Thursday, April 02, 2015
Volkov-thon: The Mystery of the Deserted Castle
One thing we notice is that Volkov tended to make use of his old characters as much as possible, where Baum would have characters come in and go again and sometimes never return. This is not to say either is a problem, but it does speak of the differences of the two worlds: Magic Land feels smaller and more interconnected as a result (which is in its favor as it is hidden in America somewhere), while Oz feels larger and if a character doesn't reappear, it's more likely that they're just going about their lives and didn't get involved in this particular story.
Magic Land has definitely developed over the series. By this book, Strasheela has united so much of Magic Land and has such a good surveillance system that there was pretty much no need to call for Annie at all. Yes, she helped (Ramina and her mice are actually instrumental in bringing the Soporific Water to the castle, and Annie summoned them), but it's really pretty minor considering what else was being done.
One might well gape at using invaders from outer space in a book that was inspired by Oz, but may I remind you that Ruth Plumly Thompson's Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz and John R. Neill's The Wonder City of Oz also go beyond the stratosphere. In any case, Volkov doesn't make the invaders far too fantastic.
In any case, we've seen how you could take a concept like Oz and go in a different direction than Baum while not going overly dark or adult in theme. Although, Baum's feminist fairyland certainly becomes a patriarchal society here...
So, this wraps up Volkov's series. He died in 1977 before the book edition was published in 1982. However, Magic Land had captured the imagination of readers, and spinoff novels exist, just as they do with the original Oz series. Blystone has translated a series of books by Sergei Sukinhov, but I've yet to get those. But now that we've got these done, I think I can say that we'll be back to Magic Land someday.
All pictures in this series are by Leonid Vladimirsky. They—and more illustrations—can be found with the Russian texts of the series at volkov.anuta.org