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The Other Oz

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"The Other Oz: Apocrypha Beyond the Forty Books" is an important critical essay by Stephen J. Teller that was published in the Spring 1989 issue of The Baum Bugle. Teller proposed a conceptual structure for the ever-growing and burgeoning Oz literature (that has only accelerated its expansion since Teller wrote).

Teller proposed four categories of Oz works:

  • The Canon — the "Famous Forty" books written by L. Frank Baum and other "Royal Historians" and published by the George M. Hill Co., Reilly & Britton, and Reilly & Lee.
  • Deutero-Canonical Works — the Oz-related works written by those same authors (including unpublished material).
  • Orthodox Apocrypha — books by other writers that are "consistent with the spirit," tone, and narrative of the first category.
  • Heretical Apocrypha — books by other writers that depart from the established Oz narrative, or are inconsistent with, or overtly contradict, its spirit and tone.

Some would quarrel with the theological terms Teller uses; but his structure has substantive value whatever terms are chosen for it. (In Teller's day the first two categories were regarded as largely closed. The appointment of Sherwood Smith as a new Royal Historian by the L. Frank Baum Family Trust might constitute a caveat to than assumption.)

Teller naturally concentrated his attention on the last two of his categories, which remain relevant for works published since 1989. Modern works by Donald Abbott, Edward Einhorn, Eric Shanower, Gina Wickwar, and others are clearly intended to be faithful to the Oz inspiration; most readers place them in the third category.

The final category includes works that have sometimes been called "Alternate Oz," like the fiction of Alexander Volkov and March Laumer among others.

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