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Otis: 11/17/17

Otis by Loren Long

Otis by Loren Long is the story of a tractor who is sad about being put out to pasture, replaced by a newer model. Otis, though, is found to still be useful when the farm animals are noticeably scared by the new tractor, where they weren't around Otis.

The Japanese have the concept of the tsukumokami (つくも神) or tool spirit. Gasoline tractors have been around long enough now that it's possible for Otis to be a recently awoken トラクター神 (tractor kami). Or maybe he's possessed by the same whatever it is that makes Herbie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang self aware vehicles.

But given the remoteness of the farm, the apparent age of Otis (based on his shape), he could have gotten lucky and come awake before the usual century mark. Another possibility is that this book takes place in the near future — the 2030s, which would make Otis a hundred years old.

Regardless, though, Otis's situation is hard to place in the map of the road narrative. He is in part, autokind vs mankind (or in the is case, bovinekind). He is also on the road not taken. And until the scarecrow (see Otis and the Scarecrow), he serves as a warden at the cornfield.

Two stars

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