My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the Files of Sheldon Nylander:
I came across a publication the other day called The Emerald Burrito of Oz, put together by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal. It was an account of Gene Spielman of Los Angeles’ visit to his friend Aurora Jones, the proprietor of the Emerald Burrito which is the only Mexican restaurant in Oz, a magical world that seems to exist in parallel with our own and is the true world which L. Frank Baum based his books on. The gate exists in Salina, Kansas, but it requires special government permission to pass through. This would explain the recent influx of Munchkins working around Salina in recent years.
This world of Oz plays by its own rules, right down to the laws of science. Things don’t work the same as they do over here, especially when it comes to technology. In Oz, only the simplest of technologies work. When any man-made technology passes through the gate, the results are…unpredictable, which leads to some odd situations, especially when reading through Gene’s account written on the computer he took with him.
It becomes very easy to feel lost with this account, especially if you are only familiar with the Judy Garland movie (and to a lesser extent the much darker “Return to Oz” with Fairuza Balk; this book was originally published back in 2000, before “Oz, the Great and Powerful” was even a gleam in a studio executive’s eye). There are references to individuals and creatures that, to my knowledge, are only accounted for in the L. Frank Baum books, which I haven’t read.
The book has more violence than you might initially expect from something related to Baum’s children’s books, but then you remember that is the real life accounting of time in Oz during a civil war as they face off against someone known as the Hollow Man. When you get the real life counterparts of an axe-wielding Tin Man or the Lion, there’s going to be violence and blood.
While the book seemed interesting for what it is, I had a hard time getting into it. Admittedly, this may be because, as I mentioned above, I haven’t read Baum’s original books, so there was some sense of feeling lost in a world that I should have reviewed the map for before traveling there. The players are interesting, with Aurora being the traditional tough hero while Gene is more of a wimp, but I would have liked to learn more details about the real life counterparts of the Scarecrow or the Lion. Still, you get quite a bit of story, character, and world-building, and The Emerald Burrito of Oz is one of the longer books to fall into the bizarro genre with very little padding, so you’ll get more substance out of your reading.
The Emerald Burrito of Oz earns 3 flying monkeys out of 5.
Note: Just in case you can’t tell (and there some are some out there who might not), this review was written in character. Yes, I know it’s not real.