#TBR Challenge – Not in Kansas Anymore: Was by Geoff Ryman

My choice for the Not in Kansas Anymore theme is Was by Geoff Ryman (1992), which I feel is perfect because it plays directly with The Wizard of Oz, both book and movie, and the making of the movie as well. There’s no actual fantasy, only historical realism. The fantasy element is what the characters wish they had, or once had and lost long ago.

This book sat on my TBR shelf for so long mostly because I feared it would be depressing. I did, in fact, find this book depressing, and difficult to read. Warnings for child sexual abuse, offstage animal death, suicide.

As with all of Ryman’s work, it’s skillfully written. There are three main threads set in different time periods: first, actor Jonathan, in the late 1980s, has given up a role as the Scarecrow because he is dying of AIDS; instead, he’s trying to locate the historical Dorothy in Kansas, and uses Oz as a visualization with his therapist. In 1875, Dorothy is an orphaned child sent to live with relatives in Kansas after her mother and sibling die from diptheria, where she is abused and suffers in various ways I won’t detail here. Finally, Frances Gumm (Judy Garland) is depicted first as a small child and then during the making of the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, through the eyes of Millie, her fictional makeup artist. The characters are complex; their journeys are exhausting. I think it’s a good novel, but a challenging one. I was not really up for the challenge.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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One Response to #TBR Challenge – Not in Kansas Anymore: Was by Geoff Ryman

  1. willaful says:

    It’s sounds really interesting but probably more than I can handle. :-(

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