Book of Dreams
Top-flight fantasy collection based on Gaiman's character The Sandman, developed in a series of graphic novels for DC Comics, as reimagined by a strong group of fantasists. Long-lived comics readers will remember fondly the original "Sandman" from the 1930s and '40s, with his fedora, googly-eyed gas mask and gas gun; Frank McConnell discusses this precursor in his preface while hauling in Joyce, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Jung, and Wallace Stevens to dress up Gaiman's stow-parentage. Inventing his own lore for the character, Gaiman (1990's hilariously naughty Good Omens, with Terry Pratchett) wrote 75 installments of The Sandman before closing shop. Awash with watercolors and supersaturated with acid, The Sandman stories are stories about storytelling, celebrations of the outrâ€š imagination. The central character of Gaiman's work evolved into a figure variously known as Dream, or Morpheus, or the Shaper, or the Lord of Dreams and Prince of Stories, and his surreal family is called the Endless, composed of seven siblings named Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Drawing on Gaiman's inkwell are Clive Barker (frontispiece but no story), Gene Wolfe and Nancy A. Collins, and a number of lesser lights, all in top form. George Alec Effinger invents a long tale inspired by Winsor McCay's classic comic strip "Little Nemo" ("Seven Nights in Slumberland"), while Colin Greenland ("Masquerade and High Water"), Mark Kreighbaum ("The Gate of Gold"), Susanna Clarke ("Stopt-Clock Yard"), and Karen Haber (in the outstanding "A Bone Dry Place," about a suicide crisis center) mainline directly from the ranks of the Endless. Rosettes to all, but especially to John M. Ford's "Chain Home, Low," which ties an onslaught of sleeping sickness to the fate of WW II fighter pilots, and to Will Shetterly's "Splatter," about a fan-convention of serial killers who lead their favorite novelist (famous for his depictions of psychopathic murderers) into the real world of serial-killing. Fancy unleashed on rags of moonlight.