Saturday, December 19, 2015

This Week's Oz Short Story

The finale of the "Tales of Phunnyland" section of The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum is "Prince Fiddlecumdoo and the Giant", in which the Prince visits the giant Hartilaf in the neighboring valley. But first, the animal crackers get in a fight. This does absolutely nothing for the story. Baum could have started with Prince Fiddlecumdoo approaching his father and setting out on his trip and it would have taken nothing away. But it's also a fun little incident and is an excellent example of world building. Once the prince is off, he find that Hartilaf and his wife are really quite nice and friendly, and pleasant company. It is only Fiddlecumdoo's curiosity and carelessness that causes him problems, as he gets flattened in the giants' clothes wringer and has to deal with becoming flat.

One thing that struck me about Pnunnyland (and, for that matter, Oz) is how technological items can grow on bushes or trees. Fiddlecumdoo goes on his journey in part because the wheels for his bicycle are ripe, and along the way he picks a violin off a bush, and plays it for the giants. In the Oz books, we also see clocks and padlocks growing, just to give a couple of examples. So, how does that work? How do the plants know what the latest technology in the Great Outside World is and start growing that? If we went there today, could you pick a smart phone or mp3 player from a bush? All kinds of possibilities present themselves!

No comments: