Sunday, January 24, 2010

Einhorn-a-thon #1

This is an examination blog, and thus contains massive spoilers. If you have not read this story and don't want it spoiled for you, it might be best not to read very much of this blog, or none at all.

It was 1997, and Hungry Tiger Press was releasing the third issue of their anthology magazine Oz-Story. A collection of Oz and Oz-related tales, poems and lyrics, and a full-length novel by L. Frank Baum.

In the third issue, the first story readers were treated to was Ozma Sees Herself by Edward Einhorn. A playwright and Oz fan, he wasn't exactly a big name at the time. But editor David Maxine was sure to print quality material.

The story opens with Ozma climbing a tree, escaping her duties as the ruler of Oz, setting this story just after The Marvelous Land of Oz. (I also noted that it doesn't mention the activities of the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse, the Woggle-Bug, or the Gump, so it also doesn't contradict Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz.) As she waits in the tree, the Cowardly Lion comes by, and she teases him with a couple acorns. Noting his cowardly nature, Ozma feels she has a right to not be a very good princess, just as the Lion is not a very good Lion. (Or so he says...)

Ozma and the Lion run off to the forest for a few days, so they plan, to escape royal life. When Ozma bathes in a pool, she sees what she thinks is a nymph, when in fact, it is her own reflection. When a tiger looks towards them and mutters, "Delicious," she fears for the nymph's safety and tries to intervene, offering herself to the tiger. The tiger, confused, tells her that it is her reflection.

Ozma fears that the tiger will eat her, but it tells her it has a conscience. (Yep, you're guessing it!) The Cowardly Lion arrives and recognizes the tiger as his friend, for it is, of course, the Hungry Tiger. They remind Ozma of her duty to Oz as its ruler, and Ozma knows they are right, and decides to go back.

I really liked this story, it fits with Baum (but not other popular additional stories), and it's a nice way to tie the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger with Ozma.

Even better is the character development for Ozma. Rather than just having her decide she needs to accept her duty, it's more of a journey for her. Remember that she grew up as Tip, so her deciding to put away the playful, mischievous, and adventurous persona of Tip would have to be either a progression or a very firm decision. Einhorn starts Ozma on this progression. Ozma seeing what her duty in life is, and choosing duty over what she felt was her nature, is what the title means, as well as the incident of the nymph in the pool.

Oz-Story 3 has sold out from the publisher, though you might be able to get a second hand copy if you look hard enough. Einhorn mentioned sometime back he intends to include it in a forthcoming book of short stories that he's been working on, except his time to do so was limited. Until then, we can only look forward to it.

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