Sunday, September 01, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

Robert R. Pattrick was a charter member of the International Wizard of Oz Club and an early Oz collector, researcher, and author of what would best be described as Oz fanfic. Unfortunately, he died way too young, in 1960 at the age of only 33. His notes paved the way, however, for the Club's maps of Oz and a lot of Ozian research through to today, so even after his passing he has been very influential. And he wrote fun short stories, too. One of them, "The Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier of Oz", was published in the Christmas 1963 issue of The Baum Bugle, and so I reread it from The Best of The Baum Bugle 1963/1964. (It was also published in the program book for OzCon International last year, which is what prompted me to go back and examine short stories published it the Bugle.) It's not terribly long, but we do find a little bit more about Captain Fyter, and what he's been doing since he was introduced in The Tin Woodman of Oz. Nick Chopper pays him a visit, at the Captain's tin cottage on the edge of a Gillikin wood. They chat about their shared history and make-up, and decide that they are cousins. The Tin Woodman then decides to give his cousin a first name: Abel. Captain Abel Fyter. (Yes, Pattrick liked puns, too.) Abel tehn tells Nick some of the problems he's been having with a patch of wildflowers and other vicious plants nearby, and maybe Nick's axe could be of assistance. Sure enough, the two of them make short work of dandelions, tiger lilies, snapdragons, crabgrass, dogwood, and so forth that try to attack them. Fortunately, the Wizard has provided the Captain with seeds for some new, more user-friendly plants to replace them, such as goldenrods, sunflowers, bellflowers, bread trees, butterball, honeysuckle (that grow pots of honey), and other plants that grow items that travelers might find useful.

This story isn't meant to do much more than reintroduce the Tin Soldier and then give a long list of plant-based puns, but it does both of these well. It would be nice to see more of Captain Abel Fyter, cousin to the Emperor of the Winkies, in some of the royal histories.

No comments: