Mitosis: A Reckoners Story
by Brandon Sanderson
*Spoilers for Steelheart*
2013 marked the year Brandon Sanderson returned to the YA market. First with The Rithmatist and then with Steelheart. Both excellent reads that featured an alternate version of our world, twisted in some way to suit the magic of the story.
I lauded Steelheart and it’s new take on the superhero. It’s hard to argue the superhero is tremendously popular. The public is swarmed with box-office hits, such as The Avengers and The Dark Knight, and television shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the numerous cartoon offerings. Sanderson brings us that superhero excitement in the realm of literature, but in typical Sanderson fashion, tips the tropes on their head to offer us something unique and exciting.
Mitosis is a short story meant to span the gap between Steelheart and its sequel Firefight, due out later this year. The superhuman dictator known as Steelheart is dead at the hands of the Reckoners, a group of normal people whose sole mission is to hunt those with power and kill them so as to stop their evil ways. In his place the Reckoners have developed a rudimentary government and society in the steel husk of Chicago, now known as Newcago.
That doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory for the Reckoners and our hero David. The death of Steelheart, the supposed most powerful of all Epics (those with superpowers) has shown a bright spotlight on him and the Reckoners of Newcago. Now that the spotlight is on there are more Epics that are comin’ a knockin, looking for the Steelslayer and to take up the role as ruler of Newcago.
The excitement never ends in this short story, and it’s a thrill ride from beginning to end, although what else did you expect from Sanderson? He gives us a glimpse at how the citizens of Newcago are dealing with their new freedom and the Reckoners elevation from hiding in the shadows to being in the front of it all.
The villain of this round is Mitosis, an epic with the ability to replicate himself a seemingly endless amount of time. He’s a two-dimensional bad guy who only serves to mix things up for the Reckoners. While it was necessary for the plot continuity, and the short story nature of Mitosis, the whole story seemed rushed. It took David years to find out what Steelheart’s weakness was… and all of two seconds to deduce Mitosis’. It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to focus on something other than a new Epic bad guy. Flesh out the worldbuilding in some other fashion perhaps. I would just hate to see this world be reduced to a bad-guy-of-the-week type scenario.
For $1.99 on the Kindle is it worth the price of admission? Frankly, that answer boils down to whether or not you enjoyed Steelheart and how excited you are for Firefight. If the answer to both of those is a resounding “Yes!” and “I would sell my firstborn for an advance copy!” then yes, pick up Mitosis and enjoy. I certainly did.