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Author Topic: PC259: The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz  (Read 7099 times)

Talia

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on: May 08, 2013, 01:39:33 PM
PodCastle 259: The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz

by Rae Carson and C.C. Finlay.

Read by Nick Podel (recording courtesy of Brilliance Audio Books).

Originally appeared in Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond, edited by John Joseph Adams.

Scraps, the patchwork girl, witnessed the wizard’s arrival. She sat beneath a tree watching the most spectacular show ever performed by a summer sky. White clouds swirled above an emerald colored sky like whipped marshmallow topping on a glass bowl full of lime jello spinning round and round and round on a potter’s wheel. She didn’t think it could get any more amazing when the clouds cracked open and sunlight burst through so blinding that she lifted one patchwork arm to shade her button eyes.

That’s when she saw the balloon.


Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 01:09:51 PM by Talia »



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #1 on: May 09, 2013, 01:57:07 AM
I am InfiniteMonkey, the Great and Powerful!! (for being first)

The chief charms of this story are the blustering balderdash of that old fraud Oz. Rhetorically ridiculous, it contrasted nicely with the more commonplace speech of...well, everyone else.

Plus the mouse-boy was cute.

Oz is solidly "meh" for me as a setting... I have no strong feelings one way or the other. But this story was amusing.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2013, 08:00:08 AM by InfiniteMonkey »



Windup

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Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 06:14:50 AM
Yeah, this was fun.  I love the "who's zoom'n who?" angle in almost any story, and this one definitely had it. Like Infinite Monkey, I loved the balderdash, but I think my favorite character was the hoodlum Munchkin.  I always wondered what happened to the ones who couldn't make the cut for the Lollypop Guild or the Lullaby League....
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 01:07:21 AM by Windup »

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Kaa

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Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 07:15:24 PM
I'm kind of weary in general of stories set in Oz. Which is weird, considering that I've heard exactly three -- all of them here on the 'pods -- other than the original book.

But this one drew me in, and I think it's almost entirely due to the narration. Are we SURE there weren't about 17 different people reading? Because I'm fairly sure no one throat could produce all of those voices. I especially enjoyed the munchkin's voice.

At any rate, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to when I saw the title.

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #4 on: May 12, 2013, 06:33:09 AM
I have to admit that I am, also, gradually turning against Oz reinterpretations. Primarily, this is because they are - almost always - unbearably cynical.

It works like this. Baum write a world that was ultimately innocent - far too innocent for a modern, adult audience - though weirdly compelling nevertheless. He also liked to write over his intended audience's head, with the occasional character whose foolish, selfish, adult behaviors make them a villain, antagonist, or object of ridicule. Finally, in their effort to make the innocent, slightly silly land of Oz palatable to modern, adult audiences, writers tend to either a) darken the setting and characters significantly or b) chose one of these adult-motivation characters as a perspective character.

This is a bad combination. You have a story about a selfish jerk, doing stupid jerky things, in a dark version of a beautiful setting.

This story suffered, additionally, from the problem that it had to make nearly everyone else an absolute moron for Oz's plans to succeed. This is fundamentally sloppy writing. I was particularly annoyed by the conversation with the Munchkin. Seriously, if he was that unhappy, why did he agree to Oz's plan? Why did he kick Oz for "making" him do anything if he was getting paid for his time? Because the story needed him to do it, and needed to make Oz look bad.

The best thing about this story was the reading, which was excellent. The narrator's ability and willingness to "do the voices," as they say, was really entertaining.

The story itself? It didn't offend me or anything, but I basically didn't like it. Just another dark, cynical Oz retelling, dropped several notches by lazy writing. One and a half zeppelins.

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Liminal

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Reply #5 on: May 12, 2013, 07:19:41 PM
It works like this. Baum write a world that was ultimately innocent - far too innocent for a modern, adult audience - though weirdly compelling nevertheless. He also liked to write over his intended audience's head, with the occasional character whose foolish, selfish, adult behaviors make them a villain, antagonist, or object of ridicule. Finally, in their effort to make the innocent, slightly silly land of Oz palatable to modern, adult audiences, writers tend to either a) darken the setting and characters significantly or b) chose one of these adult-motivation characters as a perspective character.

Just curious, have you read the later books in the series that Baum wrote?

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Brynn

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Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 12:19:41 AM
This was the first story where I went googling the narrator before the author. I did enjoy the story but it was very heightened by the excellent narration.



benjaminjb

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Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 12:48:46 AM
I'm for the chorus here: excellent, excellent narration.

The story itself was also fine and lighthearted; contra Electric Paladin, I think the stakes here were so low--some ransomed flying monkeys? stolen zeppelin technology--that the story remained lighthearted even if the characters might've been trying to screw each other over.

And Oz's balderdashy speaking carried this over into the realm of pure silliness, helped along by the rotating POV for each section.



Scott R

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Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 12:45:31 PM
Along with everyone else, I loved the narration. Like ElectricPaladin, I'm wary of Oz reinterpretations. This one was OK, and especially effective in the closing scene with the tea-drinking witches.



Just Jeff

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Reply #9 on: May 14, 2013, 03:27:44 PM
I love Oz's dialogue and the reading. The rest didn't do much more me.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #10 on: May 14, 2013, 08:03:17 PM
I, too, have little love for Oz reinterpretations. I like Electric Paladin's analysis of the subject and will leave it at that. As for the story itself, I loved the eccentricity of the Wizard, but that's about it. I found myself wondering at the end what the point to the story was. I could be wrong, I haven't read the original Oz nor Baum's other works, but to my understanding there was never a zeppelin in Oz. Now, I get that this is a new jaunt into an old world, and that the story doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with Dorothy's tale, but to me that's kind of the point of writing a story like this. Like Wicked, we get a new take on things that we already know happened. With this story, the events do not tie back to the original in any way. So what's the point of using Oz as the setting and characters? This story could have been told in its own world and had the exact same effect. Basically, if you're going to play in someone else's sandbox, I'd like there to be a purpose to it other than just to use their bucket and spade.

And I loved, loved, the narration. Any chance to use Nick in the future, jump on it. He was fantastic.

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benjaminjb

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Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 08:12:06 PM
Now, I get that this is a new jaunt into an old world, and that the story doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with Dorothy's tale, but to me that's kind of the point of writing a story like this. Like Wicked, we get a new take on things that we already know happened.
I thought that's what this was: a new view on an old character--the Wizard of Oz. I mean, in the movie (at this point, better known than the books and my only reference), the Wizard of Oz is a flim-flam man. He's the perfectly ordinary guy who pretends to be extraordinary by hiding behind a curtain and pulling levers.

And here he is again, flim-flamming and conning people. Only here, under all that flim-flam (that we know to expect because we've seen the movie), there's another layer of, ahem, flim, which we may not expect. He's not an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain; he's the mastermind hiding behind the illusion that he's an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #12 on: May 14, 2013, 08:21:15 PM
And here he is again, flim-flamming and conning people. Only here, under all that flim-flam (that we know to expect because we've seen the movie), there's another layer of, ahem, flim, which we may not expect. He's not an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain; he's the mastermind hiding behind the illusion that he's an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain.

And you're right. Like I said, I really liked the character of the wizard. I guess what fell flat for me was the scheme itself, the con. It wasn't interesting or engaging, and in reality seemed quite pointless. He's trying to con his way into becoming king, sure, but was that really his first and best option to accomplish that goal? He didn't even talk to any of the witches before he started plotting against them. Seems to me he would have tried a few other avenues such as courting (since he did attempt to gain power through marriage) rather than just jumping straight to conniving trickery. Sure, he's portrayed as a schemer, so maybe this is his best option, but then, an elaborate plan to kidnap all the monkeys just to prove to the witch that he's a capable man deserving of her affection and alliance? It feels too simple and stupid to me.

So, the exploration of Oz as a conniving bastard: well played. Everything else? Meh.

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Devoted135

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Reply #13 on: May 16, 2013, 03:02:40 AM
Falling in line with regard to the excellent narration. :)

Were there one-dimensional characters? Yes. Did many of the characters behave in inexplicably illogical ways? Sure. Was that the dumbest "heist" ever attempted by man? Possibly. But really, it was amusing, and it brought us the various witches of Oz joking about how ridiculous it all was. What more can you ask from a story entitled "The Great Zeppelin Heist of Oz"? So yeah, I had fun -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :D



Devoted135

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Reply #14 on: May 16, 2013, 03:33:08 PM
Also, I'm not sure how I forgot to say welcome back Dave! It's great to have you back. :D Group hug!



DKT

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Reply #15 on: May 16, 2013, 04:48:15 PM
 :D

GROUP HUGS ALL AROUND!!!


Windup

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Reply #16 on: May 17, 2013, 02:24:51 AM
:D

GROUP HUGS ALL AROUND!!!

Isn't a group hug, by definition, all around?  <<overthinking it, overthinking it...>> :D

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LadiesAndGentleman

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Reply #17 on: May 17, 2013, 05:33:51 PM
On its own, The Great Zeppelin Heist was most interesting when it drew comparisons between the Wizard's attempt to take over Oz and the way America was ripped out of the hands of Native Americans.  Gregory Maguire's detailed novel, Wicked, may be more to my taste, but this story really tried to look at Baum's fantasyland from a pre-colonial, and actually very sad, perspective.  I absolutely dug it.

It works like this. Baum write a world that was ultimately innocent - far too innocent for a modern, adult audience - though weirdly compelling nevertheless. He also liked to write over his intended audience's head, with the occasional character whose foolish, selfish, adult behaviors make them a villain, antagonist, or object of ridicule. Finally, in their effort to make the innocent, slightly silly land of Oz palatable to modern, adult audiences, writers tend to either a) darken the setting and characters significantly or b) chose one of these adult-motivation characters as a perspective character.

This is a bad combination. You have a story about a selfish jerk, doing stupid jerky things, in a dark version of a beautiful setting.

I vehemently disagree.  Warping an "ultimately innocent" story with dark elements can work beautifully.  Writers and readers can celebrate the legacy of a great work in different ways and this is one of them.  It means people are thinking critically.

Bleaker interpretations of The Wizard of Oz really examine and excavate the layers of meaning behind the text, filtering it through multiple lenses to deepen one's appreciation.  Re-framing a children's story for adult audiences may not be to everyone's taste, but it shows this work can be reassessed and analyzed outside of its time period and assumed audience.  I think darker re-workings of Oz--questioning the intent of characters, looking for meanings that aren't apparent--shows an evolving genre.

While these grimdark re-tellings may be getting a little too common nowadays, I also take issue with the view that the Oz books are "far too innocent for a modern, adult audience."  The first three books alone contain murder, gender questioning (I adore Tip/Princess Ozma), and political upheaval.  The seeds of those dark elements are already buried in the "innocent, slightly silly land of Oz." 



Lisa3737

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Reply #18 on: May 18, 2013, 01:49:46 AM
An entertaining story and GREAT narration!



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #19 on: May 18, 2013, 08:03:38 AM
And everyone seems to be overlooking the political allegories of the Oz books (or at least the first)....



LadiesAndGentleman

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Reply #20 on: May 20, 2013, 03:10:38 PM
And everyone seems to be overlooking the political allegories of the Oz books (or at least the first)....

You mean the stuff with the gold standard, ie, Dorothy wearing silver shoes while walking on a yellow brick road?  I always figured the political imagery was inconclusively vague.



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Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 06:57:09 AM
A very nice story, superbly narrated. Can we have Nick always and forever?

All of the characters in this story were extremely well-written, from the blustering, smooth-talking, fair-barker Oz to the disgruntled tree. Excellent. True genius. And the voice acting only added to it.

I just have one question about the plot: really? You blew your three commands of the flying monkeys to get a zeppelin? Not exactly the best heist, I should think. Look at what it cost you: you can never ever ever control the flying monkeys again! And at the beginning of the whole thing you didn't even know what he had in mind! Not very clever.

So except for the ending, a really awesome piece of fiction.

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Reply #22 on: May 22, 2013, 01:05:39 PM
i tend to enjoy Oz reinterpretations, as it's one of my favorite fantasy worlds and there are so many fun elements that have entered pop culture that are fun to manipulate.  And that was my opinion before my very first fiction publication happened to be a horror Oz reinterpretation.  Admittedly I did start out this one a bit grumpy, because I'm still a bit disgruntled that John Joseph Adams didn't open up for general submissions for this anthology, but I tried not to hold it against this story.

The story was okay, passable but unremarkable.  Most of the word count seemed to be dedicated to showing us what a blowhard conman the Wizard is.  Which isn't really a reimagining, he was such back in the first Oz book.  The stealing of the zeppelin as a climax didn't really make sense to me, because I don't recall any mention of the witches having a zeppelin.  So it didn't tie into the original in any way that I considered significant. 

And there isn't really any tension that I care about.  We know how Oz and the Witch end up later on.  We know that Oz doesn't defeat her, and that he doesn't command the monkeys.  We didn't know that she ended up with the zeppelin but that doesn't really matter since she doesn't apparently use it enough for her use to be notable later on. 




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Reply #23 on: May 22, 2013, 01:37:11 PM
Also, I'll echo others' comments about the reading.  Twas spectacular, a fine voice talent he has.



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Reply #24 on: May 22, 2013, 08:57:38 PM
My biggest gripe about this story is with the places where it failed to match the tone of Oz as established by Baum. This could have been just as effective without the "happy to see me" boner joke. Sex doesn't match the original tone making it come cross as more Wicked than Baum, so the double derivative distillation disappoints.


The story was okay, passable but unremarkable.  Most of the word count seemed to be dedicated to showing us what a blowhard conman the Wizard is.  Which isn't really a reimagining, he was such back in the first Oz book.  The stealing of the zeppelin as a climax didn't really make sense to me, because I don't recall any mention of the witches having a zeppelin.  So it didn't tie into the original in any way that I considered significant. 

And there isn't really any tension that I care about.  We know how Oz and the Witch end up later on.  We know that Oz doesn't defeat her, and that he doesn't command the monkeys.  We didn't know that she ended up with the zeppelin but that doesn't really matter since she doesn't apparently use it enough for her use to be notable later on. 



I just have one question about the plot: really? You blew your three commands of the flying monkeys to get a zeppelin? Not exactly the best heist, I should think. Look at what it cost you: you can never ever ever control the flying monkeys again! And at the beginning of the whole thing you didn't even know what he had in mind! Not very clever.


Well, she gets a house dropped on her before the first book really gets going, so it's not like she could get any use from either the crown or the zeppelin. However, someone else would have taken control of the zep and used it to have great wild adventures, possibly across one of the deserts. Frankly, the inclusion of the zeppelin seemed more in line with a steampunk checklist (along with the goggles and jetpacks) than it did with trying to fit into Baum's world. I can go along with the grumble of adding something before that doesn't fit with canon. To have the greatest impact, prequels need to grow into what's already written.

It works like this. Baum write a world that was ultimately innocent - far too innocent for a modern, adult audience - though weirdly compelling nevertheless. He also liked to write over his intended audience's head, with the occasional character whose foolish, selfish, adult behaviors make them a villain, antagonist, or object of ridicule. Finally, in their effort to make the innocent, slightly silly land of Oz palatable to modern, adult audiences, writers tend to either a) darken the setting and characters significantly or b) chose one of these adult-motivation characters as a perspective character.

Just curious, have you read the later books in the series that Baum wrote?

You seem to be driving to a point but I can't quite see where you want to go. I've read more in the series and don't recall and diminshment of that adventurous innocence.


The story itself? It didn't offend me or anything, but I basically didn't like it. Just another dark, cynical Oz retelling, dropped several notches by lazy writing. One and a half zeppelins.


Does this score include the stolen zeppelin or not?


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