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Literature / Tik-Tok of Oz

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Tik-Tok of Oz is the eighth book in L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz book series. Baum dedicated the book to Louis F. Gottschalk, friend and composer, who wrote the music for several Baum projects, including the stage version of this story, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz.

The book begins with Ann Soforth, queen of Oogaboo, growing tired of being ruler of a small micronation within Oz and setting her aspirations for world conquest. She gathers a meager army of sixteen men and sets out for the Emerald City, only to be redirected once Glinda the Good finds out about the invasion into another land outside Oz, where they encounter a dragon-like Rak, only narrowly escaping.

Meanwhile, Betsy Bobbin, an American girl, washes up on a strange shore after a storm wrecks the ship she was on; she is accompanied by her faithful mule Hank. Betsy and Hank find themselves in the Rose Kingdom where sapient talking greenhouse roses inform them that strangers are not allowed. As the Royal Gardener is about to pass sentence on the two, the Shaggy Man crashes through the greenhouse roof. He charms the Gardener into benignity with his Love Magnet. The roses, who have no hearts and are thus immune to the Magnet, demand the travelers leave; they do so, taking with them the newly-plucked Rose Princess Ozga, a cousin of Ozma. Shaggy Man is on a quest to find his long lost brother, who he believes was kidnapped by the Nome King. Along the way they find Tik-Tok, the robotic friend of Dorothy and Ozma who the Nome King had thrown into a well, and run into the Army of Oogaboo. Together they decide to invade the Nome King's realm.


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Pretty much every chapter title makes use of alliteration.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Or, in Ann's case, at least very foolish. Crosses into Too Stupid To Live territory when she actually muses trying to conquer the Great Jinjin. The Shaggy Man gives that idea exactly the respect it deserves - none.
  • Bizarro Universe: Everyone is a King or Queen at the opposite end of the Hollow Tube - except the Great Jinjin, the one Private Citizen and thus the ruler of them all.
  • Bottomless Pits: The Hollow Tube is technically an example of this, as it passes all the way through the earth.
  • Breath Weapon: As a dragon, of course Quox can breathe fire.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The punishment for coming down the Hollow Tube is to be tortured for nine days and then thrown back down on the tenth...but since Betsy and her friends were thrown in by the Nome King against their will, they are forgiven by the Jinjin.
  • The Exile: The Jinjin's punishment to the Nome King is to make him an exile from his own kingdom, as well as to force him to forget his magic.
  • Expy: Betsy is basically an expy of Dorothy, and Ozga an expy of Ozma.
  • Fantasy World Map: The book was originally published with the first ever map of Oz. The fact that it had Munchkin Country and Winkie Country in opposite directions than they were originally said to have been in led to a massive Continuity Snarl later on.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: A possible byproduct of Continuity Snarl, or just adapting the play this book was based on a little too closely; Polychrome and Shaggy Man met in The Road to Oz, but show no signs of recognizing one another when they meet again in this book.
  • Genius Ditz: Jo Files has tons of book-smarts and is probably the most intelligent man in Oogaboo, though perhaps not so much in the common sense department.
  • Gentle Giant: Quox, quite a bit more so then most dragons. He's quite agreeable company to the party and readily helps them, even when not required to do so by the Jinjin.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Ann would qualify if she had any success with the whole conquering the world thing...
  • Grows on Trees: In Oogaboo everything grows on trees, from books to muskets.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jo has his moments where he follows this, though in the long run Reason tends to win out.
  • I Fell for Hours: The party is sent plummeting down the Hollow Tube to the other side of the world by the Nome King, with plenty of time for Seinfeldian Conversation on the way down and back again.
  • Informed Attribute: The sole character trait Betsy's mentioned to have by the narrative is shyness — a trait she never actually displays when on-page.
  • Interspecies Romance: Jo Files and Princess Ozga, though the development of their romance isn't dwelt upon, it's mostly a background element, and it's noted in passing that once Ozga was banished from her homeland she became more or less human. Ozma sends Ozga back to Oogaboo to live with Jo when she notices their affection for one another.
  • Living Legend: The moment Tik-Tok reveals Tititi-Hoochoo's name, everyone save Tik-Tok freaks out to one extent or another. Considering his speech just prior about torturing anyone coming through the tube for nine days then throwing them back in, it's little wonder his reputation precedes him.
  • Lost at Sea: How Betsy and Hank begin the story.
  • Magic Kiss: The Nome King cursed the Shaggy Man’s brother to be ugly, and the only way to break the curse happens to be a kiss from a fairy. Luckily Polychrome qualifies.
  • Mysterious Past: Betsy, of all characters, fits this description. The only thing we learn about her is that she's from Oklahoma; she even met Hank for the first time on the doomed ship at the start of the story.
  • Novelization: The stage play came out before it was adapted into a book, itself more of a mixture of elements from previous Oz books than an original story (hence the expies in this book; the parts of Betsy and Ozga would have been filled by Dorothy and Ozma originally in the play, but the stage versions of The Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz had the rights to those characters at the time so the names needed changing; while Baum technically could have used them in this book, he opted to adapt the play more closely).
  • Offered the Crown: Ruggedo's assistant Kaliko takes over as the Nome King after Ruggedo is ousted, who, if not completely good, is at least interested in being diplomatic with Oz.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Especially when they've been made into "carryalls" and have rows of seats attatched to their backs and electric lights to their tails. Quox also has a distinctly more friendly attitude then most dragons in the books.
  • Platonic Kissing: Dorothy and Ozma share a kiss after Ozma gets playfully jealous at Dorothy's excitement over Betsy coming to live in Oz. Yet of course, to modern readers it certainly doesn't seem platonic.
  • Really 700 Years Old: At three thousand and fifty-six years old, Quox is still considered a very young dragon. He is a little miffed that his current punishment means he'll miss his three thousand and fifty-sixth birthday party.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: While the Great Jinjin has a reputation for being fearsome and terrible, he turns out to be this as far as Betsy and her friends are concerned, likely because it wasn't their fault that they were in his realm. Also, as noted, King Kaliko is a lot more pragmatic and peaceable than his former master.
  • Recycled Premise: Along with the aforementioned expies, the plot heavily resembles that of Ozma of Oz (an American girl washes ashore in Ev after a shipwreck, meets Tik-Tok, leading eventually to a confrontation with the Nome King), combined with elements from The Marvelous Land of Oz (Queen Anne's plot to conquer Oz and the world has shades of the rebel leader Jinjur), Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (the Rose Kingdom resembles the Mangaboos) and The Road to Oz (Polychrome and Shaggy Man’s involvement). Despite this, it’s not a book to skip if you’re a fan of the series, as several plot-relevent events occur that affect future stories (Ruggedo the Nome King being dethroned and replaced with Kaliko for one thing), and the novel is actually a fan favorite.
  • Ride the Rainbow: Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter always climbs down to Earth on a rainbow.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Subverted. Ann and her army are both pretty useless.
  • Secondary Character Title: Well, Tik-Tok is a character in the book...who arrives about a third of the way into the book and makes little impact on the overall plot, to the point where almost nothing would change if he were absent. A better title may have been Shaggy Man of Oz, Betsy of Oz or even Queen Soforth of Oz.
  • Stubborn Mule: Hank is not towards Betsy, to whom he's very agreeable and affectionate, but he can get surly and quarrelsome with others, especially other animals.
  • Tagalong Kid: The main difference between Dorothy and Betsy is that Betsy plays this trope straight.
  • Talking Animal: Once Hank is in Oz, he is able to talk, much to his bewilderment. He prefers not to at first until encouraged to talk by the Sawhorse. This is also the point where Dorothy realizes that Toto has actually been able to speak the entire time, and just chooses not to. She demands that he speak to her just this once, promises he'll never have to do it again, and that he is free to leave as soon as he does. His response?
    "All right. Here I go!"
  • Unbuilt Trope:
    • Tik-Tok is a robot, before robots became a thing.
    • Tik-Tok is also Three Laws-Compliant, before it became a thing, and included in one of the most famous science fiction essays by Paul Abrahm and Stuart Kenter, "Tik-Tok and the Three Laws of Robotics".
  • White-and-Grey Morality: The Great Jinjin normally punishes people vigorously for intruding on his land, but shows mercy to the protagonists because they only end up there due to Ruggedo's perfidy. He instead treats them all as guests, and sends them back with Quox to punish Ruggedo.
  • Zee Rust: An impressive subversion, when Baum has the Shaggy Man and Ozma use what are essentially cellphones to talk to each other.