Legion: Skin Deep
About two years ago, I wrote a little novella called Legion about a man with a very strange psychological makeup. Part of my goal in writing it was to see if I could make my personal brand of . . . whatever it is I do work in a more contemporary story. The greater goal (as it always is) was to get this idea out of my head and onto the page so it would stop pestering me.
Well, the story of Stephen Leeds was not only very popular with readers, it was quite fun for me to write. As many of you know, I keep myself fresh and excited as an author by making certain that when I end one project, I have something very different queued up to try next. Lately, this has meant jumping from epic fantasy to teen adventure, and then back to epic.
Legion was different enough to really give me a change of pace—but it also had all of the things that really excite me about writing. So it’s not surprising that, over the last two years, I began writing another story about Stephen. I wrote big chunks of it on plane flights, particularly the takeoff and landing portions where they made me put away my laptop. (So this story was about 50% handwritten in its original form.)
At long last, I’m proud to present it to you. Clocking in at about twice the size of the first, Legion: Skin Deep is the story of a missing corpse—and the information that corpse knows. Stephen Leeds returns, a man who “is not crazy, just compartmentalized.” He can become an expert in virtually any subject in a short amount of time—but that knowledge manifests as a hallucination with a personality that can act as an expert on that subject.
The second story stands very well on its own, if you haven’t read the first. (Though I think you’ll enjoy both.) The only print edition currently is the leatherbound, limited-edition hardcover available through Subterranean Press—but you can find the audiobook on Audible and an inexpensive ebook version on your favorite ebook vendor’s website. (See links above.)
An apology to people in the UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand: I’ve given my UK publisher publication rights on this story, as they did a very nice job with the print edition of the first, and I can’t quite promise when they’ll be releasing it. They’re moving as quickly as they can, and I’m sure they’ll do a wonderful job. I realize this is frustrating—but on the flip side, they did just release the only print edition of the Reckoners story “Mitosis,” which you can get and nobody else can. So there is that.
From the Back Cover
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Stephen Leeds is back in a new, double-length novella that Library Journal says has “the pulse of a thriller and the hook of a fascinating hero balancing on the edge of psychosis.”
It’s not his own genius that Stephen Leeds gets hired for. Clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind—and it’s getting a bit crowded in there.
Now Stephen and his internal team of “aspects” have been hired to track down a stolen corpse—but it’s not the corpse that’s important, it’s what the corpse knows. The biotechnology company he worked for believes he encoded top-secret information in his DNA before he died, and if it falls into the wrong hands, that will mean disaster.
Meanwhile, Stephen’s uneasy peace with his own hallucinations is beginning to fray at the edges, as he strives to understand how one of them could possibly have used Stephen’s hand to shoot a real gun during the previous case. And some of those hallucinations think they know better than Stephen just how many aspects his mind should make room for. How long will he be able to hold himself together?
Stephen Leeds (last seen in the 2012 novella “Legion”) has a condition that causes him to hallucinate a variety of uniquely useful companions. Of his many “aspects” are a trained soldier, a psychological expert, and a librarian, all of whom help him solve problems, even if they are probably the manifestations of a deep schizophrenia. These aspects make Leeds a rather versatile intelligence agent, and in this outing he is hired to find out who has stolen a corpse that contains experimental technology from a company attempting to use the human body as an information storage device. VERDICT This quick, entertaining read has the pulse of a thriller and the hook of a fascinating hero balancing on the edge of psychosis. It reads like a ready-made tale for a TV show, and, indeed, one is in the works.