Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing

Event details
Name
Name Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing
Date
Date Nov. 30, 2016
Location
Location San Francisco, CA
Tour
Tour Arcanum Unbounded
Bookstore
Bookstore Borderlands Books
Entries
Entries 41
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#1 Copy

Questioner

At the very front cover of the Arcanum Unbounded there is a constellation map, that has a lot of the cosmere stars on it. What point-of-view is that from?

Brandon Sanderson

So the question is, in Arcanum Unbounded... Yes, the cover of Arcanum Unbounded has a star chart in it, a map. And the question is, is this from a specific viewpoint, and if so, what is that viewpoint. So, yes, it is from a specific viewpoint. It's the sky as seen from-- Some of the stars are enhanced a bit-- But it's the sky as seen from a specific point of reference that Isaac came up with when I told-- gave him this assignment. He's my illustrator for a lot of the interior art of the books and he RAFO'd it when we were asked at the release party. So I'm going to RAFO it until he decides he wants to reveal it.

#2 Copy

Questioner

What does RAFO mean?

Brandon Sanderson

...Okay. RAFO. RAFO-- Jason do you want to explain what RAFO is?

Jason Denzel

Clearly you've not read The Wheel of Time. *laughter* RAFO is an acronym that says-- that stands for Read And Find Out. It's a term that-- I don't know if he coined it but he certainly popularized it in our genre-- Robert Jordan came up with it. And really it was because at every signing, like this or anything else, there were two or three questions that he fielded-- He would even say "Please do not ask the following questions" and he would still get two or three people asking him those very questions. Does anyone know what they are? There are Wheel of Time fans here, right? "Who killed Asmodean?" and everything else. So what he would do is tell them-- he would just say "Read And Find Out" and so that, online, turned into "RAFO". And Brandon took it and-- Actually I think Maria took it to the next step and she--

Brandon Sanderson

Actually I asked for it.

Jason Denzel

Okay, so Brandon asked her to make RAFO cards, so instead of just saying it he would start handing them out. And if you actually get one of those cards-- you have to earn them-- on the back of the card it explains what the acronym means and why you received it.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I felt really bad saying RAFO to people, right? Like I am a-- I have the attitude that I very much want people to be happy and I don't want to tell them "No I won't answer". So instead I had them print the cards so I could at least give them something? And now fans trophy hunt for those.
#3 Copy

Questioner

I really enjoy the Graphic Audio versions of your novels. I really like the Way of Kings and the Words of Radiance. I'm wondering, how long after Oathbringer comes out would Graphic Audio be able to get their hands on it?

Brandon Sanderson

So the question is about the Graphic Audio. So for those who don't know, we do two editions in audio of most of my books. We do a straight-read edition, which is one, or two, narrators that just read the whole book and they'll do voices and things but it's a traditional audio book. The Graphic Audio instead does a slightly abridged version, where the abridgement is only taking out the he-saids and she-saids and things like this, and replacing it with a full cast to do the dialogue instead. So it's like one step toward a radio drama, or something like that. It's not fully there but they do add in a few sound effects and do the full cast audio. So they're fun sort of ways you can read the book. They're not abridged in that there are no scenes taken out, but they do cut out a word here and there.

And usually what happens is we do the straight edition first and eventually do a Graphic Audio edition because they take longer to get the full cast together-- to make the proper abridgements and things like that. I can't-- I have no idea how long it will take them, but I can ask. I actually haven't gotten this question, because we only just started doing dual editions. We started by doing some of them Graphic Audio, some of them not, and then figuring out what fans liked. And it turns out that what fans like is having both. So then we started Mistborn and caught Mistborn up, and then are doing the Stormlight books as well. So I'm hoping we will get to the point where we can do them simultaneously in both editions, but I can't promise that that will happen.

#4 Copy

Questioner

I can't take credit for this, because it is a friend's question, but he has this little theory that your more quiet and reserved characters end up being super important or just interesting characters somehow and he has this theory that Dabbid from Kings is like a worldhopper that just went there and like "I'm just going to stay quiet and watch what's going on."

Brandon Sanderson

The question is: Is Dabbid from The Way of Kings, who you may not quite remember, he is the bridgeman who is very quiet and displays some very strong signs of PTSD, and things like this, even though he was healed. Is it-- Yeah, what's going on with him. And that is definitely a RAFO. But it's not a RAFO-- Like sometimes Read And Find Out means "I'm going to reveal it eventually", sometimes it means "I don't want to crush any fans' theories" and I won't tell you which one it is until the end of the series...

#5 Copy

Questioner

So your Mistborn leatherbounds went out tonight.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Mistborn leatherbound is coming out.

Questioner

Are there any other plans? When would the next edition be coming out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, let me talk about these a bit. So, I love the leatherbounds that were released for The Wheel of Time, but they were very limited print-run, and they were very expensive. They were 250 bucks. And so I don't have many of those. I have the ones that I had published, but when I was a kid getting them I would just... drool over these things. When I was a college student. So I went to Tor and said "Would you do leatherbounds of my books?" and they're like "They're just so hard to distributed. Not a lot of bookstores want to carry them?" and I said "Well do you mind if I do one?" for Elantris last year. And we did a leatherbound for $100, which had-- We tried to pull out everything we could do to make something awesome. So these have 24 full-color pages, with all of the different covers from the different foreign editions around the world, some fan art we really like, new color versions of some of the maps, and stuff like that. And so we print those and we did Elantris last year and people really liked it, so we did Mistborn. The fun thing is, some bookstores told me "Yes, we want to have those. No, it's not a pain to carry them..."

But the question is, what are we doing next. So we will do these one a year. They're a lot of effort to put together. We have to contact some twenty different illustrators and buy rights to the covers to include in it. Peter goes through and does a really detailed copy-edit, fixing typos and trying to do stuff like that, making sure that-- Like in Elantris I had said something that-- people traveled a distance that was impossible to travel in the time given, so we tweak things like that. And so it takes a while. We'll do Mistborn 2 next year, then Mistborn 3, and then we'll see where we are. And they should match very nicely on the shelf...

#6 Copy

Questioner

What was your favorite scene to write ever, and why?

Brandon Sanderson

What was my favorite scene to write--

Questioner

The one you enjoyed writing the most.

Brandon Sanderson

The one I enjoyed writing the most? The one I enjoyed writing the most did not end up in the books. I was writing The Wheel of Time, and I was writing a scene where a certain character's on the slopes of Dragonmount, and I chuckled to myself and then wrote a scene where this character destroyed the world. *laughter* It was awesome. And then I wrote "The End" and I laughed. And then I took a screenshot of it . And then I deleted it, and I wrote the scene.

#7 Copy

Questioner 1

What is, specifically, with regards to media that's based on novels, like television based on writing like Game of Thrones-- or something based on your works. What is the talos of that?

Brandon Sanderson

So what is the talos of media based on books. I actually think I can answer this. Because my whole, kind of, thought process that led me through this was that-- the idea of "art as springboard for more art", right? That is-- That is really what I think the purpose of art is. It's to inspire people and make them create more art. I am a writer because I read great books by Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan and Barbara Hambly. And they springboarded me into perpetuating this. And so I think that the talos of the films is to be a new piece with some seeds of inspiration from the old piece. I don't think that a film should be a one-to-one recreation. You can see this in the Harry Potter films, right? I think the best ones are the ones they adapted. The third movie is the first one where they really had to take some liberties to fit it into a film, and it's a stronger film the the previous two were. The previous two were scene-by-scene reproductions, so they were very faithful, they just made worse films than when the director said "I'm kind of going to do my own thing". And I think that it makes for a stronger film. I think that the Peter Jackson movies, you can-- It's okay to dislike his interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, but you can't deny that he did something cool taking The Lord of the Rings as a script-work. And I know that, like, Christopher Tolkien doesn't like what he did. I like what he did because I'm accepting that this is a different piece of art from the books. This is not simply the books translated into film, this is the books taken to a different medium into a transformative, different work. So there you go. There's my philosophy...

Questioner 2

...The talos of art can also be a very active thing, like, for example, it can result in the sail or a boat, or attendants at a service or something like that. It can be a thing to produce behavior. So that's a very concrete thing. In a way very measurable, demonstrable thing that art can do.

Brandon Sanderson

And I do think the hard thing about talking about art is, is you can't boil it down to one thing. Because each individual piece of art could be created with a different talos, right? And in fact, each individual piece of art can have a different talos to the different people. This is where talos breaks down. Where that chair I described, that you can't sit on but is a magnificent work of art-- It's okay to have a chair whose talos is not for people to sit on it. I think. It's where this idea breaks down, but it's a fun one to talk about.

#8 Copy

Farnsworth

Why was Hoid drinking perfume when he met Wax [in The Bands of Mourning]? And where did he get it?

Brandon Sanderson

Why was Hoid drinking perfume when he met Wax and where did he get it. This is an answer-- You are getting RAFO'd-- But this is one I do intend to talk about eventually. There are lots of seeds of things in the Mistborn series that I can't promise I'm going to be able to get to, that I hope I'll be able to get to. Secret History, which is in the Arcanum Unbounded that hopefully many of you have. If you haven't read through to the end of the released Mistborn books, don't look at that story, because it's a behind-the-scenes story of things that are happening, that I put seeds in the original trilogy for. That's another seed, and it might be one I can take up. I might just have to explain it someday.

#10 Copy

Questioner

I was just wondering, is Joel going to become a Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

Is Joel going to become a Rithmatist. You get a card too! *laughter* For those who don't know The Rithmatist, my Young Adult book, the pitch for it, to myself, was "A Muggle at Hogwarts". It is the story of the son of the cleaning lady, who gets free tuition to the magic school, but doesn't-- has no talent-- He just doesn't have the ability himself. So he gets to go to this school, but can't use the magic. So you will have to see what happens in future books, and how it plays out.

#11 Copy

Questioner

On the nature of shardblades, to an extent, can a live blade be split without harming it's source, so to speak?

Brandon Sanderson

Can a live blade split? What do you mean, split?

Questioner

Make itself into two weapons.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, can a blade be forged into two weapons. A shardblade.

Questioner

Does it absolutely need a connection, or can it become two?

Brandon Sanderson

So, shardblades becoming two shardblades would require slicing in half a soul, which would not be very fun for the spren. Okay?

Questioner

So it's possible. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

So it's technically possible to take hydrogen and to turn it into plutonium with our current technology. It would cost more money than, like, the budget of NASA to do it for, y'know, one atom. So there are things that are possible, but-- Yes it is possible. This is not something that would be easy or very useful to do.

#12 Copy

Questioner

Alright, who would win in a fight: Rand al'Thor or Vin?

Brandon Sanderson

Who would win in a fight, Rand al'Thor or Vin. I'm going to go with the person who's a pseudo-diety and held the powers of creation. Which is gonna be-- Yeah. I'm gunna say Rand on that one, pretty safely. With the caveat of "You have to pick when". If Vin where able to get to Rand while he's still on a farm, I think she'll do a better job than the Trollocs did. If you replace Narg with Vin, Rand is in trouble. If at the ends of their respective series, I still think Rand would win, even when Vin is at her most powerful., because he is able to bend reality. But I don't know, Jason?

Jason Denzel

Oh I definitely agree, but I'm a little bit biased here. But yeah it really does depend on the time. Like if you take Vin at the last few pages of Mistborn, I don't know because she's--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, certain spoiler-rific things happen there. So she could give him a fight at that point, but I'm going to side with Rand on this. I'm going to side with Rand versus any character in most pieces of fiction.

#13 Copy

ailavyn-siniyash

The fact that Vorinism was partially inspired by Judaism and [???] means a lot to me, as a Jew, especially because there's not that much [???] other than dwarves. So thanks for that. I wanted to know if you could elaborate a little on some of the specific Judaism had on Vorinism.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, sure. Specific influences of Judaism on Vorinism. There are a couple of things. And I can go on this one for a while. I will pick Numerology which-- Jewish Numerology is really cool, particularly if you go back-- Like we always focus on alchemy and astrology as kind of the pseudosciences that were really interesting to scientists back in the day. If you don't know, Newton thought that alchemy was real and he could figure out how to make it work. I love these things that people approach scientifically but have supernat-- superstitious roots. And Jewish Numerology is really cool because the letters and numbers are basically the same thing, so a name can actually mean numbers, and vice-versa, and stuff like that. Which leads to some really cool and interesting attempts to understand the world by taking things from the Torah and transferring them back and forth between numbers and things. That sort of thing is very prevalent in the Vorin religion. To the point that it was really important to them, and then got forbidden. Because they were spending too much time on it. And you will find out roots about that. But that was an inspiration for Vorinism. Of course the Sephir, from the Tree of Life, were an inspiration for the Double Eye of the Almighty, and the idea behind all the different connections and philosophy going in that. The language. Kholin is actually pronounced Kholin, and things like this--

ailavyn-siniyash

Was that-- Sorry... Was Kholin supposed to be kind of close to kohen? Because--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm.

ailavyn-siniyash

Okay, cool.

Brandon Sanderson

So yeah, you're going to find all kinds of things like that in linguistic roots. And there is of course more but I will move on from that because I can talk too long on that. But yeah, there's some very fun stuff.

#14 Copy

Questioner

I have a question about process. When you start writing on a series how much of it do you have mapped out in advance and at what point does something that you're writing make you change direction completely?

Brandon Sanderson

What an awesome question. So how much do we have mapped out and how much-- before we start a series in specific-- and how often to we do something that makes us change, to do something else, or whatnot...

...See I had an advantage over Jason in that, when I was writing Mistborn I had just gotten married and my wife had a very lucrative job as a middle school English teacher *laughter* and so I quit my job, which was working at the front desk at a hotel and was able to write full time almost from the get-go. You can thank Emily for that. That she believed in the fiction, she took care of me while I did this work. And so I was able to write all of Mistborn before I had to turn in the first book. Just so that I could make sure that I could make these connections.

These days what I do-- Because I can't do that anymore-- I usually write the first book of a series just-- I write an outline for it and I write the first book without any sort of feeling for the rest of the series. This isn't quite what happened with Stormlight, that's the outlier, but for most things. Like The Reckoners, or the Wax and Wayne books, and stuff like that. Write one book and then with the book in hand and knowing the characters very well I can more accurately feel out what their arcs can be and things like this. Like the problem with being a planner-- I'm very much a planner-- is that if you over-plan your books, your characters feel stale, right? They feel wooden. And so, write that first book, let the characters have a lot of freedom to become who they need to be. And then I outline the rest of the series in great detail, so I can put into the first book any references that I'm going to need for future books in the series. Just so that I can know where things are going. I'll re-write the characters a little bit, so their arcs now match the over-arching arc they will have for the series, and things like this. So most books, it's "Finish the book, then write five pages about each book in the series, and then revise the first book and write the rest of the series."

With Stormlight I spent a lot of time planning the series. It's the one where I have the most time on. It's a different beast entirely. I went into Stormlight knowing what Dalinar's arc was, knowing what Kaladin's arc was, for the whole series and things like this. But I still did a lot...

#15 Copy

Questioner

You have a couple of fantastic running jokes, such as the High Imperial.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

How do you think of those things and when do you decide to commit to a great joke like that?

Brandon Sanderson

When do I decide to commit to a running joke. See Spook doesn't consider that a joke, he thinks it's awesome. So with this, I love-- I'm kind of going to expand this to not just jokes-- Which, definitely-- It's the sort of insider things. I love, in series that i have read a lot of books on, when there is something you will only get if you have been invested in the series. I love this stuff. It is part of the seed of the Cosmere, this idea that if people are reading my books they will start to see and make these connections. It's important to me that it never becomes the forefront, at least until I'm very clear to people that this is-- now you have to have the background of all of the books. That hasn't happened. There will be series that I do that with but I want you to be able to read Stormlight and not feel like you have to know a thousand pages of the wiki behind-the-scenes stuff before you can appreciate it. But I do like these inside references and things like that, and so it comes very natural to me. Some of it's planned out, some of it is something that I think of as I'm working on the story. Some of it's seeded, some of it just works. So you do it as it works. I wouldn't say that I-- With like High Imperial. High Imperial I knew about the time when I decided Spook was going to be a larger character in the series. But if you know Mistborn, my original-- I wrote the first book, did a quick outline of the second two, and then wrote the second two and Spook was the big discovery written surprise. He wasn't intended to be the main character that he became in the later books. And so once he-- I was writing the third book, I'm like "Oh, I know what's going to happen here. I know where this is going." And High Imperial grew out of that.

#17 Copy

Herald (paraphrased)

Is it possible to reliably deduce what a Shardworld's Cognitive realm will look like if we knew a lot about its Physical realm? For example, mists in Scadrial, spheres in Roshar etc.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, but it works in odd ways. So it may not work in the logical way that you think.

Herald (paraphrased)

Why spheres on Roshar? Something related to the highstorms makes more sense, right?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes there is a reason for them being spheres. RAFO

#20 Copy

Herald (paraphrased)

Is there more significance to the 10 other planets around the Rosharan star system and them being gaseous? We know that Roshar's moons have unnatural orbits; so there seems to be some astronomical manipulation in the system.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes there is significance of 16 in cosmere and 10 in Rosharan system.

Herald (paraphrased)

The outer 10 gas giants in the Rosharan system suggest a tie to the number 10 that predates the arrival of the current Shards. Is the prominent numerology we see around the cosmere an inherent property of the planets, rather than the Shards who invest them?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Big RAFO.

Herald (paraphrased)

Would Ashyn/Braize share the 10-centric numerology of Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes 10-centric is for the entire Rosharan planetary system...wait Braize is 9-centric.

#22 Copy

Herald (paraphrased)

Is Vax present (lurking) in any of the star systems explained in Arcanum Unbounded? Personally I think there will be more star systems that would be discovered in the future and Vax might be part of them. Comment?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO for Vax. Yes, there might be more stars. The picture on the cover is the sight observed from one particular place.

Herald (paraphrased)

Silverlight?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO. Let's just say that there are more planetary systems present in the existing star chart itself that you don't know yet.

Herald (paraphrased)

Is Yolen present in the dragon constellation?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

RAFO.

#25 Copy

Herald (paraphrased)

What would have happened if Kelsier hasn't taken Preservation or later Sazed hasn't taken Ruin and Preservation powers? Would the earth have been destroyed due to so much raw power much before the actual destruction due to Ruin's actions?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. Bad things would have happened.

Herald (paraphrased)

Like Sel?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Not going to answer that. Just bad things would have happened.

#26 Copy

Weltall (paraphrased)

I asked if someone who had a lot of Breath would have it weaken collectively, in the same way that the single Breaths of children are more vibrant than others and move one slightly closer to a Heightening, then weaken as they grow older (and contribute slightly less towards a Heightening).

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said that it wouldn't be noticeable once you accumulate enough Breath and, for example, Hoid wouldn't find himself suddenly losing perfect pitch as a function of time.

#28 Copy

Weltall (paraphrased)

I asked what Hoid's favorite flavor of instant noodles is.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

At first I think he misheard me asking what his own favorite is ('spicy Korean ramen' apparently, though I don't remember the exact specifics) so I clarified. He said that Hoid is looking forward to instant noodles but they aren't Yolish and he knows about them via the same method that he knows where he needs to be in the cosmere. 

#29 Copy

Weltall (paraphrased)

That gave me the opportunity to ask one last question, about Feruchemical chromium and whether storing fortune would cause you to risk experiencing really improbable things, like the entropy curse in The Dresden Files.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said he wasn't going to answer questions about fortune, that the MAG shouldn't be taken as gospel on this point (I don't remember how it works there and didn't mention it, he brought it up on his own) and that he's planning something different than we might be thinking, for how that mechanic will function.

#33 Copy

Necarion

Do Vessels have any flexibility in expressing the intent of a Shard, particularly if the intent is open to many interpretations?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes they do. So, the Vessel's mind and how they perceive is going to have a large influence on how things are expressed and I think all of them have some wiggle room. But there are some deterministic things that are also going to push them.  You know, holding Ruin, Harmony may not go down the same path that happened to Ati.

Necarion

So Sadeas would express Honor differently than Tanavast?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes he would.

#36 Copy

Questioner

So my quick question: Can you use Identity (I love the speed bubbles!) to anchor speed bubbles to yourself?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, this is possible. That's less a matter of Identity. What’s gonna happen there, like, the more someone uses the powers, the more familiar and intermingled with their soul the powers become, and they are able to accomplish things that others can't. This would be like a Mistborn learning to hover a coin, right, which they can do, but most think you can't. That's the sort of level we're going with.

Necarion

So a savant could?

Brandon Sanderson

A savant could totally do that. The problem is, things moving in and out of a speed bubble, there's a transference of energy. This is how we keep speed bubbles from irradiating people when light moves through them, right, red shift. And so there's a transfer of energy directly from the Spiritual Realm, which means that moving with a speed bubble, you're gonna run into that, and it's gonna be, it's gonna cause all kinds of problems, but it would be possible.

#37 Copy

Questioner

Now, do things actually move unpredictable at the edge [of a speed bubble] or do they refract out? Is it just that geometry is hard?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I have a level of unpredictability, I mean we're Chaos Theory. The idea being, you could predict if you had a perfect closed system and things like this, but it's unfeasible for most technology and minds to be able to predict.

#38 Copy

Necarion

One other speed bubble question. Is the speed of light the same inside and outside a speed bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, yes. The speed of light is the same. Good question, you're trying to figure out the FTL.

Necarion

Also, it would eliminate the redshift if the speed of light…

Brandon Sanderson

If the speed of light were similar. That's one thing we considered, but it felt too unintuitive, plus it's just not how I imagined things working. So, no it is not, but that's a good question. It is something we considered.

#40 Copy

Necarion

Is Taldain orbiting at a Lagrangian point? *Brandon laughs* It would make the orbits work.

Brandon Sanderson

*long pause* I'm not sure the implications, I have to think through implications before answering questions.

Necarion

The situation I'm thinking of, it would orbit the big star but at the same period as the smaller star.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, well, I'll just say "yes", but I want to make sure I'm not saying "yes", without...well, yes that's how it has to work.

Necarion

Right.

Brandon Sanderson

Because [Taldain] I want to be not like Roshar where we have unstable orbits and things. Uh, but I… I'm saying yes, but I hope that doesn't get me into trouble scientifically.

#41 Copy

Necarion

The compounding trick that the Lord Ruler performed. When you're storing Investiture, are you storing your "Mistborn-ness" or all the powers individually?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the powers individually.

Necarion

Oh okay!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the compounding trick. Really what's happening is you're fueling Feruchemy with the power of Allomancy, but you're filtering it through you, and then you're storing it.

Necarion

So it's not that you're a more powerful mistborn when you've tapped [investiture]

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Event details
Name
Name Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing
Date
Date Nov. 30, 2016
Location
Location San Francisco, CA
Tour
Tour Arcanum Unbounded
Bookstore
Bookstore Borderlands Books
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Entries 41
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