Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: The Talking City of Oz

The Talking City of Oz
Author: Ron Baxley Jr.
Illustrator: G.T. Adams
Publisher: E.E.T. at Coci's Press

If only these walls could talk... Well, with all of the other things that talk in Oz, why not?

The story starts slow, with a dialog between Dorothy and Ozma setting the stage for the action to come. For those who think this means a big, steaming infodump, fear not! Ron manages to make it tolerable, and even entertaining. The characters have a realistic back and forth with some amusing background action. He also avoids the "idiot lecture", in which two fully knowledgeable people state the obvious for the benefit of the audience. If there's something that he feels the reader should know that doesn't fit into the dialogue, he finds a place for it in the narration.

It seems that Ruggedo the Nome King had a backup plan in case his invasion described in The Emerald City of Oz didn't pan out. A creature named Jaggedo has lived under Oz ever since, making plans and staying carefully under the radar in spite of magic used to seek him out. In fact, the Wizard is out gathering magical ingredients to cast a spell that will reveal him.

From this slow start, the action (and the puns) begin to flow freely. Dorothy encounters the Metronome (an urban Nome with a good sense of rhythm) in the Emerald Palace as he is making his final preparations to steal the Emerald City. Although she is able to make her escape from the city, she looks back to see the City shrink into the ground and seemingly say its first words.

Haunted by this thought, she then encounters the Woggle-bug leading a quartet of flies. Dorothy made the mistake of trying to swat a friendly fly in the opening scene and this is where it comes back to bite her (not literally, of course). Dorothy makes a formal apology to the fly in front of the Professor, which he then accepts. She also explains the predicament to the Woggle-bug and he and the flies gladly agree to help. They then shrink by means of a magic lantern, reversing the process which caused the Woggle-bug to his current size, so that they can mount the flies and take to the air.

From there, they travel through the Tar Nation (with its population of Tar-Tars), help a house that has been coated in pain (because someone left the "t" off of the paint) and buy a dime novel (a story etched onto a small coin) before they discover and thwart Jaggedo and recover the Emerald City, which has been animated by the Powder of Life.

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