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Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds (2018) Brandon Sanderson

I am super conflicted.

I absolutely adored the first two Legion novellas. They were quite different from anything else, and they were action packed and lots of fun.

This third novella was a problem for me from the start. First and foremost, it was released ONLY with the previous two novellas, and at a super-high price. Right now, a year after initial publication, it’s $15 for the kindle version.

That’s $15 when I already owned 2/3rds of the material in the book, and there was no way to buy just the third story. I though that was really really crappy.

So I put it on my wishlist and eventually got it as a birthday gift.

I started it eagerly, re-reading the first two novellas and enjoying them immensely. The third novella, however, I kept putting down. The previous two were adventure mysteries and I found them fun. This one just felt different (and not in a positive way) from the get go.

So let me back up.

Stephen Leeds is a genius with an eidetic memory–he immediately memorizes any thing he glances at or that plays in the background. But he can’t handle the overwhelming amount of information, and so in his schizophrenic, and created aspects, or personalities, each of whom is specialized in some area, from military tactics and weaponry to psychology to languages. These aspects have their own personalities and quirks, and because they can quickly become overwhelming, he has a mansion where each aspect has their own room.

To be clear, Stephen is fully aware that this aspects are hallucinations that he uses to deal with his gifts.

My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.

I didn’t know what would happen if one of my hallucinations shot me. How would my mind interpret that? Undoubtedly, there were a dozen psychologists who’d want to write a paper on it. I wasn’t inclined to give them the opportunity.

One of the things I particularly liked about the first two novellas is that they didn’t take things too seriously, and did have a sense of fun.

Take Stephen’s meeting with an eccentric billionaire.

“Is the spook here?”

“I’m not CIA,” J.C. said. “I’m special forces, you twit.”

“Is he annoyed to see me?” Yol asked, grinning behind his garish sunglasses.

“You could say that,” I replied. Yol’s grin deepened, then he took out his phone and tapped a few buttons. “J.C., I just donated ten grand in your name to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. I just thought you’d like to know.”

J.C. growled. Like, literally growled.

I adore that those who accepted Stephen as he was are able to fun with the situation.

So the first two stories are wonderful–Stephen has to help a company recover a camera that is capable of taking pictures into the past in the first. In the second, a biotech firm has created the ability so store data in a human’s redundant DNA, but one of the scientists has possibly created a rogue virus and they’re not sure what information might have spread or be spreading.

These are both FASCINATING concepts, and (theoretically) plausible (even if not particularly likely).

The third story, however, is all about Stephen finding Sandra–the woman who taught him how to create and use his aspects–and dealing with some of his aspects becoming nightmares. In other words, instead of adventures and solving mysteries, it was really about about Stephen and his mental health, and also some dubious legal shenanigans.

It also ended in a way that made it clear that there will be no more Stephen Leeds stories, which was kinda the tone of the whole story–like he wanted to close off the series, and was writing this novella just to do that, rather than because the world was fine.

I could be wrong, and this might be what he had in mind the entire time, but I still didn’t like it.

So, first two novellas were AWESOME. The third, however, was aggravating, and left a bad taste in my mind.

Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: 7/10

Categories: Fantasy, Mystery, Urban     Comments (0)    



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