I’ve been doing more reading with my 10-year old niece and book 3 of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series was a real treat. While I’d seen the Wizard of Oz of course, Ozma of Oz was the first book I’d read and luckily it can be read entirely fine with nothing more than the 1939 movie as an introduction. This book was also my introduction to the otherworldly art of John R. Neill.
Ozma of Oz was published in 1907, and as I’ve noted in my previous posts, L. Frank Baum’s series is really the first major American fantasy world. The story begins with Dorothy travelling with Uncle Henry on a steamer to Australia. A storm picks up and Dorothy is washed overboard.
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If we were to look at the roots of American fantasy, or even world fantasy, the writer L. Frank Baum’s influence looms large in the pre-Tolkien era. The 1939 MGM The Wizard of Oz movie is an indelible part of world culture. Canvas for impactful movie villains and the Wicked Witch of the West tops most people’s lists. The movie is so pervasive in culture that we can forget the source novels, though.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, sold 3 million copies by 1956, when it entered the public domain. Baum wasn’t keen on sequels, but the fan mail from kids proved to be a powerful pressure and he ended up writing 14 Oz books before his death in 1919. Then the publisher hired Ruth Plumley Thompson to write another 21, and some other writers came later.
I’d of course seen the movie as a child and received the third Oz book (Ozma of Oz) from a classmate in grade six. I hadn’t known that the movie was based off of books, nor that there was a vast narrative mythology in prose form. I read Ozma of Oz and was charmed with the creativity, the tone, the promise of many more adventures, and began picking up other books as I encountered them.
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A while back, the classic card game Fluxx got a makeover in an edition that merges the game with a classic film. This certainly isn’t its first makeover for Fluxx, nor even the first time it’s merged with a classic film (there is a Monty Python Fluxx, for example), but given that Oz: The Great and Powerful is hitting theaters today, the version of Fluxx I’m going to talk about is Oz Fluxx (Amazon).
If you’ve never played Fluxx, here are the basics:
- The game continually changes, as players use Rule and Goal cards to modify every aspect of the game.
- Rule cards can modify the number of cards drawn, number of cards played in a turn, overall hand size, and pretty much any other asp
- Goal cards redefine the objectives needed to win.
- Keepers are cards you keep in front of you. Most Goals involve getting a certain combination of Keepers in play to win. Examples from this game include “The Artificial Heart” and “The Cowardly Lion.”
- Creepers (which are a type of card not in the original edition of Fluxx) are sort of negative Keepers, which get stuck in front of you and prevent you from winning … unless the Goal in play requires the Creeper as a condition of victory. Examples include “The Wicked Witch of the East” and “Angry Trees.”
- Action cards allow other actions, such as drawing extra cards, getting cards out of the discard pile, stealing or trading Keepers and Creepers, and so on.
- Surprise cards can be played either during your turn or on your opponents’ turn, to throw an even bigger wrench in your opponents’ expectations.
Probably the best way to get a feel for the game play is to watch this episode of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop game on the YouTube channel Geek and Sundry, in which Wheaton and his friends play Star Fluxx. This edition of the game is based upon science fiction classics, most notably (and unofficially) Star Trek, although I believe there are some non-copyright-infringing shout-outs to Doctor Who and other classics as well.
But, back to Oz Fluxx …
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