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Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen

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"Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen" is an Oz story written by Eric Shanower. It was first published in Oz-story Magazine No. 2 in 1996, under the pseudonym "Janet Deschman." The story was reprinted in Shanower's collection The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories in 2002.

Bungle the Glass Cat, an inveterate explorer of the Land of Oz, reports witnessing an unusual sight: a group of strange beings who dance under a full moon, then retreat to an underground passage. Dorothy, accompanied by Bungle and Flicker, goes to investigate, as an ambassador from Ozma. (Flicker is a character introduced by Shanower in The Ice King of Oz, one of his five Oz graphic novels. Flicker is a diminutive wax man with a flame in place of a head of hair.) Flicker dislikes Bungle for her vanity and boasting; Dorothy works to keep peace between them.

Dorothy and her companions find their way into a subterranean world called Ma-dul-ma-dun, ruled by Queen Piopelp. Her people are sapient and sentient mushrooms — though they are dreary and enervated excuses for living beings. Their world, lit by blue-green phosphorescence, is dazzlingly beautiful, with soaring architecture and intricate carving — but emotionally it is cold and dismal.

Dorothy and Flicker receive a hostile welcome, though Piopelp falls in love with Bungle, re-christens her "Beloved," and longs to keep her forever. In the end, Flicker and Bungle must tolerate each other and co-operate to rescue Dorothy from imprisonment and death.

Shanower's story bears a relationship with Glinda of Oz, L. Frank Baum's final Oz book. Piopelp and Ma-dul-ma-dun compare with Coo-ee-oh and the submersible city of the Skeezers. In both cases, a dictatorial queen rules a subsurface domain of technical accomplishment and great beauty, but a place of repression and capricious tyranny. "Mushroom Queen" also bears resemblances to Shanower's other subterranean mushroom people story, Trot of Oz, his collaboration with Glenn Ingersoll.

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