My rating: 5 of 5 stars
*This is a dual review of the novella “Snapshot” and Sanderson’s short story “Dreamer” which is also included in the hard copy that I purchased.*
To begin with, “Snapshot” is an exciting release from Sanderson as he tells a noir-styled crime thriller. Though still distinctly a Sanderson story, “Snapshot” is a little darker and heavier that much of his other work.
As is characteristic of Sanderson’s writing, the characters in “Shapshot” are intricately created and distinctly flawed humans. The plot is surprising and fast-paced. The multiple layers of reality create a dynamic world in which the story plays out, directly influence the plot, and maintain a level of suspense that keeps the reader wanting to know more.
“Dreamer” is an even darker turn for Sanderson than “Snapshot.” As the postscript indicates, “Dreamer” was originally written for a horror anthology. The result has the distinctly fast-paced and accessible feel that Sanderson’s work involves. It also does not present itself as a horror story in the way that stories with that classification often do.
What “Dreamer” does instead is take the concept of technologically-driven violence as entertainment and transplant it into a fantasy setting with real-world implications. The end result is a deeply uncomfortable and expertly crafted episode.
I would hesitate to classify “Dreamer” as a short story because there is not much of a character arc. The core arc of the story is the concept being explored and the reader’s understanding of what is taking place. The plot, though exciting and interesting, is mainly the vehicle through which the concept is presented. But as an exploration of a concept, “Dreamer” functions with focus and resonance.
In total, both “Snapshot” and “Dreamer” involve Sanderson taking his writing in unexpected directions. This may unsettle readers who are expecting tones and characters characteristic of his other work. However, it may also make these stories a good entry point to Sanderson’s work, especially for those who do not tend to read fantasy. And for those who are Sanderson fans, these two stories deliver many of the elements that have made Sanderson such a popular author.
Both display expert world-building, dynamic characters, and powerful themes. “Snapshot” and “Dreamer” are further proof of Sanderson’s skill and wide-ranging abilities as a writer.