PolychromeBy: Ryk E. Spoor
For his help in both setting up the Kickstarter and bringing Polychrome to actual publication, a huge thank-you to Lawrence Watt-Evans;
For providing an awesome cover, a big cheer to Bob Eggleton!
For lovely interior illustrations, applause for Morineko-Zion!
For her laser-guided editing, thanks to Barb Caffrey!
And for encouraging me until I had the guts to do this, my beta-readers!
This book is dedicated to two people:
First, to L. Frank Baum, whose vision of the far-distant lands of Faerie became the single largest written influence in my life from the time I was about six until I was in junior high, and whose images and characters remain some of the most beloved of all in my heart.
And second, to Kathleen Moffre-Spoor, who had to put up with the competition from a phantom rainbow-dancing girl for months… and whose marriage to me gave me the understanding of what a romance really is.
The written universe of Oz is immense, complex, often contradictory, and known well only to a few, now. This was not always the case; in its heyday, the Oz books were the equivalent of Harry Potter — constant bestsellers, translated into fifty languages around the globe, eagerly awaited by legions of young — and not-so-young — fans. But today, most people who know of Oz at all know it from the classic MGM movie starring Judy Garland.
Polychrome is based, not on the movie universe (which is, in fact, still in copyright) but on the fourteen original Oz novels written by L. Frank Baum, and mostly illustrated by John R. Neill. Those who are curious about the original stories, and wish to see what Baum wrote — and what I have worked from — can find the original fourteen novels for free on Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) .
The major difference between the movie and the book is simple: in the movie, Oz is a dream, a psychological tool for Dorothy to deal with her frustration surrounding her Kansas life.
In the book, it is all entirely real. Dorothy Gale really is whisked away to the fairyland of Oz, endures hardship and the very real threat of injury or death, and gathers a group of staunch friends who help her win through despite all odds, and in the end she confronts adversaries head-on with determination, stubborn will, and — perhaps her most powerful weapon — kindness. In short, she grows up, despite being a very young girl at the time, and returns home to Kansas to rejoin her bereaved aunt and uncle as more than a dependent — she becomes their support and friend, though still young and innocent.
Dorothy returns to Oz multiple times, having many adventures and meeting even more strange and wonderful people, before eventually settling there forever with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Other mortals, too, become adventurers in the fairylands surrounding Oz and eventually visit that central fairyland itself: Betsy Bobbin and her mule Hank, Trot and Cap’n Bill, the eternal lost boy Button-Bright, and more, as well as natives of Oz and the other surrounding lands such as Ojo the Lucky, Prince Inga of Pingaree, the jolly King Rinkitink, and more sinister figures such as the Nome King (and yes, “Nome” is the correct spelling in Baum’s works)… and, of course, the Daughter of the Rainbow itself, the beautiful and ever-cheerful Polychrome.
In Polychrome I have attempted to write a story of Oz as Baum depicted it… adjusted for the fact that Baum was both human, and writing for children, not adults, and thus some things had to be understood, or re-interpreted, in view of what an adult would have seen and known. I don’t think it is necessary to have read the Oz novels before reading Polychrome — several of my beta readers were not readers of Oz — but if you have been an “Ozite” in your heart, I hope Polychrome will help you enter that realm once more, if in a slightly older fashion.
Come then, and visit Oz anew… or for the first time.
Ryk E. Spoor
The grey Dove, slightly larger than the others, sat silent on the branch, a branch tinged with the color of twilight shadows and pre-dawn sky. Despite the mildness of the day, the perfect time of near-awakening of the world, it did not join with its brethren in the cooing, mournful yet soft and comforting sounds that such birds usually made.