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A Farewell to Oz

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Written by  March Laumer
Gerard Langa
Anita McGrew
Dina Briones
Illustrator  none
Published  1993
Publisher  The Vanitas Press

A Farewell to Oz: The Oz Book for 2000 is a modern-day Oz novel, written by March Laumer with input from collaborators Dina Briones, Gerard Langa, and Anita McGrew, with editing by Paul S. Ritz.

It was written between 10 April 1991 and 9 March 1993, and published in the latter year by Laumer's Vanitas Press. Laumer dedicated the book to his brother, science fiction author Keith Laumer, who died that year.

The copyright page assigns copyright to Laumer, but adds that individual chapters are copyrighted "by their respective authors" — though no specific assignments of chapters to authors is provided. A second edition of the book was released in 2006; this edition is available from Lulu.com and can be downloaded for free.

Narrative framework

The plot of Laumer's book incorporates developments from his previous Oz novels, so that the starting point of its narrative is somewhat strange to a reader of the traditional Oz literature. In the outside world, the environment has succumbed to pollution, heavy-metal poisoning, mega-cities and over-population. The planet exists under a layer of smog six miles think; people wear protective face masks as a matter of course.

Oz has changed too. The entire country (not merely the royal palace or the Emerald City) has been enclosed under an overarching dome, with twenty-four entrance gates. The land within is protected from environmental degradation, but is plagued by refugees from the outside world; they prove to be ingrates and malcontents who stage demonstrations and riots over imaginary grievances. To make more room, Ozma and Glinda have worked a grand magic spell that has reduced the size of all the living inhabitants of Oz, human, animal, and other; people in Oz are now under one inch tall. They have built new miniature dwellings for themselves, which exist in the midst of the original, now-gigantic structures of the old Oz. Miniature plants have been bred too; the tiny Jack Pumpkinhead grows tiny pumpkins to carve into tiny new heads for himself.

In a feature borrowed from sci-fi, multiple "Ozzes" exist in separate planes of reality; there is a Russian or "Volkovian" Oz that corresponds to Volkov's Magic Land, and well as other alternative Ozzes.

Other features from Laumer's Oz literature also recur here. Ozma wears a two-way wrist radio, like the characters in the Dick Tracy comic strip. Dorothy Gale is sixteen years old. Glinda has a husband. Lulea and Lurline are the same person (see: A Fairy Queen in Oz).

In Laumer's universe, Oz functions as an afterlife haven for select spirits of the dead; Laumer himself meets his deceased brother Keith there at the end of the book.

Summary

The book begins with an autobiographical introduction and a meditation on suicide. Laumer characterizes his life as "No success, no recognition, not even any money....No charming companion, not even a steady sex partner." He writes and publishes his Oz books — to the world's indifference.

In the middle of one night, he is awakened by hearing the "Oz Two-Step." Ozma and Dorothy, in their new diminutive sizes, come floating through the keyhole of his door. They invite Laumer to the grand celebration of the hundred-year anniversary of Dorothy's first arrival in Oz. Laumer throws a Moroccan djellaba over his nightshirt; taking the hands of his two visitors, he is magically whisked away.

The narrator learns that Ozma and Dorothy are touring the outside world, picking up people with Ozzian connections; Laumer finds himself linked with W. W. Denslow and Jack Haley. The procession stops in Philadelphia, to gather in Ruth Plumly Thompson and all the Thompson family members to whom she dedicated her Oz books. In Ohio, two small children, siblings Jimmy and Sarah, are selected to join the group. Soon, the entire company is transported to Oz.

There, Laumer has a fine time discussing the intricacies and minutiae of matters Ozzian with L. Frank Baum and other luminaries.

The two children, Jimmy and Sarah, have an adventure of their own, with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Wogglebug, and others. Unfortunately, the children are "spoiled tots," wise-cracking vulgar moderns, unappealing and unsympathetic; they constitute the central weakness of the book.

The book's second half is devoted to a complex episodic adventure, which involves the fairy Floraline and the pixy Dementia, plus a family of squirrels and a metal man named Garth. A party of Ozzians and visitors accidentally resurrects Mombi the witch; her essence had been trapped in a rug in an obscure room of the royal palace for 75 years. (The execution of Mombi occurs at the end of Thompson's The Lost King of Oz, and constitutes a rare overt act of capital punishment in the fairyland. Laumer depicts both Dorothy and Ozma as suffering guilt over the matter.) Mombi escapes to the Land of Ev in a whirlwind, where she meets the metal man Garth. The two discover a mutual friendship and attraction. Mombi finds that people respond more positively to her, once she changes her appearance from an old hag to a look-alike of Zsa Zsa Gabor at age 30. Mombi reforms, and leaves evil behind her.

The story ends with a reversal: Ozma returns everyone in Oz to their natural sizes, and forbids any new immigration into Oz without her express approval. Ozma even finds a way to help the benighted outside world, by casting the seeds of "irony berries" to the winds. The berry plants will root and grow in the planet's wastelands; the fruit produces both euphoric and contraceptive effects that will help to cure humanity's problems.

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