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. His fourth and last category is the "Heretical Apocrypha," consisting of Oz fictions 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.
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. The books of March Laumer provide obvious examples.
Some recent works deliberately depart in radical ways from the traditional Oz canon. They include adult themes (like sex and violence) and are clearly written for adult readers; they incorporate influences from the genres of horror and erotica and satire and parody. A sampling of such works could include:
- Philip Jose Farmer's A Barnstormer in Oz
- Gregory Maguire's The Wicked Years trilogy
- Geoff Ryman's Was
- Martin Gardner's Visitors from Oz
- Charles Phipps's The Umbrella Man of Oz books
- Joshua Dudley's Lost in Oz
- Skipp and Levinthal's The Emerald Burrito of Oz
- The 'Oz Squad comic books
- The Dark Oz comic books
- Bloodstained Oz
- Liatanah Johanna Briggs's Ozma Gets Really Pissed Off and Cusses and Totally Offends (Almost) Everyone in Oz.
Stephen J. Teller. "The Other Oz: Apocrypha Beyond the Forty Books." The Baum Bugle Vol. 33 No. 1 (Spring 1989).
For an obvious example of Dark Oz, see: