On My Shelves: Big Hero 6

  Hiro (yes, our Hero is named Hiro) Hamada is a teen genius – 14 and already graduated from high school. Raised by his aunt Cass and his considerably older brother Tadashi, Hiro has yet to find direction for his genius and when we meet him is making money by hustling in "bot fights" – robot combat duels with significant money riding on them. His cockiness almost gets him in serious trouble, since he doesn't recognize that tricking people involved in illegal operations doesn't just get you a stern talking-to. Fortunately big brother [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Atrocity Archives

The idea that thoughts, concepts, mathematics, logic themselves can affect reality is hardly unique. I've previously reviewed The Incompleat Enchanter by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague deCamp, in which Harold Shea and Reed Chalmers work out the Mathematics of Magic which allow the users to cross to other worlds, Doctor Who has frequently used the concept (Castrovalva, the Shakespeare Code, etc.) and numerous other authors have taken their turns with it. The Atrocity Archives is Charlie Stross' take on the concept, done in a more modern and [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Glinda of Oz

The final volume of the fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum sees Ozma and Dorothy on a visit to Glinda, when Dorothy, idly paging through the Great Book of Records, discovers a cryptic notation that the Flatheads and Skeezers – previously unknown inhabitants of Oz – have begun a war. Ozma is determined not to permit war within her borders, and decides to set out directly for these people in the far north of the Gillikin country and convince them to make peace. Glinda tries to convince her, several times, not to get involved, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Magic of Oz

With The Magic of Oz we approach the end of the original series, as this is the thirteenth and penultimate book in the novels by Baum himself. Young Kiki Aru, a boy of the Hyup people who live atop Mount Munch, is a bored and indolent sort of boy, the kind who seems always unwilling to be part of the community around him. One day, however, he discovers the only magical secret his father, Bini Aru, had preserved from the days that Bini Aru was a great Sorcerer: the magical word "Pyrzqxgl", complete with instructions on how to pronounce this [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Tin Woodman of Oz

  Woot the Wanderer is, as his name says, a wanderer of Oz, originally from the Gillikin country, who arrives in his travels at the Palace of the Tin Woodman. That worthy, always interested in newcomers, has Woot brought in and asks him to tell of himself and his travels. But after this, as Woot is enjoying a dinner (which, naturally, neither the Tin Woodman nor his current companion, the Scarecrow, partake of), Woot asks how the Woodman came to be made of tin.   The Woodman recounts the story – how he came to love a Munchkin [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Lost Princess of Oz

  Eleventh in the series, The Lost Princess of Oz follows up on Rinkitink in Oz with another excellent tale, one of the best in the canon, and one of those most deeply influential in my writing of Polychrome. Dorothy Gale, going to Ozma's rooms to ask if she and her friends Betsy and Trot could take the Saw-Horse and royal carriage to visit the Munchkin country, discovers that Ozma has disappeared; even more disturbing, her Magic Picture is gone, so they cannot use it to discover where Ozma is. Shortly, they learn that Glinda's [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Rinkitink in Oz

  With the tenth book of the Oz series, we reach one of the most important books to my writing of Polychrome, and also one of my favorite books in the series. Thus, rather than a mere On My Shelves, this book gets an Under the Influence all to itself It is worth noting that. Rinkitink began existence as another of Baum's non-Oz fantasies, but Baum repurposed it as an Oz novel and that is how it has become known.   On the idyllic tropical island of Pingaree in the Nonestic Ocean (the ocean that surrounds the lands of Faerie) [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Scarecrow of Oz

Baum wrote many other stories, although none of them reached the popularity of the Oz novels. He wrote two books, titled The Sea Fairies and Sky Island, featuring a diminuitive girl nicknamed Trot and her guardian, the old seaman called Cap'n Bill, as the two went on strange faerie adventures under water and into the sky.   In the second volume, the pair encounter two familiar faces from the Oz novels, the eternal lost boy Button-Bright (who is slightly older, and considerably less stupid, than he was in his appearance in The Road to [ Continue reading... ]

Tik-Tok of Oz

This, the eighth of the Oz novels, takes us into the second half of the fourteen Oz books that Baum wrote, and also is the first book to prominently feature characters or menaces from "isolated, little-known" areas of Oz, something which Baum himself made something of a necessity by his more general pronouncement of how Ozma had made Oz a near-paradise. Queen Ann Soforth of the tiny, isolated sliver of a Kingdom called Oogaboo is weary of being a sort of play-Queen ruling over the same eighteen men, twenty-seven women, and forty-four [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Patchwork Girl of Oz

  After The Emerald City of Oz, Baum originally intended to end the series. But both his tendency to spend money, and insistent legions of fans, showed this to be as futile an attempt as that of Conan Doyle to kill off Sherlock Holmes. As he had deliberately had Oz sealed away from contact with the outside world, Baum showed one of his whimsical attempts at maintaining consistency in the introduction of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, stating that he had managed to establish a wireless (radio) link with Oz (with the Wizard and Shaggy Man [ Continue reading... ]