Monday, July 09, 2012

Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Oz

And here's another book by March Laumer. You know, he had quite an interesting view of Oz canon, and he also viewed Alexander Volkov's Magic Land books as Oz books. (I picked up on this while reading his examinations of those books in The Baum Bugle.) Urfin Jus appears in this book at hand as Oorfene Deuce, Fregosa (Elli's confidant in the Wicked Witch of the West's castle) appears as the Tin Woodman's cook, and the Wicked Witches of the East and West are named Gingemma and Bastinda, respectively.

Personally, I don't see the Magic Land books as Oz books, though I admit, when I did read The Wizard of the Emerald City, I did think Fregosa was a good character.

Anyway, this book finds Aunt Em missing a thimble she had in the house the cyclone took to Oz years ago, so she and Henry (who have the last name Mankato), head there. But something's up, and before long, Aunt Em begins to act strangely, and look a bit different as well... And even asks that Henry call her full name: Ging-Emma.

Yes, Aunt Em has been posessed by the Wicked Witch of the East, but who exactly was that witch? Why was she "wicked?" And what effects will this have for everyone in Oz?

I can't really call this book a good one. The story was loose and the resolution of Em's possession was rather disturbing and comes out of the blue. Also, things didn't feel right for Oz. Dorothy takes a college course, Laumer suggesting she was stupid before, and admits she sometimes wishes she looked like John Travolta. Ozma and Glinda turn into swans, while you never saw these characters voluntarily transform themselves in the Famous Forty.

Laumer also plays with what he calls moral issues. When things are brought to life and become by simple nature a major nuisance, is it right to kill them? Gingemma has an idea for Oz that basically would mean everyone could look like and do whatever they wanted. However, is having exactly what you want always the right thing? While these are good points, it also sounds a bit un-Ozzy to have the characters say, "Oh no! Now we're dealing with moral dilemmas!"

The book is illustrated by David Maxine. The art might be off-putting, but actually, when I started reading the book, I found it to be charming in its own simple way. Actually, the Sawhorse is kind of cute, and Aunt Em, when she's herself, is actually very believably Dorothy's kind and loving aunt. Looking at different art for Oz is never "someone's better than someone else," but appreciating each artist's art on its own. And while this might not be my preferred style for Oz art, It's not bad.

And so you can get a better look at the cover art, I Photoshopped it into black and white art.

The book seems to have been rewritten as Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in Oz, with Chris Dulabone on board to make it work within the more-widely accepted Oz canon. Both can be read online at this site for March Laumer's works. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Oz is rather rare and I can't easily find any copies for sale at present. There's a new edition of Uncle Henry and Aunt Em available through print-on-demand, but I haven't read it yet.


Nathan said...

It seems like you're starting with some of Laumer's worst books. I started on his work with Frogman, which was much more traditionally Ozzy, albeit with plenty of Laumerian touches.

Jared said...

I got what I got.

Sam A M said...

Can't wait to hear what you have to say about "Charmed Gardens", if you ever get to read that story for the Blog.

Jared said...

"Green Dolphin" and "Aunt Em and Uncle Henry" are the only Laumer books I have in print.

Sam A M said...

But there is a site where you can read/download "Charmed Gardens", isn't there?