There is a dark king who rules our dreams from a place of shadows and fantastic things. He is Morpheus, the lord of story. Older than humankind itself, he inhabits -- along with Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, his Endless sisters and brothers -- the realm of human consciousness. His powers are myth and nightmare -- inspirations, pleasures, and punishments manifested beneath the blanketing mist of sleep.
Surrender to him now.
A stunning collection of visions, wonders, horrors, hallucinations, and revelations from Clive Barker, Barbara Hambly, Tad Williams, Gene Wolfe, Nancy A. Collins, and sixteen other incomparable dreamers -- inspired by the groundbreaking, bestselling graphic novel phenomenon by Neil Gaiman.
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book. Among his numerous literary awards are the Newbery and Carnegie medals, and the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner awards. Originally from England, he now lives in America.
Date of Birth:November 10, 1960
Place of Birth:Portchester, England
Education:Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
Read an Excerpt
How do gods die? And when they do, what becomes of them then?
You might as well ask, how do gods get born? All three questions are, really, the same question. And they all have a common assumption: that humankind can no more live without gods than you can kill yourself by holding your breath.
(Of course, you just may be the kind of arrant rationalist who huffs that modern man has finally freed himself from ancient enslavement to superstition, fantasy, and awe. If so, return this book immediately to its place of purchase for a refund; and, by the by, don't bother trying to read Shakespeare, Homer, Faulkner, or, for that matter, Dr. Seuss.)
We need gods -- Thor or Zeus or Krishna or Jesus or, well, God -- not so much to worship or sacrifice to, but because they satisfy our need -- distinctive from that of all the other animals -- to imagine a meaning, a sense to our lives, to satisfy our hunger to believe that the muck and chaos of daily existence does, after all, tend somewhere. It's the origin of religion, and also of storytelling-- or aren't they both the same thing? AsVoltaire said of God: if he did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him.
Listen to an expert on the matter.
"There are only two worlds -- your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy. Worldslike this are worlds of the human imagination: their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there. These worlds provide an alternative. Provide an escape. Provide a threat. Provide a dream, and power; provide refuge, and pain. They give your world meaning. They do not exist; and thus they are all that matters. Doyou understand?"
The speaker is Titania, the beautiful and dangerous Queen of Faerie, in Neil Gaiman's graphic novel The Books of Magic, and I don't know a better summary explanation -- from Plato to Sir Philip Sidney toNorthrop Frye-of why we need, read, and write stories. Of why we, as a species, are godmakers. And spoken by a goddess in a story.
Books of Magic was written while Gaiman was also writing his masterpiece -- so far his masterpiece, for God or gods know what he'll do next -- The Sandman. It is a comic book that changes your mind about what comics are and what they can do. It is a serial novel -- like those of Dickens and Thackeray -- that, by any honest reckoning, is as stunning a piece of storytelling as any "mainstream" (read: academically respectable) fiction produced in the last decade. It is a true invention of an authentic, and richly satisfying, mythology for postmodern, postmythological man: a new way of making gods. And it is the brilliant inspiration for the brilliant stories in this book.
Like most extraordinary things The Sandman had unextraordinary beginnings (remember that Shakespeare, as far as we can tell, just set out to run a theater, make some cash, and move back to his hick hometown). In 1987, Gaiman was approached by Karen Berger of DC Comics to revive one of the characters from DC's WWII "golden age." After some haggling, they decided on "The Sandman." Now the original Sandman, in the late thirties and forties, was a kind of Batman Lite. Millionaire Wesley Dodds, at night, would put on gas mask, fedora, and cape, hunt down bad guys, and zap them with his gas gun, leaving them to sleep until the cops picked them up the next morning -- hardly the stuff of legend.
So what Gaiman did was jettison virtually everything except the title. The Sandman -- childhood's fairy who comes to put you to sleep, the bringer of dreams, the Lord of Dreams, the Prince of Stories --indisputably the stuff of legend.
Between 1988 and 1996, in seventy-five monthly issues, Gaiman crafted an intricate, funny, and profound tale about tales, a story about why there are stories. Dream -- or Morpheus, or the Shaper -- gaunt, pale, and clad in black, is the central figure. He is not a god; he is older than all gods, and is their cause. He is the human capacity to imagine meaning, to tell stories: an anthropomorphic projection of our thirst for mythology. And as such, he is both greater and less than the humans whose dreams he shapes, but whose thirst, after all, shapes him. As Titania would say, he does not exist; and thus he is all that matters. Do you understand?
Grand enough, you would think, to conceive a narrative whose central character is narrative. Among the few other writers who have dared that much is Joyce, whose Finnegans Wake is essentially one immense dream encompassing all the myths of the race ("wake" --"dream": get it?). And, though Gaiman would probably be too modest to invite the comparison, I am convinced that Joyce was much on his mind during the whole process of composition. The first words of the first issue of The Sandman are "Wake up"; the last words of the last major story arc of The Sandman are "Wake up" -- the title of the last story arc being, naturally, "The Wake."
(All of Gaiman's story titles, by the way, are versions of classic stories, from Aeschylus to Ibsen andbeyond. A Brit, raised on British crosswords, he can't resist playing hide-and-seek with the reader -- rather like Joyce.) Grand enough, that. But having invented Dream, the personified human urge to make meaning, he went on to invent Dream's family, and that invention is absolutely original and, to paraphrase what Prince Hal says of Falstaff, witty in itself and the cause of wit in other men.
The family is called the Endless, seven siblings, in order of age -- "birth," we'll see, is not an appropriate term --Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium (whose name used to be Delight). They are the Endless because they are states of human consciousness itself, and cannot cease to exist until thought itself ceases to exist; they were not "born" because, like consciousness, nothing can be imagined before them: the Upanishads, earliest and most subtle of theologies, have a deal to say on this matter.
To be conscious at all is to be conscious of time, and of time's arrow: of destiny. And to know that is toknow that time must have a stop: to imagine death. Faced with the certainty of death, we dream, imagine paradises where it might not be so: "Death is the mother of beauty," wrote Wallace Stevens. And all dreams, all myths, all the structures we throw up between ourselves and chaos, just because they are built things, must inevitably be destroyed.
And we turn, desperate in our loss, to the perishable but delicious joy of the moment: we desire. All desire is, of course, the hope for a fulfillment impossible in the very nature of things, a boundless delight; so to desire is always already to despair, to realize that the wished-for delight is only, after all, the delirium of our mortal self-delusion that the world is large enough to fit the mind. And so we return to new stories -- to dreams. The Sandman: Book of Dreams. Copyright © by Neil Gaiman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well, a few of the stories are really good, but most of them are simply disappointing.I bought the book, because I thought Gaiman wrote at least one or two stories (the book was welded when I bought it).Like I said, a few stories are very good and I enjoyed to read them, but if you want a Gaiman book, this is the wrong choice. (At least I wished for a bit more Delirium or maybe Destruction :( )
The little stories are all very different, with many different interpretations on the characters of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. All the Endless have their respective stories, some of the other characters too, making this book an essential for any Gaiman fan. In general, I would say it deepens their characterisation and the contributors' understanding of the Endless. While I did not know most of the contributors, Neil's introductory notes proved useful in giving us an idea of their respective background. This was a very good read and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Gaiman's work.
Summary and Review: Sandman: Book of Dreams is a collection of short stories by various authors, all of which take place in the Sandman universe. Despite the title, not all of them are stories about Dream, and not all of them take place in the Dreaming. Many of them do, but some of the stories star one or more of the other Endless, or some of the peripheral characters of the Sandman universe, and take place entirely in the real world. It's a rich universe to be mined for stories, and this collection gives a fascinating look at what other authors can do with it. Because the stories have to fit into the existing framework, none of them really have the depth of the series's core story arcs. However, they do work wonderfully well in the short-story format, giving us glimpses into corners of Gaiman's universe that had been heretofore unexplored.There are love stories, horror stories, fables and legends, one very well-crafted sestina, post-apocalyptic sci-fi-esque stories, stories from the beginning of human history, and at every point since. There were stories to make you smile, stories to make you cry, and stories to make you think; light stories and very dark stories and just about everywhere in between. Almost all of the Endless pop up at one point or another, as do Lucien, Matthew, Wanda (née Alvin) Mann, Cain and Abel, the sleeping sickness of Preludes and Nocturnes, and the Cereal Convention of The Doll's House. I enjoyed almost all of the stories, and can't pick an absolute favorite, although highlights for me included "Chain Home, Low" by John M. Ford, "The Writer's Child" by Tad Williams, "A Bone Dry Place" by Karen Haber, and "The Mender of Broken Dreams" by Nancy A. Collins. The only story I really wasn't a fan of was "The Witch's Heart" by Delia Sherman; I tried three times and just couldn't get into it. Almost all of the authors in this collection were new to me; the only author that whose work I'd read before (other than Tori Amos, whose introduction to Death: The High Cost of Living is reprinted here) was Susanna Clarke, and it was kind of surprising to read the author's biography and realize that this story was written before she got famous for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell; it reads similarly, and you can see a lot of the seeds of her later work.Overall Review and Recommendation: I've come to accept that none of the spin-offs are going to measure up to the main Sandman volumes, but this one came pretty close. The stories are wonderfully varied and arranged, and while none of them has the same tone as the Sandman proper, each of them still feels legitimate and true in its own right. I also don't think that reading the main Sandman books are an absolute prerequisite for enjoying Book of Dreams; there are some spoilers in the preface, but not really elsewhere, and folks more familiar with short stories might enjoy this collection, and then become curious enough about the characters that walk its pages to seek out the graphic novels. 4 out of 5 stars.
I've read this book over and over. It has such a wonderful appeal to all people. It also has a wonderful part by the lovely Tori Amos. A must buy.
This was an amazing book. The stories were captivating, to say the least. Each writer gives such a different take on the story of Morpheus and the other Endless. The stories range from fun and entertaining to sad and desperate. Each and every one has its own personality that takes you off to a completely different place. If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman's work then you should deffinately check it out.