Ambitious novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle chronicling the adventures of three families in a fictionalized version of Peekskill, New York. These families are the patrician van Warts, the plebian van Brunts, and the American Indian Mohonks.

The novel takes place over three time periods: colonial times, when the van Warts and van Brunts come over from Holland; the 1940s; and the 1970s. The basic theme is how the actions of our ancestors can have reprecussions for many years to come, so the split-time device works well.

The eighth trade paperback in the excellent Sandman books. My copy is autographed by Neil Gaiman on page 93 in silver.

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Pencillers: Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Micheal Allred, Micheal Zulli, Shea Anton Pensa, Alec Stevens, Gary Amaro Inker: Dick Giordano, Mark Buckingham, John Watkiss, Michael Allred, Vince Locke, Alec Stevens, Tony Harris, Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Daniel Vozzo
Color Separation: Android Images, Digital Chameleon
Covers: Dave McKean
Introduction: Stephen King
Previously published in single magazine issues as Sandman #51-56

Contains the excellent short stories World's End, Sequences at the Inn, A Tale of Two Cities (not the Dickens), Cluracan's Tale, Hob's Leviathan, The Golden Boy, and Cerements.

The title refers to an inn much like the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, where divers people from various times and realms can meet for a mug of ale and a warm place to stay. They pass the time in the invariably bad weather with storytelling, until a strange procession makes its way past outside. The meaning of storytelling and the identities of the passersby are debated, and then most of the assembled company depart.

It's one of the best Sandman collections, and easily the best of the short story collections, because it's all held together by the framework of the Inn, and because of the depth. In Hob's Leviathan, part of the story is the telling of a tale by one of the characters--a tale within a tale! And Cerements contains four tales within itself, the third of which contains four more tales, the third of which is described in one panel, thusly:

There was a story about a coach-full of prentices and a master, swept away from Litharge by dark magics, who took their refuge in a tavern, where the price of haven was a tale.
In case you lost track, that's a tale about the book you're reading, within a tale, within a tale, within a tale, within the book you're reading. Now, show me any other comic book that can achieve that intense, interwoven, self-referential depth without sounding pretentious, and I'll say, "But I've already read The Watchmen".

World's End is the eighth graphic novel collecting the works of the comic The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Here I offer a rather detailed synopsis of the plot, so if you wish to be surprised when reading it, stop here. Most major and some minor plot details have been included.

Brant Tucker and Charlene Mooney seek shelter from a crazy storm in a little inn, which turns out to be like a cosmic hole in reality. Inside, people tell stories as they wait out the "reality storm" outside.

The first storyteller is Robert, who tells of wandering in a deserted city after meeting Dream, and after talking with an old man, concludes that he must've gotten caught in the city's dreams. He escapes through a hatch, and ends up in the normal city again, ever since then terrified that all the cities will one day wake.

Cluracan the faerie is there, and he tells the second story. It is about spreading gossip and lies to bring down a dangerous leader, and it is ultimately an unsuccessful attempt. However, it is important because it shows the Sandman saving Cluracan's life at the request of his sister Nuala.

The third story is told by Jim, who wants to stay on ships forever, sailing the ocean. Jim meets Hob Gadling and an immortal Indian who ate from the Tree of Life back at the dawn of Eden--and it is revealed that Jim is actually a girl posing as a boy to be part of all-male crews on ships.

The fourth story, "The Golden Boy," is about a young President named Prez whose two terms are the best in American history. Boss Smiley tries to tempt him to "the Dark Side," but it doesn't work, and despite everyone's approval of him, Prez only takes two Presidential terms and is presumed dead afterwards.

Then the fifth story centers around a culture obsessed with death, a people whose main livelihood and life's work is preparing the dead. This story is told by two Necropolis inhabitants and involves their history and a secret room where rites have been held for dead Endless.

Charlene Mooney tells the sixth story, about how she HAS no story and finds life meaningless. She ends it by running away crying.

In between all the stories, the nature of the inn itself is revealed, as a place to keep remnants of ending worlds that haven't flickered out yet. At the end, the reality storm is shown to either be caused by or to make possible the apparition of a funeral procession of solemn people striding across the sky. The Endless are there, as well as other nigh-immortal characters. The funeral's guest of honor is unknown, though it appears to be an omen of a future death of importance. The reality storm abates, and people go back to their original places . . . except Charlene, who chooses to stay at the inn.

See the next Sandman book: The Kindly Ones

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's (Shaun of the Dead) genre-defying film deconstructs the drunken buddy comedy, comments on growing up/old and recent social change, and spins into SF/horror/comedy gold.

Back in high school, Gary King (Pegg) led his buddies in debauchery and irresponsible fun. Approaching midlife now, the gang have settled into respectable, productive lives, but Gary has failed to move on. The teen years really were the best years of his life; he's a penniless wreck now, still reveling in his adolescent glory days. His old mates clearly aren't happy to see him turn up in their lives again. Nevertheless, he convinces them to return to the old home town and the epic pub crawl they got too drunk to complete at 18. What might be another Hangover takes turns into the utterly bizarre as the old boys realize something sinister has happened to Newton Haven during their years away.

We start with the drunken buddy comedy, but as it has never been done before. Gary King gives us a darker, more realistic version of the character who usually takes center stage in such films. Like Shakespeare's Falstaff, Gary's entertaining to watch but would be infuriating and dangerous to know. The other actors give pitch-perfect performances, funny and believable and frequently touching. Even the supporting characters demand attention. Look, in particular, for David Bradley (Broadchuch, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and more TV than I can recall right now) as crazy Basil. The film would have been hilarious, inventive, and moving even if it had been satisfied to reconceptualized its initial, apparent genre.

Of course, we soon realize something more is afoot. Their town has grown, in some respects, more pleasant, but less unique, as though under the influence of some unseen hegemony. The local pubs have been taken over by chains. People no longer recall our protagonists. Their experiences, familiar to anyone who has grown older away from the former stomping grounds, turn increasingly off-kilter. As the mystery unravels, the film plunges gleefully into its own insane premise. World's End continues to deliver big laughs without breaking character or ignoring the implications of that premise.

Yes, World's End lets loose a little with the action sequences. Even in a film as off-the-wall whackadoo as this one becomes, I find it difficult to believe the fight in the beer garden would pass unnoticed. These comprise small matters. Pegg and Wright have penned as tight a comedy script as any. Nothing gets wasted. Audiences will continue to argue about the ending, with its ironic and profoundly ambiguous messages. I give the filmmakers points because, well into the final act, I had no idea how this film would end, and they nicely evade a couple of easier conclusions that would have felt like narrative cheats.

Like a good deal of pop culture, the film combines elements that seem universal with ones that feel very contemporary. I have no doubt people will reference World's End for years to come; how it will hold up over those years remains to be seen. In 2013, it exists as the film of the summer, a laugh-out-loud comedy and astute, socially aware SF.


Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Simon Pegg as Gary King
Nick Frost as Andy Knightley
Martin Freeman as Oliver Chamberlain
Paddy Considine as Steven Prince
Eddie Marson as Peter Page
Rosamund Pike as Sam Chamberlain
David Bradley as Basil
Kelly and Stacy Franklin as the Twins
Thomas Law as Young Gary
Zachary Bailess as Young Andy
Jaspar Levine as Young Steven
James Tarpy as Young Peter
Luke Bromley as Young Oliver
Flora Slorach as Young Sam
Michael Smiley as Reverend Green
Sophie Evans as Becky Salt
Samantha White as Erika Leekes
Rose Reynolds as Tracy Benson
Richard Hadfield as Young Shane
Francesa and Charlotte Reidie as the Young Twins
Darren Boyd as Shane Hawkins
Angie Wallace as Mrs Page
Steve Oram as Motorcycle cop
Bill Nighy as Network
Pierce Brosnan as Guy Shepherd

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