The third Sandman novel is a collection of 4 short stories – 3 featuring Dream and 1 with Death.
‘Calliope’ tells of an imprisoned woman who just happens to be one of the Muses. Her captors are writers who abuse her for their own purposes. The story offers an uncomplimentary look into the writer’s mind and to our world today where ideas and knowledge, instead of being venerated, are stolen and traded like commodities.
‘A Dream of a thousand cats’ offers an alternate history of our world and also the notion that it isn’t just human beings that dream. Any life form, any being that can think, can imagine, can dream. And all of these dreams are the creation and under the protection of the Dream Lord.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ shows us how the Shakespearan original might have come to be. As with the first story, this one too offers a rather uncomplimentary look at a writer’s life, even one as renowned as The Bard. Incidentally, this story takes off from a chance encounter between Dream & Shakespeare in the story ‘Men of Good Fortune’ from Book 2: The Doll’s House.
‘Facade’ is a tragicomic story of Element Woman, a wasted superheroine who cannot die. This story alone carries a sweet ending.
On one level, each story , small anecdotes and larger narrative alike, wows you with its lines, the sheer mind-bendiness of the concept and the powerful characters. At another level, you start to notice that wherever they involve Dream, the stories are dark, brooding, often tragic. Death, on the other hand, brings a sense of clarity, even cheer into the lives of the characters she encounters. Death is possibly the second most popular character in the Dream universe and her depiction as a cheerful, goth-dressing, young girl is one of the many things that sets The Sandman series apart.