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Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
#5 Copy

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.

Read.Sleep.Repeat interview ()
#10 Copy

Octavia

With Steelheart every superhero I've worshiped as a kid, was pretty much blown to bits and replaced with the scariest bunch of "supers" I've ever seen. How did you come up with the idea to take superheroes (and even today's, not even close to epic level, villains) and make them so amazingly evil?

Brandon Sanderson

I was on book tour, driving a rental car up through West Virginia when someone aggressively cut me off in traffic. I got very annoyed at this person, which is not something I normally do. I'm usually pretty easygoing, but this time I thought to myself, "Well, random person, it's a good thing I don't have super powers—because if I did, I'd totally blow your car off the road." Then I thought: "That's horrifying that I would even think of doing that to a random stranger!"

Any time that I get horrified like that makes me realize that there's a story there somewhere. So I spent the rest of the drive thinking about what would really happen if I had super powers. Would I go out and be a hero, or would I just start doing whatever I wanted to? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?

EuroCon 2016 ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

I think you're going to get asked a lot about the Cosmere today, so I wanted to make a question about the Reckoners saga, because, while I was reading it, there was one recurring thought in my mind, and it was, "Gosh, I wish I could have read this as a teenager," and it's equally enjoyable as a adult, but that kept running in my mind, and I was wondering if when you wrote it, you wrote it with these audiences in mind, or it's simply that David is so real and so like us when we were fifteen or fourteen that it came out that way?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm very curious that you noticed this, because in the United States, this is actually published as a young adult novel. In the UK and Spain, and France, it is published as an adult novel. And I very much left it up to my publishers to decide what was best for their market, because David is nineteen, which puts it on the border between is this a young adult or an adult novel. However, when I was writing it, my target reader in my head was me at age fourteen, because, when I was young, it wasn't that nobody gave me books--people did give me books, they tried to make me into a reader--but the books were all boring, and I think the great power of science fiction and fantasy is that we are able to mix deep thought and exciting narrative. Every morning, my wife makes a smoothie for my children with ice cream. They love ice cream, my three little boys, so they're very excited, and every morning she adds a handful of spinach to it, because they love the color green and they think it's cool to drink a green drink. Of course, she adds it because the spinach is very healthy, and I feel like science fiction and fantasy is very good at this blend for books. All of our books are green, because we deal with very important issues, but we mix them with wonder, exploration, adventure, and human experience.

The Reckoners is about power corrupting. I started the first book after driving on the road and nearly getting in a car wreck because someone pulled in front of me too quickly, and I was very annoyed with this person, and in that moment I imagined myself blowing the car up. I thought, "You are so lucky I don't have superpowers." It was a very cool explosion, too. Yeah, I have a good imagination. After this, I was immediately horrified, because I write books about people, generally, who get incredible powers, and then go on to protect others, but in that moment, I had the worry that I could not be trusted, myself, with those powers. So, The Reckoners is about what happens if people start gaining superpowers, but only evil people get them. It's Marvel's universe with no Avengers.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#13 Copy

Dancingedge

Could Obliteration (or an Epic with similar powers), in theory, actively suppress his danger sense, so he doesn't teleport, even if someone would score a lethal hit on him? Also, do active Epic powers like throwing energy beams or flying drain stamina?

Brandon Sanderson

Obliteration hasn't learned to do this. Perhaps it's possible, but difficult. As for how draining the abilities are, it varies based on the epic.

Firefight Houston signing ()
#14 Copy

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#15 Copy

Dancingedge

Concerning the terminology for Epics, the definitions given for High Epics and a prime Invincibility are effectively the same, meaning every High Epic should have one. However, in Steelheart David says that only a couple of the hundredths of High Epics in Newcago have one. Did David change his terminology between books or is there another reason. (I would also appreciate definitions for what differentiates a minor from a lesser Epic.)

Brandon Sanderson

Prime invincibility is the cream of the crop of High Epic, in David's estimation. The hardest of the hard to kill. However, other people define things differently. "High epic" means "I have a power that, if you stand there and try to shoot me, it doesn't work." That's why in his definition, Regalia doesn't fit the bill--though many others would say her power of keeping herself hidden as she does would totally count. All a matter of semantics, but to him, there's a specific gradation.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#16 Copy

TwiLyghtSansSparkles

What are the extent of Snowfall's powers and territory?

Brandon Sanderson

I have notes on this, but if I come back to the Reckoners world in the future, I don't want to be locked into things I say here. Part of the point of mentioning epics like this is to foreshadow for future books, but not leave myself too locked in, so I can construct the story I need to.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#17 Copy

Questioner

How did you think of the idea for some who could, like, pull alternate realities through?

Brandon Sanderson

I was looking for a different type of illusionist, because in the Stormlight Archive I did illusionists straight-up. So I wanted to do somebody who did something similar, but had a different origin for those powers.

Oathbringer release party ()
#18 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...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.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#19 Copy

Questioner

Why would you choose Chicago as a setting?

Brandon Sanderson

I grew up in Nebraska, Lincoln, and Chicago was the big city we would travel to. I liked that it was-- This is kind of going to sound weird but it was a big city full of mid-westerners. Like when I went to LA everyone talked and acted different, when I went to New York everyone talked and acted different, but in Chicago it-- they were kind of like a bunch of hokey mid-westerners had somehow built a big city? *laughter* If that makes any sense. So I have always had a fondness for Chicago. It's like the big city of farmers or whatnot. I don't know there's just something about it, the being on the lake and the profile of it and things like that. And I'm a Batman fan and Gotham is Chicago. Chicago was my go-to when I was going to destroy a city in our world; I picked Chicago.

State of the Sanderson 2015 ()
#20 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Main Book Projects

The Reckoners

The last book of the trilogy is complete, revised, and turned in. It's coming out in February, and is—indeed—the ending.

I have not closed the door on doing more in the world, but it will not be for a while. If I do return, it will be like a Mistborn return, where the focus of the books shifts in some way and I create a new series. I like leaving endings as endings, even if the world and some of the characters do progress.

I'm extremely pleased with the last book. I look forward to having you all read it, and I am grateful to you all for supporting this series. There were voices that told me something outside the Cosmere would never sell as well as something inside—but this series is neck-and-neck in popularity with Stormlight and Mistborn. It's a relief, and very gratifying, to see that people are willing to follow me on different kinds of journeys.

Status: Completed!

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#21 Copy

Dancingedge

Why doesn't Nighwielder's weakness penetrate his blanket over Newcago when it does pierce the shadow tendrils he attacks David with? Could the reason be that his clouds act as some kind of "security blanket" if for example he got his weakness from being stranded in the dessert clouds like his would have protected him from the sun, which keeps the UV-rays of the sun from triggering his weakness, because they can't recreate the situation it originates from.

Brandon Sanderson

I've been dodgy about answering this one, as I thought I might get into it in Book Three, but as I work on it I don't know that I am. The answer is actually pretty simple--it's for the same reason that someone manifesting Regalia's weakness in Babilar doesn't make the waters suddenly retreat. Or that Steelheart's powers didn't leave pockets of open material around anybody who hadn't ever heard of him. (Which is where this exception started in my mind, as without it, the first book would never have worked.)

Basically, I had to make the rule that a large scale, general use of the powers had a kind of immunity to the weakness--one of diffusion. But the general spreading of the powers on the large scale were also far less precise. (For example, Nightwielder could cloud the sky with darkness, but not stop rain from falling.)

Otherwise, you could just find the pockets where the Epic's powers on the grand scale were not working, and easily figure out their weakness. Hence, engaging Nightwielder directly ruins his immediate powers, but on the grand scale the darkness remains in place over the city.

It's the only way I could make the powers work on the grand scale I wanted, in turning Newcago to Steel or sinking NYC.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

What happened with Abraham’s court martial?

Brandon Sanderson

So that is backstory that is a RAFO.  Why Abraham was there is not something he necessarily likes to talk about, not that he’s shy, but at the same time it’s not something he easily talks about.  And so I will not talk about it, I will let him, someday perhaps, talk about it.

#NookTalks Twitter Q&A with Barnes & Noble ()
#26 Copy

NOOK

Did you have the ending planned out for the Reckoners series when you started writing?

Brandon Sanderson

Then I build a series around the ideas and themes that worked in the first book.

I had the ending of the first book well in mind. Once I finished it, I sat down and plotted the next two books.

This is very common for me in a series. Writing the first book, making sure I have the characters and ideas down first.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#28 Copy

Dancingedge

In Steelheart you mentioned mind control Epics. Just how extensive are some of the mind control powers and are they likely to diffentiate between normal people and other Epics?

Brandon Sanderson

Mind control powers among Epics are more subtle than you might find in something like the Marvel universe. (Making someone think they want a sandwich, so they wander away from their post, instead of directly controlling them.) But stronger manifestations do exist. They're more rare.

Generally, mind control powers will have more trouble with epics.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
#31 Copy

Questioner

So, when you were coming up with superhero names, did you have to look them up to make sure somebody hadn't done it already?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I had to make sure that they weren't... impossible-to-use names that somebody hasn't done, I just had to make sure they weren't super popular. And some I was able to find that people hadn't done. But some, I'm like, "I have to use this name anyways." But, like, my first three names, like Nightwielder, people had used. I eventually found one that hadn't been used.

Questioner

Was that frustrating?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, it's kinda like the "Simpsons did it" thing. People complain that every plotline's been done by the Simpsons. Superhero powers have all been done, superhero names have all been done; but stories have all been told before. So, it's "What can you add to it?" that you ask yourself.

Questioner

So, of the ones that you came up with, how many would you say you looked up and were like "aaaah..."

Brandon Sanderson

I would say about half.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

This is a question I was wondering when you did Steelheart. When you were developing the story did you ever think of what kind of Epic you would be?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Uh, no, I didn't really. My-- The Alcatraz books were kind of focused on dumb things I do. Steelheart I was really just kind of looking at comic book lore, and dealing with, you know, tropes from comic books.

Questioner

Thank you.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-huh.

TheHunter

But in that car, where you thought, "If I had super powers..."

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, that's true!

TheHunter

What were you going to do to that car?

Brandon Sanderson

I was gonna blow up the car.

TheHunter

So there's your answer.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, blow up the car, yeah.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#33 Copy

King_of_the_Kobolds

In Steelheart you mention the Coven, a group of Epics that I've found immensely intriguing ever since hearing their name. Is there anything you can say about their group or one of their members?

Brandon Sanderson

A member of the Coven will appear in Calamity, and others will be referenced.

General Reddit 2015 ()
#34 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Some statistics/fun facts on [Calamity]:

  • The Book Guide (my planning file) was started in late december, but that was mostly made of me grabbing the notes for this specific book out of the general outline file for the trilogy, and pasting them in here.
  • Chapter One was started January first.
  • Chapter Fifty was finished May 5th.
  • Includes the shortest prologue I've ever done, at 61 words.
  • I wrote 13,200 (somewhere around 12-13% of the book) words yesterday across around thirteen hours. (With a break to go watch Ultron in the middle.)
  • This series is unique in that I wrote the first chunk of it years ago, around 2008, but then didn't have time to return to the project until a few years back. Unlike many of my series, I didn't plan out the entire trilogy before the first book--I wrote the first book, sold it, then put together an outline for all three books.
Legion Release Party ()
#37 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

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 [PENDING REVIEW]

It was.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Do you have a plan to explain that civilization?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

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 signing ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

Steelheart and the Rithmatist, are they a part of the Cosmere as well?

Brandon Sanderson

They are not, yup.

Questioner

Just someone in line said that Steelheart was Hoid's planet, but I thought that they were not part of it.

Brandon Sanderson

They are not part of it. Anything that mentions Earth is something that I didn't want to be in the Cosmere.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#40 Copy

Dancingedge

What exactly is needed to make a motivator? In Firefight they operated on Oblivion to build the bomb, yet people still trade with any amount of Epic cells. Does the amount simply relate to power or is there something else?

Brandon Sanderson

This is covered in detail in book three. I've been pretty sneaky about some of this stup, on purpose.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#41 Copy

Questioner

All the people with powers fit into one category.

Brandon Sanderson

All the people with powers fit into one category? Yes.

Questioner

Was there a reason you chose to do that?

Brandon Sanderson

Was there a reason I chose to do that? Well, I'm not sure if I can answer that... So I assume you're asking-- The original premise for Steelheart was that everyone who has superpowers is evil.

Questioner

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And that is just the original premise so that is not a spoiler. In my-- The reason I came up with the series is I wanted to tell a story about a world where Superman was not there to save you, or what not. Where it was "what if people started gaining these powers and did terrible things with them". When I was touring for the first book I told people the story of how I came up with that, I imagined-- when someone cut me off in traffic I imagined blowing their car up and feeling very satisfied and like "Yeah" and then feeling really guilty because I'm like "Is that really what I'd do with superpowers? Oh... Well I better write a book about it." *laughter* It's what authors do, anything that makes us think, or makes us have strong emotion, we're like "Well that's going in a book". And so it was an intentional choice, it was the whole premise and concept for me. And then the question became did the powers corrupt, or did only evil people get them, or what's going on. And that is one of the primary questions going on in the first book. They've mostly kind of drilled down to an answer by the second book.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#42 Copy

Dancingedge

Is gifting/power transference to normal people with Epics an all or nothing deal or could there be an Epic that can gift one ability but has another power he can't gift? And while on topic of quirks in Epic powers, how much do emotions play into them? We have some examples like Steelheart were strong emotions can cause the power to run amok, is there more of aguideline to this or just a quirk of some powers?

Brandon Sanderson

All powers can be gifted if any can. Gifting is a power that modifies other powers. Controlling the powers during times of great emotion is generally more difficult, but this has more to do with human nature than the powers.

Phantine

So gifters can gift gifting?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I'm afraid. That's a separate power.

Calamity release party ()
#43 Copy

Questioner

You mentioned the other ruined cities... Are there any other cities that you were thinking of putting into the book, but ended up not?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I had-- I brainstormed a few with the team. Cities I was thinking of-- Toronto we-- Toronto was the big one.

Isaac Stewart

What was the funny, weird thing about the city?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... I wanted to do a mushroom city, and I didn't do that. I dunno, I had a bunch of them that I bounced off of Isaac and Peter. This is the one we decided on just because the salt thing is so *unintelligible*, you know?

Isaac Stewart

Yeah, we did a lot of Canadian cities, is what we were thinking at first.

Brandon Sanderson

And then Random House came in and said, "Can it be an American city? Please?" I'm like, "Okay, but you'll have to fight off the Canucks."

Miscellaneous 2015 ()
#44 Copy

Argent

One thing I can't figure out - Newcago's name is obviously a short of New Chicago. So is there anything Babylar stands for? The "Babyl-" part is obviously from Babylon, but I can't think of anything for "-ar"... Babylon Restored > Babylo-R > Babylor > Babylar kind of makes sense, but it doesn't make me happy.

Peter Ahlstrom

Babyl-R (say the letter name).

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#45 Copy

Questioner

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.

Firefight release party ()
#47 Copy

Questioner

Why did you choose the cities you chose for /Steelheart/ and /Firefight/?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to choose cities that I was familiar with. Like cities I had driven in, cities I knew my way around in, and things like that. Which-- It was really just based on that concept, though I've always liked Chicago because as a kid going to Chicago-- that was the big city close to Nebraska. It was the one I knew and it was like the mid-western big city, if that makes any sense. So I always felt a kinship to that. That's why I picked Chicago. I also wanted one with a lake so I could fre-- turn the lake to steel.

Questioner

...Have you chosen one for Calamity?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I originally chose Montreal, and my publisher-- I actually said "We could do Montreal or Atlanta" and they like Atlanta better. So I decided to go ahead and go with Atlanta.

Calamity Austin signing ()
#49 Copy

Questioner

I've noticed that there are a lot of different categories of Epics. Did you think about any categories that you didn't put into the books?

Brandon Sanderson

Did I think about any categories of Epics that I didn't put into the books? Yes, I did. You know, as a comic book nerd I have lots of categories of superheroes that, as I saw them in my head, and this is kind of like my-- reaching back to my teenage years, looking at "Oh, these kind of share a similar power type" and things like that. That's what you are getting from these books, kind of my nerdy stuff. There are categories that I didn't deal with. I tried to theme a lot of powers either toward matter transformation, matter manipulation, or alternate universe stuff. Just that kind of has some things. And so, I am actually doing a series, takes place in the same universe, different characters, that takes place-- all of the powers and that will be alternate dimension things, it's gonna be really cool.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#50 Copy

Mailliw73

How many Epics have "unique" powers like Firefight or Mitosis?

Brandon Sanderson

Less than 10% are both unique and useful.

Mailliw73

What about unique and useless? ;)

Brandon Sanderson

Happens fairly often.

Mailliw73

So, a power to, say, conjure Big Macs out of their pocket wouldn't be too crazy?

Brandon Sanderson

No. That's actually well within reason.

And actually quite powerful if you don't put a limit on concurrent mass created or speed of creation.

Voidus

What about an Epic whose only ability is to accurately tell the time?

Brandon Sanderson

Sure.

Mailliw73

Can an Epic be given powers that are permanently countered by their weakness? Ex: Being able to breathe underwater, but whose weakness is water?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to say no on this one, unless the weakness is something more specific. (I.E, you can breathe under water, but your weakness is water with food coloring in it.) The weakness can relate somehow to the powers, but not in a way that if every time you use the abilities, they're automatically negated.

winter_cloud

What are some of the more common powers, then?

Brandon Sanderson

I based this off of comic books, so I assumed classic comic book superhero powers--various forms of flight, invulnerability, control over various types of matter, energy blasts--are common enough to have "standard powersets" for research purposes. Basically, this means that people like David and the loreists can make references that readers with a familiarity with comics can understand.

King_of_the_Kobolds

Is there any chance we could see the lorist categorization system published someday? As a sort of Reckonerverse Ars Arcanum?

Brandon Sanderson

This is possible, but likely only if I come back to the world for more books beyond the original trilogy.

Voidus

How common would teleporting be?

Brandon Sanderson

Rare.

Mailliw73

Are powers such as being able to negate others' powers or being immune to Epic powers possible?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.