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Oz Reimagined
edited by John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen
47North, 378 pages

Oz Reimagined
John Joseph Adams
John Joseph Adams is the editor of such anthologies as Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (Night Shade Books, January 2008), Seeds of Change (Prime Books, Summer 2008), and The Living Dead (Night Shade Books, Fall 2008). He was also the assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and is now the editor of Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazine. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of Central Florida in December 2000. He currently lives in New Jersey.

John Joseph Adams Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Oz Reimagined
SF Site Review: Under the Moons of Mars
SF Site Review: Brave New Worlds
SF Site Review: The Living Dead 2
SF Site Review: The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
SF Site Review: Federations
SF Site Review: Wastelands
SF Site Review: Wastelands

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Even if an author limits themselves to the version of Oz depicted in the 1939 Victor Fleming film, there are plenty of stories that can naturally branch out. However, John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen have invited their authors to use the complete written works of L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson to create stories which shed light on Baum's most famous creation in Oz Reimagined. These sixteen authors make full use of the inspirational works, while using the most famous incarnation of Oz reimagined to provide familiarity to any of their readers.

The most powerful stories are the ones that look at neglected aspects of the Oz legend. Jane Yolen explores what Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were going through while Dorothy was off discovering the world in "Blown Away." Dale Bailey explores the working class which helps keep Oz beautiful in "City So Bright." The dark side of Dorothy's experiences and the aftermath form the crux of Jeffrey Ford's "A Meeting in Oz." These stories also tend to be darker than most of the stories in the book, although at the same time the most satisfying.

Other authors use Oz as a backdrop, not fully exploring it, but playing with its settings and characters. Both Seanan McGuire and Tad Williams use Oz as the setting for a murder mystery in "Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust" for McGuire or "The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story" for Williams, the latter of which also pulls in Williams's own Otherlands universe.

Rachel Swirsky provides a satiric reality show in Oz in "Beyond the Naked Eye," which is a wonderful beginning, but feels like it should be expanded to a much longer work, while Orson Scott Card explores the inspiration for Oz by depositing L. Frank Baum's son in a version of the land in 1889 Dakota territory.

Ken Liu posits that the events of The Wizard of Oz took place in Shanghai in 1919 in "The Veiled Shanghai," and reveals the Wizard to be an historical figure. While his story could have simply been a retelling of Baum's tale, Liu takes it a step further by exploring how real events can be seen through a variety of prisms and provide the raw fodder for legend creation and Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion all have very different views of the man who is revealed to be the Wizard and the man who is revealed to be his adversary.

Similarly, Robin Wasserman takes the basic story of The Wizard of Oz and grafts it to Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Wasserman maps the characters and their dilemmas to inmates at an asylum who are trying to find their way to the inmate who knows how best to work the system while avoiding the Nurse Ratched character who takes the persona of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wing).

Oz is definitely reimagined by the authors who accepted Adams and Cohen's challenge. They use the land of Oz to explore real world issues ranging from unionization and exploitation of the workers to matters of trust to relationship issues. They take a century-old fantasy novel (and series) which may have been a simple story or may have been a much more complex examination of economic issues and relate it to the world in which we currently live.

Copyright © 2013 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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