The Ozark Trilogy
Suzette Haden Elgin
University of Arkansas, 2000 (1981)
Reviewed by Wesley Williamson
hese stories were originally published by Nelson, Doubleday Inc. in 1981 in three volumes:
Twelve Fair Kingdoms
The Grand Jubilee
And Then There'll Be Fireworks
. I am surprised and annoyed that I somehow missed such a treat until now. Most novels are one dimensional, which is fine. Some have more than one layer of meaning, which adds significantly to their impact on the reader. A very few are like an onion; peel off one skin and another is revealed, and then another, and another. This is such a work.
n the surface
is the story of refugees from the Ozark region on Earth. Their spaceship crash lands in the sea of a planet which the Granny on board christens Ozark. The culture that develops over the years since the landing is lovingly detailed, and although it is wonderfully different from our own, it rings very true. For example, Ozark uses a mixture of technology and magic, but both are strictly but logically limited in use, and indeed in who can use different types.
he heroine of the tales, Responsibility of Brightwater, sets out on a Quest through all the Confederation of Continents, to find who is causing problems ranging from sour milk, backwards reading street signs and erratically flying Mules, to a baby hung in a life support bubble from a cedar tree. As it turns out, Responsibility has no difficulty in finding the cause of these annoyances, though only after many stressful adventures. Some of these have far-reaching consequences, setting the stage for her encounters with evil magic, civil war and alien invasion, not to mention a too handsome male with whom she becomes besotted, Heaven help him!
his a delightful work, which will be added to my small category of
read and reread
. Next time, I may peel a few more layers from the onion.
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