The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

By way of introductory remarks, I’d like to say that I’d had to look up this collection of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, but when I did, I found myself going ‘damn, Dream Country was a great collection’.

Which is almost odd for me as there’s no underlying arc here, which is the sort of thing I like. It’s just four unconnected examples of the sort of thing that can happen in the world of the Endless.

The first is that of Calliope, one of the muses who finds herself captured by writers seeking for inspiration. They find it by repeatedly raping her until Calliope’s pleas for rescue eventually find Morpheus, her former lover. It’s a harrowing, dark tale, the sort that makes you genuinely uncomfortable, and lives rent free in a quite unnecessary tale.

The second is that of a cat who learns that once cats were huge and hunted people. It’s a bit of a light relief tale in its way, but also very atmospheric and full of the series’ main themes about the power of dreams.

Then there’s the third, Midsummer’s Night Dream, in which Shakespeare’s company debuts said play for an audience of the faeries. The fourth is the tale of a superhero who has lost everything but her invulnerability, and would like to lose that too so she can commit suicide.

So it starts dark and stays dark, with a long old trip to surreal fantasy dreamland in the middle. Is there any story here? Not really, but who cares with all this atmosphere oozing slow and dangerous dark everywhere? In a way, The Sandman is at its best when like this. Total focus on the world.

And these four explorations of it are just a magical, entrancing experience.

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