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Idaho Falls signing ()
#2 (not searchable) Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The two women loaded up their single pack animal. A short creature that looked kind of like a camel, but was more the size of a llama. It eyed me lazily, chewing quietly on its cud. After their packs and bed rolls were tied in place, Echo placed a curious item on top. A long tube, wrapped in cloth. It was almost five feet long. A map tube? If so, those maps would be the size of walls. Once that was done, the camp cleaned, Echo looked me over with a critical eye. I looked down at my ripped slacks. Though my flats were sensible business shoes, they weren't intended for extended hikes. She dug in her pack and came out with an extra pair of boots and a pair of trousers. "Uh," I said, taking the trousers and looking them over. Echo was lean and athletic, and I was... not. She noted my hesitance and said something that sounded like agreement, but I did try on the boots. It took several pair of socks to make them fit, but the end result was better than the flats. I didn't much look the part of a heroic Apocalypse Guard member - my jacket was too big, my business slacks ripped, and poorly matched by a pair of hiking boots. But it wasn't like I needed to appear in any company photos. "I'm good," I told them. "Let's go." Echo looked towards the last thing on the ground, near the center of camp. The shadow rig. Right. I considered putting it on, but was instantly reminded of that melting world where everything became paint. Let's pass on that for now, I thought, packing away the rig beside where Echo had put the trousers. After that, we started walking.

Emma's Instructions for hiking. One, wear comfortable shoes, so when your feet hurt anyway, you can at least feel like you tried. Two, remember tons of bug spray, so you smell like a vat of cleaning liquid. Bonus points if it makes the dirt stick to your skin while walking. If you can, wear a backpack filled with things that you won't end up using, but which will somehow always manage to arrange inside so they can poke you in the gizzard. Four, return to your sweet air conditioned, bug free, shower containing home, renewed and reminded how nice it is not to be a caveman.

People always assume that I'm inexperienced at outdoorsy stuff, just because I tend to throw things at them when they suggest camping. Truth is, I'm very experienced with camping. I spent countless nights with my family, huddled up in the cold by a barely working fire, listening to Father tell stories of when he was a kid in Iona. Shockingly, it had been even more rural back then! Nowadays, we have a stoplight. It's practically cosmopolitan! So yes, I've done lots of camping, and hiking, and canoeing, and backpacking, and skiing. I kind of like that one, but don't tell anyone. Truth is, there's not a lot to do in Iona that doesn't involve pretending to be a caveman. Back when I was little, and apparently brain dead, we kids would spend two entire weeks every summer up at Scoresby's Ranch without even running water, let alone wifi. In my later years, my family and I had even kind of come to a truce on the matter. I pretended to look forward to our yearly camping trip, and they pretended not to notice the phone I always brought along. Or the sets of instructions I may or may not have posted relating to the experience. None of this meant I was prepared for the extended hike through the wilderness with Echo and <Whisprien>, but at least I knew how unprepared I was. I could spot the warning signs of a blister forming, and do something about it. I knew how to pace myself, and how to let others know when I needed a break. These two were obviously experienced survivalists, so even <Whisprien>'s endurance put mine to shame. I tried not to focus on my embarrassment at that, instead studying the landscape. Strangely, it didn't look that much different from Idaho. Mostly filled with scrub grasses and weeds. More of those were brown then back home for some reason, but they seemed healthy anyway. It was a lot more humid than home was, and less dusty. There was real dirt here, not just powdery dried clay and Iona topsoil, also known as rocks. And then there was the sky. Any time I was feeling a sense of familiarity with the hike, I caught a shimmer on the ground, or a shadow passing overhead. Then I'd look up, and my brain would break anew. There was a freaking ocean in the sky. Despite the distance, I could see ripples and waves from passing wind. The things that moved within it were mostly just shadows, but I got a sense of darting schools - not just noble leviathans. Were there sharks? Sky-sharks? The idea made me smile. My adopted brother would have found that incredible; I'd have to tell him. If I survived. Don't be like that, I thought, you'll get out of this. Look, nobody has even tried to kill you all morning.

We stopped for lunch, and they gave me more guard rations while they ate something that looked like beef jerky. Nearby, a strange herd of animals passed through the brush. How to explain them? They were big, almost as tall as a person. And covered in armor that almost looked like a football helmet. Seriously, they had this ball of a body, and a little flat head stuck out the front, with a stumpy tail and flat beak. I'd have called them dinosaurs, except for the face. I was pretty sure they were mammals, like, prehistoric armadillo turtles. Echo didn't seem concerned about them, so I just perched nervously on top of my fallen log and watched them wander by, then felt stupid. I'd faced the <Hex>! I could face an armadillo or two, even if they did seem to be on the wrong side of a radioactive spill.

Echo was obviously a practical woman. She didn't smile often, but it wasn't that she was stern. Maybe just straightforward? Compass in hand, she calmly picked our heading after each break. She would occasionally try to draw her daughter into conversation. <Whisprien> resisted these. The thin girl trudged along in her rugged backpack, eyes down. I never heard her speak in anythingbut  a whisper, and her attitude seemed to be more then your average "sullen tween resents life" sort of thing. But who knows? Maybe she just really hated camping. 

Echo would periodically seek a tree or something to climb so she could check to make sure we weren't being followed. Her voice was always upbeat when she came down, and I could sense a lingering concern from her. She was very worried about those soldiers. One of them had a rig, I thought again. It didn't take a math degree to notice that a lot of things weren't adding up. Part of the secret perhaps lay stowed away in that camel-llama's pack. I walked up beside the animal, who walked placidly beside <Whisprien>, and placed my fingers on the partition that held the shadow rig. I had the distinct sensation of blending realities, of the grass around me melting into colors, like a wet watercolor painting left in the rain. I snatched my hand back. <Whisprien> looked away, and grumbled something, falling back in the line. A short time later, I caught her glaring at my back, eyes narrowed. 

When the sun finally settled beyond the envelope of water, I was exhausted. But it was more a wholesome exhaustion kind of exhaustion than I felt yesterday. It was the exhaustion of having been forced to weed an entire potato field. 

Echo chose a camp that looked like it had been used by other weary travelers. A forested nook beside a weathered section of rock. I heard water gurgling somewhere nearby, which seemed like a good sign that I might actually get to take a bath. Echo unpacked the camel-llama, then grabbed her large water jug and moved off towards the sound of the stream. When she returned with a filled jug, I held out my canteen eagerly, but she shook her head and gestured towards the fire pit. "You have to boil the water first?" I asked, "Probably a good idea."

Fortunately I'd been immunized from all the local viruses, both from here, and from a host of other planets that the Guard was working with. That was standard procedure. I wasn't certain how the Guard prevented themselves from carrying diseases to the worlds they worked on. I hoped I wasn't the latent carrier of, like, smallpox or something. Accidentally harboring the advent of an all-consuming pestilence would be super embarrassing.

<Whisprien> started working on the fire, and she gave me a glance that distinctly seemed to say "Isn't there anything useful you can do?" So I powered up my phone for today's ration of power and snapped a picture of her for my blog. I snuggled back against a comfortable looking log (it wasn't) and ate up a little of my batteries working on some instructions, hoping the whole time my distress beacon would bring a response from those looking for me. No such luck.

About halfway through my allotted half hour, I brought up the map and had Echo point out out current location. She noted a very small distance traveled. Crap on a stick. (I got that one from one of my Iona friends.) Was that really the only progress we'd made? How were we going to reach the Guard outpost in three days? It didn't seem possible. Particularly because we were going the wrong direction. "Echo, isn't that the wrong way?" I tapped the map, then tried to make myself understood by pointing. The outpost was north of where we started, but we'd been walking west. I suppose I could've told that from the sun, if I'd thought about it. Echo said something in her language, then pointed at something on my map. Not a town or an outpost, but a little spot of brown. It was hard to tell what it was on the two dimensional map, only barely touched on topographical features. "Okay...." I said, "I guess I'll trust you know what you're doing." She nodded and went back to working on the fire, which was crackling nicely and boiling our water. She could be leading me into a trap, of course. Perhaps she hadn't saved me out of goodwill, but to gain a potential hostage against the Guard. But it wasn't like I could do anything about that. I'd be laughably ineffective at trying to sneak off. Echo would track me down with little effort, assuming I wasn't immediately devoured by some prehistoric carnivorous elk or something.

I moved to sit on a rock that looked somewhat comfortable (it wasn't) and continued working on my blog, trying not to think too hard about how sore I was going to be from. A harsh whisper hissed from behind me. I jumped, and turned to see <Whisprien> standing behind my seat. She pointed at my screen and hissed something angry. I glanced at what I had been working on. The picture of <Whisprien> I had taken with some handy instructions about living in the wilderness. I switched off the phone, but <Whisprien> reached for it. I barely kept it out of her reach, worried she'd shatter the screen. "Okay, okay," I said, "Sorry, no pictures. I'll delete it, chill!" I tried to do so, but <Whisprien> kept hissing at me and reaching for the phone. The scuffle drew Echo, who barked a question. Finally <Whisprien> backed off, and I reluctantly showed her mother the screen. Echo just nodded. Again, it didn't seem like she was unfamiliar with technology. She didn't demand I delete the photo or anything, but she did pull her daughter over and have her help make what appeared to be an evening soup. Great job Emma, I thought, I apparently needed a set of instructions on not being a giant idiot.

"Hey," I said, walking over to Echo, "is it alright if I go take a bath?" I pantomimed swimming, and washing my hair, then pointed to the water. "Is it safe?" Echo said something, then dug from her pack an old-timey bar of soap and a hairbrush, which she handed to me. I nodded in thanks, then made my way over to the small river. It was more muddy then I'd hoped, but I supposed I couldn't expect something out in the middle of these plains to look like a Grand Teton Mountain spring. I made sure I had line of sight to the other two, just in case, then I stood there, holding the bar of soap, uncertain. Was this a good idea? Taking a bath in the middle of the wilderness on a foreign world, while potentially being chased by mercenaries? I was basically guaranteed to be attacked by, like, a dinosaur or something the moment I stripped down. But what was I gonna do? Go the entire way without ever washing off? I was still bloodied and smudged with ash from the explosion, not to mention caked with sweat. Perhaps taking a bath was tempting fate, but this way if a dinosaur did eat me, at least I'd taste like soap. Truth was, it actually felt empowering to take that bath, like this was my choice. Getting clean was something I wanted, and I wasn't going to let myself be too scared to accomplish it.

That said, I did still watch my surroundings with keen attention as I quickly bathed in the cold water. Unfortunately, once finished, I was left with the same dirty clothing I had taken off. Lance's jacket, my incredibly wrinkled blouse, and the torn slacks. Quite the inspiring uniform. Still, I felt a ton better as I put it all back on. Echo offered me some thread as I rejoined them, and I thankfully started working on sewing up the rips along my leg.

The stew was kinda good. And I turned in feeling kinda clean, kinda full, and kinda not in extreme danger. I woke up the following morning to shouting. Echo called me in her native tongue, and I shook awake, then scrambled to my feet. "What?" I said, "Dinosaurs? It's dinosaurs, isn't it?" I paused. "Do you have dinosaurs here?"

Echo gestured toward the sky. Morning at dawn, and through the branches above, I could see an enormous disturbance in the waters, like ripples of a dropped boulder, only moving inward in a ring. The center of that shrinking ring of waves looked like it was just above our position. Great. I had been starting to feel ignored.

Chapter 13

"The flood can't be happening already!" I shouted as I scrambled back into camp, "We're supposed to have weeks before the apocalypse!"

Echo shouted something back as she grabbed the llama-camel's harness and towed it after her through the trees. <Whisprien> had climbed on its back. "Wait," I called after them. I waved toward the bedrolls and boiling water, "Our stuff! What about..." I trailed off as <Whisprien> looked toward me from the camel's back. The girl's face was still blank of emotion, but her eyes were glowing. They had a ghostly cast to them, pupils melded into the white, shining forth like something bright was behind them. It reminded my of the floodlight eyes of the <Hex>. I stumbled to a stop, gaping, until Echo sent the animal and the girl on ahead, then looked back to me, waving urgently. Above, the sky darkened. The sun faded behind the ocean, as if growing suddenly distant, or as if the water were somehow growing deeper up there, thicker. Echo shouted something at me that sounded a little like "Run", so I ran. I grabbed the shadow rig from inside my bedroll, and left everything else, dashing after the two of them. Once I was past the tree, Echo fell into place beside me. The llama-camel ran on ahead with a loping gait. <Whisprien> clung to it's back.

I wasn't in nearly as good shape as Echo, nor was I, shockingly, a camel. But I made a pretty good showing for myself, and didn't lag behind too much. At least, not until I glanced over my shoulder. The sky rippled, and then broke. Water crashed downwards, the front edge fuzzing, like mist. The enormous column of water seemed to drop in slow motion because of the distance. It wasn't as nearby as I first assumed. Man, it was big. A ring of water the size of a small village just dumping billions of gallons of water down from the sky. I stopped in place, jaw dropping, staring until Echo grabbed my arm and towed me away. What good would it do to flee? We were three little specks before an ocean of destruction. We couldn't outrun the end of the world.

Still, Echo seemed determined. I started running again, but I was built to deliver coffee and the occasional sarcastic quip, not run across the freaking wilderness. Pain seared up my side. I slowed, gasping. A violent crash suddenly washed over us, an engulfing sound that made the very air vibrate. Holy heck. How much water had to fall before it hit the ground with the sound of a bomb going off. Echo looked back at the sound and hesitated in front of me, as if torn between protecting me and running after her daughter. She lingered, urging me on, and I did my best. "What," I said, panting for breath, "What's the use?" Sweat streamed down my face. Echo gestured in front of her, then made a raising motion with her hands. High ground, I thought, She's saying we need to get to high ground. And considering it, the direction we were running did seem to have a gentle slope to it. It wasn't like we were running for the mountains or anything, but maybe this would be enough? If this really is the end though, the high ground won't matter. Most of the planet will end up submerged.

Still, I broke into a weak jog. Ahead, I saw our goal: a rise in the grasslands, a kind of ridge, like a long low hill. <Whisprien> had stopped there with the camel-llama. A cracking sound behind along with the low roar of rushing water made me glance over my shoulder. Water flooded between the trees of our camp, first slow, then in a rush that ripped away branches. Another surge of muddy water engulfed the entire stand, shattering the trees.

I forced myself forward, practically crawling the rest of the way up the hilltop. Water flooded the plain we crossed. It looked deceptively lethargic, like seeping tar, until you focused on something like an individual sapling. On the smaller scale, your mind could comprehend that this was an enormous river, rushing with might and power, pushing debris before it.

I reached the top and collapsed beside <Whisprien>. The waters came, and I realized, I'd just let them swallow me, if it came to that. I couldn't move another step. Blessedly, the rise was high enough. The front of the wave turned aside and fled the other direction. In the distance, the spout of water from the heavens slowed to a mist, then to rain, and finally stopped altogether. This wasn't the end of the world, not yet. More like a warning shot. I lay on the rough grass, listening to the sound of the water growing below. I already felt sweaty and dirty again - so much for my bath. Of course, if I wanted another one, it didn't look like I'd lack for water.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#3 Copy


I'm wondering: do you have any other ideas for interesting magic systems you might use in the future?

Brandon Sanderson

I've always got a few bouncing around in my head. Lately, I've found myself more interested in curious and unusual settings than I have magics. (Latest is a world that is surrounded by an envelope of water, much as the ancients imagined water surrounding the earth before the flood happened. So, like, five or six hundred feet up into the air you have an ocean. Beyond that, space and the sun.)

WorldCon 76 ()
#4 Copy


You were in Toronto, and you read something you'd written on a plane about a really young girl, and a coffee machine...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, young girl with a coffee machine, yes, that was the Apocalypse Guard. The opening of it turned out really well, then I lost control of it, spiraled out of control. I haven't figured out how to fix it yet, but I actually pulled it from the publisher. And I will eventually release it, but I gotta fix it first. It was mostly worldbuilding issues. It just didn't come together at the end; too implausible, too many things to keep track of, too many infodumps.

State of the Sanderson 2017 ()
#5 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

My Year

January–June: Oathbringer Revisions

I spent most of this year doing revisions for Oathbringer. I did several exhaustive drafts during the January–June months, and did the final handoff to Peter (for copyediting and proofreading) right at the end of June.

June–Mid September: The Apocalypse Guard

Then, for the first time in what felt like forever (it was really only about sixteen months), I got a chance to work on something that wasn't Oathbringer or Edgedancer. I launched right into The Apocalypse Guard, the follow-up to The Reckoners…and it didn't work. I spent July, August, and part of September writing that. (I finished the last chapter sometime in early September, and turned in the second draft a few weeks later.)

September–October: Legion 3

I was already feeling a little discouraged by that book not quite coming together, though at that point I assumed I'd be able to fix it in revisions. (Well, I still think I can do that–I just think it will take more time.) Mid-September, I launched into Legion Three: Lies of the Beholder. That took around a month to finish, bringing us to mid-October. By then, I knew something was seriously wrong with The Apocalypse Guard, as my revision attempts were fruitless. So, I called Random House and pulled the book–then launched into Skyward.

October–November: Skyward

I have been writing on that book ever since, and you can read the blog post yesterday about that.

November–December: Oathbringer Tour

The tour was wonderful–somehow both exhausting and energizing at the same time. Here are some of the fan costumes that showed up this year. Thank you all for coming out to see me!

December so far: Skyward

Unfortunately, and I know you guys know to watch for them, there are no hidden or secret novellas or books for this year. I have been running around feeling behind all year, first on Oathbringer, and then trying to find a replacement for The Apocalypse Guard.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
#6 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Projects in Development

These are projects you might have heard of, but for which no solid evidence of them ever being released is out there. On occasion I might do readings from them, and I might tinker with them—but I don't have much specific to tell you about release dates.

New YA Series

I am developing a new YA series to be released after the Reckoners with the same publisher. I can't say much about it right now, though we will probably do some announcements regarding it during the Calamity tour. If all goes well, the first book of this trilogy will be the third shorter novel I write between Stormlight 3 and 4.

I always need to have something new to be working on, if only in the back of my mind, to help prevent burnout. I'm excited about this series right now, and actively working on the outline. But I won't be digging into writing it until next summer or fall, depending on when Stormlight Three is done. So I don't expect a release for a while yet.

Status: Outlining

State of the Sanderson 2016 ()
#7 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Main Projects

The Apocalypse Guard

This is my next YA book series, in the same universe as the Reckoners. The simple pitch is: Emma is the intern/coffee girl for the Apocalypse Guard, a group of scientists, engineers, and superhumans specialized in saving planets from extinction-level events.

When the Apocalypse Guard headquarters gets attacked by a shadowy and unexpected force, Emma gets stuck on a doomed planet they were planning to save. She has to either find a way off, or find a way to put the Apocalypse Guard's plans into motion—and do so with no training, no powers, and no support.

This will be my next writing project, between Oathbringer revisions and Wax and Wayne 4. Like the Reckoners, it's right on the borderline between YA and Adult—and might be published in my adult line of novels in some countries.

I intend the series to follow in the footsteps of the Reckoners—having the feel of a science fiction/superhero action film. Sometimes as a reader (and as a writer), I want something a little less "steak dinner" and a little more "hamburger and fries," if that makes any sense.

Stormlight is my steak dinner, and while I originally thought of Wax and Wayne as hamburger and fries, by books two and three they became steak dinners too. (Just a 6oz fillet instead of a 12oz T-bone.)

Okay, that metaphor is getting a little out of control. I might need to go out for steak for my dinner. Let's just say that the Reckoners managed to hit that sweet spot of fun action, interesting worldbuilding, and quick plots I was looking for—so I'm eager to do something similar. The Apocalypse Guard is the next step; look for the progress bar to start on it sometime early in 2017.

Status: Outlining almost finished; will be my next project.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#8 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What is Brandon going to take his break from this to do?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Fortunately, I have planned it out and what I'm going to do is the Apocalypse Guard. I have to do something new. So I'll probably do Apocalypse Guard and then a sequel to something, either the Rithmatist or to Wax and Wayne will be would I do after. Those are both going to happen pretty soon. Apocalypse Guard is my follow-up to Steelheart, so thank you for the opportunity to pitch this.

So my one sentence pitch on this is, you're having a disaster, you call the justice leage and they're all gone taking care of something more important but you get the intern, who has no powers but she does her best anyway. In the Steelheart universe, people have discovered alternate versions of Earth and what they find is that most of these alternate versions of Earth are undergoing some sort of disaster. Something has happened in the timeline of the multiverse that is causing different varieties of disasters to occur that are planet-ending. So the Apocalypse Guard is formed of a bunch of engineers, scientists, and people with extraordinary powers whose job it is to save the planets. They take like eight months in planning, it's not like they just show up, it's like we put all of our effort into saving planets. Well, a disaster befalls the Apocalypse Guard, something or someone attacks them, and the coffee girl intern gets teleported to one of these worlds they were planning to save with no resources and three weeks until the world is destroyed. And everybody else is too busy dealing with the attack on them. It's her story on a planet that is doomed, trying to figure out either how to get off or maybe how to put the plan into motion that they had come up with. So there you are, coffee girl saves the world.

State of the Sanderson 2018 ()
#9 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Updates on Secondary Projects

The Apocalypse Guard

I do someday want to do something with this book. I've given it to Dan Wells, my long-time friend and sometimes partner in crime. He's come back with some suggestions on how I could fix it, along with some brainstorming on where it could go as a series.

I'm going to give you fair warning, though. Every time Dan and I brainstorm together, weird things happen. Legion was the result of one of those sessions, as was Dan's book I Am Not a Serial Killer. (Which you should all go read, if you haven't.) The two of us are odd enough on our own, but together we're downright strange. (You should see the two of us in role-playing sessions, where we constantly try to out-bizarre one another with our character concepts.)

I fully expect something to come out of The Apocalypse Guard sessions I'm doing with Dan, but…well, don't expect it to be normal by any stretch of the word.

Status: In revisions, getting weirder.

Skyward release party ()
#11 Copy


You pulled Apocalypse Guard, will it ever come back?

Brandon Sanderson

I sat down with Apocalypse Guard and looked it over and since I couldn't decide what was wrong with it, I actually gave it to Dan Wells, who's a friend of mine, and I said, "Dan, can you figure out what's wrong with this?" We broke in together, we've been in writing groups together for a long time, and he read through it and he's like, "Yeah, I've got some ideas." So I actually, you know, wanted to work with him, so he actually jumped in to try and do a draft of it himself, and he fixed a lot of the problems, but he didn't fix the biggest problem, which is that the worldbuilding doesn't work.

Which is a really weird thing for a Brandon Sanderson book, but it's part of the reason we can't release it. I can't release a book with bad worldbuilding. I just can't. So while he fixed the characters, I still need to fix the worldbuilding. If I can, we will release it. If I can't, I'm sure even if I don't ever release it, I'll find a way to put it on my website or something like that. So you would be able to read it, and if we do release it, I'll make sure to release it in the failed version too for those who are interested so you can compare. So I think it's really illustrative to see how a professional fails.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#12 Copy


My big question right now, mostly because of wiki reasons, is whether the Team Sanderson has a system for naming Core Possibilities in the Reckonerverse. The reason I ask is because we on the Coppermind would just refer to different versions of Earth as "Earth (series name)" but that kind of broke down in Calamity where two Earths are relevant, and I'm guessing Apocalypse Guard will also have that issue. Can you help us out?

Brandon Sanderson

I will once I write Apocalypse Guard, which will have these notations. I don't want to canonize it right now, though, because I'm still working on the right terms.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#14 Copy


I've been checking Dan Well's twitter pretty often, but there seems to be no update on Apocalypse Guard. Do you have any updates?

Brandon Sanderson

We got together before the cruise and did a big brainstorming session where we figured out once and for all how to fix the book--which is very exciting. However, it will take huge revisions (again) and this time, it's my turn to do that. So the ball is back in my court after he did a great job fixing characters. (The next fix involves plot and worldbuilding, which are my duties.)

Legion Release Party ()
#15 Copy


In Calamity, Calamity's part of a mysterious group or civilization, really weird motives, we don't find out much about them. Was that <pointed, in any way,> part of the plot from the start?

Brandon Sanderson

It was.


Do you have a plan to explain that civilization?

Brandon Sanderson

I will someday  explain that. At the very least, if I just have to sit down and write an essay on it, to give the closure. Yes, I will. And I do apologize for that. Apocalypse Guard was going to delve into this, but then the book got cancelled. By me.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#16 Copy


Is Calamity the last book in the series?

Brandon Sanderson

I have a plan to do a book about Mizzy. But before I do that, I am writing a book called The Apocalypse Guard, which takes place in the alternate dimension that Megan sees into in these books. So, you should enjoy those. They'll be kinda the same style, but different characters from the alternate dimension. They're a blast, I just finished the first book.

WorldCon 76 ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The other thing that I might end up doing is, Dan and I are working on noodling on The Apocalypse Guard its possible that would be after Skyward, next YA thing. Because I've already written one book and the Dan can write the second book and then I write the third book. So taking a little pressure off, something like that. Dan has really good ideas on how to fix that book.


So is it gonna be kind of like a shared universe thing?

Brandon Sanderson

No, we would just co-author it, Brandon and Dan. What would happen is I've already him-- Like, the the first book. The idea is that he'll rip out the bad chunks and write newer things to go in there, and then he will write a second book, and then I write a third and together we have a trilogy. Which could work really well because Dan's strengths as an author really align well with my weaknesses, and my strengths align really well with his weaknesses.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#18 Copy


So for Calamity, like about these others that you mentioned, are we ever going to figure that out? Or is just going to be...

Brandon Sanderon

Oh yeah, so the next series I’m doing deals with the greater-- kind of interdimensional travel and who are these people.


Okay good, because I was like “You can’t leave me like this” at the very end.  I really liked how it was put together and stuff. My own theories were that David was actually, like his powers were actually figuring out Epics’ weaknesses...

Brandon Sanderson

I considered that, I really did. At the end of the day, when I brainstormed the trilogy I said you know what would be most fun for me in this series is to do a trilogy that is basically an origin story, for a character and then when I come back to The Reckoners, if I do, because the next one’s a parallel dimension, right?


From where Firefight is, or from like other?

Brandon Sanderson

That -- we will get into why certain ones are stable and certain ones aren’t and why you can pull from and we’ll do something there with a new character. And if I come back, then Mizzy will be the main character in the sequel series.


Awesome if you ask me, because I was always looking forward to more Mizzy.

Brandon Sanderson

Does that make sense? That’s where the plan for these is, we’ll see how the new series goes, they’re announcing it next week. And the entirety of the magic system is based on interdimensional stuff.


Right, especially with Megan and her--

Brandon Sanderson



--multiple hundred personalities coming together and stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

So it’s kind of like Megan has opened up this idea of a quantum multiverse, and now I’m going to do a quantum multiverse, which is not something I can deal with in the cosmere so it’s exciting for me to be able to do it.


Yeah ‘cause the first one we see about the others I was like (okay cosmere fandom, but wait) this is not cosmere, don't worry about that.

Brandon Sanderson

Not cosmere.  Going straight-up quantum multiverse, in kind of a classical sense. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on string theory and things. It’s so hard, string theory breaks my brain.  Quantum mechanics break my brain.

LTUE 2020 ()
#19 (not searchable) Copy

Dan Wells

The Apocalypse Guard

Part One: The Plural of Apocalypse

Chapter One

Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book:

1) Start with something exciting, to get the reader's attention.

2) Don't start with a blog post. Like this one.

3) Crap. Let me start over.

Smoke in the air, a red sky, huddling alone in the ruins of a dying world. (See, that's better already.) My name is Emma, by the way. Yes, that Emma, from Emma's Instructions. But unless you're one of the six people who follows me on Snapgram, that probably doesn't mean anything to you. So, let me introduce myself. I'm eighteen years old. I'm from <Idaho>, sort of. And I just realized that I got totally off track again. What happened to the red sky and the dying world? Well, let me tell you.

Remember how I'm only sort of from <Idaho>? I've lived there since I was two, but I was born in a place called <Ard>, which is basically like a different version of <Idaho>, but in an alternate reality? And if you're reading this, you need to know about alternate realities. There's Earth. And then there's an infinite number of different worlds that are kind of like Earth, but also different. Sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. Like there's one called <Hona> that's mostly the same as the world you know, except instead of continents it's all islands. Even <Idaho> is an island in a giant North American archipelago. Crazy, huh? So there's <Hona>, and there's Terra, and there's <Erodan> and <Pangaea>, and a bunch of others. And there used to be an <Ard>, but it's gone now. Because I called it a dying world before, but that was sixteen years ago. Today, it is all the way dead. Burned to a crisp. And I almost burned with it, except that the Apocalypse Guard swooped in and saved me.

Holy crap, the Apocalypse Guard! Why didn't I start with them?

Emma's Instructions for Starting a Book Correctly:

1) Start with something exciting to get the reader's attention.

2) Like, for example, if your story includes a group of amazing heroes who travel the multiverse saving entire worlds from destruction, maybe lead with that.

3) I mean, come on.

The Apocalypse Guard are based on Earth, but they hop around from world to world stopping Apocalypses. Apocalypsi? Apocaleeps? That word doesn't even have a plural, because why would you ever need to talk about more than one Apocalypse? Most people just get one, and then boom, you're done. That's what an Apocalypse is. But the Apocalypse Guard can actually stop Apocalypses, and they've already stopped a bunch of them and now we're in <Erodan> to stop a giant asteroid and it's AMAZING.

Important Note: did you see how I casually dropped that "we" in there? Now "we're" in <Erodan>? That's because I'M TOTALLY A MEMBER OF THE APOCALYPSE GUARD AND I CAME HERE TO STOP AN ASTEROID! (I know it's kind of lame to type in caps lock like that, but seriously, if you were in the Apocalypse Guard traveling to a different dimension to stop a giant asteroid, you'd totally put it in your Snapgram, too, and I would not say anything about your excited over-use of caps lock because I am a good friend.

Which is also why I am going to stop talking about myself and start telling you the story about how we saved <Erodan>.

Starting right now.

I was standing in the Apocalypse Guard command center, looking up at the screens that showed the giant asteroid hurtling down toward the planet when Commander Visco signalled that it was time for me to do my part.

"Emma," she said, and waved her coffee mug toward me. "I'm empty again."

Okay, so my part is very small.

"Yes, sir!" I seized the Commander's mug and hurried over to the small kitchen beside the command center. I mean, I was only eighteen, and fresh out of high school; it's not like I was gonna be out there flying around in a power rig, draining kinetic energy from an extinction-level space rock. I was a cadet! And this was still very early in my training, so coffee was all they let me do.

One pot of coffee was already brewing on the counter, but we had about forty people in the command center, each with their own station and responsibility. So I got a second pot going, just in case. To tell you the truth, I was a coffee-making genius. Which is weird, because I don't drink coffee. I'm not just from <Idaho>; I'm from <Iona, Idaho>. Population 1,803, approximately 1,802 of whom are in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including me. So I don't drink coffee, but you know what I can do? I can follow instructions. It's practically a superpower. Though, I guess if you followed me on Snapgram, you already knew that.

Emma's Instructions for Perfect Coffee:

1) Follow the freaking recipe.

2) Serve it way hotter than you think it should be.

3) Never talk about how bad it smells.

I know a lot of people love the smell of coffee, but they're wrong. You call it an acquired taste; I call it Stockholm Syndrome.

"You don't have to read the recipe every single time you brew a pot," said Sophie, jogging up with a few empty mugs of her own. She was a cadet, like me, and was mostly just a coffee girl, like me. "Trust me," she said, "I've been drinking coffee for years and I..."

She caught a whiff of the pot I had just filled, and her eyes closed in aromatic pleasure. "Wow, that smells amazing!"

"Thank you," I said and smiled. What did I tell you? Coffee. Making. Genius. When you read the manual and follow the rules and measure things exactly, it will always turn out better than if you just do something by instinct. Always.

I gave Sophie a fist-bump of cadet solidarity, filled Commander Visco's mug, and rushed back into the command center. I said before that we were on <Erodan>, but that's "we" in the communal sense. We, the Apocalypse Guard, had a presence in <Erodan>. When most think of the Apocalypse Guard, they think of the Power Riggers, and their fantastical abilities. And yes, a bunch of those people were on <Erodan> and up in orbit around it, fighting the asteroid. The rest of us, the operators, scientists, engineers, medics, Commanders, janitors, accountants, and cadets were back on Earth using something called a dimensional tunneler to communicate with the Riggers.

We were doing it from an orbital space station, though, which is still pretty friggin' rad, huh? I love this job.

I gave Commander Visco her steaming mug of coffee and took the opportunity to look over her shoulder at the room's main screen, currently showing a view of the asteroid. One of our technicians had named the asteroid "Droppy." Which was why we didn't usually let our technicians name things.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#20 Copy


The YA book you were talking about earlier, is that Dark One? That your doing for--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not doing Dark One. I pitched it to them and they decided one of my other pitches they liked better. The Apocalypse Guard... So the Apocalypse Guard is-- So people have started to explore the multiverse and found that there are dimensions in which the planet is doomed to some catastrophe. It's going to extinction event. And the Apocalypse Guard is a group of scientists, soldiers, and experts who save the planet that they have discovered that is doomed. So it's about saving planets.


That sounds very non-cosmere.

Brandon Sanderson

It's non-cosmere. But you have, if you've been reading non-cosmere books-- there's another non-cosmere book which explores the concept of a multiverse and alternate dimensions. It might be in the same continuity.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The other thing that was working for this character, that really made me interested in writing her story, was that she had a really failed Instagram. Not very good at it, thought she was better than she was. And I started putting little... she'll write out (you'll see one of them, when I get to it), she writes out what she calls Emma's Instructions. And these are just lists of things on how to live your life, that she writes out. The theory is, she's gonna post them on her blog.

So this character was really, really interesting to me. Particularly when I matched her up with the story I was working on, which is: the secretary to the Justice League has to save the world. So what it is is, Emma (I'm gonna read from the middle of the book, so I'll catch you up), she is an intern to a group called The Apocalypse Guard, which is basically a super hero team. They are not in the book. She is in the book, because they end up getting called away to do something, and through a kind of weird set of circumstances, she ends up on a planet that is doomed to be destroyed in a couple of weeks that they were planning to save. But they all have been called away to something else, and she's the only person from the Apocalypse Guard on the planet. She's the intern. And she's not very prepared for this, she does not speak the local language, it's kind of an apocalyptic wasteland that she's landed in. She's found a couple of people to be her guide, at this point, you'll see. But she has no idea what she's doing. And all she knows is that the planet's going to be destroyed in three weeks.

I actually did the worldbuilding on this based on some of the old-school concepts of the Flood. Where some of the old writer's believed, before Noah's Flood, all the water was in the sky, and you could see it up there, in the firmaments they called it, and then it came crashing down. And before that, some of the medieval theologians thought that there were no oceans until the water came crashing down. So I've always found that a really interesting image, so that's what's happening on this planet. She'll look up, and there's water in the sky. Big ocean in the sky... that is going to come crashing down in three weeks.

Orem signing ()
#23 Copy


So, with Apocalypse Guard being pseudo-shelved, and now Dan Wells being brought on as a co-author. A) How cool is that, and B) Is it, like, from the ground-up restructuring co-writing? Or is he coming in as, like, a super-editor?

Brandon Sanderson

So, what happened, for those who don't know, I wrote Apocalypse Guard, somewhat connected to The Reckoners books. That was my project for last summer. And to catch you up to speed, it didn't turn out. Like, I finished the whole book, and there are some really good parts to this book. But the book didn't work; some of the characters were off, some of the art was off. And I beat my head against the wall for a good month and a half trying to do revisions. And every revision I tried made it worse. And that's when I shelved the book. And I shelved the book and I started working on Skyward. This still happens to me. If you're a newer writer, and you're like "Wow, my book just didn't turn out," well,it happens to all of us. And then I did get the bright idea, it was about a month later, I'm like, "Who's the best author I know? It's Dan! Dan is the best author that I know." So I just called him, and I said, "Dan, is this something you would even consider? I would hand the book completely off to you, let you have it for, like, six months or a year. Do whatever you feel like you need to make it work, come back to me, and then we will write some sequels. Either I'll write one and you'll write one, or something like that. We'll collaborate on an entire trilogy." Because I've always wanted to do something with Dan. And this felt like a good place, because I couldn't get the book to work.

He was super enthusiastic. He's like, "Yeah, it sounds like fun." Dan likes weird things, this is a weird thing. Like, I'd never heard of someone doing this before. So, Dan took it, and he came back. We did a meeting over dinner, where I'm like, "Well?" He listed off-- All the stuff I also thought was broken, he thought was broken. He picked them out himself, he's like, "This character doesn't work, and this is--" So I'm like, "What do we do?" And so we just brainstormed for a while on what to do. And I'm kind of just letting Dan do his thing. It's not super-editor, like, he's ripping out entire chapters and rewriting them, things like that. Like, then there's one character who's just been ripped out of the story and a new one put in their place. Stuff like that. Total, takes the sledgehammer and goes to work on it. But, of course, preserving some of the stuff I think works the best. So, I haven't seen-- I've seen him with the sledgehammer, and he says "What about this?" I'm like, "I don't think that's a load-bearing wall." He's like, "Great," BAM. I'm like, "I hope this looks good when we come back." But it can't look worse than it did.

So, I'm not sure, still. Kind of, our thing on that is that, we're gonna sign a contract-- We haven't even signed contracts yet, he's just doing it. When we sign a contract, it will be like, we'll put a date in there that we think he'll turn it back to me, and a date I'll turn it back to him, and we'll see. I'm really excited, though. Finally being able to work with Dan, and finding this way to fix a story-- I'm excited.

Oathbringer release party ()
#24 Copy


Do you plan to write any more books in the Steelheart universe?

Brandon Sanderson

...There's a big story here. So, the book that I started writing right after finishing Oathbringer in June was called The Apocalypse Guard. This is in the same universe as the Reckoners. And I wrote the whole book, and there were some things wrong with it, as happens sometimes with books. And so I thought, "Eh, I'll send it to my editor, and see what my editor at Random House thinks." She read it, she got back, she's like, "I like some things about it, but it's got these problems." I'm like, "Oh, those are the same problems I thought it had; that's not a good sign." So I got on and I brainstormed, and said "What do you think we should do?" She's like, "Well, maybe this or this." I spent, like, two weeks working on a really in-depth revision document. And I revised about 20% of the book following this document and it was worse. It didn't fix the problem. And so I'm like, "I need more time on this book. This book is not working. I'm sure I can fix it eventually." Like I told you, I stopped writing The Stormlight Archive in 2002. So, I pulled that book and set it aside. And I actually, I sent it to Dan Wells, actually, 'cause he's one of the best writers I know. And I'm like, "Dan! Something's broken. Can you tell me what's broken?" I'm waiting to see what Dan has to say on that, but for now, that's where Secret Project [Skyward] came from, 'cause I'm like, "Well, I don't feel good releasing Apocalypse Guard next year, I have to fix it first, it's just not good enough." So, I pulled out an outline for something else... and I said, "Well, I'm gonna write this right now, 'cause I feel like I can write this, and it's gonna work." So, I started writing this.

The answer is, yes, there will be more books, and there will even be, if I get around to it, a book about Mizzy as a protagonist, if I can find-- Like, I have to get The Apocalypse Guard working first.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#25 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

I will also be doing another YA series to follow up The Reckoners, for those who like those. This one-- So here's the pitch. I'm actually pitching one of my books! It's great. *laughter*

It's the story of what happens if you call the Justice League for help and they're all gone solving a bigger problem and you get the intern. *laughter* It's actually about a girl named Emma and she is the coffee girl for the Apocalypse Guard who are-- Like in the Reckoners universe there's people with super powers. The Apocalypse Guard is kind of bigger than that. In the Reckoners books they've discovered the multiverse, the different dimensions-- A very comic book thing. I'd already done something like the Cosmere, so I decided to go with the multiple dimensions theory in this one. Some of them are stable, they're real worlds and things. A lot of them are just shadows. But the stable ones, they find, are all undergoing some big disaster. Or most of them are. It's all kind-- Something is happening that's put all these worlds in crisis. And so they formed the Apocalypse Guard. There's people with superpowers but there's also lots of engineers and scientists. It's not like they sweep in and save the day in a couple minutes, they spend like eight months building this big plan to save these planets. And so they've got a plan, they're going to save a planet, and then something attacks them. Completely unexpectedly. Disaster happens. Emma the coffee girl gets transported to one of these worlds that's about to be destroyed. And she has no powers, they're all off fighting whatever attacked this thing, and she either has to get off this world or put in action their plan, that they've been working on for many months, by herself and one guy that is tech support. *laughter* Yeah, those are our two main characters. One is tech support, over the headphones, trying to talk her through putting the plan together. And she is the coffee girl. And they have to deal with this.

The world is actually a cool one I came up with a few years ago that's surrounded in an envelope of water, all around it. Based on the idea of the Firmament. So there's land, air, and then water. And the water can't come crashing down, but it's where some old philosophers thought the Flood was. In ancient days, before the Flood, you would have looked up and seen air, the clouds, and then an envelope of water. The Firmament. And I've always thought that idea was really cool, so that's going to happen on the world. They've got to stop the flood that's going to destroy the planet. Or get off of it, or something.

Brandon's Blog 2016 ()
#26 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of people have been asking if this is the end of the Reckoners. It is. The trilogy is finished, and came together wonderfully. However, as you all know, I'm unlikely to leave an ending without some hints of where the characters would go in the future.

I don't currently have plans to do a direct sequel series, but the next project I'm planning is in the same universe. This is a new trilogy in the works with Delacorte (the publisher of the Reckoners), and it's the unnamed project I talked about in my State of the Sanderson post in December. It's scheduled tentatively for a 2018 release, and it's called The Apocalypse Guard.

Here's the pitch:

Over a decade ago, people started manifesting strange, incredible powers. One side effect of this was an awareness of alternate dimensions—some of these powers could reach into other realities, other versions of Earth. Though infinite dimensions are present, most of these are unstable, existing only as vague possibilities.

A few of these worlds, however, are stable. These real, alternate versions of Earth are sometimes very, very different from the one we know. And a bizarrely large number of them, it turns out, are doomed. And so the Apocalypse Guard was founded: an organization of thousands of scientists, engineers, and extraordinary individuals who save planets.

They comb the dimensions searching for stable worlds to contact. When they find one that is facing some kind of cataclysm, the Guard either finds a way to save the planet, or evacuates it. The process can take years, but so far the Guard has saved some dozen planets—though it has lost half as many to utter destruction.

Emma is the Guard's coffee girl. On summer internship at mission control, she gets to witness—from a safe distance—their activities. During the events surrounding the rescue of a planet, however, a shadowy group attacks the Guard and throws it into chaos. Emma finds herself cast through dimensions to be stranded on a doomed planet the Guard had been planning to save. Cut off from mission control, woefully inexperienced, Emma has to try to meet up with the Guard or find another way off the planet before cataclysm befalls it.

In the tradition of the Reckoners, The Apocalypse Guard is a fast-paced, action-oriented story with roots in comic book traditions. This one is a little more science fiction and fantasy than it is superhero, and it will dig deeper into the mythology begun in the Reckoners. It is not a sequel to the Reckoners, in that it has new characters and a new story, but it might help answer some questions left by the end of Calamity.

It's going to be a little while before I write this. Stormlight 3 takes precedence currently, and after that I'm thinking I should probably write the sequel to The Rithmatist. However, I've been mulling over this new series a lot, and even went so far as to commission some concept art.

I've only done this before with the Stormlight books, having Ben McSweeney (who ended up becoming the illustrator for Shallan's sketchbook pages) do concept roughs for the characters, so I could have them as kind of a quick reference for how the characters look.

This was really handy, and so I had it done for The Apocalypse Guard as well. We put the characters together in an action shot, though keep in mind that this was mostly for my internal reference (and kind of as a proof of concept). This isn't the cover art, and isn't intended to be a finished "movie poster" for the books. More a cool piece of concept art trying to nail down character looks and outfits.

Anyway, enjoy!

Art by Kelley Harris – Check out her website and Deviant Art Page!

Shadows of Self Edinburgh UK signing ()
#27 Copy


When might we expect a sequel to Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

When might you expect a sequel to Warbreaker. Okay, let me go down the list. I have finished three books, alright? The finished books are: Bands of Mourning, which is the sequel to the one you-- many of you bought today; I have finished Calamity, the last book of The Reckoners; and I've finished, a while ago, the fifth book of the Alcatraz series, for the middle-grade series.  Which I finished a while ago, but we had to wait for the contracts to run out before I could release it, it's a big complicated thing.  So those are in the queue, and they are coming.

Now I am writing, right now, Stormlight 3. Yes working on that.  It's actually-- Anytime I mention Stormlight people are contractually obligated to shout in my crowds. So I'm finishing that and my goal is to have it done by May or June. If it is done by May or June the publisher has said they will publish it Christmastime, so November/December next year. If I miss May or June then it gets pushed back to the Spring sometime. So just watch the progress bars on my website and you'll see-- you'll be able to gauge.  It's slowed down a lot because of revisions and touring but they should pick back up as soon as I get home.

After that I'm going to write a book called The Apocalypse Guard, which is my follow-up to Steelheart. Not the same world but the same style, fast-paced, frantic action sort of things. In the US those are published as teen books, here they're published as adult books, I don't even know what they are but I want to have a follow-up for my teen publisher. Something that's similar. So we're going to do that, then I'm going to do Rithmatist 2, and then I will do finally the fourth Wax and Wayne book which will wrap up Era 2 of Mistborn. Then I will do Stormlight 4.

If the book, such as Warbreaker sequel, is not in that list it means it is coming post-Stormlight 4. So we've got a little ways to wait, but I will get around to doing them, I promise.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#28 Copy


[An image of all of Brandon's progress bars at 100%] well i guess that's it then, no more books ever

Brandon Sanderson

I've actually been doing a number of small things, as opposed to one big one, like /u/pm_me_your_ide guessed. Basically, I'm trying to clear my desk of small projects in preparation for launching into Stormlight 4 in January.

These little things involved a final draft of Secret Project (which I can't announce yet--but you'll know about it soon.) Working on an audio-original novella I've been writing with a friend. Signing large mountains of books for holiday orders. Tinkering with Apocalypse Guard, which I still hope to release some day. Filling out the Skyward 3 outline. None of these really deserved a progress bar, as none of them took more than a week or so.

I will post details in the State of the Sanderson in three weeks or so.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#32 Copy


Are you going to write all three books [of The Apocalypse Guard] at once or space them out a year or so each?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to try doing them straight, with a random novella separating them to give myself a break. I feel that Mistborn turned out very well from having had entire series perspective--and want to see if I can replicate that writing experience.


Man, does that mean no more Rithmatist in the near future? :(

Brandon Sanderson

We'll see. Rithmatist is a Tor project, and I need to do some Random House books for them. I'll get back to Tor books next year.


Yeah - I figured it was about having something for both publishers, since Tor has had the fair share of your writing time recently.

Well, I'll read anything you write, so it matters little. I guess we can wait a few more years for the Rithmatist and the conclusion of Wax and Wayne. :)

Brandon Sanderson

Current Plan (though these things get shaken up) is as follows:

Do the Apocalypse Guard Trilogy this year, moving into next year, with a novella between each book to take a break. That could take me up to roughly a year.

Do W&W 4, Rithmatist 2, and the final Legion story over the next year. That will wrap up W&W and Legion, maybe Rithmatist, depending if I want two or three books.

With my slate clean, I dive into Stormlight 4, write something bizarre and unplanned in-between, then go right into Stormlight 5 rounding out the first Stormlight sequence.

But, as I said, these plans tend to shift a lot as I work on different books.


Any word on what these novellas will be? Are they cosmere? Reckonersverse or greater universe of Apocalypse Guard? Something else entirely?

Brandon Sanderson

The way my process works, I'll probably need to see what I'm excited most about when I write them--something that gives me a break from what I'm writing. I've got outlines for a couple of novellas I want to do, but I can't say which I'd end up doing.


Cool. Does your "The Apocalypse Guard 1st draft" progress indicator refer to the entire trilogy or just the first book?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm being ambitious, and trying to use the progress bar for the entire trilogy right now--since I plan to write it straight through.

YouTube Livestream 12 ()
#33 Copy


In your last Reddit update, you gave a good rundown of your future projects until Stormlight Five. Time permitting, could you talk about other side projects, like the non-Cosmere short works collection, Apocalypse Guard, Alcatraz, and The Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Six is done, being illustrated as we speak. We have the deal in hand from Tor to publish it. Alcatraz Six is a go. Should happen next year, I would suspect. And that is the actual ending to the Alcatraz series. Co-authored with Janci, who is amazing.

Apocalypse Guard has been kicked back to me from Dan, I think I mentioned before. I need to do a draft on it. Dan improved it wonderfully, but what he didn't fix is the ending, which is still broken, because endings aren't Dan's thing in the first place, they're kind of my thing. Which is part of why I pulled the book, is that the ending was not working. So, I need to fix the ending. Fortunately, I came up with a pretty good plan for doing it. So it's going to go on my list sometime during these next couple years, when I need a break between things I will do an Apocalypse Guard revision. It will probably only take me, I would guess, two to three weeks of work to fix it. So that's a strong plausibility that I will be fixing that book in the coming months.

Non-Cosmere collection. I have lots of stories for it; we actually commissioned all the art for it, but that's when we thought that Snapshot was going to get greenlit. It got really close to being greenlit as a movie, but then the option on that lapsed, as they didn't end up doing the greenlight last year. So now, we don't have a movie tie-in to push us to do that, which we still probably should do at some point, is get that collection out. With the couple of short stories I've written that would go in there that we're not gonna necessarily publish somewhere else. Though I did tell you guys, I am sending them out under a false name to see if I can get any magazines to pick them up. It's going to happen eventually; I don't know when. There's some new, cool talks that are happening around Snapshot, which is the most movie-friendly of the things for the non-Cosmere collection. We will see.

I know, for instance, in Spain, they want to take Defending Elysium, which is tied to the Skyward books, and do a Spanish translation of that, in conjunction with a Skyward book, so that might be happening. But I'm not sure how that's going to end up working.

This schedule for me does not include any little side novellas that I decide to write, or side short stories. It leaves some wiggle room, but not a lot, for me to do something like that. So we'll have to see. If some Secret Project pops up on the progress bars, you will know that I have felt too constrained by the schedule I have set for myself and have started writing something else. That hasn't happened in a little while, but it totally could happen. I think the last one of those was the Wizards of the Coast story, where I just had to write that.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#34 (not searchable) Copy

Brandon Sanderson

It's not every day you get you get to help save the world. Around here, it only happens about every six months.

I stood in the Apocalypse Guard command center. The screens displayed Erodan, a planet threatened with destruction by a passing asteroid. Today, the Guard would save that planet, and I got to be part of it.

"Emma," Commander Visco said, waving her cup toward me. "This coffee cup won't refill itself."

A very small part.

I seized the Commander's cup and hurried to the small kitchen beside the command station. As painful as it was to miss anything, particularly now that the asteroid was getting close to Erodan, I had a job to do. Commander Visco couldn't spare the time to fill her own cup. That's why you had interns like me.

A pot was brewing on the counter inside the small kitchen. But just in case, I got a second one going in the other machine. Truth be told, I was a coffee-making genius. Everybody said so, and I took their word on it, because... seriously, why would you bother lying to the coffee girl? Granted, I had to take their word for it, as I didn't drink coffee. My skill was due to my secret weapon: I knew how to follow instructions. I flipped through pictures on my phone, finding the instructions. The other interns said they'd been making coffee for years and didn't need instructions... but they then seemed shocked when they tasted how great my brews were. Odd how it was, when you measured exactly and read by the manual, how things turned out better than when you did by instinct.

New batch brewing, I filled the commander's cup, then took the rest of the pot with me as I rushed back into the main room of the command center, which was occupied by some forty people. We weren't actually on Erodan, the endangered planet; our command center was on the space station Charleston, which was in orbit around Terra, my home planet. We used specialized technology to look through at Erodan and manage the operation there.

When most people think of the Apocalypse Guard, they imagine the Riggers and their fantastical powers. Most people forget that the Guard also includes hundreds of scientists, engineers, explorers... and office interns. A magnificent force united by a single goal: save planets from destruction.

I delivered the Commander's cup, glancing at the command center's large main screen, which had shifted to a view of the asteroid. One of the technicians had nicknamed it "Droppy." The people on Erodan called it "Calamity." That was a bad name by our metrics for various reasons. Droppy didn't look that dangerous to me; more majestic. A grand oblong chunk of space rock tumbling quietly in the void, trailing a brilliant line of debris. The Apocalypse Guard had been working to stop it for two years now, ever since first discovering Erodan and making contact. That had been long before I had joined them, but I had read all of the mission briefs. Well, the ones that interns had clearance for, anyway.

Commander Visco barked an order, checking on the Sapphire Riggers who were watching along the Erodan's eastern sea. Because of the Guard's actions, Droppy should miss the planet. But after that, the planet would pass through the debris of the asteroid's tail, and that would cause meteor showers, and some larger chunks of rock might prove dagneorus. The Sapphire Riggers would use their powers to stop any tsunamis.

As the screen switched, I jumped, remembering where I was. Step one of not getting fired, Emma. Do your freaking job. Coffee pot in hand, I turned toward the rows of people seated in cubbies beneath the main screen. These scientists and operators supported the Riggers, who were our field agents. Filling empty cups wasn't glorious work, but it was my work, and dang it, I was gonna do it well. If Erodan fell, it wouldn't be because our command team lacked proper caffeination.

The screen switched to another image of Droppy. From what I'd read, saving planets from asteroids was standard work for the Guard. They'd done it some six times now. I would have expected them to use nukes, or more dramatically, the Steel Riggers, who could shoot bolts of energy from their hands. Instead, the Guard had painted the asteroid bright white. That meant more sunlight bounced off Droppy, which, remarkably, had nudged it off its course. Two years later, it was barely going to miss Erodan.

My pot ran dry, so I went to fetch a new one. On my way back to the kitchen, I hesitantly stopped the room's Firelight Rigger, who sat in a command chair off by himself. The man wore a bright red headpiece, kind of like a futuristic crown, and a similar chestpiece under his loose jacket. I wiggled the coffee pot, but he just stared forward, fingers laced with the index fingers tapping. The air seemed to warm around him. Looking in other dimensions, I thought, shivering. Technically, Erodan wasn't simply another planet; it was an alternate dimension version of Terra. There were technically infinite dimensions, but most weren't stable. They were wild half-realities, full of oddities and bizarre visions. Erodan, however, was what we call a Stable Node, like Terra. Or Earth, the Hidden Node. Erodan was a real world, full of living people, civilizations, and cultures.

"Looking good," Commander Visco said as reports flashed on the main screen. She had a voice that tasted like fudge brownies. Oh, right, I kind of taste sounds sometimes, particularly peoples' voices. It's called synesthesia, and it's a totally cool thing that scientists find super interesting and not weird at all. I don't mention it to people very often. "Emerald Riggers," Commander Visco said, "Report."

I trotted away from the Firelight Rigger (who was, admittedly, very creepy) and started scanning for other people who needed coffee refills. The main screen turned to a shot of a line of Emerald Riggers floating up above Erodan's atmosphere, each surrounded by a protective green forcefield. They were spaced out, watching the asteroid from a safe distance, a line of sentinels between it and the planet. "Asteroid pass is looking clean, Commander," said Captain Choy, an Asian man. His face, shaded green from his forcefield, appeared in the corner of the main screen. His voice tasted like brown beef with onions. "How are the tides?"

"Sapphire Riggers report they are manageable," a scientist replied. "Everything is as projected."

"Doesn't even look like there's much debris in the tail," Choy said. "Emerald Riggers standing by."

I filled a few more cups, moving down a row of operators wearing headsets. Each of these would be in contact with a specific Rigger. I didn't know most of them, though Billy, who was the last in the row, gave me a grin and held up his cup. "Thanks, Emma," he said, pulling off his headset. His voice tasted of mint asparagus. Yes, I know. Billy took a sip of coffee, and then handed me the headset. "Hold this."

"Um... sure."

Billy slipped off his chair. "I'll be back in a sec. Have to hit the restroom. Cover for me."

"Co- co- cover for you?" I just about dropped my coffee pot. "Billy, I'm not trained for this! Billy!"

"It's fine," he said.

"Where are the instructions?" Billy just left me there. He wasn't the only one getting up. Others would occasionally run to the restroom or something. A mission like this could take hours. But none of the others left an intern holding their headset!

I looked around in panic. An Indian man two seats over glanced at me, then shook his head, as if in disapproval. Right, right, cover for Billy. Step one, put on the headset. Step two... look like you know what you're doing? "Hello," I said into the device?"

"Hello, beautiful," a familiar voice said. "Glad Billy finally got your attention. Hovering up here is getting boring."

Lance. Emerald Rigger, and the reason I had gotten this internship in the first place. My boyfriend, a man I could have freaking strangled right then.


Lance's voice tasted like my favorite peanut cluster candy bar from home. A familiar, comfortable taste, sweet and salty at the same time. "Lance," I hissed, sitting down. "You're not supposed to be Billy's Rigger!"

"Billy and I got it swapped," Lance said. "If I'm going to spend hours flying up here in a bubble, I can at least have someone fun to talk to."

"You're doing important work," I said, hunkering down. What if the Commander noticed that I was shirking coffee duty to talk to my boyfriend? "Super heroic stuff."

"Boring," Lance said, then yawned audibly into the microphone. At twenty years old, Lance Stoddard was two years my senior, which had caused some consternation on the parts of our parents when we were in high school. He was the Apocalypse Guard's star rookie, having mastered the Emerald Rig after just one year of practice. He'd been on active duty every since, saving planets. That wasn't enough, of course, for Lance Freaking Stoddard. "They refused to put me on the dangerous missions," he said. "I had a chance to be on help of Zima five months ago, but they-" Do I have to listen to his again? "They pulled me for no reason! Now here I am, staring at a rock! Important work. The Hex were on Zima, Emma."

I shivered. The Hex. I wasn't allowed to read about our intervention on Zima. The reports were classified. But I did know we'd failed. The Hex had destroyed the planet. That made four planets so far they'd claimed in the eight years since they'd been discovered. People called them the most dangerous threat to the Knowns we'd ever encountered, a fact that I knew intimately well.

Lance sighed again, loudly. "You're so aggravating," I said, fishing in my pocket.

"You're getting out your phone, aren't you?"

"No I'm not," I said, getting out my phone.

"You're looking for that picture of me. The one you wrote instructions on."

"Don't be silly," I said, pulling up that exact picture."

"Well, if I'm supposed to be offended, I'm not. I think it's very cute, the way you talk. Very Idaho."

"I work for the Guard, now. I've become very cosmopolitan." I lowered my voice, thickening my real accent. "So stop teasin' me, Lance Stardard, you flipping idiot."

"I love the way that sounds! So pastoral!"

"Hush," I said. "You're from Idaho, too."

"I lived there for three years." Lance was originally from New York. He implied to others that he'd grown up in the important part, but I knew he'd lived in a town just as rural as Iona, Idaho. "I'm telling you", he said over the line, "I'm capable of more of this. The Pangaea mission will be even more boring. A flood? Scientists can solve that."

"I'm sure everyone we save on Pangaea will be comforted to know they were almost killed by a boring apocalyse."

On the screen Droppy drew closer and closer to Erodan. Sometimes, it was hard to remember that the screen was looking between dimensions, at another version of our world. Our history deviated from Erodan's some two thousand years ago, so they didn't seem very similar. Erodan's technology was stuck somewhere around the 1980s, and all the nations had different names from ours. They'd never heard of people like George Washington or Joan of Arc. Those people simply hadn't been born on Erodan. That was different from Earth, though, the Hidden Node. Apparently, that planet was so similar to Terra that there were alternate versions of most people living on it. Crazy. Fortunately, nobody could get to Earth these days, so it didn't really matter.

"You're supposed to be keeping me company."

"You're supposed to be staying focused. How long is Billy going to be gone, anyway?"

"Someway, when your internship is done, you'll be my operator. Then we can work as a team! Think of it. Me, risking my life on daring adventures. You, admiring how well I do it."

"You, tripping over your enthusiasm," I said. "Me, saving your heinie at the last minute, like in physics class, and in chemistry class, and in calculus class." I smiled. I did like Lance. He was like a big, barking Labrador. A little loud, maybe a little full of himself, but sweet at the same time.

"Admit it," he said, "You're glad I suggested that you apply."

"Suggested? You practically forced me into it."

"All I did was give you a list of instructions for submitting an application!" His candy-bar voice sounded intentionally innocent.

I sighed. It wasn't that I had minded getting out of Iona. But, well... Riggers gave me the shivers. It's just hard to explain. Our lives had seemed planned out, simply. But then Lance, instead of taking the football scholarship, had applied for the Guard. And he'd gotten in! And then when I graduated two years later, he nagged me until I applied. He pulled some strings, and I was really good at following instructions. So three months later, here I was, serving coffee to the Apocalypse Guard itself. Eh... when Lance let me do my job.

"Do you ever wonder," I said over the line, "why we have to do this in the first place?"

"Talk?" Lance said.

"No, save planets."

"You'd rather just let 'em be destroyed?"

"No," I said, "not that. I mean, have you wondered why? We found like, what, forty different stable nodes?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"And Erodan will be our twentieth intervention," I said. "So, like, half of all the planets we discover need to be saved from some imminent catastrophe. None have their own Apocalypse Guard or their own Riggers."

"Eh, some people from other planets do have weird powers. Jank is from Triveria; he can make things dry by touching them. He doesn't need a rig or anything."

"That's beside the point. Why, Lance? Why are so many planets facing life-ending threats?"

The Guard had a great track record. Of its twenty interventions so far, only six had failed. Four of those to the Hex, but that was still six entire planets we'd lost. with, in most cases, only a small percentage of people escaping to other dimensions.

"Best not to think about stuff like that, Emma," Lance said.

"I wish we had more answers," I said. "It..." I trailed off. A number on my monitor was flashing. The monitor had all kinds of readouts and things I didn't understand, since this wasn't my freaking job.

"Just a sec," Lance said. "Something's happening." That number on my screen, I thought. It's Lance's heartbeat. It skyrocketed. Feeling a growing panic, I looked up to the large main screen, which showed Droppy in all its glory. It seemed to be wobbling in a different way than before. Though the control center, scientists and operators hushed. Commander Visco looked up from her tablet at the back of the room, lowering her coffee mug from her lips. The asteroid wobbled once more, then started breaking into smaller chunks.