‘Legion: Skin Deep’ by Brandon Sanderson is the second novella in the ‘Legion’ trilogy.
Stephen Leeds can remember exactly everything he has seen and heard but the way he brings back these memories is highly unusual. He imagines real people that specialise in subjects who tell him what he needs to know. There is Ivy the psychologist, JC the ex-Special Forces and Tobias the historian and forty-four others. They are his aspects.
Imaging more than four or five at a time ‘is taxing’. When a job comes along that requires the extra effort he goes to his specially built White Room where everything painted in the same shade of uniform matte white and soundproofed.
He has taken on a job that needs this with all his aspects present to solve a mystery. Panos Maheras, a researcher at Innovation Information Incorporated, died in a skiing accident and his body has gone missing from the morgue. With it went sensitive research data uploaded into his DNA. The company are desperate to ensure it does not end up in their rivals’ hands.
What follows is a near future action-packed thriller with plenty of twists and turns and sprinkled liberally with humour. A very occasional dip into philosophical insights gives it an intellectual depth and it is all wrapped in easy-flowing elegant writing.
This is an interesting experiment in interactions between the one-dimensional characters, the aspects. It succeeds because they operate at the extremes of their personalities or putting it another way at the caricature level.
The resolution of the mystery is very satisfying. However, I would have liked to see more of pointer early on in the novella as to what it could be. There is a natural place it could have been incorporated when Stephen is gathering the initial set of evidence.
This novella more than earns its place in the classic Science Fiction canon.
(pub: Subterranean Press, 2014. 205 page deluxe hardback. Price: $45.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-690-8)
check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com