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Firefight Chicago signing ()
#1 Share

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?
Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#3 Share

Darudeboy

Still don't see why The Reckoners can't be a part of the Cosmere. Especially with all that why down in the last book. Sooooooo shard like

Brandon Sanderson

I'll dig into it eventually, but there are good reasons why the powers don't fit the magic of the cosmere.

It's important to me that I don't go stuffing things into the cosmere willy-nilly. The stories that fit should go there, and contribute to the lore of the cosmere. The ones that don't should be able to have their own lore and mechanics.

Firefight release party ()
#4 Share

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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#6 Share

Questioner

Are we ever going to get an official Cosmere timeline?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we will eventually. We're really close to being able to release it, I'm not sure when we will. Um, the real trick is-- Like now that we're locking down White Sand, that's kind of like the last wild card because the novel version wasn't canon. So it's like where do we make sure this is, and stuff like that. So yeah we should be, once White Sand is out I think, everything we can lock down. The trick is, like if I release it there are certain-- like where is Sixth of the Dusk exactly? It's not something I want because that's got spoilers.

Questioner

..It is actually canon that Era Two [of Mistborn]takes place between the first half and the second half of [The Stormlight Archive]?

Brandon Sanderson

Well I haven't written the second half of Stormlight so that--

Questioner

But does it take place after the first half?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it takes place sometime after the first half, but it depends on how long I break and things like that, whether they overlap, maybe it takes place after 7, maybe it takes place after 5, maybe it takes place after-- Like we'll see when I get there how many years, because the timing on those is a little more tight.

Questioner

So they're more interweaved with those, those are closer to the same time period.

Brandon Sanderson

They are much closer to the same time period than other things, which is why I have to be dodgy on those ones, mostly just because they are on a similar timeline.
A Memory of Light Birmingham Signing ()
#7 Share

Questioner (paraphrased)

In at least two of the books that I know of, a god is either dead or attacked in some form or fashion. Is there any reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, there is an ongoing theme there, and it's primarily because there is an overarching story behind the story. The books are all in the same universe. And there is a character that's the same in all of the books. In Way of Kings it's Wit. He's actually in all of them.

Calamity release party ()
#9 Share

Questioner

What are the chances that one of Megan's alternate realities could secretly be the cosmere, but we'll never see it?

Brandon Sanderson

Heh... Um, I would like to keep these two separate. But if you believe in infinite variety then I suppose...

Questioner

If I believe it hard enough! Okay, alright. But they're-- But they're meant to be separate.

Brandon Sanderson

They are meant to be separate. I will do other things with that-- within-- kind of that idea of multiple dimensions and things like that.

Questioner

In the Reckoners? In that world?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

When Worlds Collide 2014 ()
#10 Share

Jeremy (paraphrased)

We know that Mistborn needed to Snap, and Surgebinders needed have the cracks in their souls filled. But what about the people in Warbreaker or Elantris? Is cracking and snapping only required on certain worlds?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This is universal to the cosmere; however, in certain magic systems / on certain worlds, this is easier than others.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#11 Share

Valhalla (paraphrased)

Other than Vessels, how many beings have lived from before the Shattering until the time of The Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

More than you would think. Longevity is not hard to come by in the cosmere. That much longevity would be a little uncommon. But certain species are particularly long lived, and certain magic systems enable longevity.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
#12 Share

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.

Orem signing 2014 ()
#13 Share

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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#14 Share

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.
White Sand vol.1 release party ()
#15 Share

Questioner

Will we get more information like that about planets and stuff like that in the Ars.. *interrupted* ?

Brandon Sanderson

The Arcanum Unbound[ed] is... Yes, the cosmere collection. There will be little essays from Khriss on each of the planets. There will be stuff like that. You're going to have to wait until the science in-world approaches more of our science before I can get into some of the things you would want to know specifically. But, I mean, we are starting to get to an era where they can talk intelligently about these things. So yes, but it's-- Arcanum Unbound[ed] is kind of weird because I had to pick a date for her to be writing these essays, and the date that she wrote the essays is before some of the stories. For instance, Sixth of the Dusk, right? And so for that planet she's just like, "Hey, here's this place that something weird might be happening with. We don't know a lot about it, but it's got this one weird attribute that we're studying." The story hasn't happened yet. So you get a little bit of that. It's not all from the far future, when like Sixth of the Dusk is happening, because otherwise there would be way too many spoilers for what's coming in the future. So yes, there will be lots of cool little tidbits. The essays are meant for people who ask questions like that, and like this one, but I'm not answering everything.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#16 Share

Blightsong [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Elaborate. 

Blightsong [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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. 

Firefight Houston signing ()
#17 Share

Questioner

What was your decision not to make The Reckoners series part of the cosmere? Because, without giving away too many things, I can see a Shard affecting that world.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I made the decision based on two things. Number one, the fact that I don't want Earth to be in the cosmere. And so all the books that are referencing Earth, I don't put in the cosmere. Number two, the mythological source I was using as the--I can't give away spoilers--foundation for all of this, is a very "our-world" mythology, not a very "cosmere" mythology.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#18 Share

Questioner

Was the other god in Scadrial, Trell or whatnot, they're kind of mentioning him, does that imply there other really powerful beings out there outside of the Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

There are possibly really powerful beings, but… how should we say… *long pause* I mean, there are those who would call Hoid a very powerful being, who exist outside Shards, but if you're talking deific level things in the cosmere, they're all related to the Shards… Or demigod level.
Firefight Chicago signing ()
#20 Share

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.
Firefight Chicago signing ()
#21 Share

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.
Worldbuilders AMA ()
#22 Share

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.

The Book Smugglers Rithmatist Interview ()
#23 Share

The Book Smugglers

You create some of the most elaborate magic systems in fantasy today; these systems function as intrinsic parts of your worlds and characters. Typically, how do you address the different types of magic systems in your different books? Do you define these systems before you start writing the books, or do they evolve and develop as you go along?

Brandon Sanderson

The answer to that is yes! It's different for every book. With my Cosmere books—which are the shared universe of my epic fantasies—I need to be a little more rigorous. There are fundamental underlying principles that guide the magic systems, and so there's a larger developmental phase before I start writing the book. Then I stick more strictly to the rules I've given myself.

All the way back in 2007, I was writing one of my epic fantasies, and it just wasn't working. I needed a break to something creative, different, and distinctive. So I jumped ship, abandoning that epic fantasy, and wrote The Rithmatist instead, which had a lot less planning than one of my epic fantasies.

With something like The Rithmatist—which is outside the cosmere—I'm allowed a little more freedom, which is one of the reasons I like writing books like this, where I allow myself to develop it as I write. The magic was the first thing that got me excited about The Rithmatist, so I based the book around it.

The first thing I wrote was the scene—now late in chapter one—where Joel watches Fitch get defeated by Nalizar in the classroom. It started out on a chalkboard, but I eventually moved it to the floor because that made more sense. As I was writing these chapters, I developed the Rithmatic lines and let the story feed the magic and the magic feed the story in a way that some writers call "discovery written."

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#25 Share

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.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#27 Share

Questioner

In Secret History, Hoid says something to Kelsier about him destroying the Pits and destroying an entire mercantile system. Is he talking about literal inter-Realmic trade?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Interplanetary trade, yes.

Questioner

Follow-up: Is House Venture involved?

Brandon Sanderson

House Venture is not involved. People in House Venture might be.

Questioner

The guy who--

Brandon Sanderson

Here is a RAFO card for your follow-up. House Venture is-- Yes.

Footnote: The questioner was likely referring to Felt, a spy that worked for House Venture, who is a worldhopper.
Calamity Seattle signing ()
#33 Share

Questioner

Is Calamity actually a worldhopper?

Brandon Sanderson

Calamity, I didn't write this as a part of the cosmere. The main distinction is I didn't want Earth to be in the cosmere, I want it to be distinct. Once I stick Earth in, the cosmology and things doesn't work. The cosmere is a dwarf cluster, and it's a dwarf galaxy, it's a cluster of stars. It's a specific place, and Earth's not part of it.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
#34 Share

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...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.

Goodreads Fantasy Book Discussion Warbreaker Q&A ()
#36 Share

Other Brandon

I don't know if I'm remembering this right but I thought I saw somewhere that you said that all your books (yours not WOT) are connected somehow. Is that right or am I going insane already?

Brandon Sanderson

All of my books share a single creation myth, a single cosmology. The connection of them—the greater world, the greater universe—they call the Cosmere. There is a character who has shown up in each of my epic fantasies, and it is the same person, not just a repeated name. Currently WARBREAKER, ELANTRIS, and the Mistborn trilogy do all share a common cosmology. My children's books are not part of the Cosmere.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#37 Share

Questioner

What can you tell us about what magic was like in the cosmere before Adonalsium was Shattered?

Brandon Sanderson

Magic was...

Questioner

Was it very different or...

Brandon Sanderson

It was-- I mean-- It was similar, different in some fundamental ways but the things that were done you’ll be able to see other-- You'll be able to see the pieces.
Ancient 17S Q&A ()
#39 Share

Chaos (paraphrased)

Will Hoid's character arc, as well as the whole Adonalsium arc, get a satisfactory conclusion eventually?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It depends on what Brandon decides to do. We also might or might not get the rest of the story (pre-story). From a market standpoint it's not wise, simply because if the books require you to have read 32 other books before you read them it doesn't make sense to work on them. However, if the demand is high enough he MIGHT do them after all of the rest of the cosmere books.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#41 Share

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.
Oathbringer London signing ()
#42 Share

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

What was the thematic decision behind the number 16? Why did you choose that?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I really like how divisible it was. It looked really cool when I was playing with things like an Allomantic table and whatnot. It was mostly an aesthetic choice. Like, it just felt right.

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

So was it originally the Shards or the metals you decided on?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, I started with the metals. And then expanded out to that, yeah. So what you've gotta remember is, like, I write Elantris without knowledge of the cosmere. I knew I was gonna do something, but I didn't know what I was gonna do. And then I wrote Dragonsteel, and in Dragonsteel I had all sorts of theories and plans, but I never canonized any of that. And when I sat down to write Mistborn, I said, "All right. We're building the cosmere for real now." And before then I had just kind of been winging it. So when I did Aether of Night, which I put Shards in, I was like "Okay, there'll be some of these things, and what-not." Mistborn was, like, the first real cosmere book, if that makes any sense.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#46 Share

Questioner

So for the Old Magic, in this classification system of end-positive, end-neutral, and end-negative, where would that fall under?

Brandon Sanderson

So, almost every magic in the cosmere is end-positive, almost every magic is relying upon an external source of Investiture to power it. So that phrasing is mostly more relevant to Scadrial than anywhere else, because that concept is how I'm dealing with things like the laws of thermodynamics, and even what they call end-neutral is relying a little bit on the power of Investiture to facilitate. So even an end-neutral magic system as they define it on Scadrial is actually not end-neutral. What you get put in you get out, but the power is facilitating that transfer… So that phrasing is kind of a... Take that as a science on.. Scadrial that does not extrapolate well, and may not even be 100% accurate.

Moderator

That would have been a great thing to know before we did the cosmere magic panel. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

I look at it as, is an Investiture externally powering the magic, and if you look at Allomancy, yes it is. You are drawing that power out. Feruchemy, you are putting Investiture in from your own body, it's your energy transferring to Investiture, which is being stored, which you are then drawing out, and things like that. But that changing forms is facilitated by the magic. Whereas you're stealing stuff with-- So you could look, for instance at the magic on Nalthis, you could look at that one as being-- as kind of working as end-negative, meaning "I am taking it away from someone else", or end-positive depending on if you're the one receiving it or not. So again, it's a phrasing that can be useful as a tool but doesn't scale well to the other magics.
17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#47 Share

Karkat Vantas

Does the Physical Realm of the cosmere have more or less the same structure as our own? It's obvious from Mistborn that solar systems function as they do in our universe, but it's less obvious if there are galaxies, clusters, superclusters, and so forth. Are there?

If the cosmere does have the same structure as our own, are the Shardworlds all in the same general area (a galaxy, for example), or are they completely spread out?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. I designed the cosmere to have much the same structure, but imagined the action happening in a compact dwarf galaxy. Still a lot going on, but far, far fewer stars and systems than our own.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#48 Share

Questioner

Will we ever see an entire map of how the different planets are spaced out in the Physical--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, the Cosmere collection will have a star chart of the cosmere.

Moderator

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Cosmere, if you will…

Brandon Sanderson

Now, you've got to remember that at the point that this comes out-- The collection's been interesting for a couple of reasons. For one reason, the collection's coming out before Sixth of the Dusk happens in the cosmere, right? And so Khriss gives an introduction to each world, so you'll find her introduction to First of the Sun to be a very interesting introduction that doesn't know things that you know because of that. In addition, the star chart is a star chart created by people who are not spacefaring, right? And so it is a star chart more along the lines of-- It may not be one hundred percent to scale and things like that, like they've been able to figure out a lot of things by using the Cognitive Realm, so they'd be like "alright, here's the relationship", but it will be a while before you get what feels like a Star Trek star chart. Your star chart you're gonna get in this is a fantasy star chart, which will give you the relative positions and things like that, but it's not gonna be like you can measure exactly, which we do have! But I'm not gonna give you yet. *audience laughs*

Moderator

Are you referring to Arcanum Unbound?

Brandon Sanderson

Arcanum Unbounded, yeah.
JordanCon 2016 ()
#49 Share

Questioner

Just in the cosmere alone, are there any--Do you believe there are any specific magic systems that are stronger than the others, or have an advantage? Or do they kind of even out?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, do-- Yeah. Do any of the magics have advantages or stronger-- Definitely some are stronger than others. Definitely. There is no attempt made on my part to power balance between magic systems and things. Power balancing is for RPGs where it's very important, it's not for storytelling.

A lot of people like to ask the "Who would win, X or Y?" sort of thing, and I don't get into a lot of that, I usually say, "Well, what's the situation?" I'm not big on the-- I will, if people clash, or if different powers clash, I will write the situation, but it's so conditional. So I have a hard time with these cage match things that people really like to do and things like that, because they're fun, but as an author I'm like, "I can come up with a dozen situations where either one of them wins or someone else does". Right? That's what you do, in writing. You say, what is the context of this

But that's a tangent from your question, which is the powers are not equal. The Shards were generally equal. Some have given up more power than others.

A Memory of Light Milford Signing ()
#50 Share

Viper (paraphrased)

So in cosmere, does physics work the same way in the Physical Realm as it does in our world? Specifically, particle physics; and are atoms made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, and is light photons, etc?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Viper (paraphrased)

So what's at the core of an atom of atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. And the matter is just normal matter, but it's wrapped in the Spiritual. The Spiritual DNA [or something] is what makes it magical.