Sunday, August 19, 2018

This Week's Oz Not-So-Short Story

This one snuck up on me, I thought it was a few more issues away, but when I realized that the 1996 issue of Oziana was the one with a single story, I changed tactics. (It did not help that I was also out of town last weekend at OzCon International, which further ate into my time.) So I put the issue by my bedside and made it my nighttime reading for a few days. I almost finished before heading to California, and then wrapped it up once I got back. So aside from the spectacular cover of Pigasus flying over the Emerald City by Dick Martin, this issue consists of what could probably be better described as a novella, "Return to Umbrella Island" by Ruth Waara, with illustrations by Ken Cope. As one might guess from the title, this is a sequel to Speedy in Oz.

Flying over unenchanted countries, the denizens of Umbrella Island drag the rope ladder along the ground in the hopes of finding Speedy, who will climb up and join them again. Someone does find the ladder, but it's a boy named Johnny and his sister's pet chameleon, Pickle, who climb it while trying to escape Ivan Montebank, a crooked carnival game barker whom Johnny discovered was cheating. Terrybubble is delighted to meet his distant cousin, Pickle, and Johnny is welcomed by the Umbrella Islanders. But Ivan, running from the sheriff, also finds the ladder, and his intentions are not so benign. But he puts on a good face and ingratiates himself into the court, where he ends up stealing some of Waddy's magic and using it against them in an attempt to take control. He even tricks Princess Gureeda into thinking they're engaged! Then Speedy hears about events on the news (hey, people will hear about someone mysteriously disappearing into the sky) and manages to send a message to Oz, where Ozma and Dorothy get involved. By this point, however, Ivan has completely taken over, and throws everyone in jail. But Pansy and Pickle come to the rescue, and as one would expect, everything gets straightened out in the end. And as anyone who ever read Speedy in Oz would suspect, Speedy and Gureeda get married, and Sizzeroo abdicates, making them the new rulers. And they all lived happily ever after!

And with that, I realized I was about halfway through my rereading of every issue of Oziana, which is probably a good time to take a break. But fear not! The weekly short story will continue, thanks to something I picked up at the con last weekend. But I will tell you more about that then.

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