Monday, November 02, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The penultimate tale from the 2017 issue of Oziana is "The Road Not Taken" by E. J. Hagadorn, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso. Dorothy and Ozma are speculating about how their lives would have been different if it hadn't been for the yellow brick roads they traveled on their first adventures. But there's no time to worry about that, because Dorothy is off to a celebration in Munchkinland, celebrating her original arrival in Oz and the defeat of the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy is surprised when Boq, now the Munchkin mayor, hands her a letter found in the wreckage of the Wicked Witch's castle, now finally and completely demolished—addressed to her! It turns out to be from Brickaback, a construction worker from Hartford who came to Oz long before Dorothy, and was eventually enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the East. In one attempt to escape, one of the witch's potions backfired on him, and he saw the future of all Oz. (This is how he knew who Dorothy was.) As punishment, the witch pressed him into service to create a road all the way to the Emerald City—all by himself! But Brickabrack did this cheerfully, because he had seen Dorothy taking the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, and therefore knew that he would succeed. He even went on to build another road in the Gillikin Country (the one Tip followed to the Emerald City) before building the second yellow brick road in the Munchkin Country (presumably the one Ojo, Scraps and company traveled on in The Patchwork Girl of Oz). He lived a long life, but knew that his roads would help out Oz one day.

It's not a groundbreaking story, but it does give some backstory to pre-Dorothean Oz, and gives us a nice explanation for the origin of the yellow brick roads. The art, I will add, is charming, especially the final picture of Ozma reading Brickabrack's letter.

So, just one more story to go in this issue. And just in can]se, if you couldn't wait, the 2020 issue of Oziana, celebrating its fiftieth issue, is now available for sale. But if you want to know what's in it first, it will be popping up in this series in only a few weeks. My, where did that time go?

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