It doesn’t shock me that the king of fantasy is also a daft hand at science fiction; it’s not his genre that makes his writing great, but rather his great writing that puts him at the top of his genre. He applies that same level of skill to a different arena and voila, he still blows minds with high-gauge buckshot at every turn.
SNAPSHOT is a short story (available as an eBook or audiobook) about two future cops who can enter a simulated recreation of any single day in the past, and explore it to find evidence that will help solve a crime in the real world.
On one of their routine cases, they stumble across evidence of a serial killer and, despite orders from the brass, they start to chase the clues, to a devastating result.
That’s really all I’m going to tell you, because A) it’s a short story, and B) the less you know, the more you can be amazed by how much Sanderson can cram into a hundred pages.
Other than that, I can only heap praise on the man himself, and how he constantly challenges his own methods to keep giving you something you can’t predict. This story reminds me a lot of his fantasy novella SIXTH OF THE DUSK, wherein I thought I knew what was happening, only to get 90% of the way in and realize I’d been whacked in the face with a verbal tree branch for having ignored certain things that he plainly laid out before me. It’s just uncanny. Whether he’s writing a self-published novella or carpet-bombing you with a 1,000-page paving stone from Tor, Sanderson knows his craft, and knows how to take you apart.
Give it a shot.