By June Moffatt
(reprinted from APA-L #500, De Jueves #310, December 12, 1974)

Before we can decide upon a route to Oz, it might be well to establish, more or less, where it is located.  To try to place it, its surrounding territory with other magical countries, the many islands in the Nonestic, and Ozamaland on the long continent of Tarara, would strain even the vasty reaches of the South Pa-cific.  Why the South Pacific,  particularly?  Because, in addition to its being the largest ocean on our earth, we know that it was from a ship on this ocean that Dorothy and Billina made their trip to Ev, when they and the chicken coop were blown over-board and landed in the waters of the Nonestic.

For the purposes of this paper, it will be assumed that Oz is in its own continuum, coexisting and parallel with the Earth-as-we-know-it.  The Ozian continuum shall be referred to herein simply as “Oz”.  If Oz is in a neighboring continuum, we may posit “doorways” between the two.  These “doorways” may open regularly according to some unknown schedule, or perhaps some of them are always open.  They may also be opened by magical influence from the Ozian side, allowing a “leakage” of magical potential or influence.  This would account for the rare times when magic works (or seems to work) in our world.  As all of us who are Oz fans know, saying “Pyrzqxgl” doesn’t work, and neither does the Mudge verse--which is a good deal easier to pronounce.  (The Mudge verse would be very handy if it did work, though landing in Midge might not be such a good idea.)  

There is one common denominator for trips made to Oz without magical assistance: Disaster.  Who would expect anyone to survive transport by tornado?  Or being blown off a ship into the ocean?  Or falling into a crack in the earth during an earthquake?  Or thrown off a ship when it struck a rock, being caught in a whirlpool, boring into the earth in a rocket when it went off course, riding on a rock flung into the air by a mountain spring (there could be some argument that it wasn’t our world that Handy Mandy started from!), by thunderbolt (the same idea holds true for Planetty), boiler explosion, etc.  

In every one of these non-magical transfers, the subject was at least momentarily out of contact with the Earth.  It is my contention that the transfer to Oz was made at the instant that contact with the ground was broken, so that, for instance, as soon as Dorothy’s house left the ground, she was in the Ozian world and under such magical protection  as was necessary to prevent harm coming to her.  

We may be involved with something like the ancient Greek table of elements here.  Many of the visitors to Oz have gotten there by Air or Water or a combination of the two.  No record exists of any trip to Oz made via Fire (although Kadj the Conjurer’s Fire Es-Cape from Pirates in Oz comes to mind as a more limited form of transport.) It is reasonable to suppose that the Nonestic Ocean impinges on all the oceans of Earth, since any trip that started in an Earth ocean wound up in the Nonestic.  We have Ozma’s word for it that Polacky was a real pirate before he sailed into the Nonestic Ocean.  It would be interesting to know if he did so during a storm at sea.

Let’s look at the transfers in which magic was used.  The first recorded instance is the “wheel” of roads in Road to Oz, which brought Dorothy and the Shaggy Man to Oz for Ozma’s birthday party.  Ozma herself admitted that she used magic to enchant the roads.

In The Emerald City of Oz, Dorothy (and later Uncle Henry and Aunt Em) are transported to Oz via the Magic Belt. (This is the only instance  in which Dorothy actually asked to be brought to Oz.  For those who point out that Dorothy signaled Ozma for help at the end of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, I will point out that Dorothy was already in the Ozian continuum.  The trips using the Magic Belt are notably smooth, especially when compared with some of the other methods.  Peter’s golden “piece of change” produced a distinct “dropping” sensation as well as a feeling of breathlessness.  Notta Bit More and Bob Up were “flung about” by the Mudge verse.  Transport granted by the sands of Wish Way is breath-taking, and some of the Wizard’s wishing pills are particularly culpable in this respect.  As for the most recently recorded trip to Oz, it started on a merry-go-round, and we all know how magical they are!

It has been argued that, in the various trips to Oz, there is lack of a moment of disorientation or “jolt” such as is commonly supposed to mark passage between parallel worlds.   Having examined the methods of transfer, it would be an intrepid traveler indeed who wouldn’t be “jolted” by any of them!

In the case of Benny’s trip to Oz, the transfer point had already been opened when the magic words were read from that little book.  It may well have been left open by the magician who left the book in the pocket of that suit.  Since there was a “flow”of magic available, the spell took effect and the statue came to life.  But even so, Benny had to break contact with the earth to com-plete the transfer.  

That Oz is located in its own continuum, with its own unnatural laws, should be self-evident from the scene in Down Town (The Hungry Tiger of Oz) where Carter Green comments on there being a sun so far underground, and the Hungry Tiger replies “Why not?  Doesn’t the sun go down every day?”

There seems to be a greater likelihood of a “doorway” opening up when Air and Water are combined--as in a storm of some sort.  It was a thunderstorm that opened the magical doorway for Notta Bit More and Bob Up--that, and the fact that Notta tossed Bob into the air as he recited the verse.  Also, Notta was not standing on the ground, but on top of Billy, the elephant.  (If we wanted to pursue cause-and-effect, we might ask just why the Mudge verse popped into Notta’s head at that time.)

There is (at least) one more thing that all visitors to Oz have in common: They are needed there for some reason.  Notta and Bob saved the Cowardly Lion from being destroyed.  On Peter’s first visit, he helped prevent Ruggedo from conquering Oz.  Later, he returned to assist in straightening out the trouble in the Land of the Barons.  Speedy rescued Marygolden and the Kingdoms of Corumbia and Corabia.  On his second trip, he was involved in rescuing Gureeda and Umbrella Island from Loxo--and what a coincidence that he and Gureeda resembled each other!  Benny, the former statue, was an essential part of removing the menace of Quiberon from the Sapphire Isles.

Umbrella Island often cruises over the realms of Reality--in the words of Waddy the Wizard, “the realms of Reality that lie on the other side of the Rainbow”.  It might be that if some pilot could fly his plane through (or over) the rainbow, he and his passengers might find themselves in Oz, This could be hazardous, as the only flying field we know of in Oz is far more elusive than is the Rainbow in our world.  It is not recorded whether the Wizard’s balloon floated anywhere near a rainbow when he made his first trip to Oz, but it might have.

Taken all in all, it seems that Oz does indeed occupy its own continuum, and that, to get there, you’d do much better to be all up in the air than to be earthbound.  Who knows?  The next transfer point may open up just around the corner--or, if you’re really lucky, Umbrella Island may fly low with the rope ladder down.  And, if you’re needed in Oz for some reason, you’ll have a fine adventure.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 August 2016 )
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