the eighth book in the sandman
series by neil gaiman
, put out in 1993. it's really a collection of short stories, largely concerning dream
's involvement with great historical figure
s or time periods:
- fear of falling: originally from vertigo preview no. 1 in 1992, it tells of a young playwright who has a fear of heights. dream comes to him in, well, a dream, and helps him out. in all honesty, it's probably the nicest dream has ever been. he's very unobtrusive in this one.
- three septembers and a january: dream reluctantly enters into a bet with despair, desire and delirium over the emotional welfare of one joshua norton, the first and only emperor of the united states. i'm not going to spoil this one. mark twain makes an appearance.
- thermidor: dream persuades lady johanna constantine, accomplished spy previously seen in the doll's house, to smuggle his son orpheus's head out of revolutionary france in 1794.
- the hunt: a story about werewolves and dream girls, told from a grandfather's point of view.
- august: it explores the psyche of caius octavius/augustus caesar. it's really quite boring.
- soft places: marco polo meets dream (as well as fiddler's green, the old sweetheart) in the "soft places," where past, present and future run together. the art in this one is terrific. john watkiss draws a beautiful dream.
- orpheus: originally a sandman special. this explains how dream's son lost his wife, his head, and his father's respect. it's a four-parter, so it's awfully long. i think the wedding of orpheus and eurydice is the only Endless family reunion we witness where every member is present.
- parliament of rooks: hippolyta hall's son, daniel, visits the dreaming and hears eve, cain and abel tell biblical and ornithological stories. cain kills abel at the end. again.
- ramadan: haroun al raschid, king of baghdad, makes a deal with dream to preserve his perfect city before things change. dream keeps it in a bottle in his trunk forever after.
the placement of this book in the sandman library is interesting, as it is located, along with world's end
, between two plot progressors: brief lives
and the kindly ones
. this may be a device to prolong the reader's anticipation of finding out what happens after the rather tumultuous and confusing events in brief lives
. another observation is that many of the stories in fables and reflections
have time periods for titles.