Thursday, July 13, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

I wrapped up the 1980 edition of Oziana with "A Study in Orange" by Melody Grandy. In his third outing, the Great Detective is called in when some of the most beautiful women in Oz start growing the oddest deformities, barely notice, and don't seem to care. He discovers all of them ate oranges, but truly orange-colored oranges, not the usual blue- or purple-tinted ones of the various regions of Oz. Naturally the Great Detective discovers that orange magic is involved, a truly tricky form of magic that Ozma, Glinda, and the Wizard are not very familiar with. The game is afoot! I don't want to give anything else away, but needless to say the Great Detective solves the mystery and saves the day. Despite the magic involved, the Great Detective uses his knowledge, resourcefulness, and logic (well, maybe a few gut instincts, too) to deduce what's going on and who's responsible, not at all unlike another famous literary detective that, for legal purposes, the Great Detective doesn't resemble at all. As a sensitive twenty-first century sort of male, however, I was a little put off by how shallow the young men of Oz are in this book. They only show interest in the pretty girls, and when they're not pretty anymore, they move on to others. And the issue only gets worse when the not-so-pretty girls become more attractive. I know this was written nearly forty years ago, but this kind of lookism (is that a word?) wasn't that bad (I would hope—and I was there and just noticing girls back then).

Just a quick word on a few other items in this issue before we wrap up: Al Chronic provides a terrific front cover illustration based on a passage from Captain Salt in Oz, there's also a stylish illustration on the inside cover by G. Mohrman, Edith Hollister presents a Queens of Oz word search, and Melody Grandy's whimsical take on Miss Cuttenclip graces the back cover.

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