Not In Kansas Anymore
Created by Katina Jones on 4/30/2013 12:51:21 AM

Correspondent Katina Z. Jones reviews The Wizard of Oz: A Steampunk Adventure by S.D. Stuart.


Along with the recent theatrical film, “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” comes another unusual visit to the beloved land of Oz—only this trip is a good bit darker, with the penal colony of Australia’s “Australis/Outcast Zone” as the new and not-so-jolly land of OZ. This is truly a place for punks of all kinds.


S.D. Stuart’s The Wizard of OZ: A Steampunk Adventure (Ramblin’ Prose Publishing, 314 pages) begins with a 10-year-old Dorothy going with her parents, Professor and Mrs. Gale, to present a revolutionary invention of glowing green emeralds to the colony’s governing council. Though the council passes on the invention due to its unwillingness to stay and rule, someone else wants it so badly they kidnap Gale and kill his wife to get their hands on it. Poor Dorothy is left alone, but an associate of her father’s takes her under his wing to school her to one day save her father.


Years later, Dorothy receives a message that her father is still alive—so she hitches a ride on an airship, which is shot down over a little town with little clones who immediately decide she is the “Marshall of the East” and give her the badge to prove it. 


Along the way through OZ, Dorothy encounters the characters we most expect to see here—a Scarecrow automaton, a Woodsman/executioner and a human-feline hybrid named Caleb. Of course, they set out to find the Wizard in the hope that he can help Dorothy rescue her father.


Stylistically, this book reads much more like a good fan fiction—and with that being said, I would be remiss to neglect the finer points of criticism. For instance, as a teenager, Dorothy trusts those she meets rather easily—and doesn’t seem to be too worried about being surrounded by criminals. She is repeatedly captured—and her eventual rescue becomes anticlimactic when the book’s point of view abruptly changes from Dorothy’s to other characters who let us in on the details, telling us versus showing us via emotion and action. The dialogue is another issue, as much of it reads in staccato-like, modern prose that reminds one more of Hemingway than L. Frank Baum.


Still, there’s plenty of promise in the premise—and there soon will be more stops along the yellow brick road ahead. Book #2 in Stuart’s Steampunk Oz series, currently in production, is The Scarecrow of Oz: A Steampunk Adventure—and the author promises a grand entrance from none other than Toto, who was conspicuously missing from this first title. I’m hopeful that this second book takes a closer look at the finer points of storytelling, offering a more engaging and revealing trip to an otherwise intriguing “anti-Oz” of our familiar past.


Katina Z. Jones is owner of as well as an author of 26 books on a variety of business and lifestyle topics. She lives in suburban Atlanta with a menagerie of kids, dogs, cats and one very patient husband.

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