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Was (Fantasy Masterworks) - Geoff Ryman In the closing chapter, the author opens with: "I'm a fantasy writer who fell in love with realism." That's an illuminating bit of information that sheds light on where the author was coming from when he wrote this book. This is not itself a fantasy novel but rather a novel about how people use fantasy to escape the drudgery, cruelty and tragedy of their everyday lives.

This is actually several separate but connected stories that the narrative chops and changes between. Separated by time and place but connected around the theme of "The Wizard of Oz", from those who inspired the story, to those that were involved in its coming to the screen, and those that were subsequently affected by it. The author tries to get across what the story is really about.

This is a dark story, full of tragedy, with no offsetting relief. The only escape from the horror of protagonist's lives is a retreat into fantasy. The writing feels belaboured and takes far too long making its point. Too much of the narrative is devoid of narrative tension, filled with slow, plodding story, stifled by cloying sentimentality. The book did have it's moments in which started to engage with the story but the momentum was never maintained and was allowed to dissipate. It all ended with a whimper.