After reviewing last year's OzCon International program book, I've decided to take a little break from Oziana to cover a few miscellaneous stories from other sources. One in particular I'll get to next week. But this week it's from that same program book, and it's "Woot Meets the Kalidahs" by J. L. Bell, a writer I seem to be reviewing a lot of lately. He does a terrific job of taking a small little bit from an Oz book and turning it into an entertaining story that also gives us more insight into some characters we've seen little of before. And Woot the Wanderer is a perfect character for this sort of story, as he can co all over Oz and visit just about anywhere in the country. Bell has developed an excellent character for Woot, who has gained a lot of wisdom and experience on his journeys, and he's not afraid to use it. He's also very shrewd, and can quickly sum up someone's personality from just a few observations. And all this works well for Woot, as he does indeed wander into a Gillikin forest inhabited by Kalidahs. But first, he manages to extract some useful information from a riddlesnake, a new creation by Bell that will answer questions truthfully but cryptically. (Think the Sphinx from Greek mythology.) Despite his best efforts, Woot gets captured by a mother Kalidah and her two cubs, and only a fortuitous encounter with a sourberry bush prevents Woot from being immediately consumed. Woot manages to use flattery and a little psychology on all three of them to, eventually, turn the twins against each other and make his escape. Once he's out of the woods, he manages to give the riddlesnake his just desserts as well.
This story reminded me of Woot's encounter with Mr. Yoop (from Oziana a few issues back), and highlights just what a great character he can be. Hmm, maybe someone can put together a collection of short stories about Woot's adventures.