Miscellaneous 2017

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Name Miscellaneous 2017
Date
Date Jan. 1, 2017
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Entries 13
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#1 Copy

Argent

I had been thinking about the Cosmere constellations map, and why certain constellations are what they are. Some look pretty obvious to me - of course the one that includes Roshar would be a Shardbearer, and of course the one with Nalthis would be somebody exhaling or giving Breath. But others? Threnody is maybe a part of a grieving woman, so that could kind of make sense, but Sel being featured in a lamp?! 

So I asked Brandon, and he said the constellations were all you. He also encouraged me to convince you to write an essay for the website about this map, but I wanted to see if you could answer some questions about this map.

Is this alright with you?

Isaac Stewart

Thanks for the email. I'll try to answer some of your questions, and you're right, an essay about the map on the website might eventually be the way to go. (Got to find time to write it.) The constellations weren't really all me. I had several discussions with Brandon, who made many suggestions. Maybe he forgets how much input he had. :) Unless he means the actual lines of the constellations. Those are purely me.

Sel's constellation is symbolic (as is the constellation Threnody is found in). As for the lamp, notice that Sel is not exactly part of the lamp. It's part of the flame. How does Aon Dor work? An Elantrian creates an opening for it to pour through and affect the world. Think of the flame as a symbol for the Dor. Does that make sense?

Send away with your questions. Maybe they'll help direct how I should handle the essay. :)

#2 Copy

Argent

What perspective is this constellation map seen/drawn from? Somebody from an earlier signing in this tour said they spoke with you about this, and you mentioned Silverlight, but not exactly... I got the impression that your reply wasn't transcribed verbatim  Can you address the perspective issue here? We now know that Silverlight is in the Cognitive Realm (where the stars don't necessarily match their physical arrangement, if they are visible at all), so if you worried about accidentally revealing that earlier, it's no longer an issue.

Isaac Stewart

The map was created to reside in Silverlight and represents a partial view of the night sky from a point we have not yet revealed. So, no, this is not a view of the night sky from Silverlight. This is a mural painted for a patron whose travels have taken them far far afield.

#3 Copy

Argent

Do the constellations have actual names you can share with us?

Isaac Stewart

Clockwise from Threnody: the Mourner, the Dragon, the Fisherman, the Giver, the Lamp, the Knight, and the One Tree. The names are a bit generic, mostly because they are working names I used to refer to the different constellations during the process of painting the piece. It should be noted that the people from the spot in the Cosmere where the night sky does look like this would not see these pictures in the constellations nor give them these names. The pictures the patron saw in the stars here are based on their own observations and knowledge about the Cosmere as a whole. The locals would see entirely different pictures in their stars, for those who can even see the stars from their vantage.

One tidbit I should mention is that the lamp used to be a constellation called the Lover and was a man receiving breath from the Giver. I dropped it mostly because it's reference to Devotion wasn't working visually. Another thing to note: Not all the stars on this chart are physically within the Cosmere. Some are in the parts of Space beyond the Cosmere.

#4 Copy

Argent

Are all the constellations symbolic in nature? If so, can you fill in any gaps in my understanding of them (or expand on them, point out cool things I may have missed, etc)? I've got:

  • Roshar - Shardbearer (or maybe Herald). Pretty obvious, considering how dominant those are.
  • Nalthis - someone exhaling or giving Breath. Again, straightforward.
  • Threnody - a grieving woman? Because Threnody, like the other inner planets in the Threnodite system, all bear names related to grieving, mourning, that kind of stuff.

Isaac Stewart

All correct so far.

Argent

Taldain - a tree? Because of the importance of water on the world?

Isaac Stewart

A one tree. This is a symbolic reference to the Shard that resides on that world. The Coppermind says this: "Khriss writes that Bavadin supports a policy of strict isolationism for Taldain."

Argent

First of the Sun - a sailor? Because of how the natives live, traveling between the isles?

Isaac Stewart

A fisherman, actually. He's throwing his net out among the stars.

Argent

Sel - the lamp makes a lot more sense now, thanks! I don't think anyone had pointed out that Sel is inside the flame, not the lamp - but the lamp is so much dominant in the image, it was easy to focus on it :)

Isaac Stewart

Just repeating what I mentioned before in case I ever make this into a blog post. Sel's constellation is symbolic (as is the constellation Threnody is found in). As for the lamp, notice that Sel is not exactly part of the lamp. It's part of the flame. How does Aon Dor work? An Elantrian creates an opening for it to pour through and affect the world. Think of the flame as a symbol for the Dor. Does that make sense?

Argent

Scadrial - why is it absent? And is it really absent, or there but just not labeled (for whatever reason)?

Isaac Stewart

Scadrial's there. It's just part of the constellation I've been calling the Giver. Some worlds are closer together than others, so there wasn't room to give each world its own constellation.

#5 Copy

Argent

Is the relative positioning of the constellations' images significant in any way? For example, the Shardbearer is pointing his blade at the dragon/serpent/monster of the Scar, while Nalthian lady looks like she is blowing Sel's fire out. Do we need to be paying attention to those?

Isaac Stewart

This is more compositional than anything else. Though I wouldn't discount their positions entirely.

#7 Copy

Argent

Speaking of The Scar, all the other names on the map refer to a specific planet, right? Roshar, Sel, Nalthis, etc. The scar, as far as know, is more a region, yet it uses the same typography as the planets. What's up with that?

Isaac Stewart

Same typography because when I used other fonts, it looked way out of place. If there were more labels on this map, I would've used italics probably for this feature.

#9 Copy

Argent

That Reddit thread established that the "H" sound is produced by writing another letter, and then marking it to denote that it should be pronounced as /h/ (while still looking like the other letter, for symmetric purposes). And on that note, the name of that traditional Vorin dress is "havah" - how would that get written? Is there a dedicated symbol for /h/ when it's not a "symmetric placeholder", or would the women just pick any letter and mark both instances here? Or something else altogether? 

Isaac Stewart

I believe they would just use the dedicated symbol for /h/.

#10 Copy

Argent

In English, "N" is articulated the same way "T" and "D" are - on the alveolar ridge (as all three are nasal alveolar). It seems like in the women's script "N" belongs to a different family from "T" and "D". The former is a "left facing arrow" while the latter two are "right facing arrows", to use some very basic description of the symbol shapes. Why is that?

Isaac Stewart

Peter might have a better explanation for this, but because of the three sizes, we had to group things in ways that didn't always make sense. The N was a fourth letter in a set (TDL), so looking back, maybe we should've grouped N with TD instead of the L, but then that has a cascading effect, so this was the best we could do in the time we had. But we don't know exactly how the Alethi speak. There's always a chance that the Alethi Z sounds more like "dz," and the Alethi "S" sounds more like "ts" (like the German Z), in which case the SZN grouping makes a lot more sense. But that's just conjecture.

Peter Ahlstrom

The symbol sets are all based on historical place of articulation (and articulating tongue part), and there have been some sound changes over the centuries so they don't currently all line up exactly. The t/d/r/th/l group (historically alveolar) is articulated with the tip of the tongue, and the s/z/n/sh/h group (historically postalveolar) is/was articulated with the blade of the tongue.

The modern h sound (like h in English) used to appear only in the palindromic locations, and was written only with the diacritic. This diacritic is mirrored on the top and bottom of the character. Some writers may use only the top or bottom because lazy. Also, sometimes the diacritic can be left out entirely and people just know to pronounce it as h because it's a very common word or name.

The h character used to stand for a weakly-voiced postalveolar non-sibilant fricative. This later shifted backward to a velar fricative (first weakly-voiced, later voiceless) as in Kholin. In modern times the h character is usually for the same h sound that we have in English. Sometimes kh is written using a combination of the k and h characters, and sometimes it's written just as h for historical reasons. Different regional dialects also shift the pronunciation one way or another.

The L sound has also shifted. It used to be a voiced alveolar lateral fricative, and this is still seen in names like Lhan. It's now a regular L sound.

The final group, k/g/y/ch/j, used to have dual articulation, similar to velarized postalveolar. Now the articulation has separated, with some velar and some postalveolar.

Currently y and j are pronounced the same or differently based on class and regional dialect. So, a darkeyes name like Jost or Jest will be pronounced with a regular j sound, while with the upper class it has merged with y so that Jasnah and Jezerezeh are pronounced with a y sound. Historically they were always separate sounds.

#11 Copy

Argent

None of the Alethi names seem to have a "ch" sound in them - except for Chana / Chanarach, the Herald. Do they have a sound and written symbol for it? And if not, would they use a different sound when saying or writing Chana's name ("sh" maybe?)?

Isaac Stewart

I could be wrong, but I think there is a symbol for "ch" in Alethi women's script.

#12 Copy

Blightsong

Second sentance of the above paragraph. The plural of 'axis' is 'axes', not 'axi'.

Stormlightning

For the record, I don't think the "axi" thing is a grammatical error. It's more just a unique cosmere term.

Peter Ahlstrom

This is a Cosmere term. Stormlightning is correct.

#13 Copy

Dan Wells

This is actually an idea we came up with on the cruise last year was to do an episode about all the things that we have tried to make work and couldn't; the novels that we abandoned halfway through or the short stories that just never came together. And we thought it would be a really fun way to end this year in kind of a backhanded, inspirational way to say, look, we're all successful at this and we still screw up all the time.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. And it's not just what we do when we were trying to break in, not those old trunk novels. It still happens every year. Let's take each, our biggest one, like the thing we got the most involved in, or the one that was most tragic to us that we couldn't make work and talk about it. And I'll just go ahead and start.

Brandon Sanderson

I - right before I got the call for the Wheel of Time, which changed my life dramatically - I had finished the Mistborn series, I'd finished Warbreaker and Elantris, and next I thought, I'm going to jump back in the shared universe of my Cosmere and write the prequel series that started it all, where everything came from. This is the backstory of the character known as Hoid, who is a fan favorite. And I'm like, I'm going to do this trilogy, or more books. It's going to be super awesome. It's going to just be the greatest thing ever. And I actually finished the whole book and it was a disaster. It was a train wreck of a book. The character, for the first time - it's like this whole problem you have when you have a really engaging side character that you try to make a main character - didn't work at all as a main character, at least as the personality I had for them way back when. The plot was boring. The setting just was even more boring, which is saying a lot for me. I tried to pull and incorporate some different elements from books that I had tried before and none of them meshed. And so it felt like five books with a bad character and no plot. It was a huge, just terrible thing.

Howard Tayler

Did it have a good magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

The magic system was weak.

Here's the thing. It had a really good magic system from another world that I ported into this world that didn't jive. And the one that was from this world never meshed well with that. And so the magic system was really weak in that it was doing cool things, but in complete contrast to the tone of the novel. Dan may have read some of it, Liar of Partinel.

Dan Wells

Uh, no.

Brandon Sanderson

OK. The writing group which just kind of baffled by this. I actually tried -speaking of what we did last week - I actually started with the clichéd scene of someone being hung and then flashing back to show how they got there - like it had so many problems with it.

Dan Wells

72 hours earlier.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Yeah, it was, exactly. It was one of those things. Exactly one of those things. Like "I'm going to to try this tool. Oh, this tool is not a tool," right? Like some tools you try and you're like, "Oh, that's a cool tool that doesn't deserve its reputation." Some of them you try and you're like, "This is so..."

Dan Wells

There's a reason everyone makes fun of this one. Wow.

So I kind of want to ask questions about how bad it was.

Specifically with Hoid.

Because that's what fascinates me about this. He was, he is a fan favorite and he's always the side character, you know.

He's the one who's sits off and makes goofy comments and, you know, maybe appears once and then leaves. What did you do when you attempted to make him a main character? Like what was your process there?

Brandon Sanderson

So I knew the biggest chance for failure on this was, you know, taking him a bit, having be too wacky through the course, right? It's the Minion movie thing, which worked for my kids, but for a lot of people are like "These side characters that add flavor to a larger story, when you make the whole story about them, are super annoying." I'm like, I can't have him be super annoying! Well, that's OK. It's you know, when he was young, when you're seeing him in the books, he's hundreds and hundreds years old. He was young, and so I will take that part out. But I did this weird dual identity thing with him, where he was like pretending to be someone else for a big chunk of the book because it had a really cool twist when I did the whole reveal. But then that meant I had to characterize him as somebody you grew too emotionally invested in somebody to...at the end you're like, "Surprise! In the next book you'll get to know who he really is." Which was part of it. And the person I was having him be was bland on purpose because it was like trying to hide and pretend to... Oh, man! There were so many problems with this character, like it was trying to be too clever, leaving out the cleverness that had made him a fan favorite on purpose. Right? So it's a different kind of cleverness. And it just did not work. Didn't work at all.

Dan Wells

Do you think that if you were to write that book today, you could make it work?

Brandon Sanderson

I have completely scrapped that, and what actually changed my opinion on how to do this was Name of the Wind. It needs to be him in the future, flashing back and talking about himself because people will have already bonded to who he is in the future. And it needs to be a memoir. It needs to be...the Assassin's Apprentice is a better example of what this needs to be, because Robin Hobb does such a great job of showing you that contrast between what someone is now and what they've become. And so I need to do something like this. This is now my feel on it. If I then can set in his own voice, I can have these, you know, this first person where we're really, really fun in Hoid's voice for all, and then he fades into the story when he's telling a story, he's not nearly as, you know, he doesn't try to zing you every minute, he tries to tell the story well. That's who he is. And so he will tell the story well. And then we can pop out occasionally and get, you know, it's like Bilbo from The Hobbit.

Brandon Sanderson

So we'll see if I can write it. But that's my plan right now. And there is my true confession of failure. There've been other ones since, but that's the one that hurt, hit me the most. I actually wrote The Rithmatist as I was supposed to go into the sequel to this and start outlining it, and I'm just like "I can't, this book is so bad." And I wrote The Rithmatist without telling any one of my editors I sent that in instead of Liar of Partinel.

Event details
Name
Name Miscellaneous 2017
Date
Date Jan. 1, 2017
Entries
Entries 13
Upload sources