9 Sept 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE SANDMAN: ACT 1 by Neil Gaiman

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: Sandman Audible Original #1
Source: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Audible Originals
Publication Date: July 15, 2020

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times Magazine as “the greatest epic in the history of comic books”, The Sandman changed the game with its dark, literary world of fantasy and horror - creating a global, cultural phenomenon in the process. At long last, Audible and DC present the first-ever audio production of the New York Times best-selling series written by acclaimed storyteller Neil Gaiman (who also serves as co-executive producer). Adapted and directed by multi-award-winner (and frequent Gaiman collaborator) Dirk Maggs, and performed by an ensemble cast with James McAvoy (It, Parts One and Two, X-Men: First Class, Split) in the title role, this first installment of a multi-part original audio series will transport you to a world that re-writes the rules of audio entertainment the way that The Sandman originally re-defined the graphic novel.

When The Sandman, also known as Lord Morpheus - the immortal king of dreams, stories and the imagination - is pulled from his realm and imprisoned on Earth by a nefarious cult, he languishes for decades before finally escaping. Once free, he must retrieve the three “tools” that will restore his power and help him to rebuild his dominion, which has deteriorated in his absence. As the multi-threaded story unspools, The Sandman descends into Hell to confront Lucifer (Michael Sheen), chases rogue nightmares who have escaped his realm, and crosses paths with an array of characters from DC comic books, ancient myths, and real-world history, including: Inmates of Gotham City's Arkham Asylum, Doctor Destiny, the muse Calliope, the three Fates, William Shakespeare (Arthur Darvill), and many more. 

A powerhouse supporting cast helps translate this masterwork into a sonic experience worthy of its legacy, including Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, and more. Setting the stage for their performance is an unprecedented cinematic soundscape featuring an original musical score by British Academy Award winner James Hannigan. Fans will especially revel in a new twist for the audio adaptation: Neil Gaiman himself serves as the narrator. Follow him as he leads listeners along a winding path of myths, imagination and, often, terror. Even in your wildest dreams, you’ve never heard anything like this.

Trigger Warnings: rape, death, violence, cheating

I started reading this to get caught up before watching the show and I'm glad I did! It was super well produced and a full cast audiobook, which made it a super fun listen.

If I was rating the audiobook alone, this would be a 5 out of 5. The production, the cast... it was stunning. However, the story was kinda boring when it wasn't connected to a larger plot. It was very simplistic, which I guess makes sense considering it's based on a graphic novel series, but I still wanted more.

I liked the two overarching arcs and stories that were included in this first set of stories, but I thought that there was too much of a rush to finish each of them. Where there should have been a big, climatic moment ending in more something, all the conclusions were pretty easy for Morpheus.

This audio production is incredibly faithful to the original works, which is both great and kind of its downfall. As a fan of the comics coming in for a listen, it's really quite the experience. As someone hoping to become a fan from listening, I'm not sure this does it.

While I am curious about the comics now, I'm not that invested to actively seek them out. Some of these were really really hard to listen to because of the storyline topics. A few of these come to mind as ones I wouldn't actively listen to again, especially since they are "one off" stories.

If you enjoyed the show, or comics in general, you'll enjoy this!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

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