ccstat

[Snapshot Spoilers] Snapshot Reactions Thread

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I just finished Snapshot, and I liked it quite a bit. There were just enough levels to give the questions depth without moving the focus away from the characters. It's a really intriguing idea to ponder: does what happens in a Snapshot matter? 

The plot twists won't be too big of a surprise people who are genre-savvy or Sanderson-savvy, but they are well executed.

The most surprising thing for me was the darker tone. While unmistakably a Sanderson work, Snapshot has a lot less of his usual optimism. It took me a while to figure out why. He has written oppressive/depressing societies before, notably the Final Empire of Mistborn, and the Fractured States of the Reckoners. But in those books the heroes were actively fighting to make things better, and had a chance of doing so. Snapshot focuses on characters who are a lot less powerful, and who have little to no influence on the world around them. The fact that New Clipperton is not as far removed from our reality also makes the social and governmental dysfunction more frightening than the more fantastical worlds.

At the same time, the fundamental idea is hopeful: something as simple as a slip of paper can make all the difference, propagate Deviations that save a life or a soul. That conclusion entails a lot of chaos in the world, precluding true control over your destiny, but does affirm that one person can make a difference. We matter. Even when we're not "real" to anyone else.

 

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My reaction is that I am at work today and can't read :(

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I just finished reading it and while I do think it is a good story it is definitely not my favorite thing Brandon has ever written. Which is perfectly alright not everything will resonate as well with everyone, and I'm sure there is someone out there that will love Snapshot in the way I love The Rithmatist, that person just isn't me. I will admit that I did not see either twist coming (that Davis wasn't real or that he was planning to kill Chaz). I think part of my issue is that it could be argued that the ending is essentially "And it was all a dream", but then again there is the question on whether the people in Snapshots are real or not.

@ccstat Makes a great point about it being fundamentally hopeful, but I don't know if I agree. Sure one person can make a difference, but in this instance the good guy dies whereas the murderer lives, which is kind of depressing.

I do want to learn more about that world though.

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The problem I had with it was that the twist was telegraphed from the very beginning.

I probably would have noticed this even if I hadn't been listening to Writing Excuses, but hearing the way they talk about "promises" really drove the point home on this: when you introduce a mystery in chapter one, you're making a promise to the reader that they'll see a resolution to it by the end of the story.  And the one thing that the narrative went out of the way to underscore as being "mysterious" was what a Reality Badge looks like when you're on the receiving end.

This immediately sets off the following train of thought:

  • By the end of the story, the reader will know what a Reality Badge looks like from the duplicate's POV
  • The reader is following Davis's POV
  • By the end of the story, we'll have Davis be inside a Snapshot
  • With this pacing, the story isn't really big enough to cover more than one Snapshot
  • ...SNAPCEPTION!
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Did you read Brandon's postscript @Mason Wheeler? It talks about that problem. 

I enjoyed the story. I have a lot of questions about the world this takes place in. Is the thing that powers the Snapshots basically an epic? I hope we can eventually learn more about it. 

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I didn't like the characters as much. They feel....flat. And they felt similar to Wax and Wayne.

But I liked the plot very much. I had suspicions about Davis being a dupe in another Snapshot, but I did not expect Davis planning to kill Chaz at all. The Brandonbot never fails to deliver plot twists. 

I do hope to see more of this world, it's one of the most interesting worlds among his works. Is this a Core Possibility? (omg is Rithmatist one?)

 

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Alright, now I've read it. And I liked it.

This being said, Brandon's novellas and, in fact, his non-Cosmere worlds have never been my top favorites, and Snapshot is no exception - I would pick The Emperor's Soul or Edgedancer over Snapshot or Perfect State any day of the week. This being said, Snapshot was both good and refreshing.

On emotional level, one thing definitely stands out to me - this novellas was a lot more full of suspense than anything I've read by Brandon. It was a new experience to me, reading a thriller. So that was pretty cool. I also thought the setting and tone were darker than usual, so I am with @ccstat on the whole "lacking optimism" thing. But I suspect this is to be expected from a thriller. 

On a more cognitive level, I thought myself really clever when very early on I guessed that Davis might be in a Snapshot. I thought I had finally one-upped Brandon by guessing the plot twist ahead of time. Aaand then I read the postscript. And found out it was his plan all along. In retrospect, I think I can identify a clue or two about the bigger plot twist, but I missed them during my regular read. I'll need to reread it one day for better insight into the foreshadowing.

 

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Read it. And liked it - but on entirely different level than my usual likes of Brandon's works. 

Balanced, layered, well paced - and this applies not just to the plot but the feel you get from the story. The investigation and the interpersonal dynamics of Davis/Chaz move along together without one taking over the other, your attention on the plot doesn't flight with the feel Davis' POV brings. The tone of it all is darker, sure,but above all else, introverted - underlined by the snapshot's concept itself. 

I get why some traditional Brandon's fan will have troubles taking it in - I find the characters very real and very well written - but of course that's not the same as when you jump on the couch and cheer when your hero destroyed a dozen of enemies in a blast of awesome powers ... :) 

I was very glad i saw the reality badge 

The dreamer thing - I didn't much focus on it while reading but I can feel it starting to bug me now and soon i'll be in curiosity crises ..

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I liked it well enough.

One interesting thing that happened was my understanding of Chaz's character taking some interesting twists and turns around Ingred street.

Chaz was the one who brought it up as a destination both times before they went there. At first it sounded like it was a bar or something that Chaz wanted to waste time at, buoyed by Davis's internal "of course you want to go to Ingred". Then we found out that it was where Davis's son was, and I was all like "aw Chaz is suggesting this for Davis's sake". Then the twist happens... :mellow:

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10 hours ago, WeiryWriter said:

I don't know if I agree. Sure one person can make a difference, but in this instance the good guy dies whereas the murderer lives, which is kind of depressing.

I would agree with your point here; it is definitely a depressing episode in a rather dim world. The main reason it occurred to me as hopeful is that it answers the specific question Davis asks in his serious moment with Chaz:

Quote

“I’d like to see what kind of difference I make,” he said softly. “You know, we call them Deviations. Problems that we introduce into the system. But there’s another way to look at them. Everything that changes in here, everything different, happens because we cause it. I’d like to see that run for a week. A month. A year.”

“Huh. You think it would be better or worse than the real world in a year? Because of us.”

“I don’t know that I care,” Davis said. “So long as it’s different. Then I’d know I meant something.”

That seemed like a clear statement of his character theme. Clearly it becomes ironic, because as a Snapshot dupe his own meaningful difference becomes meaningless. But it also means that back IRL the answer is yes, individuals have an impact.

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I liked the story.   I am basically a sucker, so I did not see the resolution - to me it kept on being the standard cops chase a crazy person thing with a somewhat bitter taste related to the nature of the cops.

 

I do have a complaint though. After the very first scene in the book, when Davis and Chaz are introduced, Brandon, for reasons unbeknownst to me goes  for 3-4 paragraphs of exposition of Snapshots, Discrepancies and such. It reads like a straightforward infodump from a Terry Goodkind novel. More importantly, it is absolutely unnecessary, because in the very next scene Davis and Chaz are in the liquor store, Chaz flashes the badge, and the proprietor freaks out. At this point, the "yes we are in a Snapshot", "yes, we are the only two real dudes here", and "rust, will this cause a Deviation? Who cares?"  can be established by Davis simply growling at Chaz, Chaz answering, and with the help of some additional one-two liners of author's narrative.  

 

So, my suggestion to everyone who has not read the story yet is to just go ahead and skip those three-four paragraphs of exposition. They really stick like a sore thumb.

 

The rest of the story flows really nice actually, even if I could not pick up on the clues. 

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As someone raised on Agatha Christie and who loved Inception, I spotted the first twist of it being a snapshot of a snapshot fairly easily, but I had the crime wrong. I assumed the "domestic disturbance" they were responding to had something to do with him killing his ex-wife.  Good story and I could definitely envision this being turned into a good movie. 

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This was a good read!

I was kind of expecting there to be a twist at the end but honestly, I was so focused on Davis's internal thoughts that the thought of Davis not being real didn't really occur to me.  Wasn't totally surprised by that though.  The twist with Chaz though was dark and unexpected.  Good for dupe Davis to let it go and move on.

The whole indiscriminate killing of dupes was kind of disconcerting.  I wouldn't want real cops to get that comfortable with just carelessly murdering people.  I mean, I'm sure we've all attempted to murder civilians in video games but as the realism is increased, I would hope the moral revulsion of ending life would be in full effect.

Not that I expect it to happen but I'm mildly interested in re-reading the entire story as events originally occurred.  That is, see what's going through Davis's head the first time around.  Probably a lot more brooding, anger, and lack of character growth.  Yeah, maybe not.

Do you guys think the "thing" powering the snapshots is some subdued Epic?  Also, what did you make of the 2018 time period and yet having holographic computers, autocabs, no physical currency, and fractured governments?  I suppose it's just some other Reckoner's Core Possibility where tech is more advanced than us by a few decades.

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Having read a lot of this genre I definitely thought about the possibility of Davis and Chaz being dupes. But being familiar with how Brandon frequently bends tropes, I kinda wanted to find out that they weren't in a snapshot at all, that they had somehow been living a real day. I wasn't necessarily shocked by the ending, but I did really enjoy the part that the twist played in the real focus of the story, the characters.

That's what I enjoyed most about Snapshot, is that it told a really compelling character story and the technology and the killer-plot were simply vehicles to show something about human character.

Brandon has often talked about his books this way. Mistborn isn't a book about the overthrowing of an empire, it's a book about a girl who struggles to trust others and a man who struggles to forgive. The Way of Kings is a story of a man who has to reconcile a desire to fight and a desire to heal. Snapshot was the story of a man who has to prove something to himself, who has to know that he is stronger than he once was and that he has meaning. That part of the short story was absolutely incredible and the setting and the plot worked really well to enhance the insight into the man's psyche and explore the principles.

tldr, good job Brandon. You got me emotionally involved in about 100 electronic pages.

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I liked it, in a similar way to how I liked sixth of the dusk. Good, intriguing, but also a little disconcerting. I didn't like the apathy Chaz and Davis showed over the death of dupes, and I found some sections a little rushed. I also didn't see either twist coming.  maybe I'm just dumb. 

I find it ridiculous that Sanderson can invariably succeed in whatever genre he writes in. 

The darker tone was interesting, definitely a paradigm shift for me. Nearly everything I've read by him thus far has a good resolution, and even if twists are saddening, they primarily change the plot, not my perception of the characters or the theme. I was really happy to see Davis not shoot Chaz, and then learning that he did changed my perception of his character monumentally. 

I liked how it was "a thinker", I liked how different it was, and how similar it was to inception (best movie ever) but it was not my favorite work by Brandon.

 

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Things that didn't surprise me:

The idea of a snapshot inside a snapshot.

The girl who gave the phone-number being from the "real" world.

Things that did surprise me:

That I was right it was a snapshot inside a snapshot.  I was hoping the characters would be real after all, enough to ignore my gut feeling.

That the big reveal at the end is snapshots really are not real.  That seriously bothered me.  But I suppose it might be even worse if they were real...

That Davis was planning a murder.

Things I still have questions about:

Was it ever explained why that one group of victims was poisoned?

Edited by Lightning
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8 minutes ago, Lightning said:

Things I still have questions about:

Was it ever explained why that one group of victims was poisoned?

Heavily implied, at least. When Davis goes into the Photographer's house he has this to say about his uncle:

Quote

"That one, my uncle, he can't see. We wait until he's thirsty, then let him pick a drink. But he can't read the labels. So the system kills him."

The victims who were poisoned were "extremely farsighted", so presumably he used the same method on them.

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Thanks Kurk, I got into the avalanche, and sometimes I miss things at the end of Brandon's books because I'm just reading so fast.

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So I guess this will be a better movie? I always give Brandon's books the benefit of the doubt but man just could not get in to this one. I thought the overall premise was cool and it is probably just because it was so short but felt like a real missed opportunity to explore the world more. I admit Brandon himself has made me a super critic of world building. Another big problem was I could care less about the characters. When it was revealed Davis was going to kill Chaz I was like fine pull the trigger.. It should be noted I did like Perfect State so it is not that I just didn't like this type of dereliction from his norm I just couldn't get in to this one at all. No biggie though they cant all be home runs. 

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I've been working my way this week through some of the shorter works thanks to the Humble Bundle. The one thing I really like is that he can write a short story; some authors (cough cough Martin cough cough) write "short stories" that are really just pieces of longer works, or try to cram an entire doorstop into 10,000 words and gloss over sweeps of things. This story managed to hit just the right scope for the length, I think. 

I predicted the twist about the Davis not being real, but didn't predict he was killing Chaz (I expected his wife to have murder-suicided with his son, so he was trying to kill himself with them as she did it). 

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