Saturday, August 05, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Stories

Yes, I said stories, the plural, because there were three this week. Te main one is still the next alternate ending to Rinkitink in Oz from the 2016 edition of Oziana, which would be "A New Ending for Rinkitink in Oz" by Jared Davis. He tried to extrapolate from Ozma of Oz how Baum may have originally ended King Rinkitink, and has Roquat enchant King Kitticut and Queen Garee into ornaments. Inga is allowed to go in and try to find them to disenchant them, but Inga has one big advantage nobody had in Ozma of Oz: The white pearl! The pearl guides Inga to his parents, and all ends pretty quickly. In the ensuing events, Bilbil even becomes Prince Bobo again, and all are back to Pingaree for a happy ending. It's a clever use of Baum's own tropes, and I suspect isn't too different from what he originally intended. But I can also see why it was ultimately not picked as the winner.

I ran into another short story this week, also initiated by Davis, although ultimately he probably wouldn't take full credit for it. Over on his blog, he used ChatGPT to create a new story, "Diverse Dancers of Oz", pairing up Polychrome and Scraps in a dance recital. It's a fun little slice-of-life story about how these two characters, who rarely met in the books, might interact. But don't take my word for it, this one is available to read online, so you can go right now!

Finally, last weekend I was at OzCon International. As always, I had fun, and there was a new short story, "Button Bright's Gift: A Christmas Story" by J. L. Bell in the program book. Since this year is the centenary of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, the action takes place at Notta Bit More's circus, and involves Button-Bright and a slightly older Bob Up, now a circus roustabout. The circus is putting on a special Christmas show, and Notta is trying out a new disguise, Santa Claus. Button-Bright already knows Santa, thanks to their meeting in The Road to Oz, so he's able to give Notta some pointers. Every child coming to the circus gets to sit on Santa's lap and ask for a present, but Button-Bright never gets the chance. So how is it that there's a present on the pile for him? Let's just say Santa has all kinds of helpers. It's a fun little story, and gives Notta and, especially, Bob a little character development that they never quite had in The Cowardly Lion of Oz. If you can find it, you'll get a kick out of it.

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