Summer of Sandman: Favorite Stories

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

The Thursday 13 is a meme that Part Time Monster does often. I enjoy writing them but don’t have the time to do them every week. When I agreed to blog about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series here back in February, I decided to sit down and write a few of these.

Here are my 13 favorite Sandman stories. I’ve also got a Thursday 13 coming on my favorite places from the series, and you can read my 13 favorite characters here. The numbers are original issue numbers, and they are ranked in order of publication.

1. “The Sound of Her Wings” – (8) Features the first appearance of Death in the series. A single-episode story that occurs as a sort of epilogue to Dream’s imprisonment, escape, and re-establishment of his realm. This is first story where we see the Endless interacting with one another as emotional beings.

Dream and Death, feeding pigeons. Image via Comicvine.com.

2. “Collectors” – (14) Features the first appearance of The Corinthian. It’s an episode of The Doll’s House that occurs at a serial killer convention. It’s fabulous.

3. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – (19) The real story of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Explains why that play and The Tempest are so different from the rest of Shakespeare’s work. Won the World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 and touched off a controversy. There’s a possibly-apocryphal story that the room fell silent when the award was announced. Then Harlan Ellison laughed like a maniac.

4. Season of Mists – (21 to 28) Lucifer empties Hell, abdicates his throne, and gives Dream the key to dispose of as he will. Asgard, envoys from the ancient Japanese and Egyptian pantheons, emissaries from the courts of Faerie, Order, and Chaos, and a host of others show up on Dream’s doorstep. Diplomatic hi-jinks ensue.

Lady Johanna in “Thermidor.” Tell me you don’t want to read these stories. Just tell me. Image via goodreads.com

5. “Thermidor” – (29) Dream sends Lady Johanna Constantine to revolutionary Paris on a secret mission which I can’t explain, because spoilers. She interacts with many historical figures, including Thomas Paine, and accomplishes her mission. She is also instrumental in ending the careers of Robespierre and Saint-Just.

6. “Three Septembers and a January” — (31) Explains how the career of His Majesty Joshua Abraham Norton, the one and only Emporer of the United States, came about.

7. Brief Lives – (41-49) Delirium decides to go looking for her brother Destruction, most-loved of all the Endless, who abdicated his realm sometime in the late 16th or early 17th Century and declared he was no longer a member of the family. After Desire and Despair refuse to help her, she visits Dream. He’s at a moment in his life where he needs a diversion. He accompanies Delirium, and gets more than he bargained for.

8. “A Tale of Two Cities” — (51) A Lovecraftian story from World’s End in which a man wanders out of a real city and into the dream of a city. He eventually finds his way back to the waking world, but is done with cities forever when he returns and ends up retiring to the outskirts of a small hamlet off the coast of Scotland. Because if you can wander into the dream of a city, that means the cities are sleeping. And where will we be if the cities ever wake?

9. “Cluracan’s Tale” — (52) Also a stand-alone story from World’s End, as are the next two. Cluracan is a hard-drinking, omnisexual courtier of the Faerie Queen. She sends him hither-and-yon across the planes as her diplomatic envoy. The Internet will tell you that the word “Cluracan” is associated with “Leprechaun.” This is a simple tale of adventure and prophecy that shows you exactly what happens to corrupt officials who mistreat envoys of the Seelie Court.

10. “The Golden Boy” — (54) Tale set in an alternate United States in which first generation youth voters change the constitution to allow the election of a young president. They elect Prez Rickard, and he becomes a Messiah figure with a tiny bit of help from Dream and Death.

Prez celebrates his election to the Presidency. Isn’t he beautiful in a stereotypical way? Image via comicvine.com

11. “Cerements” — (55) A story set in The Necropolis Litharge which explains how Litharge functions. Also, it’s quite a spooky tale, and Litharge is important to the plot.

12. The Kindly Ones — (57-69) Dream .v The Furies. That’s really all can say about it without going massive on the spoilers. Possibly a subversion of tragedy. If so, Gaiman is making a point about justice. Or maybe about Justice.

13. “Exiles” — (74) The penultimate issue of the original run. Occurs in the Soft Places. It involves an exiled Chinese civil servant, a kitten, Dream, and a centuries-lost Roman cavalry unit.

Want to join us for #SummeroOfSandman? Here’s how: Write a blog post about Sandman between now and Aug. 1. Long or short, any format. Share your link with us on a Sandman thread here or on Twitter using the hashtag #SummerOfSandman. It’s that easy.

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13 responses to “Summer of Sandman: Favorite Stories

  1. I just started, so I’m only on Sleep of the Just. Eventually, though I’ll have something useful to say! All I can comment right now is that I enjoyed learning why these are your favourites and I’m having a fun introduction to The Sandman 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Now I need to go read these again — ALL of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If I started at #8, would I feel hopelessly lost? Maybe if I pick up at a stronger point of the story, I’ll feel more inclined to keep reading (frontwards and backwards)!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You wouldn’t be hopelessly lost starting at that point if you read the Book Wars synopsis to get a handle on the backstory, and you would skirt a lot of pure horror that honestly, is important for setup but some of the weakest stuff in the whole series. @parttimemonster and I agree that “The Sound of Her Wings” is where the story starts to take off, though we differ on the significance of that episode.

      You’d want to keep reading backwards, though, because characters are introduced in the first few issues that are connected to later, important characters. And it gives you a picture of what the world looks like with no Dream to regulate the Dreaming.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I didn’t love the first volume, but I had enough people raving about the series that I decided to keep going, and it’s definitely worth it. I do think that the story really needs some of the background that’s in that first collection, especially coming into A Doll’s House, as what’s Dream is doing might otherwise be very confusing. And I think Gene’O’s right about the important characters—that was my first thought, is how many character introductions you miss. But you could maybe just skim that one if it really bugs you and move right on.

    Like

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