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Q&A with the Authors of the New Anthology “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond” (Part 2)

Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond brings together leading fantasy writers such as Jane Yolen, Tad Williams and Seanan McGuire to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans—and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds.

Here is the book’s description:

When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, bestselling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…

Q: What do you think about the new Oz movie coming out in March, Oz: The Great and Powerful? Excited? Dubious? Some combination of both?

Rachel Swirsky: I’m excited. I like it when worlds get examined and re-examined, when there are lots of people looking at them in different ways. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland isn’t going to replace Alice in Wonderland. It doesn’t capture the essential energy of Alice in the same way that some of the more traditional tellings. (My favorite is the 1983 Masterpiece Theatre recording of a play version of Alice, starring Nathan Lane as a mouse.) But Burton complements Alice, creates a new way of playing with it and looking at it. I think perhaps my enjoyment of that kind of reinterpretation is influenced by my background in theater–unlike movies and television, when you have a juicy theatrical role, it’s constantly reinvented as new directors, new companies, and new actors find different meanings and beauty in the text. I don’t expect Oz: The Great and Powerful to stand on its own, but I’m excited to see what new meanings and beauty they’ve found in the narrative.

My favorite existing reinterpretation of Oz, by the by, is Gregory Maguire’s Wicked–not the musical, and not the sequels–just the strange, disorienting book, with its gauze of sadness, and failing rebellion.

Dale Bailey: Well, I’m apprehensive about it.  The first film is such a classic and holds such a grip on my imagination that I can’t see them doing anything better (or even different that would move me in the same way).  I remember as a kid, the movie would air annually, and I would wait all year with anticipation for the night when it came on.  We only had a black-and-white television then, so when I finally saw it on a color television, the shift to technicolor when Dorothy reaches Oz was a revelation to me, and one of the most brilliant ways of handling such a transition I have ever seen.

Rae Carson: Oz is ripe for reimagination, but the trailers make it look frenetic and plot-lean. So I’m dubious–but hopeful.

David Farland: I’m afraid that the original film will always be “the movie” for me.  I’ll definitely go see it, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  I’d love to be blown away by it.

C.C. Finlay: Rachel Weisz playing a smart and powerful woman?  Sure, it’s typecasting, but I’ll go see that any day.

Jeffery Ford: The last thing I saw James Franco in was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was a laugh-fest of a flick. As goofy as they come. I like the director, Joe Dante, though. He’s done some cool movies. I’ve seen the trailer, and am not holding out much hope. Still, I might go check it out.

Theodora Goss: What worries me about the movie is that it centers on the Wizard, who seems to be the hero of the story.  In the Oz books, the Wizard was never a central character: he was ultimately a friend of Ozma’s and Dorothy’s.  The action always centered on the girls.  I think certain stories, like those about Oz, can be rewritten many times without harm to the original.  But I’ll have to see the movie to judge how it deals with the original material.  In the stories, the Wizard does eventually learn magic, but it’s from Glinda–in a sense, he is her student and servant.  I think the way the Oz books deal with gender is very important, and I hope the movie recognizes that . . .

Simon R. Green: Sam Raimi, Mister Evil Dead and Spiderman Guru, making an Oz film? I can’t wait to see it.

Kat Howard: I’m intrigued. I find retellings and reimaginings of stories to be very interesting – that need to balance the recognizable pieces of the source material with making the story new and fresh. I think a good retelling is one that not only stands on its own, but also makes you think about the original in a new light.

Ken Liu: I love seeing old works re-imagined. It allows us to see them in new ways and to derive new pleasures. And it allows artists to have a conversation with each other, something that’s becoming harder and harder under our increasingly draconian copyright laws. I can’t wait to see what the filmmakers have done.

Jonathan Maberry: I’ve seen the coming attractions for Oz: The Great and Powerful and I am entirely captivated. The movie looks wonderful, the casting is perfect, and it appears to capture that balance of innocence and awareness that first drew me to those books. I’ll be in the theater for the first show.

Seanan McGuire: I am in a “wait and see” mode.  I think it looks gorgeous, and it’s nice to spend a little time with the Wizard.  I do really hope that we’ll get a good, modern Dorothy story sometime soon, but I can be patient.  I am a patient girl.  Sometimes.

Robin Wasserman: I have…uh…Very Strong Feelings about the idea of a new Oz feature film, most of which I probably shouldn’t commit to writing lest I ever meet James Franco at a cocktail party or something. I will say that, as a serious loyalist to the original, I am deeply conflicted about the idea of a new film entering the canon, especially if there’s a risk of a generation of children watching this one first (or only). That didn’t seem to go very well for the Star Wars fans.  But I’ll admit that a couple years ago, when there was a rumor that Robert Downey Jr. was going to take the lead role, I was fully on board. In fact, I was driving the bus. And skeptical or not, I know I’ll be first in line to buy tickets, because it’s Oz: I’m never going to pass up the chance to see it come to life.

Jane Yolen:  I haven’t seen any trailers except one recently. Looking forward with a mixture of hope tempered by experience, seasoned with snark.

About Patrick Hester (527 Articles)
Patrick Hester is a writer, blogger, podcasting dude, Denver transplant and all around Functional Nerd. Don't hate him cuz he has a cool hat.

2 Comments on Q&A with the Authors of the New Anthology “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond” (Part 2)

  1. I am not hopeful for the new Oz film, but it would be nice if it was decent.

  2. Splicer // March 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm //

    I think doing a prequel was the smart way to go since doing a retelling, especially of something as iconic as the classic film, doesn’t often go well. Tim Burton crapped himself viciously with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory since the musical starring the brilliant Gene Wilder is perfect. Same with what they did with The Producers except in that case going from a film to a musical (then a film of the musical). No matter what you do, you can’t do better than Gene Wilder (him again) and the great Zero Mostel. Prequel worked for Wicked and I think it’ll work for Oz the Great and Powerful.

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