Neil Gaiman (OT) (was Margaret Mahy)

Nat Case ncase at hedbergmaps.com
Tue May 15 10:28:06 EDT 2001


>Which is why you need to know that the correct reading order is as
>follows:
>
>Preludes and Nocturnes
>The Doll's House
>Dream Country
>Season of Mists
>A Game of You
>Fables and Reflections
>Brief Lives
>World's End
>The Kindly Ones
>The Wake
>
>(There is also an anniversary special wossname called _The Dream
>Hunters_, but I don't know where that goes relative to the others.)
>And the Death books, which IIRC come after the Sandman books, are
>
>The High Cost of Living
>The Time of Your Life
>
>in that order.

Both DREAM HUNTERS and the two Death mini-series strike me as 
separate stories entirely from the main SANDMAN series: some of the 
same characters, but none of the overarching plot lines relate.


A picky note/question: While reading the collections in the order 
Paul notes is a good way to get the overall feel of the series, 
SANDMAN has not as solid a narrative line as that may imply. When 
Sandman was being issued monthly, the order was slightly different. A 
couple collections are collections of stories that were not 
necessarily presented one after the other in the monthly series 
(DREAM COUNTRY and FABLES AND REFLECTIONS). Also inserted in 
generally but not exactly the same order as published are an "annual" 
(which tells the story of Orpheus from within the Sandman world, and 
is a crucial piece of the overall puzzle) and a piece from the 
introductory "We are Vertigo" freebie. There may be another "one-off" 
in there, but I can't remember.

Reading SANDMAN straight through (I did it earlier this spring) is a 
pretty overwhelming experience, but it also in a way made for a less 
satisfying time than reading it over the course of more than six 
years. You can really see how long it took Gaiman to get to the meat 
of the story; I think in some ways the story doesn't really get 
soaring until BRIEF LIVES, though there are a lot of wonderful, 
brilliant pieces within the first 2/3.

I think this may be a basic trait of Gaiman's work: he has brilliant 
flashes all the time, but he's not a great spinner. His best work is 
in picking up threads and weaving them together. I'm noting his 
earlier comics work, taking existing concepts and showing us some 
sort of wonderful True Thing that had been lurking inside them all 
the time.

In a way I have the opposite problem with Orson Scott Card, whose 
early books in Alvin Maker have a breathtaking quality of new thread, 
but who, when he really gets weaving, starts sounding more and more 
like an inferior religious text: fewer and fewer things and people 
are coming from somewhere, more and more are headed in some 
predestined, morally self-important direction.

Nat
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