Firstborn (2008) by Brandon Sanderson

A really interesting short story. I wouldn’t have suspected this was written so early in Sanderson’s career if I hadn’t read so beforehand, as it’s really quite well-told, and even paced fairly well.

Unlike another Sanderson short story of similar length, genre, and publication date (Defending Elysium), Firstborn is not crowded with worldbuilding and subplots. It’s a relatively simple character story, with the worldbuilding a secondary aspect to enhance the exploration of that character, rather than something to be appreciated in its own right.

The explorations of what it means to be untalented, to come to terms with losing, and to deal with a family that doesn’t know what to do with you are well done. They lead to a very satisfying ending.

I like this story as much for its restraint as for its creativity.

I give it three imperial medals, and a holovid to study.

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