This is a novella written by Sanderson that was released by Subterranean press. It is different from other things we’ve seen from Sanderson…more of a sci-fi paranormal thriller of sorts. The premise is very creative and the novella just scratches the surface of what could be a very interesting full-length novel.
Leed is a man who can summon multiple aspects to his personality as people to assist him. The people are only visible to him and he calls them as he needs their expertise. The fact that he demands full resources for all the “people” assisting him make him appear to be quite mad. But nothing can change the fact that Leed is excellent at getting the job done. In this novella Leed is contacted to investigate the disappearance of a scientist who has made a camera that can take pictures of what has happened in the past in a given location.
The idea of a person who can summon an aspect of their personality that knows whatever they need to know is interesting. The concept is a bit ambiguous, but to Leed these people or aspects who assist him are real and to the people around Leed these aspects don’t exist. The question of whether these aspects are Leed’s way of dealing with genius, a paranormal phenomena, or something else is never really resolved.
As if the idea behind a person with Leed’s abilities isn’t interesting enough, Sanderson has thrown an intriguing mystery into the story as well. Leed is investigating the disappearance of a scientist who made a camera who can take pictures of the past. There is much discussion on the ramifications of such an invention. There are so many questions in history that could finally be answered if such a device existed and the implications on aspects of humanity are large.
In addition to this mystery Leed’s has lost someone important in his life where the camera would be a very useful thing for him to have. This only adds to the twists and turns in this thriller mystery as you try to figure out who is on who’s side and what is really going on.
As you can tell from the above that is a lot of story packed into a small space. It is very well done, full of intriguing ideas, humor, and some very intellectual things to consider. Honestly the only problem I have with this novella is that it would have made an excellent novel. There are so many things left unresolved and so many ways these ideas could be expanded upon. I would love to see more to this story in the future.
Overall an excellent read. More of an urban fantasy or paranormal thriller than Sanderson’s normal fare. It is very cool to see that Sanderson does something so different so well. Lots of creative ideas in here and lots of food for thought as well. I would love to see this expanded into multiple novellas or a full length story. Recommended to fans of Sanderson and fans of paranormal mysteries.