Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson – short fiction review

"Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson" - limited hardcover from Vault Books.
“Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson” – limited hardcover from Vault Books.
Snapshot is a fairly new (February), standalone novella by Brandon Sanderson. This is a case of Sanderson exploring a genre in which he doesn’t normally write, and then adding his fantastical spin to it. What we get is a solid and quick detective story set in a world where cops can use a technology called Snapshot to re-experience a specific day in order to try to solve crimes. What a fun premise!

Davis and his partner Chaz are detectives who work in the Snapshot. Most of their time is spent finding murder weapons, determining who hit first in domestic disputes, and other similarly mundane detective work. One day, they make a discovery regarding a much bigger crime than the one they are investigating, and things start getting really interesting.

Sanderson is very good at creating unique and interesting places for his stories to occur, and Snapshot is no exception. Set sometime in the not-too-distant-future, the world (or at least North America) has broken up into city-states. An amazing technology was created that allows a perfect reproduction of any specific day, though the main characters don’t really understand how this happens. This is never explained completely, though it has no effect on the story.

The two main characters basically talk us through the story as they experience this day. The story unfolds at a decent pace, and we are never left to navel-gaze or get bored. The pacing of this story reminded me a lot of that in Legion, as did the detective/mystery style.

The only part of Snapshot that didn’t quite click was the ending, which felt somewhat rushed to me. Based on the postscript, there were apparently clues to the ending all through the story, but they were not obvious (at least not to me). Perhaps additional readings of the story will make them more so.

I enjoyed this book, and wouldn’t mind learning more about the world outside this story. It would make an awesome movie, too. It almost felt connected to Perfect State, another standalone novella by Sanderson, though I have no idea if this is the case. Regardless, I recommend Snapshot as solid and entertaining. Just pay close attention for the clues.

Release Date: February 17, 2017 (USA)
ISBNs: 0998559903 (9780998559902)
Publisher: Vault Books
Language: English

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 95%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief drinking)
Language: 1 (brief minor)
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 1 (descriptions of murdered dead people, death)

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