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The Book Smugglers Rithmatist Interview ()
#1 Copy

The Book Smugglers

In addition to The Rithmatist, you've also ventured in the the Science Fiction realm with your short stories ("Defending Elysium" and "Firstborn"). We recently learned that you're creating a cool, limited edition tête-bêche ("head-to-toe") bind-up format of these two novelettes, in the style of the groovy old school Ace Doubles. What made you want to create this particular type of print version of your novelettes? And, since these are science fiction, tell us a little bit about writing scifi and how that differs (or is similar to) fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson

We were looking at doing con exclusives, something I can take to conventions to make them a little more special for those who make the extra effort to come see me. Yet we didn't think it would be fair to my readers who can't make it to the cons (my readers in Sweden, for instance) if I took a story that was only available at cons. But "Firstborn" and "Defending Elysium" fit perfectly. Both stories have been out awhile, and both are free to read online. If you can't make it to the con, you can still read and enjoy these stories.

Singly, neither story was long enough to justify the price point required for us to go through all the effort to create a book. But both stories are science fiction, and both are novelettes, so doing an Ace Double-style book sounded like the way to go.

A lot of my short fiction comes out as science fiction. When I sit down to write something short, I've often wondered why a science fiction story pops out. Why do my longer works come out as epic fantasy? I've got lots of theories. They're armchair theories from Brandon the English major, not so much from Brandon the writer.

In science fiction, a lot of times the worldbuilding is easier to get across. Science fiction films have been such a part of our culture for so long, and imagining the what-ifs of the future leaves you with more groundwork to build upon, that in many ways there's more the reader immediately understands and accepts.

I've often said that great stories are about great characters first. But beyond that, science fiction stories are about ideas and fantasy stories are about the setting. I think that's why when I come up with a great idea story, I write it as science fiction. If I come up with some interesting setting element, like a great magic system, I write it as fantasy. I've found that getting across an interesting and complex magic system in a very short amount of time is extraordinarily hard, so it tends to work better for longer stories.