Friday, November 23, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yup, i managed to read the next story in The Lost Tales of Oz, which was "The Wizard in New York" by Sam Sackett and Joe Bongiorno. The Wizard decides to visit America to see what new inventions have been created, thinking he can incorporate some of their ideas into his own work. It's 1939, and he's going to the World's Fair! It gets off to a slow start, with his explanations to Ozma and, later, Glinda as to why he wants to go, and he makes preparations. The one piere of magic he takes with him is a magic wallet that's always full of current American money, and that will return to him if he loses it, which probably proved to be a surprise to the pickpocket who lifts it at one point in the story! Once he arrives in New York, he has to acclimatize himself; a lot changed in less than forty years! But the Wizard is a smart guy and managed to figure out a lot. He even took in a movie, a recently released film called The Wizard of Oz! (While the Wizard appreciated the spectacle, and thought Frank Morgan did a good job portraying him, overall he thought it was a lot of sizzle without much steak.) He also adopts a cat, who a kindly bellboy and aspiring actor at his hotel helps him to hide. Once he gets to the fair, it's not much more than a travelogue as he tours the various exhibits, but he's also heard a lot of news on the radio, and is worried about this Hitler fellow and what Germany and the Soviet Union will do to the state of the world. He also has conversations with many interesting people, but it's his final chat with a janitor (and as one would likely expect at that time, he was African-American) that convinces the Wizard that the Outside World doesn't hold a lot of appeal for him anymore, and he's best off staying in Oz and keeping it Ozzy.

On the surface, like I said earlier, this seems to be little more than a travelogue about the Wizard's adventures. But there's enough about what's going on in Oz that makes me wonder if this is also meant to be a bridge between the Neill books and Oz getting back on a less chaotic path once Jack Snow took over as Royal Historian. The scalawagons come up (which works in the timeline if one considers that Oz books must take place some time before they are written; thus, 1941's The Scalawagons of Oz could easily take place in 1939, before the start of World War II in Europe), but the Wizard realizes they may not be his most successful invention. His trip to New York was meant to inspire new inventions, but instead it discourages him. In that context, the story works well. The World's Fair itself seems to be well researched, too, and the Wizard's reactions ring very true to me. His interactions with the New Yorkers is also great, and surprisingly, despite all their problems, none of them want to take the Wizard up on his offer to take them to his home (not that he actually tells them where that is), because New York is such a great place. And in 1939, I suspect it was!

Again, I have no idea if I'll be able to read the next story before next weekend, but I'm going to give it a shot, and if so, it will be a follow-up to this story!

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