Let’s face it, Ozma’s kind of an idiot.

Really, she is. I know this, because I have lately been on a course of Oz sequels (in eBook form) and I have been experiencing that prickly sort of irritation that twigs only in the presence of a Purity Sue. It’s been building for a couple rereads now, but this time this Author on Board-sense is just off the charts. Also, this time I have a journal in which to rant about stuff like this.

Disclaimer: I love the Oz books. I really do. It is the one fairyland in which you are absolutely confident that anything can happen, and can never tell what might be around the corner – for the very good reason that the author couldn’t either. There is a sort of naiive charm about that. Having not hung himself up in a web of Rules for his World, Baum’s imagination was free to roam in a way that even Tolkien himself might… well, nod thoughtfully at.
It’s just that every time the Ruler of Oz shows up – and a smart few times when she’s offscreen – all this amused tolerance comes bang! to a screeching halt. You can’t get away from Ozma, not least because you’re implied to be a terrible person if you try. Baum goes on and on and on about how beautiful and sweet and dainty and beloved she is, to the point where it basically amounts to older man in love with ideal young creation.

Think I’m being unkind to a classic of kidlit? There’s an entire book, The Road to Oz, that’s actually built around all the Ozites and every single character from Baum’s other books attending Ozma’s super-spectacular birthday party, the like of which the world has never seen. Dorothy is clearly too deep in the throes of a girlish crush to notice, but one might expect the Shaggy Man to be a trifle more bemused:

"You got me totally lost, saddled me with a couple of kids, which half the time one’s a damn fox – yeah, let’s give the dumb one the sharp teeth, that’s not a problem, noooooo. Plus one rainbow sprite – you ever tried collecting the perfect dewdrops at six am? And if it’s not perfect, she starts up that damn dancing again, and it’s like Oh, God, my stomach’s gonna add a brand-new colour to the spectrum right here. So here we are, completely lost…Oh, and the Scoodlers, did I mention them? ‘We love you in soup’, yeah yeah, most hilarious thing ever. Until they give me the donkey head. By then I thought that was a nice touch, actually.

"And so I have to swim in the Truth Pond – yeah, love that magical moss or whatever it was, bring it on – because I still have to keep the kids from picking up every random whatsis they find by the side of the road and we FINALLY get here and I’m staring at a little kid …and it’s her frelling birthday… hey, everybody, welcome to a Very Special Episode in Oz! Firearms are bad! Ha ha ha hahahahah…"

That said, this is not the nadir. It is close – especially the ending, where after spending a couple days in All Hail Ozma the Super-Specially Sparkly mode all the potentially interesting people just sort of float home in super-strong soap bubbles – but not yet.

No, the nadir is The Emerald City of Oz. In which Dorothy finally decides to bring her family to fairyland for good, at the same time as Evil finally decides that those ‘disgustingly goody-good’ Ozites need a thorough conquering. As a child, this is frankly terrifying. As an adult, especially a snarky-minded one, it’s… a bit less so. During the recent reread, I started mentally compiling a list of Ways This Kiddie Fantasy Novel Has Been Bugging the Crap Out of Me For Years Now, and since as noted I do have a journal this time…

…you might want to look out for the next entry. In the ‘Ooh, lovely!’ sense or the Wile-E-Coyote-with-tiny-little-umbrella sense, works fine either way.

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tree_and_leaf
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 09:34:42

    … you linked to TV Tropes! And I was going to be productive this morning!

    *wails*

    I don’t think Galahad is a Purity Sue, but his sister certainly is…

  2. tree_and_leaf
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 09:34:42

    … you linked to TV Tropes! And I was going to be productive this morning!

    *wails*

    I don’t think Galahad is a Purity Sue, but his sister certainly is…

  3. Trackback: tree_and_leaf
  4. Anonymous
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 21:55:53

    All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Back in 2003, I wrote an OZ book for a publisher that was half “Guide to the Land of Oz” and half “New Oz adventure”. I immersed myself in all 14 of Baum’s books and the 6 short stories. The publisher jerked me around so the book never came out but I remember having a wonderful time. (I need to reread my book and his.)

    However, I remember liking Ozma. She is a bit too perfect but you’ve always got everyone else to be unperfect so she gets balanced out. And, I always thought Tip vanishing into the ether was rather sad. He always hung out in the back of my mind when she showed up. (“What’d you do with Tip, you Crazy Princess?”) I wondered if she ever thought about when she was him after a long day of being Casually Immaculate.

    Of course, the whole Tip-to-Ozma thing may have sat in my mind because I find it sort of odd, in a disturbing way. That could just be me, though.

  5. Anonymous
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 21:55:53

    All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Back in 2003, I wrote an OZ book for a publisher that was half “Guide to the Land of Oz” and half “New Oz adventure”. I immersed myself in all 14 of Baum’s books and the 6 short stories. The publisher jerked me around so the book never came out but I remember having a wonderful time. (I need to reread my book and his.)

    However, I remember liking Ozma. She is a bit too perfect but you’ve always got everyone else to be unperfect so she gets balanced out. And, I always thought Tip vanishing into the ether was rather sad. He always hung out in the back of my mind when she showed up. (“What’d you do with Tip, you Crazy Princess?”) I wondered if she ever thought about when she was him after a long day of being Casually Immaculate.

    Of course, the whole Tip-to-Ozma thing may have sat in my mind because I find it sort of odd, in a disturbing way. That could just be me, though.

  6. Trackback: Anonymous
  7. Anonymous
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 21:57:50

    Re: All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Sorry.

    It’s Dan B, Professor Groggin’s assistant.

    I hit “Post Comment” too fast.

  8. Anonymous
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 21:57:50

    Re: All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Sorry.

    It’s Dan B, Professor Groggin’s assistant.

    I hit “Post Comment” too fast.

  9. Trackback: Anonymous
  10. Shoebox
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 03:52:25

    Oops… You’re right, there should be disclaimers. šŸ™‚ Next time.

    The study of literary Sues – that is, those created by acknowledged literary greats – is actually kind of a fascinating one (that’s me writing the David Copperfield example in that link). Especially nineteenth-century writers, whose sense of responsibility was so keen they deliberately created them…

    …why, hello, Louisa May Alcott rant…

  11. Shoebox
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 03:52:25

    Oops… You’re right, there should be disclaimers. šŸ™‚ Next time.

    The study of literary Sues – that is, those created by acknowledged literary greats – is actually kind of a fascinating one (that’s me writing the David Copperfield example in that link). Especially nineteenth-century writers, whose sense of responsibility was so keen they deliberately created them…

    …why, hello, Louisa May Alcott rant…

  12. Trackback: Shoebox
  13. Shoebox
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 04:04:00

    Re: All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Heh. Always good to hear from you. Also, if that book needs a beta reader at any point… šŸ™‚

    And, I always thought Tip vanishing into the ether was rather sad.

    Mm. Tip was one of the flat-out funnest characters Baum ever created – resourceful & adventurous, smart but not obnoxious. Come to think of it this may account for a lot of my resentment of the Perfect Sparkly Princess (seriously – what was it with Baum & jewels?).

    As you say, disturbing, especially for a kid just beginning to wrestle with questions of gender and/or identity. You keep waiting for this whole entire other personality to resurface, because obviously it couldn’t just have VANISHED, and you don’t want it to anyway, but nooooo. In Oz – as in most kidlit of the time, to be fair – boys did the ‘rough’ stuff, girls merely stood around providing sweet inspiration…

    …man, that Alcott rant is really starting to pick up steam.

  14. Shoebox
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 04:04:00

    Re: All right, what did you do with Tip?

    Heh. Always good to hear from you. Also, if that book needs a beta reader at any point… šŸ™‚

    And, I always thought Tip vanishing into the ether was rather sad.

    Mm. Tip was one of the flat-out funnest characters Baum ever created – resourceful & adventurous, smart but not obnoxious. Come to think of it this may account for a lot of my resentment of the Perfect Sparkly Princess (seriously – what was it with Baum & jewels?).

    As you say, disturbing, especially for a kid just beginning to wrestle with questions of gender and/or identity. You keep waiting for this whole entire other personality to resurface, because obviously it couldn’t just have VANISHED, and you don’t want it to anyway, but nooooo. In Oz – as in most kidlit of the time, to be fair – boys did the ‘rough’ stuff, girls merely stood around providing sweet inspiration…

    …man, that Alcott rant is really starting to pick up steam.

  15. Trackback: Shoebox

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