Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017

Event details
Name
Reviewed by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Name Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017
Date
Date Sept. 21, 2017
Location
Location Salt Lake City, UT
Entries
Entries 105
This event has been reviewed by Dragonsteel Entertainment. They confirm that questions and answers presented are correct.
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#1 Copy

Questioner

How accurate is the Vorin version of the afterlife?

Brandon Sanderson

How accurate is it? Well, the thing I'm not doing is confirming or denying, right? Like, afterlife in the cosmere, you have seen that-- As a person there, I would believe that there is an afterlife, and things like this. I would say the Vorin one is contradicted by many people all around.

#2 Copy

Questioner

How do they handle, like, trash and bathrooms in the Purelake? How does that work?

Brandon Sanderson

Fortunately, you have a couple of things going on here. You fortunately have low population. You have highstorms and driving and-- so, the waste is broken down really easily. The trash is a problem. But it's a pre-industrial society, so the trash is not stuff that doesn't ever biodegrade, and things like this, and you do have traders going through, and things like this. So, it all kind of works out. It's the low population that's really helping with a lot of this. It's not as bad, a big a deal as you would think it is...

All of Roshar has a slight issue in that you just can't bury things, but you do have the crem that comes down and hardens around things and creates a layer of stone, and things like this. In my opinion, the way I've worked it out, it all just kind of works out just fine...

It's no bigger a deal in the Purelake, in other words, than these other places. In fact it's kind of a smaller deal. Like, you might ask, like, traveling out on the greatshells in the Reshi Sea, they would have a harder problem in some ways, 'cause they have a tight population density on top of something that they also can't bury anything, and stuff like that. I just had to work out the ecology of the system to work.

#3 Copy

Questioner

Is Marsh happy?

Brandon Sanderson

Marsh is Marsh's version of happy.

Questioner

I'm just worried about him.

Brandon Sanderson

...He has never been a happy person. But he's in a better place now than he's been in other times of his life.

There's a part of Marsh that really likes skulking around and being an incarnation of Death in peoples' minds. He's not really one, but you know what I mean? There's a part of him, the part that's related to his brother, that really digs that, even if he would never admit it.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Speaking of Way of Kings, when Shallan gets to Kharbranth, she sees two people in trenchcoats. Is that anyone spectacular or important or anyone like that?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Questioner

That's what I figured. I was hoping.

Brandon Sanderson

There might be things in that scene. I won't confirm or deny any specific instances of them.

#9 Copy

Questioner

You know how Wax has control of his Steelpushes? Well, if someone has an Ironpull ability, can get practiced enough to, in the Wax & Wayne era, swing through downtown Elendel Spiderman-like with controlled Ironpulls?

Brandon Sanderson

I've actually thought about that, and I went away from it, just because of Spiderman. I have to be really careful that I just don't go Spiderman-y. But I would say it's an in-world possibility that someone could do that, and it wouldn't be that hard if you've got the buildings. The trick is, most downtowns are not tall enough, and I would say in Elendel even now, there aren't enough skyscrapers that you could really go full-on Spiderman. But if you could, if you were, like, downtown Manhattan, you could do it.

#12 Copy

Questioner

After Kaladin challenges Amaram, and he gets thrown into prison, are those incarcerationspren that he gets stuck with?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I'm being recorded, so I have to know if I want to canonize this. Yes. There's nothing more to it than that, I'm just not sure if I've been asked that question straight-up before. I just want to make sure that I've got the name right.

#14 Copy

Questioner

Is Scadrial losing mass when people burn metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, technically it is, but Investiture is another dimension to matter.

Questioner

So it doesn't lose mass, it becomes Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

It becomes Investiture... Basically, when you go into the cosmere, we've got matter, we've got energy here. You've got matter, energy, and Investiture there, and you can get things out of Investiture back into matter, and stuff like that. There's always energy, there's entropy, there's always diffusement... it's basically, add to the laws of thermodynamics a third item, and that's how we word it.

#15 Copy

Questioner

I was just wondering if a Shard's intent can change over time without changing holders?

Brandon Sanderson

Without changing holders? The holder can have a slight effect on how the-- a big effect on how the intent is interpreted, but what the intent is stays the same. So it's gonna be filtered. The way it manifests can change, and you'll see that happening, but it is the same intent. When it was broken off, it took a certain thing with it.

#18 Copy

Questioner

I want to know if Kelsier and Hoid will ever get along?

Brandon Sanderson

They, uh-- that's a RAFO, but I wouldn't hold my breath. There are mashing of egos that just don't mesh well going on there.

Questioner

How long will Kelsier's story go?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier's story has some more stages to it. I'm gonna RAFO that... But the stuff that's happening right now is set up for a later story with him.

#19 Copy

Questioner

Does Wayne ever get married? Does he ever feel redeemed?

Brandon Sanderson

...I'm not gonna answer that one for you. That's a definite RAFO. Boy, it-- You'll have to see. Getting Wayne into a committed relationship with someone else who wants to be in that relationship would be a big first step. And let's just hope he can someday do that.

#23 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.

#24 Copy

Questioner

How many Shards have been Splintered, besides the four we know?

Brandon Sanderson

You're gonna make me canonize this? I can't canonize this. There's a couple that I'm just kind of...

Questioner

Odium, Endowment, Devotion...

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, Odium has not been Splintered. Endowment and Devotion have been Splintered... Endowment hasn't been Splintered, sorry. Dominion and Devotion have been Splintered. I've confirmed that one other has been Splintered. And then Honor has been Splintered. Those are your four that I've canonized. The other one is, I don't know if I've mentioned who exactly it is, but it's not one that you've seen on one of the planets...

Yeah, I'm not gonna canonize it, exactly how many there are. Because there are things going on in the cosmere that I wanna settle down and decide on once I get to it, exactly what. And Splintering can be a vague term sometimes, too... So that's a RAFO.

#25 Copy

Questioner

So, if Nightblood, unsheathed, killed someone, would their soul still go to the Beyond?

Brandon Sanderson

So, that's gonna be a matter of-- There's gonna be disagreement in the cosmere about that. Nobody has been able to actively test it, because there are certain things you can see, but there are people who are actively discussing this concept.

Questioner

So, no one knows for sure?

Brandon Sanderson

Nobody knows for sure. And I'll just leave it at that. It's an astute question that even Vasher has-- Vasher has his thoughts, but he does not have a definitive answer, and others disagree with him.

#27 Copy

Questioner

What was your hardest character to kill?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh. That's spoileriffic. I would say it's a character who dies at the end of The Wheel of Time, which is a series that I finished for another author. Because it was someone someone else created. And then, having to write some of those scenes.

Questioner

That would be really hard, because you're killing somebody else's character.

Brandon Sanderson

Right? And somebody I grew up with, right? So, I would say those are the hardest guys.

#28 Copy

Questioner

So, Hoid was there during the Shattering of Adonalsium. Odium is going around, like, destroying other Shards. We know that Hoid is collecting and has pieces of some of the other Shards.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Since Hoid was there at the original Shattering of Adonalsium. Is there an echo image of the original Adonalsium in Hoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, that's a RAFO. Here's your card. But it is a valid theory.

Questioner

I have a two-parter on that.

Brandon Sanderson

You can ask me the next part, but it is a RAFO.

Questioner

Is his end goal trying to join as many pieces of Adonalsium together to *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Um, that, I will give a "that's a very good guess." And that is what the books seem to indicate is happening.

#29 Copy

Questioner

So, it's not a "why." But how in the world did Vasher get to Roshar. Because I know about Kelsier not being able to really travel too easily outside of his realm, so how did this happen?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, you're asking, because he's heavily Invested, with Investiture from uh-- yeah. So that's actually a RAFO. I thought you were going to ask a much easier question, this is a much harder question. It's a RAFO that I promise to answer. The books will dig into it, okay?

#30 Copy

Questioner

So, are Shauka-daughter-Hasweth and Ali-daughter-Hasweth two different people? Are they the same person?

Brandon Sanderson

They are different people. Good question. They do have very similar names. That happens a lot among the Shin, and I'm trying to make it not confusing, but I can't promise it won't be. There are a lot of similar names, and a lot of people are named similar ways, and things like that.

#31 Copy

Questioner

Do you already know how The Stormlight Archive is going to end?

Brandon Sanderson

I do!

Questioner

Do you have all the details in mind, or do you just kind of have a general idea and you figure it out as you go?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I'm a planner. I tend to like having a pretty detailed plan. For something like The Stormlight Archive, that generally kind of boils down to: the next book has a five page plan, the book after that has a three page plan, the book after that a two page plan, one page, one page, and the last book we go back to a five page plan. So there is lots of wiggle room in one of these outlines, but at the same time, I've got touchstones and things I know I'm writing toward.

#32 Copy

Questioner

How long until the next Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, that's the slow one. Stormlight 3 taking as long as it has, that's what it has slowed down. I keep saying it's only gonna be a couple years, but-- I don't know, honestly...

My goal is to start closing up some of theses series in the next couple of years, so I'm hoping to finish off the Legion trilogy and Wax & Wayne next year, and just start closing some things off.

#33 Copy

Questioner

With the Kaladin soundtrack, how similar is that going to be to other studios, like Two Steps from Hell, audiomachine?

Brandon Sanderson

Hopefully fairly similar. Two Steps from Hell tends to go a little harder than I think most of this album is going to be. I love it, but every one of them is, like, trailer music. That's what Two Steps from Hell is, right? And I think you'll find a few more quieter pieces on the Kaladin album, but that's what we're shooting for, a symphonic album like that.

#35 Copy

Questioner

My friend is mad at you about the last of the Librarians series.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, well, it's not the last. Because, tell them to look at the page at the very end end, some people missed, another character-- Alcatraz wrote the last one, another character refused to let be the ending. She is going to write an actual last book. There's a last page hidden in there.

#40 Copy

Questioner

Do you purposefully take ideas from the Book of Mormon and turn them inside out, on their head, so no one knows where you got the ideas from? Like when you have Kelsier saying, in this moment, and he defeats the Lord Ruler, just in Ruler's capital city, and like how in the Book of Mormon when the La-āmanites, besieged Zaraellmə-ī, because no one else can see it coming?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I don't intentionally take, usually, from the Book of Mormon. There's a lot of unconscious things coming out. The only thing you can say is that I based The Way of Kings a little bit on King Benjamin's speech.

#41 Copy

Questioner

Vasher is called the first Returned. Was he actually the first?

Brandon Sanderson

He is not the very first person to Return. The lore surrounding Vasher and the first Returned and things like that is not strict on the world. Meaning, it's been many, many years.

Footnote: The questioner appears to have conflated Vo, the First Returned, with Vasher.
#43 Copy

Questioner

I'm curious. Are any of those rare metals from Mistborn on any other world?

Brandon Sanderson

So, not those exact metals, unless they've been taken off-world. But there are other metals like them that you could find.

Questioner

So they could have Allomantic lore?

Brandon Sanderson

They theoretically could...

Let's just say it's not a coincidence that you find Investiture manifesting as metal on other places. Such as Shardblades, as well.

#46 Copy

Questioner

I am assuming in the next [Elantris] book, you plan on addressing... the bad guy of Fjordell?

Brandon Sanderson

Wyrn? The next book will take place in Fjordell. It focuses mostly on Kiin's family, that's Sarene's uncle. They are the main characters in that one.

Questioner

Do you plan on keeping most of those characters? Like Raoden, Galladon?

Brandon Sanderson

You will see of them, but it's kind of more of an Anne McCaffrey style sequel. In this one, new main characters, with the old ones a little more in the background.

#47 Copy

Questioner

So, I loved your Shadows for Silence story. It was just so creepy, and I like how you included the family history aspect of the name. Do you think you'll write another story in that world?

Brandon Sanderson

I will.

Questioner

I am so excited! It was really cool to see you write a more creepier story than your other books. I really liked that change.

Brandon Sanderson

It is gonna be nice and creepy.

#48 Copy

Questioner

So, you have this [Mistborn] trilogy, and then you have the trilogy coming after, and then--

Brandon Sanderson

Another trilogy.

Questioner

Another trilogy. Is there any sort of date or time?

Brandon Sanderson

No. The Wax & Wayne books will finish very soon. I'm working on the last one of those. So those two will be complete. Then it might be a little before I jump to a 1980s level.

#50 Copy

Questioner

What inspired the sword stances in The Way of Kings? Windstance and stonestance--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it was old-school, what they call-- the old books that you would see-- sword training guides. Where you would see a guy in a stance, and then go like this, and things. I just thought they were really interesting, and I developed the stances around that.

#51 Copy

Lurcher

I have a question on the recording, since that's mine. To clarify, we need to send it to Peter? The transcripts, or the audio?

Brandon Sanderson

The transcripts.

Lurcher

Of all three days?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Only the things you're going to post, they're gonna cut out almost all of this. Run it by him. There's a question I'm trying to remember where I flubbed yesterday. I can't even remember what the question was. A lot of times, you're sitting here, and you're just, like, brain dead as people are coming through, and they say something and you're like "Yeah, uh-huh."' And then, you're like, "Wait, no. That's not even the question they asked." I'm pretty sure I got the important words right, but send it through him. It's a practice that I want to get in the habit of doing.

And he sometimes will have all these things all in the notes, so he gets them, and can add them to make sure they're in the notes, for continuity and stuff.

#52 Copy

Lurcher

In the battle of the Tower, Eshonai is fighting Dalinar, Dalinar removes his helm, and she recognizes him. She acts like she wants to speak with him. Possibly to negotiate. If Kaladin hadn't shown up and saved him, what would have happened?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a chance they would have worked it out. Not a really good one, but there's a chance.

#54 Copy

Lurcher

What would have happened if the Lord Ruler survived to take the power from the Well? Would he have tried to fixed Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

By that point in the Lord Ruler's life, he probably would not have. He would like the world where it is, and he was not 100% cognizant of how far he had fallen from his original ideas. So, it would not have been, I think, a good thing. It may have been not as bad as the disaster that followed, in fact I know it would not have been, but in the end, Scadrial needed to go through that eventually. So it would have just delayed that.

Lurcher

So, would he just kind of use up the power? Held it, and let it--

Brandon Sanderson

He would have done something with it. Maybe with the Southern Continent or something. But he wouldn't have fixed anything, he probably would have made things a little worse.

#55 Copy

Lurcher

Can you burn a metal wrapped in another metal, if both are Allomantic? Like, the inner metal, could you just burn that before?

Brandon Sanderson

No, you're gonna have to work your way through the outer one.

Lurcher

And what if it was a non-Allomantic metal? The same?

Brandon Sanderson

It's gonna depend on how thick it is, and stuff. But I would say, if you wrap it in a non-Allomantic metal, that's not good for getting to the metal. It's viable, but it just depends on how thick it is, and things like that. Like, sometimes things have been plated to keep the access to the metal off, but usually you would want to do that in aluminum, to make sure.

#57 Copy

Lurcher

Reading Mistborn: Secret History, Kelsier sees fauna and flora in the Cognitive Realm. How does that work, are there people thinking about...

Brandon Sanderson

You'll see, there's actual... there's an actual ecosystem in Shadesmar.

Lurcher

Even if people aren't really--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Well, think about it this way. The places people are thinking about will create landscape that this stuff can grow on. Where they're not thinking about it, there's just not going to be anything there, so nothing is going to grow.

#58 Copy

Questioner

Why did you make Adolin kill someone?

Brandon Sanderson

Adolin's on the edge. He was just really frustrated with this guy who tried to murder his dad multiple times. Adolin demanded that it happen. It wasn't me forcing it to.

Questioner

Because I was reading that during my creative writing course. Everybody in there was wondering why I was so mad...

Brandon Sanderson

You can slap him around sometime, if you want. But he made the call himself.

#61 Copy

Questioner

How can I get on the waiting list for the leatherbound of The Way of Kings. Because, I know, when it comes out...

Brandon Sanderson

I don't think we're gonna be doing the waiting list for leatherbound Way of Kings.

Questioner

So I'll just have to keep up on it? Keep looking at the website?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. We'll try to make sure that we get enough of them, maybe order a few extra of that one.

#62 Copy

Questioner

...I still haven't finished the last [Wheel of Time]. Because I'm like, I don't know what I'm going to do without them in my life.

Brandon Sanderson

I know that feeling. When I sat down and read the ending that Robert Jordan himself had written, it was a weird, surreal moment, that it was done.

#63 Copy

Questioner

I have been telling people you're my favorite writer for two reasons: ...your quality of writing is fantastic, and your quantity is high. That's very rare to get both of them in the same author.

Brandon Sanderson

You know, it's this weird thing where I have found that the more I keep up my momentum, the better I write. The worst things I write are the things where I take a long break in between. And it's sort of this thing like, if you stop playing baseball or a while, you're gonna start missing the ball. And I found, just for me, that if I do stuff that keeps me going, so I use a lot of these novellas and things to make sure I'm keeping momentum. And it's hard sometimes, because books take a lot of revision, and you can't just write them and send them out. So you have to do, like, six or seven drafts sometimes. Just keep that momentum.

#65 Copy

Questioner

What inspired you to start writing?

Brandon Sanderson

It was the books I was reading. I wanted to learn to do what they had done. Anne McCaffrey was a big part of it. But I was reading it, I was like, these books have had such a profound effect on me, I want to learn to do that for other people.

#66 Copy

Questioner

What's the relationship between the Knights Radiant and their opposite gender spren? Is that important or not?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah it is slightly important.

Questioner

I have to RAFO it though?

Brandon Sanderson

It's more important narratively than it is in the world. It happens more often but it doesn't mean anything when it doesn't happen, does that makes sense? So it's slightly important, partialy it's a narrative trick. I want to keep some gender balance and it's a lot easier to play off someone different than yourself, and things like that so I naturally do that. It doesn't necessarily mean anything when I don't. It depends on the personality of the spren.

#71 Copy

Questioner

Any advice you would give to a second grader learning to write?

Brandon Sanderson

For second graders? Until about high school, my recommendation is just to encourage them to write whatever they feel like writing. Not imposing too much structure, it's just about momentum. Just "Go go go" will be my recommendation.

#73 Copy

Questioner

You're writing so many stories at once with so many different characters. Does it ever get confusing?

Brandon Sanderson

Once in a while. But the way my brain chemistry works, it's good for me to be always thinking about something new and jumping around a little bit, it helps me a ton. Different writers are very different. They don't want to do that at all, and it's just fine. There's no one right way to do it. I don't usually have trouble. It's the excitement of keeping track of it all that's fun for me.

#74 Copy

Questioner

What would be your dream cast for a Steelheart movie.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure if I would have a dream cast. They are who they are in my head. Mostly, I want to be there in the casting meetings, if it's someone I can be "Yeah! It can be them!" then we'll go with that. I don't really have a dream cast.

#77 Copy

Questioner

So, you know the White Sand graphic novel you made? Did you only sign, like, 250 of those? How many did you sign of those?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not sure how many. I sign them when people bring them by, but I'm don't know how many numbers there were.

Questioner

No, when you first printed it.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the numbered edition. I'm not sure. There aren't that many.

Questioner

I'm like, 199.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, there's 200 or something like that.

#78 Copy

Questioner

How many sharpies do you go through in one of these things?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, it's not as many as you think. It's maybe three. I go through them really fast when I have big stacks to sign, for the publisher or something. But a sharpie is good for about 200, 300 signatures for me. And a line like this is maybe 500 people, each with maybe three books.

#80 Copy

Questioner

Do you know when the next Alcatraz book will come out?

Brandon Sanderson

Working on it slowly, but it's happening. This one, Oathbringer, took longer than I expected, so it slowed me down a little bit. But it shouldn't be too much longer.

Questioner

Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

Rithmatist, that's the other one. No promises of when; working on it slowly.

#81 Copy

Questioner

So I have a question about the cosmere. I recently read The Stormlight Archive books and I love them, and then I reread Warbreaker and I noticed something. When Siri was teaching the God King how to read, she says one of the letters is called shash and this is the name of one of Kaladin's slave brands. I was wondering why.

Brandon Sanderson

It was just a coincidence, that one's been asked of me before, yeah it's just a coincidence.

#83 Copy

Questioner

With the Heralds we know that there's only one left... one Herald that's still bound to the Oathpact--

Brandon Sanderson

OK, only one Herald was about, was abandoned-- You'll find out the mechanics of that in the next book.

Questioner

So are we going to see more of Taln...

Brandon Sanderson

You will see more of-- the Oathpact is not completely broken, the others are still bound to the Oathpact.

Questioner

Even though they kind of sort of said they were abandoning it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, so there's still connection there, so you'll find out more about all of this and how it works.

#84 Copy

Questioner

I've got a Mistborn question for you. So, Identity? Can you store, like-- is your physical appearance part of your Identity?

Brandon Sanderson

It is to some people. To most people, it's a part of it, yes.... I don't know the answer-- don't take that as "You can store that." and things like that. It's involved. There are certain things you can do. But it's not as simple as it might have sounded, what I just implied.

Questioner

So, does that apply to your Identity, if you're in the Cognitive Realm? Or the Physical Realm? Can you store that?

Brandon Sanderson

The reason you look like you do in the Cognitive Realm is because it's Identity, things like that. I'm not gonna talk about specifically how storing that works really. Although there is the idea that your soul is the key to Investiture and stuff like that.

#85 Copy

Questioner

What was the best Steel Inquisitor cosplay that you've seen?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably, there was one I saw in Boston, where they had gone all out and done the spikes, with the reflective sunglasses on them. They actually looked down a spike at these sunglass things, and that looked really sharp.

#88 Copy

Questioner

How do you fool your writer's block?

Brandon Sanderson

I write a bad chapter. Usually, writer's block, what's stopping me is I that know the chapter's not gonna work, or something's wrong. I write it anyway. And then I think about it for a few days, and then rewrite it over. It works almost every time. Once in a while, it's a bigger problem that's stopping me. And those cases, often it takes, like, a big extensive rewrite to get the book going in a different direction. But nine times out of ten, I'm just having a funk on one chapter; changing the perspective or writing it poorly in a sitting and letting myself think about it works very well.

#89 Copy

Questioner

I know that Silence was written as a short story. It was one of my favorite stories. She's amazing. And I love the world. And I know that you told me it was *inaudible*, but...

Brandon Sanderson

There is a book on Threnody scheduled for the cosmere, for me to do. The book, right now as I have it, is a fleet trying to sail back and reclaim the Homeland from the Evil... So, that's the plan right now. We'll see if it changes over time.

#94 Copy

Brightlord Maelstrom

When a Dakhor monk leaves his homeland do his bones still give him his abilities? Is it only the creation that's location-dependent or is it also the ability that's location-dependent?

Brandon Sanderson

The further you get away, the weaker the power the bones will give you will get. It's way better than Elantris at bringing the power with you. That's where it is in the notes right now, I have not written the second book, I could totally change that.

#95 Copy

Brightlord Maelstrom

Forged items. If it's one of those where it's permanent or it's not going to die after a couple of hours, can you move it off-world or would it transform once you moved it too far from its location?

Brandon Sanderson

Forgery requires a constant little stream of power to keep it going so yeah if you moved it off-world the Forgery's going to collapse.

#98 Copy

Questioner

When is the second [Rithmatist] coming out.

Brandon Sanderson

It is the most requested book I get, of a sequel. Oathbringer took a little bit longer than I expected, so I can't promise anything right now, but Rithmatist keeps staying right on the top of that list of to-do. I hope to do it soon.

#105 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

It's not every day you get you get to help save the world. Around here, it only happens about every six months.

I stood in the Apocalypse Guard command center. The screens displayed Erodan, a planet threatened with destruction by a passing asteroid. Today, the Guard would save that planet, and I got to be part of it.

"Emma," Commander Visco said, waving her cup toward me. "This coffee cup won't refill itself."

A very small part.

I seized the Commander's cup and hurried to the small kitchen beside the command station. As painful as it was to miss anything, particularly now that the asteroid was getting close to Erodan, I had a job to do. Commander Visco couldn't spare the time to fill her own cup. That's why you had interns like me.

A pot was brewing on the counter inside the small kitchen. But just in case, I got a second one going in the other machine. Truth be told, I was a coffee-making genius. Everybody said so, and I took their word on it, because... seriously, why would you bother lying to the coffee girl? Granted, I had to take their word for it, as I didn't drink coffee. My skill was due to my secret weapon: I knew how to follow instructions. I flipped through pictures on my phone, finding the instructions. The other interns said they'd been making coffee for years and didn't need instructions... but they then seemed shocked when they tasted how great my brews were. Odd how it was, when you measured exactly and read by the manual, how things turned out better than when you did by instinct.

New batch brewing, I filled the commander's cup, then took the rest of the pot with me as I rushed back into the main room of the command center, which was occupied by some forty people. We weren't actually on Erodan, the endangered planet; our command center was on the space station Charleston, which was in orbit around Terra, my home planet. We used specialized technology to look through at Erodan and manage the operation there.

When most people think of the Apocalypse Guard, they imagine the Riggers and their fantastical powers. Most people forget that the Guard also includes hundreds of scientists, engineers, explorers... and office interns. A magnificent force united by a single goal: save planets from destruction.

I delivered the Commander's cup, glancing at the command center's large main screen, which had shifted to a view of the asteroid. One of the technicians had nicknamed it "Droppy." The people on Erodan called it "Calamity." That was a bad name by our metrics for various reasons. Droppy didn't look that dangerous to me; more majestic. A grand oblong chunk of space rock tumbling quietly in the void, trailing a brilliant line of debris. The Apocalypse Guard had been working to stop it for two years now, ever since first discovering Erodan and making contact. That had been long before I had joined them, but I had read all of the mission briefs. Well, the ones that interns had clearance for, anyway.

Commander Visco barked an order, checking on the Sapphire Riggers who were watching along the Erodan's eastern sea. Because of the Guard's actions, Droppy should miss the planet. But after that, the planet would pass through the debris of the asteroid's tail, and that would cause meteor showers, and some larger chunks of rock might prove dagneorus. The Sapphire Riggers would use their powers to stop any tsunamis.

As the screen switched, I jumped, remembering where I was. Step one of not getting fired, Emma. Do your freaking job. Coffee pot in hand, I turned toward the rows of people seated in cubbies beneath the main screen. These scientists and operators supported the Riggers, who were our field agents. Filling empty cups wasn't glorious work, but it was my work, and dang it, I was gonna do it well. If Erodan fell, it wouldn't be because our command team lacked proper caffeination.

The screen switched to another image of Droppy. From what I'd read, saving planets from asteroids was standard work for the Guard. They'd done it some six times now. I would have expected them to use nukes, or more dramatically, the Steel Riggers, who could shoot bolts of energy from their hands. Instead, the Guard had painted the asteroid bright white. That meant more sunlight bounced off Droppy, which, remarkably, had nudged it off its course. Two years later, it was barely going to miss Erodan.

My pot ran dry, so I went to fetch a new one. On my way back to the kitchen, I hesitantly stopped the room's Firelight Rigger, who sat in a command chair off by himself. The man wore a bright red headpiece, kind of like a futuristic crown, and a similar chestpiece under his loose jacket. I wiggled the coffee pot, but he just stared forward, fingers laced with the index fingers tapping. The air seemed to warm around him. Looking in other dimensions, I thought, shivering. Technically, Erodan wasn't simply another planet; it was an alternate dimension version of Terra. There were technically infinite dimensions, but most weren't stable. They were wild half-realities, full of oddities and bizarre visions. Erodan, however, was what we call a Stable Node, like Terra. Or Earth, the Hidden Node. Erodan was a real world, full of living people, civilizations, and cultures.

"Looking good," Commander Visco said as reports flashed on the main screen. She had a voice that tasted like fudge brownies. Oh, right, I kind of taste sounds sometimes, particularly peoples' voices. It's called synesthesia, and it's a totally cool thing that scientists find super interesting and not weird at all. I don't mention it to people very often. "Emerald Riggers," Commander Visco said, "Report."

I trotted away from the Firelight Rigger (who was, admittedly, very creepy) and started scanning for other people who needed coffee refills. The main screen turned to a shot of a line of Emerald Riggers floating up above Erodan's atmosphere, each surrounded by a protective green forcefield. They were spaced out, watching the asteroid from a safe distance, a line of sentinels between it and the planet. "Asteroid pass is looking clean, Commander," said Captain Choy, an Asian man. His face, shaded green from his forcefield, appeared in the corner of the main screen. His voice tasted like brown beef with onions. "How are the tides?"

"Sapphire Riggers report they are manageable," a scientist replied. "Everything is as projected."

"Doesn't even look like there's much debris in the tail," Choy said. "Emerald Riggers standing by."

I filled a few more cups, moving down a row of operators wearing headsets. Each of these would be in contact with a specific Rigger. I didn't know most of them, though Billy, who was the last in the row, gave me a grin and held up his cup. "Thanks, Emma," he said, pulling off his headset. His voice tasted of mint asparagus. Yes, I know. Billy took a sip of coffee, and then handed me the headset. "Hold this."

"Um... sure."

Billy slipped off his chair. "I'll be back in a sec. Have to hit the restroom. Cover for me."

"Co- co- cover for you?" I just about dropped my coffee pot. "Billy, I'm not trained for this! Billy!"

"It's fine," he said.

"Where are the instructions?" Billy just left me there. He wasn't the only one getting up. Others would occasionally run to the restroom or something. A mission like this could take hours. But none of the others left an intern holding their headset!

I looked around in panic. An Indian man two seats over glanced at me, then shook his head, as if in disapproval. Right, right, cover for Billy. Step one, put on the headset. Step two... look like you know what you're doing? "Hello," I said into the device?"

"Hello, beautiful," a familiar voice said. "Glad Billy finally got your attention. Hovering up here is getting boring."

Lance. Emerald Rigger, and the reason I had gotten this internship in the first place. My boyfriend, a man I could have freaking strangled right then.

***

Lance's voice tasted like my favorite peanut cluster candy bar from home. A familiar, comfortable taste, sweet and salty at the same time. "Lance," I hissed, sitting down. "You're not supposed to be Billy's Rigger!"

"Billy and I got it swapped," Lance said. "If I'm going to spend hours flying up here in a bubble, I can at least have someone fun to talk to."

"You're doing important work," I said, hunkering down. What if the Commander noticed that I was shirking coffee duty to talk to my boyfriend? "Super heroic stuff."

"Boring," Lance said, then yawned audibly into the microphone. At twenty years old, Lance Stoddard was two years my senior, which had caused some consternation on the parts of our parents when we were in high school. He was the Apocalypse Guard's star rookie, having mastered the Emerald Rig after just one year of practice. He'd been on active duty every since, saving planets. That wasn't enough, of course, for Lance Freaking Stoddard. "They refused to put me on the dangerous missions," he said. "I had a chance to be on help of Zima five months ago, but they-" Do I have to listen to his again? "They pulled me for no reason! Now here I am, staring at a rock! Important work. The Hex were on Zima, Emma."

I shivered. The Hex. I wasn't allowed to read about our intervention on Zima. The reports were classified. But I did know we'd failed. The Hex had destroyed the planet. That made four planets so far they'd claimed in the eight years since they'd been discovered. People called them the most dangerous threat to the Knowns we'd ever encountered, a fact that I knew intimately well.

Lance sighed again, loudly. "You're so aggravating," I said, fishing in my pocket.

"You're getting out your phone, aren't you?"

"No I'm not," I said, getting out my phone.

"You're looking for that picture of me. The one you wrote instructions on."

"Don't be silly," I said, pulling up that exact picture."

"Well, if I'm supposed to be offended, I'm not. I think it's very cute, the way you talk. Very Idaho."

"I work for the Guard, now. I've become very cosmopolitan." I lowered my voice, thickening my real accent. "So stop teasin' me, Lance Stardard, you flipping idiot."

"I love the way that sounds! So pastoral!"

"Hush," I said. "You're from Idaho, too."

"I lived there for three years." Lance was originally from New York. He implied to others that he'd grown up in the important part, but I knew he'd lived in a town just as rural as Iona, Idaho. "I'm telling you", he said over the line, "I'm capable of more of this. The Pangaea mission will be even more boring. A flood? Scientists can solve that."

"I'm sure everyone we save on Pangaea will be comforted to know they were almost killed by a boring apocalyse."

On the screen Droppy drew closer and closer to Erodan. Sometimes, it was hard to remember that the screen was looking between dimensions, at another version of our world. Our history deviated from Erodan's some two thousand years ago, so they didn't seem very similar. Erodan's technology was stuck somewhere around the 1980s, and all the nations had different names from ours. They'd never heard of people like George Washington or Joan of Arc. Those people simply hadn't been born on Erodan. That was different from Earth, though, the Hidden Node. Apparently, that planet was so similar to Terra that there were alternate versions of most people living on it. Crazy. Fortunately, nobody could get to Earth these days, so it didn't really matter.

"You're supposed to be keeping me company."

"You're supposed to be staying focused. How long is Billy going to be gone, anyway?"

"Someway, when your internship is done, you'll be my operator. Then we can work as a team! Think of it. Me, risking my life on daring adventures. You, admiring how well I do it."

"You, tripping over your enthusiasm," I said. "Me, saving your heinie at the last minute, like in physics class, and in chemistry class, and in calculus class." I smiled. I did like Lance. He was like a big, barking Labrador. A little loud, maybe a little full of himself, but sweet at the same time.

"Admit it," he said, "You're glad I suggested that you apply."

"Suggested? You practically forced me into it."

"All I did was give you a list of instructions for submitting an application!" His candy-bar voice sounded intentionally innocent.

I sighed. It wasn't that I had minded getting out of Iona. But, well... Riggers gave me the shivers. It's just hard to explain. Our lives had seemed planned out, simply. But then Lance, instead of taking the football scholarship, had applied for the Guard. And he'd gotten in! And then when I graduated two years later, he nagged me until I applied. He pulled some strings, and I was really good at following instructions. So three months later, here I was, serving coffee to the Apocalypse Guard itself. Eh... when Lance let me do my job.

"Do you ever wonder," I said over the line, "why we have to do this in the first place?"

"Talk?" Lance said.

"No, save planets."

"You'd rather just let 'em be destroyed?"

"No," I said, "not that. I mean, have you wondered why? We found like, what, forty different stable nodes?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"And Erodan will be our twentieth intervention," I said. "So, like, half of all the planets we discover need to be saved from some imminent catastrophe. None have their own Apocalypse Guard or their own Riggers."

"Eh, some people from other planets do have weird powers. Jank is from Triveria; he can make things dry by touching them. He doesn't need a rig or anything."

"That's beside the point. Why, Lance? Why are so many planets facing life-ending threats?"

The Guard had a great track record. Of its twenty interventions so far, only six had failed. Four of those to the Hex, but that was still six entire planets we'd lost. with, in most cases, only a small percentage of people escaping to other dimensions.

"Best not to think about stuff like that, Emma," Lance said.

"I wish we had more answers," I said. "It..." I trailed off. A number on my monitor was flashing. The monitor had all kinds of readouts and things I didn't understand, since this wasn't my freaking job.

"Just a sec," Lance said. "Something's happening." That number on my screen, I thought. It's Lance's heartbeat. It skyrocketed. Feeling a growing panic, I looked up to the large main screen, which showed Droppy in all its glory. It seemed to be wobbling in a different way than before. Though the control center, scientists and operators hushed. Commander Visco looked up from her tablet at the back of the room, lowering her coffee mug from her lips. The asteroid wobbled once more, then started breaking into smaller chunks.

Event details
Name
Reviewed by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Name Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017
Date
Date Sept. 21, 2017
Location
Location Salt Lake City, UT
Entries
Entries 105
This event has been reviewed by Dragonsteel Entertainment. They confirm that questions and answers presented are correct.
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