Waterstones RoW Release Event

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Name Waterstones RoW Release Event
Date
Date Nov. 18, 2020
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Entries 10
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#1 Copy

Questioner

Can Shardblades, dead or alive, be used as Hemalurgic spikes? And if attempted, what would the result be?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically yes, but in practicality no.

To use something as a Hemalurgic spike, it basically just needs to be able to already have a charge of Investiture, or be able to adopt one. Technically, Shardblades are made from a god metal. You could do this. But the Blade is gonna be big and unwieldy, and the form it’s in right now, it’s going to slice the soul rather than rip pieces off. You would have to jump through a bunch of hoops that wouldn’t be worth it in order to use one.

It would basically mean that you’d have to separate the metal of the Shardblade from the concept of a Shardblade itself, is what’s going on there.

#2 Copy

Daniel Greene

You have ten books for the Stormlight Archive. Was that a limit you put on yourself because you knew it could go to twenty? Or it just happened, after you structured out the story, ten was what fit.

Brandon Sanderson

Ten was the number. Various worlds in the cosmere have this little number motif going on with them. And I was building ten in as a number motif, as well as nine. Nine and ten and the contrast between these two very similar but very, very different numbers.

And in the original outline, numerology was a much bigger deal, actually, in Stormlight. I was working a lot on the idea that I was using a language (Hebrew is a good example) where every word can also be a number, so you can have all sorts of funky numerology things. It comes up now and then in the published books, with… Various sketchy individuals will be into numerology.

But I knew I wanted a big series. And I knew I had ten characters. And I thought ten books, ten Orders of Knights Radiant, ten characters, it juts fit really well. Ten felt like the right number after I did my real outline for it, back in 2009. I felt like I had the material for that, and it was too poetically appropriate for the series to not do it as ten.

#3 Copy

Questioner

Are there still six different types of Aethers in current canon? Or has that changed?

Brandon Sanderson

They have expanded. I’m using the Aethers behind the scenes for a lot of space age things. And because I’m doing that, I am adding in a few more Aethers. There’s going to be some limits on this. I’m tweaking which Aethers I’m actually making, ‘cause some of them didn’t work as well as other ones.

There will end up being more, but I won’t canonize the number until I have the Aether book ready to release.

#4 Copy

Daniel Greene

Are there thousands of more spren that you have planned out and know what they look like? Or are those just, as you’re writing them in the moment, “This is what the spren’s gonna look like.”

Brandon Sanderson

At this point, we’ve gotten through all the ones that I’ve preplanned, and at this point, I toss new ones in now and then. Usually, I only do that in large measure if we’ve gone to a new location. Because you have seen the spren that inhabit the area of the Shattered Plains in Shadesmar, but there can be emotion spren… like, I’m doing awespren more often in this book, and there’s a new one in this book, but everyone’s in Urithiru. Different place, you can attract different types of emotionspren. Different Shadesmar ecology.

#5 Copy

Questioner

Do you have any specific inspirations for spanreeds?

Brandon Sanderson

Like most things in my books, you can ask me what my writerly inspiration is, and what my worldbuilding explanation is. And let me explain that.

Writerly inspiration for spanreeds is me acknowledging that I wanted to have a society that acted more like a post-Industrial Revolution society (or very close to it) than a Medieval society. And there’s lots of ways to do this. Fantasy worlds do not have to progress socially the same way that we progressed. A lot of people want to tie technology to social progression, which you don’t have to do. You don’t necessarily have to say “people from the Industrial Revolution in our world acted this way; therefore people in this world…” You just don’t have to do that.

But there are certain technological revolutions that happened that do form a technological basis for some of these things. For instance, trade was very essential to the expanding political entity that was a world economy. We needed people to at least be travelling consistently to Asia before that could happen. And I really think a lot of what makes people act the way we do, perhaps, in some of our societies is this kind of mass communication.

And I didn’t want to be there yet, but I wanted to give a way that news and ideas could travel around the world in a consistent way on Roshar, to make the continent feel like a single entity. Because otherwise, I would probably have to tell the story as not a worldwide story. You just can’t travel, and ideas can’t move fast enough. Even if you look back at Roman times; Roman times took place in a fairly small geographical area, and even that, it was really hard for them to know what was happening. And you would have to spend months and months getting information that was then months and months out of date. And there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting in those cultures for things to happen, even with having the Mediterranean to sail around and bring this information. I just wanted information to move fast, both culturally and narratively. And so I said, “I’ve gotta find a way to do this. I did it with Seons in Elantris; I need find a way to do something similar to that on Roshar.”

Real-world inspiration, if there is one, is an auto-pen. Where authors can have a little machine sign books for them; it moves on its own. I’ve never used one, but politicians use them quite a bit. When you get that hand-signed letter when you’ve donated whatever to whatever political party. That hand-signed letter was probably machine-signed with a real pen, rather than hand-signed by the individual.

#6 Copy

Daniel Greene

Has there been something [with worldbuilding] you decided to put in that inadvertently has pigeonholed you in a way? Where it’s like, “Oh, that element shouldn’t…” Basically, any regrets, in terms of worldbuilding, that now, in hindsight, that was a little too solid; something you wish you had left a little looser?

Brandon Sanderson

I think one of my big worries for a long time was in the White Sand books. I made a bunch of mistakes there, because it was the first world I ever built. So the magic system in that, there are some very cool things about it; there’s some very non-cohesive things. I had people have the ability to turn sand into water for no good reason, that does not fit the cosmere magic system as it developed. That one, I’m like, “Why did I even put that in?” I think I tried… I can’t remember if we got that cut out, or not. It was in the early drafts of the White Sand graphic novel scripts. I remember trying to cut that out, and I can’t now remember if we got it cut out. It might have been too integral to the story. But regardless, there’s things like that that I’m like “eh…”

I wish I, at the end of the Mistborn trilogy, had been more clear about how many metals there were left to discover. That’s definitely a mistake. But I just went ahead and was like, “You know what? I made the mistake, I’m just gonna explain it after the fact. I made a mistake, and we’re doing it the way I intended it to be, rather than the way it came across.” And I’m okay copping to mistakes and letting people know.

One of the things I keep wanting to do is have Peter, every time a book comes out, release a notes file that’s kind of like… you know how, when a video game gets an update, you have the bug fixes and power rebalances? I want to release a bug fixes and power rebalances thing for this. Where we’re like, “This little aspect of the world just never made sense. We’ve retconned this out. Now you can understand.” Stuff like that, I feel like we should be doing that.

Way of Kings is a great example. Way of Kings ended up using more Earth metaphors than the rest of the Stormlight Archive. If you read Way of Kings, there’s more references to grapes, there’s more references to ravens, because I just was not into the world as well (even after doing all this worldbuilding) as I eventually got into it. I’m like, “They wouldn’t use a raven metaphor here. They wouldn’t say something looks like a flock of ravens. They don’t see ravens.” And finally I said to Peter, “Go ahead and bug-patch these out of Way of Kings, for the newest version.”

I see in the chat, “flock of chickens.” Well, really, it should be “debris flying in front of a storm.” Something that they have seen a lot that becomes a natural metaphor for their language. Not even a flock of chickens, because they don’t see a flock of chickens.

#7 Copy

Questioner

Have you ever considered the energy density of Stormlight compared to real world substances? Example: nuclear fuels. Is it kind of on that level?

Brandon Sanderson

I have a little group of cosmerenauts, fans of the books that I’ve known for the long time who are themselves physicists. And I have asked them to start helping me quantify these things. Right now, I don’t have them exactly quantified. The place we’re starting with is: which forms of Investiture in the cosmere, how much fantastical-unit-of-energy do they have, and how does that relate to a real-world joule, or something like that. And that’s something we’re in the process of doing, because we’ll need it by space age cosmere. But I’ve told them they have years to figure it out.

The nice thing is, in our world, we have conservation of energy. I’ve talked about this in the cosmere: because we can go from energy to matter to Investiture (and any of the three can transfer between), we can pop energy out in interesting ways to fuel things if we need to. We can draw directly from the Spiritual Realm, or you can have some of this matter transferred into energy through becoming Investiture first, in a way that’s a little less explosive than normally getting energy out of matter is, in our world.

That said, the magic system of Dragonsteel (which I wrote long ago, which is not released), one of the primary magic systems of that was actual nuclear physics. And nuclear fission was part of the magic system, being able to see the atoms and manipulate them. I don’t know if I’ll ever do that in actual cosmere, but it was one of the cosmere magics originally. So when you read Dragonsteel (we’ll probably release it sometime around the Words of Radiance leatherbound Kickstarter, would be my guess), you can read about people seeing… in cosmere terms, they’re called “axi.” Or “an axon,” rather than atoms. You can see people playing with that. And I even think there are rumors in the books of people playing with those to the point that they make enormous explosions that cause wastelands. Because you do something a little wrong, and suddenly you’re splitting some atoms, and that can be very bad. That can have ramifications.

#8 Copy

Ryan

Like how Bondsmiths have stronger versions of their Surges, is it possible to have stronger versions of the other Surges, as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. This is what happened to Ashyn. You can have some very dangerous manipulation of Surges.

#9 Copy

Questioner

Could a Radiant ever belong to multiple Orders?

Brandon Sanderson

This is theoretically possible, but it was not done in the past. It’s just not a thing that you did. It was not kosher. But it is theoretically possible.

You’d have to find spren that had volition, and you would have to convince multiple demigods to be okay with this.

The fact that you can be a Knight Radiant and you could pick up one of the Honorblades and have access to those Surges… I mean, there’s an easier way to do it, in that case. (If you consider getting a hold of one of the Honorblades to be easy.)

But it is theoretically possible to have something like that happen.

#10 Copy

Questioner

Could a Windrunner fly into space?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it actually wouldn’t be that hard, because Windrunners can control pressure, also. And as long as you have Stormlight, you don’t have to breathe. It’s harder for a Skybreaker. Windrunner… As long as you don’t run out of Stormlight, you could travel between planets as a Windrunner if you have enough Stormlight. Wouldn’t be too difficult. Kaladin could probably do it.

Event details
Name
Name Waterstones RoW Release Event
Date
Date Nov. 18, 2020
Entries
Entries 10
Upload sources