Review of Oz Reimagined

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

ozOz Reimagined
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen; Performed by Tanya Eby and Nick Podehl
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
11 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / fantasy / wizards / dorothy / oz /

Publisher summary (paraphrased):

The ultimate anthology for Oz fans – and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds… Some stories are dystopian…Some are dreamlike…All are undeniably Oz.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

“The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz” – Rae Carson & C.C. Finlay
“Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust” – Seanan McGuire
“Lost Girls of Oz” – Theodora Goss
“The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story” – Tad Williams
“Dorothy Dreams” – Simon R. Green
“Dead Blue” – David Farland
“One Flew Over the Rainbow” – Robin Wasserman
“The Veiled Shanghai” – Ken Liu
“Beyond the Naked Eye” – Rachel Swirsky
“A Tornado of Dorothys” – Kat Howard
“Blown Away” – Jane Yolen
“City So Bright” – Dale Bailey
“Off to See the Emperor” – Orson Scott Card
“A Meeting in Oz” – Jeffrey Ford
“The Cobbler of Oz” – Jonathan Maberry

I didn’t pick this book to review out of Oz-Nostalgia, since I only have very vague childhood memories of reading the original L. Frank Baum stories, and these memories were nearly bleached out of my brain completely when I was in my twenties, because I worked in an electronics store that played The Wizard of Oz movie on a seemingly infinite loop. Despite that traumatic experience, I wanted to read this collection because I love seeing how different authors’ voices, experiences and imaginations can flavor a similar story concept; and because I remembered the best parts about Oz were the scary parts – the Winged Monkeys, the Wheelers, the mean witches – and so the idea of darker, more adult perceptions of Oz really appealed to me.

The collection was even better than I expected. The tales were so eclectic and interesting I never got tired with being in Oz and even ended up downloading the original stories once I’d finished so I could revisit the world. The Oz Reimagined stories include everything from murder mystery and psychological drama to dystopia, urban fantasy, and cyberpunk. The tones of the stories are also varied, with some taking a darker view and dealing with themes like aging or death, and others leaning more to the whimsical, colorful and cute.

The narrators, Tanya Eby and Nick Podehl, did an amazing job with all the different voices and styles of storytelling in this collection. When I clicked back through the audio to remind myself of the stories, I could tell which story was which right away just by the narrator’s cadence and tone. They managed a huge range of voices. I especially adored the voices of the pathetic lion and bitchy Dorothy in “Off to See the Emperor”: I listened to that one twice, both for the good writing and entertaining narration.

The authors in this collection range from rising stars to old pros. The stand-out stories for me were Seanan McGuire’s “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust,” which was a beautiful tale with equally beautiful use of profanity (I love artfully used curse words); Tad William’s “The Boy Detective of Oz,” which is set in his Otherland computer-simulated world and which stars the fascinating glass cat; Dale Bailey’s “City So Bright,” about a working-class munchkin who polishes the wall for a system he realizes is completely corrupt; and Orson Scott Card’s “Off to See the Emperor,” with two of the intelligent and yet naïve child characters that Card does so incredibly well.

As Gregory Maguire says in the introduction, these are “postcards from the beyond,” and every writer has different experiences and points of view to share. I thought it was an awesome collection that took me on a little trip and reminded me why I enjoyed the scary, weird and colorful world of Oz when I was kid.

Posted by Marissa van Uden