The short version first: a Kickstarter has just opened up that I’d like to see succeed. I’ve already signed on; now I hope some of you will, too. Let me tell you the story….
A couple of years ago now, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to read the unpublished manuscript of a new novel set in the world of L. Frank Baum’s Oz. In itself, this wasn’t unusual; Oz fans are almost as prolific as Sherlockians where pastiche and fanwork are concerned. What was unusual was that this particular novel — called Polychrome — didn’t find its way to me through any of my connections in the worlds of fandom and fanfiction. Rather, it came from someone I first encountered during my long tenure as a professional reviewer of SF and fantasy. Specifically, its author was Ryk Spoor, who’s published a number of popular novels with Baen.
That may sound like an odd background for someone writing an Oz novel. And I’m not an easy sell where Oz is concerned. Baum’s books were among the first long fiction I read as a toddler, and remain among my all-time favorites. But Polychrome won me over, and I wrote Ryk back after I finished it with a strong thumbs-up and several specific endorsements written in hopes of persuading a major publishing house to acquire the book.
Regrettably, that hasn’t happened — and personally, I find that baffling. There’s a lot of commercial interest in Oz right now, and of all the Ozian follow-on material I’ve read and seen over the last decade or two, I think Polychrome is the single book-length work most likely to turn into a breakout hit. This is part of what I wrote two years back:
Polychrome is that rarity among homages to the classics, a novel that’s both wholly faithful to the spirit of its source material and striking in its willingness to look beyond that canon. The novel is neither satire, allegory, nor reboot; rather, it’s a freshly conceived extrapolation from Baum’s original series. Indeed, it’s a story I can imagine Baum himself writing if he were reincarnated into the 21st century.
Now Ryk has set up a Kickstarter in hopes of bringing the book out himself. I don’t intend to make a habit of promoting Kickstarter projects in my personal blogspaces; among other things, I still have at least a toehold in the reviewing community, where maintaining a degree of objectivity is an important consideration.
For this particular project, however, I’m making an exception. Polychrome deserves to see the light of day, and I encourage both lifelong Oz fans and casual Oz readers to go forth and contribute. This one is special, folks.