I read one last week, I really did. But things just got busy enough that I never got around to writing about it. So, this week, you get write-ups on two stories, both from the 2020 issue of Oziana. So, without further ado:
- "Zinnia's Wish" by Suren Oganessian, with illustrations by Mitchell Mayle. Zinnia is a Flutterbudget who, after a harrowing accident that leaves her trapped in a snowbank for twenty years, decides that she has to do something, as her father is still trapped there. So she goes to the Emerald City to do some research, learns more about the Wish Way, and goes there to make her wish: She wishes for death to return to Oz! She succeeds! The angel of death is now in Oz, and takes (finally) Zinnia's father and others who would have already died from accidents or other reasons besides old age. But Zinnia made the mistake of befriending Ojo and the Patchwork Girl when she comes to the Emerald City. Ojo, despite liking Zinnia, has suspicions about her, and talks to Ozma and the Wizard. They have been watching Zinnia, and step in the moment they understand what's going on. It's too late to reverse the effect or remove death from Oz completely, but they work with Death to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone, and gives Zinnia a new purpose.
This is an intriguing tale that raises all kinds of ethical and moral issues, and what it truly means to be immortal in Oz. And Zinnia dresses all in black. Yup, she's a Goth Flutterbudget, an interesting combination. Her relationship with Ojo and how it slowly heats up, even as she wonders why he could even like her, is sweet, but ultimately doomed. And we get a nice view of what it's like to be in the Emerald City, away from the palace. Zinnia and Ojo's day at the Emerald City Library makes it sound like a good place to visit. Mayle's illustrations are stark but pleasant, including a color one for the back cover.
- "Dinner at the Del" is an unusal tale, in that the main character is L. Frank Baum! But that's probably to be expected when the author is Robert Baum, Frank's great-grandson. While staying at the Hotel Del Coronado one winter, Frank and Maud Baum meet up with Captian William Steele, who asks Frank to autograph his copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to his children. They insist he joins them for dinner, and the captain tells them a lot about his life. Anyone familiar with Baum's work will recognize many Easter eggs in this story, as it is strongly implied that Captain Steele inspired both the Boy Fortune Hunters series and the character of Cap'n Bill. Is it a true story? Somehow, I have my doubts, but there's a part of me that would like it to be. This is a pleasant, brief slice-of-life story where the life just happens to be the man singlehandedly responsible for every single other story in this series—as well as this blog, my website, the hundereds of books in my collection, and so forth.