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Alternate Oz is a term that has been widely applied to modern Oz fiction that departs in significant ways from the pattern set by the works of L. Frank Baum and his successors as Royal Historians of Oz. The term Dark Oz has also been applied to some of these works.

In his influential critical essay "The Other Oz," Stephen Teller proposed a fourfold division of the total Oz literature:

  • "The Canon", the "Famous Forty" books written by L. Frank Baum and other "Royal Historians" and published by the George M. Hill Company, Reilly & Britton, and Reilly & Lee.
  • Deutero-Canonical Works, the Oz-related works written by those same authors (including unpublished material)
  • Orthodox Apocrypha, books by other writers that are "consistent with the spirit," tone, and narrative of the first category
  • Heretical Apocrypha, consisting of Oz fiction that depart from the established Oz narrative, or are inconsistent with, of overtly contradict, its spirit and tone.

This category of Oz works shows a continuous growth and divergence. At one extreme can be placed the "Magic Land" books of Alexander Volkov. These were written for children and preserve the general values and outlook of the Oz literature, though they depart from the Oz narrative to extreme degrees. Volkov's followers and imitators, including Sergei Sukhinov, Yuri Kuznetzov, Leonid Vladimirsky, and Nikolai Bachnow among others, have all contributed to this large and growing alternate Oz literature.

Alternate Oz books tend to be published with a basic understanding of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but may incorporate details from later Oz books as in those written by L. Frank Baum's great-grandson Roger S. Baum and Joshua Dudley's Lost in Oz series.

A notable sub-genre appears to deal with Dorothy returning to Oz in ways and plots contrary to Ozma of Oz which includes Return to Oz (1964), Return to Oz (1985), Dorothy in the Land of Oz, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, Journey Back to Oz, Halloween in Oz: Dorothy Returns, After Oz, and others.

Another sub-genre is Crossover Oz usually in settings where different fairy tales characters (such as Alice of Wonderland and Peter Pan) are paired together such as FablesOz-Wonderland, and Peter Pan and the Warlords of Oz which also includes Neverland too.

There are also instances of futuristic or science fiction Oz with adaptations such as Syfy's Tin Man miniseries, Lost in Oz (web series), and The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz.

A few of L. Frank Baum's books/characters have been reworked in such a way to add new content while removing references to Oz such as King Rinkitink, the Sea Sirens series, and Wogglebug Love Productions.

Some books/movies are structured as tributes/homages to The Wizard of Oz (usually the 1939 movie), without having Oz as an actual place that exists or even mentioning Oz. This includes the 1981 movie Time Bandits, the 1990s TV show of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and episodes of TV shows such as DuckTales and Sliders. Geoff Ryman's novel Was and the movie Zardoz are set in worlds where The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is only a fictional book in-universe but is crucially relevant to the plot.

Ryman's Was and PJ Farmer's Barnstormer have a fictionalized L. Frank Baum as a crucial character. He appears in a more incidental way in Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory.

Dark Oz Examples[]

Various works deliberately depart in radical ways from the traditional Oz canon. They include adult themes such as sex and violence as they are clearly written for adult readers. They incorporate influences from the genres such as horror, erotica, satire and parody. A sampling of such works include:

Also some original short stories with darker tones appear in paperback compilations such as I Should Have Stayed in Oz, Shadows of The Emerald City, Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond, and Emerald City (book) which are written by various authors.

Television shows like Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, Dorothy and the Witches of Oz, and Emerald City (2017) also create darker adult-oriented versions of Oz.

A different type of work can be exemplified by Jane Mailander's story "Buffalo Dreams," which adheres closely to the established Oz narrative, but is written in a grittier and darker tone than most children's literature - it is a story more for a general readership than for children per se. And many other works share these characteristics to greater or lesser degrees.


Stephen J. Teller. "The Other Oz: Apocrypha Beyond the Forty Books." The Baum Bugle Vol. 33 No. 1 (Spring 1989).

External links[]

For an obvious example of Dark Oz, see: