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Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
#3 Copy

NutiketAiel

When a Radiant is in the Cognitive Realm, does their mind exist individually, like separately from their body?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, no.

NutiketAiel

So you physically travel to the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

You can kind of step in between both but you do not separate from your body.

NutiketAiel

So when Shallan is only partly in...she's in both at the same time?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. She's transitioning. It's not astral projection. But no that's a legit question.

NutiketAiel

So Shallan, and Lightweavers, are capable of physically stepping into Shadesmar?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. But the implication is yes.

General Reddit 2013 ()
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Nepene

I suppose one thing to wonder is how do you enter Shadesmar? We know of a number of people who are jumping from world to world through Shadesmar. Grump Thinker and Blunt, Hoid too. How are they accessing the cognitive plane to transport themselves across the lands?

Presumably Shallan's bond with the truthspren let her get in. How does this work? If she had only a dim sphere then does it not require any stormlight, any spiritual power? Is it a purely cognitive change? I could see some advantages to that. You could hop into this alternative dimension at will if you were being attacked, even with little power.

The scholars earlier talk of whether there is food in Shadesmar, so presumably others have visited it. Can non soulcasters visit it? Is there some fabrial that grants you access? Are they only referring to the distant past, when KR had the power to access it? Is it purely a thing of the mind that anyone can learn? Is it only possible if you have access to a splinter of a shard?

Brandon Sanderson

There are many ways to enter Shadesmar. You'll see more of this in the future. One thing to keep in mind about Shadesmar is that space where things are thinking is expanded, while space where there is nothing to think is contracted. In other words, in an empty void, you get almost no Shadesmar. This makes distances as we think of them very different there.

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
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ZuperzubS

Hi Brandon, just to double check my understanding of things, Odium is still mostly bound on Braize right? Just that he can influence things on Roshar because of proximity?

Brandon Sanderson

I treat Braize, Ashyn, and Roshar as if they were almost one entity for a lot of Identity/Connection related issues. It's more than proximity, though proximity leads to it. We on Earth, I feel, would consider the moon and even Mars to be "ours" so to speak, part of our family of planets. Odium's binding, and that of the heralds/fused encompasses Roshar and Ashyn. There are some subtle distinctions, but for the most part, being bound on Braize is the same as being bound on Roshar.

mraize7

So Shadesmar is only from Roshar or from the three planets??

Brandon Sanderson

You can reach all three through Shadesmar, with a much shorter trip than to other systems. But the map we provide so far is only Roshar.

Phantine

Have you come up with a name for their star? It'd be easier to refer to all three by calling it the [???]ar/[sol]ar system instead of the Rosharan/[earth]an system like we do now.

Brandon Sanderson

By people in world, it's being referred to as the Rosharan system. This is kind of confusing to us, because we focus on the suns to orient what makes a system. But in the cosmere, they travel directly to planets, and so the biggest trading planet becomes the source of naming conventions in most places. I agree it's a little confusing for us, but I believe it's the way it would naturally arise for them.

Uth-gnar

On the topic of the Rosharan solar system, do we get to learn about the significance of the 10 gas giants? We’re they there before the shards ever made their home there? Is that the ‘origin’ of the significance, in the context of the cosmere's natural laws?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, I'm afraid.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
#11 Copy

XS-Terrain

Is there anything that we don't know about the Expanses right now that you'd be willing to tell us?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I've told you about all of them. Is there one I haven't told you about yet?

XS-Terrain

Um, I don't know, I've checked the words of Brandon before I wrote these questions. I think we know that um one of them is... Scadrial, and one of them is Warbreaker--

Brandon Sanderson

So Densities is Sel. We put that one on, right, Expanse of the Densities? So, if we didn't you now know, Densities is Sel.

Minicon 2015 ()
#13 Copy

Ruro272 (paraphrased)

Is there a separate "Shadesmar" for each planet or is it one big place that are all connected with different regions for each planet?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's one big place with different sections.

Ruro272 (paraphrased)

So since its one big place, could spren travel to a different section that correlates with a different planet, such as the cognitive segment for Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They could go there, but they wouldn't usually...

Ruro272 (paraphrased)

Is that because Honor's influence is only on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*Brandon gave sort of a noncommittal half nod, but looked doubtful himself. Maybe best to interpret this last answer as a RAFO rather than reading into it too much.*

Lucca Comics and Games Festival ()
#15 Copy

king of nowhere (paraphrased)

Then I asked him about Jasnah in Shadesmar.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said that he still is not sure whether to include it in the book or not, but he most likely won't. The reason is that he fears it will lessen the impact of something that will need to happen later in the book. so, it implies some characters will visit Shadesmar and have some important adventures there, which Jasnah's story may spoil. he is looking forward to showing Shadesmar on Roshar; we saw it on Scadrial, but on Scadrial it is mostly uninhabited, while in Roshar there are all the Spren.

Legion Release Party ()
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Questioner

In the Cosmere, as space becomes more developed...*inaudible* outer space.

Brandon Sanderson

It's an interesting question that I've had to ponder. Would the space race happen more slowly because there's an alternative, or would it happen more quickly because you know other planets are inhabited. I'm not going to answer what I came up with, because it's a plot point in the books. So I'll give you a RAFO card, but that's the question to ask yourself.

Questioner

That wasn't my question! My question was, in the Cognitive Realm, with the gap between planets...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh! Will the gap between planets get larger as more people travel in between it. So, barring things like space stations, there's going to be so few minds in between, that I don't expect space to become larger because of that.

I don't expect it to be a factor, except--barring--there will be possibilities of certain regions popping up.

Vericon 2011 ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Inside Puck's copy of Elantris Brandon wrote "Do not go to Shadesmar on this world (really, I'm not kidding)" on the title page, then said "You guys can chew on that for a little while."

Footnote: Brandon has confirmed that the reason for this is that the Dor, the Splintered remains of Devotion and Dominion, are located in the Cognitive Realm, which makes the region dangerous to traverse.
Brandon has since asked that people not ask for cosmere hints. He would prefer people to come with specific questions in mind.
Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

So the Cognitive realm.  Is Shadesmar a Roshar specific term?

Brandon Sanderson

Shadesmar is Roshar specific term, but when I translate from what other people are saying in these books I just translate it to Shadesmar.  So for instance when Wit is talking about it he's going to call it Shadesmar.  He's just going to use the Roshar term. But no, Shadesmar  is what it's called there.  

Skyward release party ()
#25 Copy

JoyBlu

Both Tien and Kaladin are Radiant, you talked about how that wasn't hereditary, and how that was more because of where they were with association. Was it because they were associated with the same person, or the same place?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Connection influences spren.

JoyBlu

Right, but was the Connection to a person that they were around?

Brandon Sanderson

Connection to people.

JoyBlue

So not necessarily the place where they were?

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

Joyblu

Because my way of thinking it might be with the people is because, like with the Purelake on the Cognitive Realm there would be more spren hanging out there because that was more land, right; so if you spent more time on that you would have more spren around you. So if you're closer to more water, you're closer to more spren.

Brandon Sanderson

That is not an irrelevant observation.

Legion Release Party ()
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Questioner

In the Cognitive Realm, would they be the Berenstein or Berenstain Bears?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question, The Mandela effect and the Cognitive Realm. Depends on if the authors are still alive, will influence it. But the way the Cosmere works, I'm going to go with the way most people say it. So Berenstain Bears, probably. That would override.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

In our universe, mass and energy curve space. I was wondering if Investiture does the same or something similar

Brandon Sanderson

It does something similar. It draws the three Realms together. So it's got like-- Imagine a gravitational pull piercing Realms. Right? Of kind of--

Questioner

And that's how a perpendicularity works?

Brandon Sanderson

That's not the only way a perpendicularity works, but one surefire way to create a perpendicularity is a massive collection of Investiture in the Cognitive or mostly Physical realm. But Cognitive's weird, doesn't always work the right way. But there are ways to do it that way too.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner

At what point in making the Rithmatist magic system did the concept of the beauty of the drawings come in?

Brandon Sanderson

The beauty of the drawings is related to the idea of your perception influencing magic, which is a Cosmere rule. Giving things a mental order, the Cognitive aspect of it, it’s the same way that in Warbreaker, when you give an order to something you’ve Awakened with the magic, the way you perceive that order directly influences how it plays it out. I built this in because, number one, it’s better for philosophy if the answers aren’t, in some of these things, [internal?] answers where the author has said, “Truth is capital T Truth”, where the characters’ perceptions of truth allows for different people to believe different things and both be arguably right. Also because I wanted all the magic in the Cosmere to have some root in the Cognitive Realm. The idea of the magic there is, there’s a Spiritual thing which is kind of unknowable, kind of eternal, kind of all-places-one, there’s a Cognitive aspect, which is how you perceive it influences it, and then there’s the Physical world. The chalklings were built that way, how beautiful you perceive it as being, or the beings involved in this perceive it as being, will influence how well it works.

Second Questioner

In the books, in Rithmatist, you state that the better drawn a shape is, or a creation is, that makes it more powerful. Would that mean that if you drew a cube, would that be more powerful than a square?

Brandon Sanderson

The complexity of it, and how people perceive, you could make an argument that there’s some people who would be like, “The perfect cube is so hard to draw that that is inspiring”, but the average people, if you said, ”Who’s going to win this battle: this cool knight that I drew, or this cube?”, they’d say the cool knight. So that sort of general perception plays a lot into how it works.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Zas678

What is the X in Aon Mea? Is it one of the Shard-pools?

Brandon Sanderson

Afraid not. Aon Mea references the expanded region within which the "Elantris Effect" will create Elantrians. The X is fertile valley with a high density of life, a place with a lot of cognitive activity. (Cognitive as defined by Realmatic Theory includes the 'thoughts' of all things that exist, not just human beings. The more complex the life form, the stronger its presence on the Cognitive Realm.)

Oathbringer release party ()
#36 Copy

Mason Wheeler

So, because the world is flat in Shadesmar, if there's a place where you can't cross, so if a Radiant was on a ship, they'd have trouble getting across, because their spren would be stuck behind that line of discontinuity. Is the Origin of Storms located on that line?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#37 Copy

Questioner

In Secret History, Kelsier goes out onto the ocean and he finds plants in the Cognitive Realm.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, mmhmm.

Questioner

Do they have a Physical aspect, or are they just Cognitive--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they're Cognitive only. They don't follow a standard ecology that we would understand, but-- Well, it'll make sense, hopefully, when eventually the science of that is understood in the cosmere. But there are--and I've said this before--on Roshar Shadesmar there are spren cities, and things like this. And there's a spren ecology, and stuff so…

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Does magic happen on Sel because areas have  a stronger cognitive presence, like, more sentient life in that area.

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh, no, good question, good question. That is not the answer. I am going to give it in the Cosmere collection if people don't guess it by then. So I'm going to leave off, I could tell you right now but, I can't remember if anyone has guessed it or not.

Questioner

Is it related to tectonics?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's all kinda going in the wrong direction. I haven't really given you the clues to figure it out, I don't think. Once I say it, it will make a lot of sense.

Words of Radiance release party ()
#45 Copy

scm288 (paraphrased)

So, I don't actually own a hardcover copy of The Way of Kings, but I did notice when looking at one that there's a map of Shadesmar... And that the map shows that Shadesmar geography is precisely aligned with Roshar's geography... So I'm just going to assume that other planets we've visited so far also have realms of Shadesmar that are aligned geographically.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That's very clever of you! *smiles* Very clever...

scm288 (paraphrased)

So I guess my follow-up question is: is Elantris a Dawncity?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Hmm. I could see where your reasoning could come to that conclusion, but no. No, that's not it. But your earlier extrapolations are in the right direction.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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Evilkill78

While rereading HoA I decided to do a bit of research on an informant. But I also found another interesting tidbit on Theoryland.

http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=727#35

This WoB. It implies TenSoon is eventually going to be able to reconnect with Vin, or at least, someone with Hemalurgic spikes is going to be able to communicate with someone that's departed to "The Beyond" (or the Spiritual Realm)...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this looks like one where I was tired from answering a lot of questions, and was thinking about Kelsier--I was really excited to write Secret History back then. I realize that it wouldn't make sense for Kelsier to want to talk to TenSoon, but you'd be surprised the things that you say sometimes when you're trying to write in someone's book, keep yourself from giving too many spoilers, but also answer questions. You can go on auto-pilot sometimes for a minute or two, answering questions that my brain THINKS someone asks, when it's not one they actually asked. Or mashing together two questions, and having a kind of crossed-wires brain moment. You can see me do this on Reddit sometimes too, if you look back through my history. I often catch it and edit to explain myself, but not always This was during the era when I was heavily laying foreshadowing to fans for Kelsier's return, so it wouldn't feel like a cheat when I eventually got to Secret History. So I was looking for opportunities to talk about people with spikes communicating with the Cognitive Realm. I can't remember. There's also a possibility that I was still contemplating Vin staying, which she could have done, as someone who'd carried one of the powers. Either way, I made the call that even bringing Kelsier back was dangerous for undermining consequences, and having Vin hang around would be counter to her character arc and the arc of the stories. So Vin and TenSoon won't be talking any time soon. Sorry to shut down conversation on this one, and sorry to lead you on.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Brainless

Is the Cognitive Realm on other planets called Shadesmar?

Brandon Sanderson

For simplicity's sake in translation, for the most part, we are going to use the word Shadesmar, acknowledging that in some of the languages it may be a different word. But the cosmere standard used in Silverlight and things is Shadesmar. That's just for ease of talking about it but the scholars in Silverlight they use the actual word Shadesmar. I'm going to force Eric to do some heavy lifting for me on some other things like this.

Chaos

<Expresses that not everyone will be pleased about this WoB>

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah I suspect that as I move into Era 4, Cognitive Realm might start replacing it, the more scientific term, but Shadesmar is the colloquial term. 

YouTube Spoiler Stream 1 ()
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Dallen Powell

Is it easier to travel in the Cognitive Realm because people in the Physical Realm don't understand the immensity of space, and their lack of comprehension condenses the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

I'd say that's a factor, yeah. Definitely a factor. I think it's impossible to comprehend the immensity of space even with all the visualizations I've seen.  Yeah, definitely. Good question. 

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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James Clifford

Science question!

Brandon Sanderson

Ohh science. Is it real science, or fake science?

Adam Horne

It is Brandon science.

Brandon Sanderson

Fake science!

James Clifford

With the discovery of anti-Investiture in Rhythm of War, would the correct form of anti-Investiture be usable to clear up the mess in the Sel Cognitive Realm. If so, would this completely destroy a splintered Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs, coughs, and is otherwise stunned* That would not be a good idea. So why would that not be a good idea? So no, this would not clear up the problem. The problem that's going on in the Cognitive Realm in Sel is that a bunch of Investiture that should be in the Spiritual Realm has been packed into the Cognitive Realm instead, through a very weird circumstance of events. If you were to introduce a bunch of anti-Investiture of the right type there, you would just generate an explosion that would be a very bad thing. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, Investiture can't be either, so it's actually changing forms. It's going from Investiture into energy! Which you know, does not leave the system. So the investiture would eventually make its way back around, you can't destroy anything in the Cosmere, just like you can't destroy anything in our universe. But you can make it change forms. And so, what's going on there is just this hope by a certain individual that what has happened there will prevent the power from becoming self-aware.

It's basically Odium being like "alright I just murdered you people, I don't wanna have to come back and do it again". So he's trying to figure out a way to make this happen. As it currently stands (again, these things can change when I write future books), it was partially happenstance that he took advantage of rather than something that he was able to set up very intentionally from the beginning, but he was definitely a part.