Recent entries

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6451 Copy

    Phantine

    Have you seen the Deep Forger?

    https://twitter.com/DeepForger

    It seems like once the processing time comes down a bit, it'll be a pretty powerful tool for doing concept art and rough outlines, but I'm not really into the illustrating business. What are your thoughts on it?

    Ben McSweeney

    It's pretty neat, but it's worth noting that what Deep Forger does is create an approximation based on certain distinct styles of painting, and then applies that effect to a photograph. It's not doing anything particularly creative, it can't produce a Monet or a Picasso from scratch, without input. And from looking at the samples, it seems that most of the time the photographic source origins are still pretty clear. Sorta the same way rotoscoping rarely fools anyone into thinking it's hand-keyed animation.

    That being said, I'm often impressed by what I see people doing with Zbrush and other 3D sculpting software and then applying the right lighting and render techniques to create some very illustrated results. The trick is that it often takes as long (or longer) to produce content that way as opposed to illustrating it traditionally. The advantage is that you can often do a LOT more with a well-sculpted 3D model, even when it's a static object.

    I don't feel that traditional illustration as a craft is particularly at threat, because the real value in an illustrator isn't in the skills their hands produce but in the brains that come up with ideas and new applications and twists, and that's some next-level AI stuff.

    Digital painting has totally changed the landscape in which we work, but it hasn't changed the heart of the illustrator... just the tools. As such, we'll always be using the most effective and efficient tools that we can, but the fundamentals that lie beyond tools and techniques haven't changed much.

    Phantine

    Yeah, I guess my real question is more along the lines of 'does this seem like it'll be a useful tool, and where would that fit in your normal workflow?'

    Ben McSweeney

    I don't think it'd fit in the workflow of what I do... I could perhaps see some potential for it to serve as a method for creating photobash assets that would more easily merge with a larger painting (like serving as a method for creating backgrounds, if you have the right location or can dress a set), but part of the weakness of something like Deep Forger is that it requires an existing image to manipulate.

    A huge part of what I do is visualize and illustrate things that don't exist, and often can't exist in the physical world. I can source reference and I do, pulling ideas from here and there to flesh out the kernel of a concept, but ultimately I don't have anything more than description and design mandates to build from... and that's something a computer can't quite do yet. Someday... maybe.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6452 Copy

    IBNobody

    Thinking of all the interior art from The Rithmatest leads me to an important question...

    Can you draw a perfect circle freehand? With chalk?

    Ben McSweeney

    Hahaaaa, not a chance. But even a Rithmatist spends much of their young life learning that skill. Some have it easier than others, but it's not something that just comes to people with Rithmatic ability. It's very much a skill.

    That being said, I do think the best way to draw a circle would be to lock your arm out and then spin on one foot, effectively turning yourself into a compass.

    Ben McSweeney AMA ()
    #6453 Copy

    Arithered

    What is your conception of how spren would appear to the average person? Do they have a solid physicality of some kind or are they more ethereal/ghostlike?

    Ben McSweeney

    Back during the pitch I did illustrate a few spren ideas for Brandon, but my understanding of them has expanded greatly since then. There's a lot I don't know, but I think I've got the basic idea down.

    I see them as looking like they're made of Stormlight, sorta like many common sci-fi "holograms". I don't think any spren have physically solid forms unless the manifest fully, and the only examples we've seen of that so far are Blades.

    In terms of their appearance, the text descriptions are always the first place I look. Never contradict the text, it's the common basis for all our interpretations.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6455 Copy

    Questioner 1

    Have we met Jezrien yet, in the books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What's that?

    Questioner 1

    Have we met the king of the Heralds in the books yet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, yes you have.

    Questioner 2

    And it's not Zahel.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. I-- Fans have picked out who he is. It-- he's moderately obvious. So the-- so he's not supposed to be a big secret. But I will pop him out a little bit more in the third book, so if you don't want to get spoilers you can wait til then.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6456 Copy

    Questioner

    What is Tia's cola brand?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Tia's cola brand is, um...

    Questioner

    <Non-determined>?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Non-- Like it's a in-world cola. I just didn't want to mention a name of one. If-- If I were going to choose one, it would be something like RC, or something like that.

    Questioner

    Yeah. Something obscure and random.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Like... obscure. Kind of indie cola. Probably one I've never even heard of, right?

    Calamity release party ()
    #6458 Copy

    Questioner

    Could I have you write the name of-- or the intent of the Shard that's hiding on it's uninhabited world away from everybody?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mostly because I don't want to canonize these things and so I get locked into it and the decision is absolutely made. I haven't changed many of them, but I have tweaked them before. I've tweaked like how I wanted to represent the intent, so...

    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #6460 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Do you have new stuff, or new ideas?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes—one is The Silence Divine, a world like ours where you gain magic by diseases; another is a world where the only superheroes are all evil super villains and a group of regular people called the [Reckoners] gather to hunt them down and take them out.

    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #6462 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

     Will there be any sequels to Elantris?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    In 2015, the 10th anniversary of the series, he intends to release Dragonriders, three books based on side characters. They will take place 10 years after events, in the city of Dakhor.

    Footnote: The only Dragons, or references to dragons in the Cosmere are from the unpublished Dragonsteel,set on Yolen. This proposed title is questionable, as is the "city of Dakhor"
    Sources: Dragonmount
    The Gathering Storm Milford signing ()
    #6464 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    Regarding the Mistbornbooks, do you think you will ever write a prequel trilogy?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    I've considered it, but I don't think it's a good idea. I love the hero's journey, like Rand's journey at the beginning of the Wheel of Time. When writing the Mistborn books, I knew Robert Jordan had done epic fantasy the best it could be done, so I thought,  'what hasn’t been done?' The answer I came to was 'what if the hero lost?' The idea was a good one, but that would make a downer of a book.

    Audience Member (paraphrased)

    [Star wars prequels reference] *general laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    *laughter*

    I wrote Mistborn a thousand years after the hero lost. I'm think of writing a sequel set centuries after Mistborn. 

    Footnote: This entry is heavily paraphrased.
    Sources: Dragonmount
    Sofia signing ()
    #6466 Copy

    Questioner

    My question is about Yolen. If, or when, you chose to write Hoid's origin story, do you plan to keep the same plots in Yolen? Where the moss is taking over the planet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I need to give you some back history to this one... My epic fantasy books, this is all of them but not Steelheart and not The Rithmatist, so the epic fantasy, are all connected, if you weren't aware. They all have little ties between characters, and there's a character named Hoid who's shown up in all of the books basically; he's the same person. When I was earlier in my career, before I published, I tried writing his origin story and I failed. The book wasn't very good, and I tried it again later, after I was published, and I failed again. It still wasn't very good. And this still happens to me. Sometimes I try things out and they just don't work. So the question am I going to try it; when I go back to it will it be the same story? The core part of it will be the same. There are certain events that Hoid has talked about in the books that are published that I will make sure are still relevant, but the story continues to evolve in my head. So I will have to decide eventually what things I want to do and what I don't. I think it will change from what I originally planned, but the soul should be the same. The core should still be the same. It will be very different from Dragonsteel, though, which was the one I wrote in 1998, because that had Bridge Four in it, and I moved them to The Stormlight Archive. So most of that book is gone, and it ended up in The Stormlight Archive, so who knows what will go-- It'll be very different from that.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6468 Copy

    Questioner

    Are there any Shards who-- that have merged like Sazed's Shards?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is a RAFO, good question. Excellent question.

    Questioner

    Just trying to think outside the box.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think that's the first time I've been asked that.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6469 Copy

    Questioner

    How hard was it for you to write Kaladin *inaudible* end of the second book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was pretty hard. Knowing people whom I love, who have depression, when they are in a depressive funk. And knowing I had to get that across accurately, but try not to make people hate him too much? It was a challenge.

    Sofia signing ()
    #6470 Copy

    Kiril

    You're very meticulous about your magic systems. Aren't you afraid sometimes that this takes away the sense of wonder? For example in The Way of Kings, it's more wonderous, in my opinion, than in Mistborn. So, how do you manage this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This is an excellent question. It's actually something I think about a lot, and tomorrow my lecture ('cause they asked me to do a lecture) will be a little bit about this idea. So, if you're interested in writing, you can come to the lecture. But balance between a sense of wonder and a sense of understanding of the magic, that's a difficult balance. And I don't think there's a right way to do it. I think a lot of great books sometimes use both. For instance, I don't know if you've read Name of the Wind, but Pat Rothfuss uses both a hard magic system and a soft magic system. The Naming, which is very soft, and the Sympathy, which is very hard. Hard is a term for very rule-based, so we explain it a lot. The more you explain, the less sense of wonder you have. But the more you explain, the more you can also use the magic to solve all kinds of cool problems and create sort of an intellectual enjoyment. And so it's a different distinction between wonder and this sort of intellectual problem-solving sense, and I tend to go this direction a little bit. I think fantasy naturally has a bunch of wonder to it in the settings and the world, so I think that they balance each other naturally when I push a little bit in this direction. But it is a trade-off. It is something that I wonder about.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6473 Copy

    Questioner

    Could a Forger, like, reforge a Shardplate to look differently?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So here's the thing... Um, yes, *but*... Anything that is Invested is-- resists all of the forms of Investiture. And the level of Investiture in it determines how hard it is. Forging is one of these things that-- It's very hard to reforge things that are Invested. Not impossible though. So yes, *but*... Do you see what I'm saying? There's that-- there's a pretty significant "but" on that one.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6474 Copy

    Questioner

    So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?

    Questioner

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.

    Questioner

    Makes sense.

    Brandon Sanderson

    *brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.

    Questioner

    'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. So, it-- let's just say it'd be very, very hard. Because it's like saying, "Can-- I want to turn on a lightbulb that's been turned on." Yes, you can... maybe... I don't know what that even means. It's already Invested. It's already Awakened.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6475 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering, like, are we gonna... From the Secret History...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    The people he met with... Are they the ones from Bands of Mourning, and Are we gonna see them anymore?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Which people? Nazh and Khriss?

    Questioner

    Yes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, Nazh-- Khriss is in Bands of Mourning. Nazh is referenced in many of the books. He's been in-- uh-- he's been in a lot of them... Just briefly, or annotating maps or things like that.

    Questioner

    Okay. So are we gonna see them more kind of like Hoid in the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, they're-- they are Hoid-esque. Khriss is the one who's been writing all the Ars Arcanum from the beginning, so...

    Calamity release party ()
    #6476 Copy

    Questioner

    It seemed like in Alloy of Law you made us like Marasi better than Steris, and then kind of switched it. Was your intention the whole time for them to end up with Steris, or...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, yes.

    Questioner

    Okay, it was.

    Brandon Sanderson

    In fact, I like Steris a lot in the first book. But you are seeing things through the eyes of other characters. And Steris takes a little bit of time to warm up to. Like, many people like her. And once you get to know here--which, I always knew her--then there's a level of <thoughtfulness> there.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6477 Copy

    Questioner

    Marsh is still alive hundreds of years after.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh-huh.

    Questioner

    He's got, like, Lord Ruler level healing powers. Why does he still have a crushed eye socket?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So all healing in the cosmere has to do--or almost all has to do--with your perception of yourself.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6478 Copy

    Questioner

    So in the Rithmatist... The constable had acid wash over him and it destroyed the thing that possessed him. The professor who got acid dumped on him did not have the thing expelled. Why the difference?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You will find out in the next book.

    Questioner

    Ah, got another read and find out.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6479 Copy

    Questioner

    How many magic systems have you written?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh... You know, this is a hard one, because do you count each Order of the Knights Radiant, or each Surge as their own magic system, or...

    Questioner

    I have never read those books, so I don't know.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So... probably a dozen. Maybe two.

    Questioner

    Why so many? When so many people just stick with one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Uh, because it's fun.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6481 Copy

    Questioner

    Who owns all your copyright for all your symbols and logos and everything else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I own the copyright on most-- almost-- on all of those. 

    Questioner

    On everything?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep, yep. And that is something we did intentionally after noticing that... sometimes, like the Wheel of Time--they weren't good at keeping track who owned those, and it was really problematic when they wanted to do t-shirts and things. And so I just bought the rights when I did them.

    Questioner

    That's awesome. Cause I've, uh, looked at licensing and royalties and other things like that with some companies, and it's...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. I don't think you want to do something like that. Now cover art you don't want to buy outright. The artist needs to be able to use that for other things. But the symbols you can... most artists will sell you those outright.

    Calamity release party ()
    #6482 Copy

    Questioner

    What are the chances that one of Megan's alternate realities could secretly be the cosmere, but we'll never see it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Heh... Um, I would like to keep these two separate. But if you believe in infinite variety then I suppose...

    Questioner

    If I believe it hard enough! Okay, alright. But they're-- But they're meant to be separate.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They are meant to be separate. I will do other things with that-- within-- kind of that idea of multiple dimensions and things like that.

    Questioner

    In the Reckoners? In that world?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
    #6492 Copy

    Questioner (paraphrased)

    In order to use magic from one world on another world, do they need a bit of [the first world's] Shard with you?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    It helps a lot. But there are other ways to do it. What's going on in the Cosmere is people have 3 sets of DNA. They have Physical DNA, Spiritual DNA, and Cognitive DNA. Their Spiritual DNA is what encodes the magic system into them, their Investiture. So if you can find a way to rewrite your Spiritual DNA, you can do all kinds of funky things. That's what Hemalurgy does. It rips off a piece of someone else's soul, staples it to yours. So if you went with a Hemalurgic spike to the right place, ripped off a piece of someone's soul and stapled it to yourself, you could create short circuits that will let you do all kinds of goofy stuff.

    Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
    #6494 Copy

    Chris_from_Warrenton (paraphrased)

    Would it be possible to Soulforge Nightblood and change the command that was given to him when he was Invested?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    That is possible. That would actually not be a very difficult Soulforge. The problem is, he's Invested. So reInvesting him, which is what Soulforgery is, is really hard. So you'd have to figure out how you could use Forgery on something that is already Invested. But Forgery can get through some of those hoops a lot easier than some other magic systems can.