Stephen Leeds is a genius who can learn any new skill and master any subject in hours. But in order for his mind to hold all of that information, he creates hallucinations of other people, essentially partitioning his knowledge into imaginary experts who follow him around. His eccentricities are famous, so Stephen hides away in a mansion with enough rooms to hold all of his friends and only takes cases that pay enough. A camera that takes pictures of the past goes missing, so Stephen and a team of experts only he can see fly over an ocean to fight the terrorists that stole it.
The imaginative setup of multiple personalities who talk to one another is what makes Legion so intriguing. Stephen himself is not so memorable, probably because all his good traits are embodied elsewhere. The various hallucinated experts figure out the circumstances of the company that hired Stephen, the camera’s capabilities, and the identity of the crafty inventor, where he’s going, and how to find him. The detective aspect of the story is less developed and serves more as a vessel for Stephen to be both simultaneously content with all his aspects, but also overwhelmed by all their own independent lives.
The best parts of the story aren’t when one of Stephen’s hallucinations is talented (Ivy gets close to monitor the pupil dialation of subjects to see if they’re lying), or is clever (Kalyani pops into existence on the airplane when Stephen learns a new language), or is funny (ex-Seal J.C. denies being a hallucination because of his state-of-the-art stealthing equipment), but when they work together or with Stephen to solve a problem. Other standalone Sanderson novellas climax with an unexpected twist or an extreme but logical conclusion of the plot device, so Legion must be waiting for its sequels.
Recommended as an imaginative and light-hearted fantasy story for fans of mystery and the detective story.
“My name is Stephen Leeds, and I’m perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.”