Now, as I have stated elsewhere, electronic
publishing is bringing about resurgence in the publication of novellas and novelettes. So
what do print publishers do? The obvious is to gather up multiple stories and publish them
as a single volume. These two novellas have nothing obvious in common except theyre
both by Brandon Sanderson; theyre not even in the same genre (which may present a
problem for some librarians).
Legion is a science fiction story about a man with
multiple personalities and a device for taking pictures of the past. Its beautifully
conceived, with a fascinating protagonist and very clever in the way that it satisfies the
reader while leaving its central question unanswered.
The Emperors Soul is the fantasy tale that
won the Best Novella at this years Hugo Awards. Given that I voted for it, you may
safely conclude that I liked it, at least better than the other nominees. It focuses on a
novel form of magic, that of Forging, which involves rewriting the past so as to alter the
present. The problem is that the Emperor has been not entirely successfully assassinated,
and while his body has been healed, his mind is gone. It is up to Shai, imprisoned for
attempting to replace the Moon Sceptre with a forgery, to Forge the Emperors soul
before the end of the hundred days of mourning for his wife.
And there you have it, two novellas bound to together not by anything so
obvious as setting or character, but by the way in which they both explore the nature of
art, of time, and of the human condition.