rushthatspeaks: (Default)
I think it was the Oz books that introduced me to the concept of fanfiction. Because when I was a kid at the library, there were the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, which were (mostly) pretty good, and there were the Oz books by Ruth Plumly Thompson, which were (mostly) okay. And they had a lot of the same characters, but not the same mind at work or the same authorial sensibilities. I don't remember whether I asked anyone why there was a series of books that had two apparently unrelated authors; I think I just assumed you could do that, by sending your manuscript in to a publisher in the usual way, since so clearly people did. Eventually I found out about licensing and shared worlds and spinoff series and film novelizations and all the various permutations that publishing goes through when more than one author is writing the same world or characters. But the Oz books were first, for me.

I never knew there were more than two authors, though. Baum is available everywhere and Thompson is not uncommon, but the other Oz stuff that existed when I was a kid was and is pretty rare (the more recent stuff is quite findable). I heard of this book through Mari Ness, and grabbed it when I saw it at the library.

It is completely acceptable fanfic. It does that thing people sometimes do when they've just started writing fanfic where they have to include every single bit of arcane canon knowledge they can shove in there, so that you know they know; and Snow has not learned that every scene of a book should in an ideal world have a purpose for existing. But it seizes on elements of the original Baum that I enjoyed, and riffs on them-- the most interesting antagonists in the Oz books are the Phanfasms, who are powerful and evil shapeshifters, and the Mimics here are basically their cousins-- and it has fairly tight plotting, and a clear attempt at the type of sense-of-wonder imagery that makes this sort of book worthwhile when it works. It does not quite work here, but he tried.

The prose is utterly pedestrian, though. No life at all.

So, B+ for effort, well-intentioned, and if I saw it at the Pit of Voles (which is where it would end up nowadays) I'd write the author a kindly note urging work with a good beta and hoping for continued evolution. If I'd read this as a kid I'd probably have liked it a fair bit better, but the library roulette did not work out that way.


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