Even though I'm on my winter vacation, the holidays have taken their toll, and I'm falling behind a bit in my reading of The Lost Tales of Oz. I hope to catch up over the next few days, however, and bank a few entries in this series for the new year. But at least I've now gotten through the single longest story in the collection with "Lurline and the Talking Animals of Oz" by Joe Bongiorno. This story goes further back than any other story in the collection, as it has to do with the enchantment of Oz! Specifically, it's a diary by a farmer's wife about what happens when the animals start talking. Naturally, most decide they don't want to be penned up, enslaved, or eaten, so they tell the local farmers this and leave. This does not go over well, and many of the local farmers want their old life back, complete with their animals. Things start getting tense, local leaders step in, and then government officials from the central government (which has to deal with similar problems all over the country). A summit between the humans and animals takes place, but it does not go well, and there are assassinations and a riot. Finally, Lurline, leader of the fairy band that enchanted Oz, has to step in, stop further bloodshed, and provide solutions. Some of the farmers, and their loyal dogs, opt to head back to their original homes in the Great Outside World. Others, wishing to stay but not change their ways, are exiled to a new settlement in the Quadling Country, Rigmarole Town. But Lurline is finally forced to create the Waters of Oblivion to erase everyone's memories of the old ways so that they can start again, fresh, in an uncivilized land. There are still written records, such as this diary, and a handful entrusted with complete knowledge of the old ways, so Oz continues, but it's a much kinder, gentler place now, on the way to becoming the land we all know and love.
This is at once an epic about a major change in society and how everyone (people and animals) react to it, and an intimate story about one Munchkin village and how those changes affect it. It does a terrific job with its premise, and also aspects of what we know about early Ozian history and its origins.