The Emerald Burrito of Oz by John Skipp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Oz is real, the gateway is located near Salina, Kansas, and it's something of a tourist destination. Gene leaves LA for a vacation in Oz and stumbles upon a war. Will he get back to LA alive?
The Emerald Burrito of Oz, while a bizarro book, is actually pretty well thought out, more akin to Philip Jose Farmer's Oz book than any of the L. Frank Baum ones. Is Oz being a tourist attraction that hard to imagine? The Emerald Burrito of the title refers to the first Mexican restaurant in Emerald City, as well as a plot device introduced later.
The characters are pretty interesting and the story alternates from the POV of the two leads. Gene's pretty Arthur Dent-ish, at least at first. Aurora Quixote Jones is a warrior woman from earth and the story's other POV character. There's a lot more blood and guts in this than I thought there would be. Then again, how can you not expect an ax-wielding Tin Man and a lion not to spill their share of blood?
Many of the classic denizens of Oz are present, although in different forms. Dorothy is a warrior woman, Toto's getting old, The Scarecrow is the mayor of Oz. Extra points awarded for mention of Faruza Balk and the Return to Oz flick of the 80's.
The Hollow Man and his minions were suitable opponents, though I never really felt like anyone was in jeopardy. The thing that intrigued me the most about The Emerald Burrito of Oz was the traveling between worlds and its impact; American music in Oz, immigrant munchkins, machines that go wonky when they get to Oz, the herd of sentient hummers, things of that nature.
Another thing I liked: No one ever said "We're not in Kansas anymore."
About the only thing I can think of to bitch about is that there wasn't more of it. Since when is one burrito enough? I could go for two or three more Emerald Burritos of Oz.
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