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A Fairy Queen in Oz

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Written by  March Laumer
Illustrator  Catherine M. Michanczyk
Published  1989
Publisher  The Vanitas Press

A Fairy Queen in Oz is a modern-day Oz novel written by March Laumer, with "decorations" by Catherine Michanczyk. It was written between 17 August 1988 and 9 May 1989, and published by The Vanitas Press in Lund, Sweden.

A second, posthumous edition of the book was released in 2006; this later edition is available from Lulul.com and can be downloaded for free.

Summary

Life for the fairies in the Forest of Burzee can be routine, and a bit boring; Queen Lulea tries to think of diversions for the thirty members of her band. All of them are delighted, therefore, when Lulea receives an invitation from a town in northern Sweden that shares her name. The fairies decide to take a trip, en masse, in response. After various adventures among the rather cool and unwelcoming Swedes, Lulea and company meet the man who invited them: the governor of Swinhufvud informs them that fairies have been outlawed in Sweden, and he demands that Lulea stop using the name she shares with an upstanding Swedish community. The outraged queen vanishes from the scene, followed by her cohort; they console themselves with a tour of the Hawaiian Islands (sometimes in hummingbird form) and a spell sailing the Pacific.

Meanwhile, a five-year-old Winkie girl named Lana Peethisaw writes a letter to Princess Ozma, informing her that the dominant yellow color of the Winkie Country is leeching over the border into the neighboring Gillikin Country. Ozma mounts an expedition to investigate, with Prof. Wogglebug, the Scarecrow, the Sawhorse, and Billina the chicken. Ozma meets and befriends the letter's author, a poetess; but the company is scattered by a windstorm, and Ozma and Lana set out over the Gillikin landscape. Ozma uses her magic to send Billina to Lulea for help; Billina reaches Lulea aboard ship in the outside world, but there the hen cannot talk to deliver her message. Soon Billina is washed overboard in a chicken coop (as in Ozma of Oz), for adventures of her own.

At the same time, Dorothy Gale is pursuing her life in Kansas, in between visits to Oz. She becomes friends with a girl named Lurline Matson, the daughter of a shipping family; the two take a voyage aboard a ship christened Lurline after the owner's child. Eventually the two girls meet Lulea and her fairies, and together they recover Billina, and learn her message. The fairy queen, repelled by the name Lulea after her Swedish misadventure, decides to re-name herself Lurline — though she herself does not realize it, her fairies are aware that she has inadvertently resumed her original name.

Ozma and Lana are eventually met by the Wizard of Oz, and return to the Emerald City. Lulea/Lurline and company arrive, and matters are set to rights in the end.

Style

Here as in his other books, Laumer employs a rich literary style, with Swedish dialogue and wordplay, faux Hawaiian proper names, sesquipedalian terms (like "gallinapophagous" for chicken-eating and "xanthification" for turning yellow), and other extravagances. He alludes to works of literature, like Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" and Poe's "The Raven," and to works of popular culture too. (He gives his Burzee fairies two-way wrist radios, as in the Dick Tracy comic strip.)

Laumer's novel interpolates a number of poems by Michael J. Michanczyk III, Bernard Hewitt, and Kathie Reid. The desire to include these poems may help to account for the episodic, rambling, and diffuse aspects of the book's plot.

Science

Laumer's Lulea/Lurline is capable of being somewhat scatterbrained, yet she is a very powerful fairy with a formidable intelligence. She is deeply familiar with natural forces like dark matter and anti-matter — and is capable of manipulating them. She caused the Tunguska event of 1906 when she summoned a thumbnail-sized fragment of dark matter to the Earth. (Her aim was a bit off: she had intended to bring it down in the Arctic, far away from human awareness and observation.) Once lodged forty miles under the surface of the Deadly Desert, the dark matter stabilizes the drift of the Winkie Country, and solves one of the basic problems of the plot.

Metaphysics

Laumer's fairies, though long lived, are not quite immortal; they don't die, but they do eventually fade away. His fairy queen Lurline adopted her new name Lulea when her parents faded away — Lulea being a compound of their names, Louis and Leah.

Laumer's version of Oz is unusual in that it serves as a refuge for fairy-tale creatures displaced from other "civilized" lands that no longer want them, as well as for the souls of deceased people and animals who are sympathetic to Oz nature. Ozma's new friend Lana is the spirit of a New Zealand child who died from leukemia.

(A sentimental Ozma brings the spirits of the reindeer killed in the Tunguska event to Oz.)

Time

Some modern writers on Oz take a rigid approach to chronology and the question of time in Oz; Laumer is not rigid in this matter, though he is certainly concerned with chronology. Early in his book, he states that the events of the plot occur a dozen years before the discovery of Samandra, Corabia, and Corumbia. Since these events occur in Ruth Plumly Thompson's 1930 novel The Yellow Knight of Oz, some might take this as an indication that the events in Laumer's books are meant to happen in 1918. Later in his book, though, the author specifies that the action occurs in June 1908, after the events in The Road to Oz but before those in The Emerald City of Oz. Consistent with that dating, he depicts Dorothy as a fifteen-year-old girl.

Oz links

Throughout the book, Laumer weaves a dense and broad web of connections with the Oz literature of Baum, Thompson, and their successors as Royal Historians, with references to Queen Aquareine, Loonville, the land of Patch, Kuma Party, Quick City, Kite Island, and other Ozzian places and people. The Nine Tiny Piglets are significant supporting characters in the book; Laumer makes them the offspring of Prof. and Mrs. Swyne in The Tin Woodman of Oz.

Laumer is not the only modern Oz writer to envision the colors of the lands of Oz encroaching upon each other; David Hulan does the same in his Eureka in Oz.

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