Strange Horizons, 01/14/08

For starters, I naturally assumed “The End of Tin” by Bill Kte’pi opened with a typo:

When Nick Chopper was a boy and not yet tin, they used to say every mirror was haunted.

The bolding is my doing. I guessed Kte’pi meant ten not tin, but I soon learned the error of assuming. And thankfully, I kept on reading. It slowly becomes known that this tin boy eventually grows up to be a tin man…that’s right, a Tin Man. No heart and all. In the land of Oz, too. But he wasn’t always this way. In fact, he used to be a man, a real man with a real body that he called his own before it was stolen. Anyways, one day he spies an odd reflection in one of his magical mirrors, hops through, and…ends up on the other side. Sort of a combination of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.

That said, I can confirm that Kte’pi has done a far better job with the re-imagining of Oz than Gregory Maguire did in Wicked, even if the story still feels ungrounded at times. The frenetic prose occasionally moves a little too fast, making some scenes a tad unclear. I’m talking about the moment right after Nick crashes through the mirror, as well as the exposition-heavy opening scenes where we really learn a lot of background details and not enough plot-wise. I had trouble figuring out exactly what had happened, and it took a couple re-reads to get there.

Still, I’m an Oz fan and a sucker for anything set in its world. Any of you ever see Return to Oz? It was supposed to be a children’s sequel the kid-friendly, Judy Garland spotlight film. In actuality, it was dark, creepy, and much more closer to the work of L. Frank Baum. And so is “The End of Tin.” This one gets my approval for being violent, dark, and ruthlessly upsetting. Sure, we probably remember the Tin Man as a lovable, melodramatic sod that danced and bounced about until his joints needed some oiling. Not here. Nick Chopper carries an axe for a reason. He wants his body back, but the rules of our world and the rules of Oz differ greatly. Consequences shall rise.

Well recommended. Now, I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz, because because because because becaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaause…

Rating: 8 anonymous stars out of 10

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