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Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#2 Copy

Blightsong

Are foci a cosmere-wide phenomenon, or are they kinda just a construction of people? 

Brandon Sanderson

Elaborate. 

Blightsong

A lot of people think that every magic system has foci? Is that true? 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. But, I think people are finding structure in-worlds that-- how should I say this. So, in some ways, some of these questions (this isn't just this one, but in general), you can ask something like "Do alien species fit into phylum and families and things like this." Well, yes, because we come up with the definitions. Right? So, a lot of these questions, like "Do they all have?" Well, yes, because human beings have come up with definitions to define these things and lump them together under definitions... There's a lot of things with the cosmere magic... is yes, because human beings have put that weight on it. It doesn't make it less true, but, at the same time it's not like, 1+1=2 is gonna exist whether or not humankind is there to define it, whether or not something fits into a genus or a species, whether these magic systems are related. Those are human constructions that are noticing real things. 

Hal-Con 2012 ()
#3 Copy

Lance Alvein

To get us started, Brandon, do you want to give everyone a quick idea of what the cosmere is?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Okay. So, here's what's going on: When I first was trying to break in—this was over ten years ago now, like fifteen—someone told me that your first five books were generally unpublishable. That was fairly good advice; I found that for most people it's really just your first novel; your second novel tends to get really good. For me, I did end up writing five experimental books that I never published; Elantris was my sixth book. Another piece of advice I got while I was working on it, however, was: you don't want to start with a big epic, the reason for that being is that you want to give a chance for readers to read something, you know, a single volume, or maybe one or two books before—so they can see, so they can trust you to finish a story before you jump into a big epic. It actually seemed like pretty good advice to me; it also works very well with publishing because approaching editors and things like that, you want to be able to send them a book, and if they reject it, but say, "Hey, I'd like to see something else by you; this wasn't the right project for me, but I like your writing." You can't really send them book two of that series, right? Because, you know, they want to see something new, and so I sat down to write a sequence of three or four standalone epic fantasy novels that potentially could have sequels maybe, but the idea was to make them standalone. But, kind of in my heart, I've always loved the big epic. You don't grow up reading Robert Jordan and Tad Williams and Melanie Rawn and people like this, without saying, "I want to do that." And so, what I started doing was actually building a hidden epic behind the scenes with all of these books, the idea being that there were characters who were crossing between the worlds that would have a story that someday I would tell that wouldn't be directly important to the book itself, but would lay the groundwork and give foreshadowing to something very large coming.

And so I designed this thing—you know, I'm a worldbuilder—I designed this thing with a sequence of planets and a story behind the story, and people crossing between them. And so, when I wrote Elantris, I embedded all of this in there, and then my next books were in that sequence jumping around—some were before, some were after—and things like this, so there are these continuing characters. Well, years and years later, I decided I would finally start writing something big and epic; I was tired of not getting published; I was tired of all the advice people were giving me; I had written a couple of books that were not very good based on the advice that people had given me. I said, "I just want to write my big epic," and that's when I started Way of Kings, and wrote that. And I'm like "I'll the launch into the big epic, some of these things are going to be more important to the series" It was kind of me honestly giving figuratively the bird to all of publishing, saying, you know, "You've told me that my books are too long, that two hundred thousand words is too long; I'm gonna write one that's four hundred thousand," so, you know: "I don't care; it's gonna be big and awesome and it's the book for me." I spent eighteen months working on this book, and right after I finished it, I sold Elantris. It sat on an editor's desk for a year and a half. He finally picked it up and read it, and tried to get a hold of me the next day wanting to buy it.

And so, suddenly I sell Elantris which I had written like five years before, which had all these things embedded in it, and I sent that editor The Way of Kings, because you know he wanted to buy two books from me. He's like, "Alright, the standalone is great; what else do you have?" so I sent him Way of Kings, and he panicked. *laughter* He was like, "Ahhhhh, this is huge, and what are all these illustrations that you're talking about, and I don't know if we can-- can we break this into like four books?" And I'm like, "No no, it's gotta be one book." And he's like, "Ahhh...." But fortunately for him, I didn't feel the book was ready at that point, otherwise I might have forced him to publish it. I felt my skill wasn't up to the task of doing that since I'd practiced only doing standalones up to that point, and so I said, "I want to do a trilogy so I can practice the series format; I've got a pitch on this book called Mistborn that I want to write for you." And Mistborn was the first book that I ever wrote knowing it would get published. So when I sat down to write Mistborn, I had already sold Elantris, and Elantris was coming out, and it all of this stuff embedded in it, and I'm like, "Do I keep going with that or not? Do I just go all in?" And so I decided to go ahead and do it, and so Mistborn has all of this behind-the-scenes sort of story things built into it, and there's a character from Elantris—it's the beggar that Sarene meets near the end—who is also in Mistborn, who is the beggar that Kelsier talks to, that they wanted-- pretending to be blind, that he gets information from, and then this character keeps appearing in all of the books as kind of a little Easter egg that was not so Easter-eggery because the fans found it right away. *laughter*

And so the cosmere is my name for this big universe, which is actually, you know, just a play on "cosmos"—it's not the most original word—but it's something I had actually come up with when I was a teenager, so, it's one of those relics that's in there that if I were to do it now, I might name it something a little less obvious. I don't know; it does work, and it is a fun name, so that's there. The character's name is Hoid, and there are other characters moving between the planets, and so there is a buried, deeper story to all of my big fantasies. The thing that I want to tell people, though, is that you don't need to read them in order because these are just Easter eggs; there's not a story there that you can really piece together yet. I don't want people to feel they have to read Elantris before Mistborn, or they can't, you know-- If you read them all, at some point you will have some little extra tidbits of information, but there's not something there that's going on that's chronological that you need to know about right now, but that's in a nutshell what's going on there; there is an underlying theory of magic for all of the epic fantasies that they all follow. I love the concept in science of the unifying law, right? If you guys have studied physics, there's this belief that somewhere out there there's a unifying theory that will unite all of physics, and because right now, you know, the things that happen on the macro scale don't really match what happen on the quantum scale, and you kind of have to have two sets of equations, and people believe that someday we'll find that link that'll put them all together, and that's fascinating to me, science is, and so I have a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds that people in-world on various planets are figuring out with regards to theirs, but if they had all of the pieces they could kind of put it all together.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

Before you started on all of your books, did you already have an idea of how they all came together or was it a sort of--

Brandon Sanderson

I did by the time I was writing Mistborn. But the thing you have to know about my career is that I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. So, in a lot of those early novels I had no idea what I was doing, that's how authors are. By the time I wrote Mistborn, which was book number fourteen--it was the second book published--but I really had an idea of what I was doing then. Elantris had to be retrofitted a bit to fit into it, because Elantris had been written when I was still figuring things out, but by Mistborn the whole thing was coming together and I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

From the very beginning did you already know-- like cosmere? Like was that your goal setting out?

Brandon Sanderson

It was my goal very early on. In fact, before I wrote any books I wrote a short story about Hoid. So he goes back to before the very first book that I wrote. So yeah it goes back pretty far. I can trace inspirations back to Asimov tying Foundation and Robots together and feeling like that was really cool and wanting to do something like that, if it makes sense. And so I would say that’s probably like the first seed was when I read the later Foundation books and they tied them together.

Alloy of Law York signing ()
#7 Copy

callumke (paraphrased)

Can you tell me something about the cosmere that you haven't told anyone before?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There are inhabited planets in the cosmere that don't have any Shards there. There may be inhabited planets that only have a Splinter of a Shard. There are 10 core cosmere planets, which tell the overarching story of the cosmere.

callumke (paraphrased)

Are all the cosmere books so far set on these 10 core worlds?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. 

callumke (paraphrased)

Are there any of the 10 core worlds without a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

All 10 core worlds have significant Shardic influence.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
#10 Copy

DrogaKrolow

Sentient machines, artificial intelligence. Would they be able to use Investiture? Or not? How would that work?

Brandon Sanderson

So, define "use Investiture". Like, there's a lot of different ways to quote-unquote use Investiture.

DrogaKrolow

OK, I don't mean the medallions but like if I go and peek into the Spiritual Realm and I look at the machine, do I see Investiture inside it? The Connections to the Shards and so on?

Brandon Sanderson

Chances are good that you will. But I have to add a big asterisk to that, it's gonna depend on so many factors. But consciousness in the cosmere is directly tied to  Investiture. And creating a machine in many ways cosmerelogically is not that different from creating a child.

DrogaKrolow

Okay... Interesting.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I'll just leave it there.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
#12 Copy

Hannah

If video games existed in the cosmere, which current cosmere character that we know would be the best gamer?

Brandon Sanderson

Best gamer? Um...

Adam Horne

I want to see if your statement is the same as mine.

Brandon Sanderson

Whew, best gamer? Who wants to sit down and game?

Adam Horne

That's going outside of mine, my character probably would not want to, but I think they'd be very good at it.

Brandon Sanderson

Very good at gaming, very good at gaming... Lift.

Adam Horne

Oh, Lift would probably enjoy it. Mine is Sazed because he can store his speed and stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Sazed would be technically, you're right, would be way, way better. I don't know if Wayne could slow time and put in inputs and then they would come out, I don't know how that would work.

Adam Horne

Is the tv outside of his bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the tv would have to be outside of his bubble. How would that work?

Adam Horne

What happens to a wireless signal when it hits the bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

Wireless signal is going to have a red shift. Physicist, what happens if a red shift happens? As I understand it, that actually wouldn't change it appreciably, but we'd let a physicist say on that. Regardless, yeah, Sazed would definitely have a big leg up. That's a very good answer.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#13 Copy

Questioner

I'm a physical chemist and I'm reading your book [The Way of Kings] right now and at some point you have someone studying flamespren and what they saw, that's one of the fundamental tenets of quantum mechanics--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So you got that from quantum mechanics?

Brandon Sanderson

I did get that from quantum mechanics.

Questioner

How did you come across that and decide to incorporate that into your epic fantasy?

Brandon Sanderson

Well The Way of Kings' magic systems are based on the fundamental forces. That was the original idea and the extrapolation from them. I'm fascinated by quantum mechanics and I have worked them into the way that-- Remember in my worlds, my books, the magics are a new branch of physics, in these worlds. And so they interact with our normal physics, it's not like they are ignoring them, so they obey the laws of thermodynamics, even when they appear to be breaking them, and they interact with quantum and all the stuff. It's just very natural that they are going to, to me if that makes sense? It would be weird if they didn't interact with them.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

I really enjoy the systems of religion and the religious questions that you bring up and so I was wondering-- Well first whether in your worlds there is a relationship between the efficacy of religion and the efficacy of magic?

Brandon Sanderson

There is but the relationship is not a direct one-to-one parallel. In other words the beings that are worshiped have an influence over the magic. Whether they are actually God is disputed by various people. And there are people who worship things that are not the various beings the magic is-- Does that make sense?

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#15 Copy

Nightfire

Also, is there a common reality/universe throughout all of you works (WoT excluded)? The gods and magic system of your books you have mentioned as pieces of a larger source. I know I am mistaking the language a bit; it was a while ago that I read this. But Preservation and Ruin were linked and you referenced possible deities in Elantris, not to mention Austre. I know your magic systems are all well thought out and the rules have practical founding. With this in mind, I assume your deities and beings of power would have universally applied links and rules as well. I figure they all exist in the same multi-verse.

Brandon Sanderson

I am remaining mostly closed-lipped on this topic, as I don't want to spoil the story and discovery. There is a lot of discussion about it on my website. I can confirm what I've said earlier, that there is a common character appearing in the books, and that there is a single cosmology to all of the Shardworlds and their books (Elantris, Mistborn, WarbreakerWhite SandDragonsteelThe Silence Divine, etc. Those last three are unpublished, by the way.) There is also a connection between how the magic works in each book, as well as the fundamental metaphysics of the worlds.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

Did the Physical, Spiritual, and Cognitive Realms exist before Adonalsium split?

Brandon Sanderson

They did. In fact, if you can ever get a hold of Dragonsteel, (Which I don't let a lot of people read because it's got big spoilers and it doesn't really work anymore. It was one of the early books I wrote. It is the prelude to the Cosmere.) the opening chapters are in a classroom where someone is learning about the three aspects. So, yeah.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

Do you ever feel limited by the commitment you've made with the massive writing of the Cosmere, or is there enough variety within the Cosmere to keep you happy and feel like you have some flexibility to do what you want to do with your writing ideas and preferences, especially as they change.

Brandon Sanderson

The answer is no. Fortunately, I designed the Cosmere as the thing I wanted to do, and I had essentially been writing the Cosmere for like, eight books before I sold. So I knew pretty well that I would have enough flexibility and things like this.

I am very excited by large-scale continuity connections between stories - watching eras come and pass in epic story-lines and things like that. I've never felt constrained by it. If anything, once in a while I feel constrained by contracts coming at the wrong time when I'm super excited by something else - like when a deadline is coming due and I'm like "I need to get off of this and write this other thing".And that's just a matter of - it's a function of the popularity that we enjoy that I've talked about before. I think that if I were - I'm not going to go back to this, but when I were a little less popular, the publishers would sit on books for like, two and a half years after I turned them in, to find the right place to publish them, or the right time. The bottom-line of the entire company was not appreciably affected by my book releasing.

Nowadays, the bottom-lines of companies are appreciably affected by my books releasing, so they don't sit on them. You don't turn in a Stormlight book and have it come out two and a half years later. Fans would probably have a heart attack if they knew we were doing that. But what it meant was that this buffer that I had vanished unexpectedly out from underneath us and so suddenly everything I'm writing is at the last moment that it could get - the last possible moment for it to be turned in, to be published, is generally when it's getting turned in. And this is just because people are really excited to get the books out. What that means is that things will happen where it's like, in an ideal world I don't think I would have gone straight from Rhythm of War into Dawnshard. It turned out to be okay because I was writing different characters, but I really like space between books in the same series as a way to refresh myself, and ideally I would have written the next Skyward book and maybe the next Wax and Wayne book and then done Dawnshard and then written the next Skyward book, and then come back to Stormlight.

But that just wasn't possible because of the timelines that I've set out. Dawnshard really needs to be out before Rhythm of War comes out, and because of that tight deadline then I'm on another tight deadline, which now means that writing the next Skyward book has to happen next because my YA publisher has been waiting very patiently without a book for quite a while, and while I probably would want to go to Wax and Wayne 4 next because I've been away from that even longer, Wax and Wayne 4 is for the same publisher that's now publishing Rhythm of War and they've got plenty to do and are plenty busy, and I need to get something to the other publisher.

These sorts of things are the annoyances of the reality of being a professional writer, but I never feel constrained by the Cosmere. I've never felt constrained by "Oh I promised ten Mistborn books or whatever" (30 seconds of figuring out how many Mistborn books. 13?)

So do I feel constrained by that? No I feel excited by that. That's never been an issue. Do I feel constrained by the fact that I really need to get Skyward 3 and 4 and Wax and Wayne done in time to get back to Stormlight 5 to have Stormlight 5 come out on a reasonable timescale - that, I do feel constrained by.

YouTube Livestream 16 ()
#19 Copy

Lauren

If you found yourself as an apprentice in the Cosmere, who would you like as a mentor figure and why?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh boy, who would I like as a mentor figure and why. I would probably pick someone boring in Silverlight, because I do not necessarily want to be involved in the great workings of the Cosmere because there is a lot of danger involved in that. I would stay far away from Hoid. Khriss would not be bad but she gets into a lot of dangerous situations, and I'm not sure that I would recommend letting her get you into those situations. How about that.

So yeah. There you go. Vasher - definitely right out. Don't be near Vasher if you value not getting your soul sucked into a dangerous black sword.

But, you know, I'm not sure if I could come up with a name. If I have to name - somebody that is going to be named... Maybe Vstim. You know, he was a good mentor and yeah, he travelled a lot, but he was really careful. Granted, he did have his apprentice jump off a greatshell's head, but that was more her fault than his. I think he would take really good care of an apprentice. And he knows his way around, so he's a pretty good mentor.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#20 Copy

AryaGray

Hi! I just finished Warbreaker, and I caught my mind that they have animals that exists on Earth (at least by the name, like monkeys, panther, and so). Is this a common thing in the all the planets of the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

It is common on many of the planets, though it is more likely to happen on a planet (or an ecosystem on a planet) created by Shards, as they're often basing the animal life on creatures they've seen before. That said, some planets with life predating the splintering had Earth-like ecosystems too.

The writing answer is that this was a way for me to control learning curve in my series, so that I could have some (like Roshar) that take a lot of effort to get into, and others that are a little more easy to get into. This lets me save the really crazy worldbuilding for a few specific series.

Miscellaneous 2012 ()
#21 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. The overarching story of all of my novels. I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.

Well, eventually I sold book number six, and embedded in book number six was a bunch of this stuff for the hidden epic, of course, and six is actually one of the ones where I first started doing this. My first five were kind of throwaway novels. It was six, seven, eight, and nine that were really involved in this. Six was Elantris; seven was a book called Dragonsteel; eight was a book called White Sand; and nine was a book called Mythwalker, which eventually became Warbreaker, which I eventually rewrote and released as Warbreaker. So that four-book sequence was very ingrained in this kind of hidden story behind the stories. When I started publishing these books, I just kept it going, the hidden story, the hidden epic.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#24 Copy

RoboChrist

Did Kelsier really hear Preservation's voice telling him to Survive when he was in the pits of Hathsin? Or was it Ruin pretending to be Preservation?

If it was Preservation, does that mean Kelsier died in the pits? Or were there special circumstances that allowed Kelsier to hear Preservation's voice without dying?

Brandon Sanderson

Special things often happen in the cosmere when someone is very close to death, or undergoing intense pain (either physical or emotional.) Barriers between the realms weaken.

I can confirm that the Kelsier who left the pits was not a cognitive shadow.

Phantine

Could he have become a shadow using the pits if he died immediately after snapping?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#25 Copy

Questioner

Is there a center to the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

There isn't a center in the cosmere... I keep calling it a dwarf galaxy but I think they decided it's a cluster, instead of a dwarf galaxy.

Overlord Jebus

Even a dwarf galaxy is still really big.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, still too big. So we had to call it a cluster. Because we only wanted like what, we came up with 50 or 100 stars? So it's a cluster. Or a really dwarf galaxy.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#26 Copy

Questioner

Is there any effect on a Shardblade if the deadeye is really far away from where the Blade is?

Brandon Sanderson

Define really.

Questioner

The one that's trapped on the ship. Let's say they're taking him to the far side of Shadesmar, but the dude that owns that Blade lives in...

Brandon Sanderson

We will deal with that in the books. There is an effect, but that's not enough of an effect.

Overlord Jebus

Considering no one says that their Shardblade is acting weird in two and a half thousand years.

Brandon Sanderson

That happens all the time in Shadesmar. If you were able to get it off the planet, it would have an effect.

Questioner

If you as the owner of the Shardblade were offworld and you tried to summon it, that would be the effect?

Brandon Sanderson

Either way. But you can't take spren off-world. I mean, you can, but you can't really. Really all that I have in the notes for it to do right now, is to add slightly more time. So you're like, "That's weird that felt like not ten heartbeats, it felt like twelve." But it's like, you're on another planet, then it's suddenly speed of light type stuff. So suddenly it's like, "This is taking three years instead. That's a pretty big deal!"

...So I've got a few weird speed of light things mixed into the cosmere, and that's one of them.

Shadows of Self San Diego signing ()
#27 Copy

halo6819

What planet did humans originate on? Or did they originate on Scadrial when Preservation and Ruin got together?

Brandon Sanderson

Humans did not originate on Scadrial, because they were on Yolen, which is a planet before Adonalsium-- the story that takes place before Adonalsium was Shattered. They may have been on other planets, but they-- the very first ones you would care about are probably on Yolen.

Firefight release party ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

It seems like-- So the cosmere stuff keeps the physics in there, with the Coinshots, and things like that, it doesn't ignore mass an inertia.

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

I love that! And I love that about Jim Butcher's books too. 'Cause they keep the physics. It seems like, with the young adult stuff, it's more based on intent...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the young adult stuff, I do not keep physics. In Steelheart, or in Alcatraz... or in Rithmatist. I don't even worry about it.

Questioner

They didn't know what the line did until they knew what it was supposed to do.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, intent is important in-- Remember the magic system for Rithmatist started as cosmere. And then I made the decision with it that I was not going to have it be in the cosmere. But the magic system started as a cosmere magic system...

*audio lost*

...you can do a lot when you can break laws of conservation of matter and energy, when you can cheat them by using the Spiritual Realm. But things that we really cheated on is redshifting and things like this on the time dilation in Mistborn. I don't know if you noticed that, but there should be redshift, there should be weird radiation things, there should be-- And so we had to work around a lot of those things. And we've got our workarounds in the back of our heads. But the other weird one is when Wax is flying, and he reduces his mass, I have to remember that he speeds up, when his mass goes down because of centripetal force.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#29 Copy

Questioner

How did you come up with Shardpools and travel between the worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, what happened is (close as I can remember; it's been a long time now), close as I can remember, I wrote Elantris in, like, 1998 or 1999, and I, at that point, didn't really have the cosmere in place. I knew I wanted to do some sort of grand epic, I knew I wanted to do some sort of thing, but I just wrote that book-- Elantris is mostly a discovery-written book, rather than an outlined book. And I wrote this book, and that's when I started a lot of these ideas. I stepped away from it, and I started writing a book called Dragonsteel, which was Hoid's origin story. And then I kinda got into the dark age where I was trying to be George R.R. Martin for a while. And then when I came out of that, I wrote The Way of Kings [Prime]. And during those days, I was really looking for these tying agents. When I put the first Shardpool in, I had-- I'm just like "Here's a well of power. I don't know what this does." I was discovery-writing the book. By the time I sold Mistborn and Elantris, I sold those two in a deal in 2003, that's when I'm like, "All right, now I'm gonna do this for real." I've had all this trial run-- I'd written thirteen novels at this point, and I'd sold #6 and #14, Mistborn not being written yet... So, I sat down with Elantris, and I built out the cosmere, and I built out these things, like "Why do I have this pool of power? What am I gonna do with the pool of power in the next book? I want this to be a theme." And I started building out the cosmere from there. So, part of it was organic, part of it was by design.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#30 Copy

Kurkistan

So is that the same thing with Commands, are there like ideals that are Commands?

Brandon Sanderson

This is more of a-- For you to interface with the magic, you need to be able to comprehend it. And so forming a Command-- The same thing happens in Elantris, you know they don't accidentally draw runes, right? The intention is part of interfacing with the magic. So it's like your mind reaching into the Spiritual Realm and you have to like conceive something.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#32 Copy

Chaos2651

In Mistborn, you say its planet is called Scadrial. In-universe, where (or when) did the name Scadrial come to be used to be describe the Mistborn planet? Did the Lord Ruler and his obligators use that as the name of the planet, or did it come later, post-Mistborn 3? Or is "Scadrial" just what you as an author use to refer to it?

Brandon Sanderson

It is "In Universe" so to speak, though the name itself isn't known to the people on-planet. The Lord Ruler was the only one who understood the exact nature of a planet, really, though some of the obligators and noble scholars had a general idea. Astronomy was one of the scientific areas where the Lord Ruler didn't mind people doing research, so long as it kept their interest away from chemistry or a science that could lead to advances in weaponry.

Scadrial would then have been the name that Ruin and Preservation understood for the planet, as well as certain other groups and individuals of a less directly divine nature.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#33 Copy

Questioner 1

Who or what is Hoid? Or Wit?

Brandon Sanderson

Wit? He is a person who has shown up in all the books. What else do you want to know?

Questioner 2

All of the books?

Brandon Sanderson

He has shown up in all of my epic fantasies, yes.

Questioner 1

Every single one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he's been...

Questioner 2

Wit or Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid-- is the same, Wit.

Questioner 1

But how do you know it's him?

Brandon Sanderson

Because he says his name in all of them.

Questioner 1

As Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

As Hoid.

Questioner 1

Really?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner 2

I-- now I need to be more careful.

Questioner 1

How does he know so much information about what's going on, and how is he always in the right place at the right time?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are two excellent questions.

Questioner 1

That you won't tell me.

Brandon Sanderson

That I won't tell you. You get a [RAFO] card. But he has a sp-- surprising ability to be in the right place at the right time very consistently in the cosmere. That's the name of the shared universe of all the books.

Questioner 1

I didn't realize it was a shared universe.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it is. There are characters in Way of Kings from Elantris, and... yeah. But it's all Easter eggs. It doesn't-- it isn't something you have to. 

Questioner 2

So it's not, like, crossovers.

Brandon Sanderson

There are crossovers, but it's all Easter egg-ish right now. Some day there'll be one where I do full-blown crossover. For now the story is about this. And so the crossover is all just in the background.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#35 Copy

mail-mi (paraphrased)

Does a more Investiture-poor world make it so its magics are easier to use off-world? Because, you said that Scadrial is really Investiture-poor, and it can be used easily off-world, but Roshar is very Investiture-rich, and how can you get Stormlight off of Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah. Um, I would say that there is a correlation.

mail-mi (paraphrased)

There is a correlation?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Mmhmm.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#37 Copy

Chaos2651

One other question, what is the name of the planet that Elantris is on?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantris: Sel

Warbreaker: Nalthis

Mistborn: Scadrial

Way of Kings: Roshar

White Sand: Taldain

Dragonsteel: Yolen

There are others, but I haven't talked much about those yet, so I'll leave them off for now.

DragonCon 2019 ()
#40 Copy

Questioner

Is physical travel between the worlds possible outside of...?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, if you can get to Shadesmar, you can do it, but you can also do it... you could do it just... if you had FTL or if you were willing to just take a long, long time. If you had the means, you could. The cosmere is a dwarf galaxy, it's like a hundred star galaxy. I imagine it being a real place, but our world is not part of it, so.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#42 Copy

Questioner

Do you have a layout of the cosmere, like everything is happening written down or is it just up here?

Brandon Sanderson

It's written down. Some of it's up in the head, some of it's written down. Most of it is somewhere...

Questioner

Somewhere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah most of it's somewhere.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#43 Copy

Questioner

Is the cosmere, the thread connecting several of your series, something that came from the beginning, or something that kind of grew?

Brandon Sanderson

What a great question! So the cosmere, which is the thread connects a lot of my books together. All of my epic fantasies are connected in this world called the cosmere. Was that from the beginning, or was it something that grew?

So I had, I often point to the fact that I had those years not getting published as a big advantage, because while I was working on those books, I didn't write the first ones as a connected shared universe. It was after I had done a number of them, that I'm like, "Hey, there's something here! There's a thread that I can weave together." But by the time I got published, I knew all of that right?

And so, like when I wrote Mistborn, which was my, the first book I wrote knowing it would get published. Elantris was my first published, it was number 6 in those years. I sat down specifically with Mistborn and built the cosmere, using some of these unpublished books as the history of what had happened. So from the get-go of reading it, it was all interconnected. Elantris got retrofitted a little bit, to fit in with this. From Mistborn is where it all kind of starts working together and things like that.

I was inspired to do this by authors I had read who did this really well, that I liked. Stephen King did it. Michael Moorcock did it. It really kind of blew my mind when Asimov connected the Robots and the Foundation books. Of course, you know, comics have been doing it forever. But when I saw authors doing it is what made me really excited. I would count those as inspiration.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#44 Copy

Xluxaeternax

Is the chronology through the whole cosmere fairly linear, or are there some Interstellar-relativity timey-wimey stuff at play?

Brandon Sanderson

Relativity is in play for sure, but I am not allowing time travel into the past in the cosmere. So while you might find places that move at slower/faster speeds, and while foreseeing future timelines is in play for sure, nobody will not be pulling serious time travel shenanigans.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#50 Copy

Kurkistan

You've said that the the laws of physics in the cosmere are ours except where they're messed with by the Spiritual... But are the laws of physics actually in the Physical Realm all the time, or are they in the Spiritual Realm doing their stuff on a Spiritual level that's trickling down to the Physical as a matter of course?

Brandon Sanderson

The three are more closely aligned than-- *Breaks off to focus on the books he's signing, the speaking was distracting him*

Kurkistan

So you were saying that physics-- laws of physics-- that the Realms are a lot more closely bound and the laws of physics are not just tied to one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.