paper mache replicas. I rate this collection higher than it deserves, four stars instead of three, because of the few shining emeralds.
Having disposed with the warning, I can't say I am an Oz fanatic. I've read the classic novel and at least one of the sequels, watched the MGM film and Disney's darker sequel, seen an Oz cartoon or two, peeked into Oz via Heinlein, but never have been tempted to dip into the rest of the novels or the Macguire books. But I quite enjoyed this collection, which ranged from stories in the Oz tradition ("The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz" and, what was my favorite story, "The Cobbler of Oz" about a gentle Winged Monkey child and the cobbler who hopes to make her dreams come true) to a hardboiled version as portrayed in "Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust." There is also Oz as a video game simulation, or as a tilted world as seen by psychiatric inmates, or as a setup for a reality series; as a training ground for early-20th century suffragettes and even a story of a Chinese Dorothy whose adventures parallel an actual historical event, and another in which the inspiration for Baum's first novel come from the adventures of his eldest son and his slightly eccentric classmate. Not all the tales revolve around Dorothy, either, as evidenced by a bitter story about the lives and fate of "little people" who keep the Emerald City so gleamingly clean.
If you are open-minded enough to approach Oz in tales that are skewed differently from Baum's imaginings, you will find much to enjoy in this collection.
Thompson Stories -- a megapack of 17 of them is available for a buck
If you think it would be more fun to read various twists (some
of them quite twisted) on the OZ universe and characters by top Young
Adult and Adult fantasy writers, this is for you. Clearly inspired by
Gregory Maguire's extremely popular book/play "Wicked", which turned
the original Oz story inside out, telling it from the point of view of
an at least partially sympathetic Wicked Witch of the West, this
anthology looks at alternate Ozes from a variety of strange perspectives,
imagining, for example, what happened to Dorothy after Oz, or what
happened to Oz after Dorothy. While some of the stories are indeed
very dark, the original stories had their very dark and disturbing
moments, and were always about Good and Evil, among other things.
These stories explore some of the ultimate meanings of Oz in our
culture very successfully.
I found it a fascinating collection, with amazingly varied stories,
like an Oz that opens up an epoch of modern Chinese history, and a
lovely fantasy about an enchanting and memorable child Winged Monkey.
The Oz as reality series was a hoot. It's a very rich collection.
You won't like all of them, but you may find all of them readable and
worth reading. Which ones you find amazing will depend on your view of Oz.