Recent entries

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1251 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you find it more difficult to write a story that includes or excludes magic? Or--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Every story I've tried to write that didn't have magic, ended up having it. *laughter* And so, I'm gonna say, so far it's proven virtually impossible for me to write something without magic. Even my science fiction basically has magic systems, right? Legion, which is supposedly set in this world, has a magic system. And so I would say, much harder to write something without magic.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1252 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any character that you think you have learned something from while writing? Or--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Each character that I write is a mix of two things. It is a mix of some part of me, and something very different from myself. In order to write those characters, I usually do a lot of exploring and trying to find out about people who are like the character that I'm writing, and that teaches me a ton. You could say that the character has taught me a lot on that case. Doing, for instance, Kaladin, and trying to write a hero with depression whose story is not about having depression, and going to people I know and people I love and people I don't know, and asking them what it feels like, has taught me a whole ton. I don't know if that answers your question, but often the exploration of where a character goes is me exploring my own thoughts and feelings on an idea. And I would say that every character, to an extent, takes me on a journey as I write them, and kind of combine myself with something else. So yes, they all have, but also they all are partially me.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1253 Copy

    Questioner

    I want to write books... Do you have any trouble with trying to figure out what you want your main character's name to be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Names... I will tell you this. You're probably stressing too hard about the name, because usually if you just pick one and start writing, you will grow to see that character by that name, and they'll be come entwined, and you won't stress about it anymore. That happens most of the time, if you just settle on one.

    If you're writing Sci Fi/Fantasy, there are a couple of things you can do. If you want a really easy sort of Sci Fi/Fantasy hack, assign sort of a linguistic structure to a bunch of different countries in your world, and be like, "All of these are going to have Ancient Babylonian sounding names." And then you can go kind of look at that language and build some names out of that. That's an easy way to do it.

    But really, I would not stress this. Just name the characters, start writing. If it feels wrong to you after you've written for a while, swap something else in, see if that works, and write for a while. Usually the person will grow to match the name, and then name will become synonymous with them in your head, to the point that it can be really hard to change their names later on when you decide, as I've sometimes decided, "Wow, this name doesn't fit the naming paradigm for this culture; I'll change their name." And then I just keep calling them the wrong name when I talk about them.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1254 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm actually a big YA reader, and I became a fan of yours through your YA books; I read The Reckoners first. And I actually found-- to put it in a nice way, some resistance from some of your fans because I like your YA stuff better. But I guess my question would be, what would you say to your readers that are really stuck on Stormlight or your older books that are reluctant to read either yours or other teen books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's really weird to say "adult fantasy" in this context. I once had a panel where they introduced me as the "adult fantasy guy," and I'm like, "Well, yes?"

    ...I would say, number one kind of most important thing in this is, "Don't feel bad for liking something and not liking something else." This is a big thing to me. It is okay that I hate fish sticks, and some people in this room love fish sticks. And if we acknowledge that writing is an art, and stories are an art, then I think we have to acknowledge that like or dislike of them must kind of have an inherent subjectiveness to it. Because if we all liked the same sort of art, that would not really be a world I want to live in. So it is okay to try things out and say, "This isn't for me." Whether it's written by me or anyone else, that is perfectly all right.

    Though I would also say, if you haven't given a try to a genre just because of-- there's a lot of snobbishness to art, at the same time. Like, I was reading an essay recently about how fiction has existed in this state of feeling snubbed by nonfiction, which was the "true" writing, ever since the novel was invented. But of course, once the novel was invented, we started subsetting into different genres where you could be snobbish against other people in that. And then in the subgenres, you're like, "Science fiction is better than furry fanfic," or whatever. So suddenly, all we do is, we spend time being snobbish about somebody else's art that they love. And you see this a lot in science fiction with-- Someone enters reading Eragon, and they love Eragon, and they go somewhere and say, "Eragon's my favorite book ever." And they're like, "Oh, that's just a bad ripoff of Star Wars and Anne McCaffrey." Instead of being like, "Wow, I'm glad you loved something. Welcome to our community." They're like, "Oh, you don't like the right thing." So, if you kind of let this get to you, and you haven't tried any genre, whether it be one of the YA, or a lot of people in Sci Fi/Fantasy (I won't state the specific genres) like to point and say, "Well, at least we're not as tropey as them." I think you will find, in a lot of variety of places, things that you love and you can learn from. And YA in particular, particularly when I was trying to break in, YA had started doing all the really exciting things in Sci Fi/Fantasy. So if you haven't read some Garth Nix from that era, or if you haven't been reading some of the really cool YA. (I just read the Star Touched Queen, which is amazing.) If you haven't been reading some of this stuff, YA has been doing a lot of really cool explorations of setting and genre and stuff like that, then you are doing yourself a disservice not trying it out. You don't have to like it, but I would suggest that you try it out. So that's what I would say.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1255 Copy

    Questioner

    I've been following the head writer of the Wheel of Time series for Amazon Prime. He was doing a Q&A on Twitter last month, and in it, he did not confirm Perrin in the series. How do you feel about that? And how do you think it'll affect the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think, knowing Rafe [Judkins] a little bit (I've had a couple calls with him), he's not confirming things because they haven't settled on approving any of his outlines and things yet for the series. So he's not going to confirm a lot of things until he gets this outline together, and things like that. And The Wheel of Time is a really tough beast, because of how many characters there are, and how many introductions you have to give, and things like this. I would not imagine that they would leave Perrin out, but it's possible, I can see a world where you'd leave Perrin out of the first season, or at least have him as a background character, and then delve into him later on. Because you kind of need Mat and the dagger in the first season. And you definitely need Rand in the first season. But the Perrin stuff could easily be moved to another season, because it doesn't have payoffs until, like, Book Four, or something like this. That would be my guess, but I haven't talked to him specifically about this.

    I do know earlier, different people working it, they had tried to take Mat out of the first season, because he kind of comes to his own in Book Three. And that turned out to be kind of a disaster. It's just them trying a difficult thing, and not taking anything off the table, I think, is a smart way to approach it. I would be very surprised if Perrin got pulled out completely. But I don't know, I haven't seen any outlines or things yet. And they're definitely not required to show them to me, or anything like that.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1256 Copy

    Questioner

    Lopen, from the end of The Wheel of Time; and Lopen, from Stormlight Archive. Do they have anything in common?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lopen, is there a character in Wheel of Time called Lopen? ...Must just be a coincidence, then. *laughter* I didn't write any intentional Wheel of Time references to my books, or anything like that. The only cameo sort of thing there is in there for me is, the sword that Robert Jordan's cousin gave to me out of Robert Jordan's collection, I wrote into the book. Kind of in the same way Robert Jordan wrote himself into the books as a ter'angreal that had lots of stories in it, that they discovered was his cameo for himself. I wrote in my sword. So my sword, that they gave me, which has painted dragons on the scabbard that look a lot (in my mind) like the ones on Rand's arms. And I don't know if he got that from that katana that he was given, but it was the one they gave my out of the collection, so I wrote it in. But any other connections you think you run into are going to be just coincidences. I do have a fondness for certain types of names.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1257 Copy

    Questioner

    You obviously treat your writing career pretty much like a business. On your blog, you talked about staff, and stuff like that. So I'm wondering if you have advice for emerging writers to build their careers with an eye towards business? Business stuff?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A couple thoughts here. One is, nobody warns you that becoming a novelist is starting a small business, and it hits almost all of us like a ton of bricks when we realize, "Wait a minute. I have to do-- I have to get insurance. I am an independent contractor; I'm not working for the publisher, so I have to pay taxes in installments during the year." (What do you call those... estimated taxes. You have to do estimates, and things like this.) And you have to do all of this weird stuff that can be really hard. That no one-- The writing problems don't generally talk about this. And they don't talk about getting an LLC, or things like this. I had to stumble through all this. And so, I would say to you, do know that becoming a writer, you are starting a small business. So any kind of classes you can take, or things you can read online on starting a small business, are gonna be a huge help to you in that.

    The other thing is, I often-- and this, I figured out pretty early on. I figured out that trying to write toward the market was an exercise in futility. I had a speech about that a couple years ago. Trying to always look at writing from a business perspective is going to drive you insane, for multiple reasons, like I just talked about, I just failed at writing a book last year, and I still don't know why. That's not something that really flies in the world of "everything adds up," because it doesn't. That should have added up to a book that works, and it didn't. Because writing is an art. There's an artistic side to it, there's a thing we can't explain. I can't explain very well how I get characters. Like, I outline my plots and my world; my characters come more organically, and it's really hard for me to talk about character for that reason, because putting it into words is difficult.

    But one thing you can learn to do is that you can, when you're writing, try to throw all of that aside. Try to focus only on, "What are you passionate about? What does this story need?" And try not to think about the business side. When you finish that story, lock the artist in the closet, take the manuscript, run away cackling, and try to find a way to exploit it in any way you possibly can. *laughter* That is my suggestion on balancing the businessperson and the artist. Let the artist write whatever they're passionate about. And then the businessperson's job should be separate, but same person different hat, and learn how to turn that into food on your table. Try to learn how to make that balance work. And I think that will take you pretty far.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1258 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did the idea of spren come from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Comes from two primary inspirations. One is my perhaps too-much fondness for things classical philosophy. Specifically some of the ideas that Plato talked about with certain Ideals, and the ideal picture of something, the theory of the Forms, and all this stuff. Mixed with the idea of, in the Eastern religions and mythology, you have the idea of the kami, or things like thsi, in which everything has a soul. A rock that you pass has a soul to it. And these two ideas kind of mashing together is where the spren were birthed out of.

    I can also point a little bit at The Wheel of Time. One of the things I always liked about The Wheel of Time is, there's a character named Perrin who can smell people's emotions. And as a writer, when I was working on The Wheel of Time, I'm like, "This is so convenient!" Super convenient as a writer. Because it gets really cliched to use the same sort of phrases to indicate emotion. If you're always having somebody smirk as they talk, it starts to really stand out. But since, when I get to Perrin scenes, he can describe emotion in a completely different way, because he was using different senses, almost a synesthesia sort of thing where he would catch scents and know someone's emotion, it was a really cool writing tool. And I think the spren popped a little bit out of that, the ability to show emotion in a different way in my narrative, and that would change society in some (I thought) very interesting ways, made for a really interesting narrative tool for me as a writer.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #1259 Copy

    Questioner

    What's the most important thing to do when writing to ensure that the story has the tone you want it to have?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Boy, I'm not sure if there's a one catch-all most important thing. The answer, unfortunately, to most writing questions is: practice a lot, and then show your work to people and get feedback, and then learn how to target it better. With tone, one thing I've noticed that is really tough to pull off is switching very frequently between something that's supposed to be humorous and something that's supposed to be serious. And this is not a bad instinct, because some of the great filmmakers and writers we know are able to do this. This is like a Joss Whedon hallmark, right? We're gonna go from witty comeback to sudden gravitas in the matter of, like, whiplash. So we're like, "Wow, I like movies like that, I like books like that. Terry Prachett can make me laugh and then make me cry in the space of a page. I want to learn to do that." But it is really easy to have your tone go completely off the wall when you're trying to do something like that. And whenever I fail on that thing, on tone, it's almost always because I'm trying to inject something funny into the middle of something with a lot of gravitas.

    This actually happened-- "Funny" is maybe the wrong term for it, but in the last Wheel of Time book, a scene we cut. The beginning of the Wheel of Time book, to not give spoilers, start with a really dramatic fight scene where some people are struggling to survive under terrible situations, and they are getting picked off and dying, and things are burning. And I alternated that with a different scene I had written separately of several characters getting engaged. Which were both scenes I wanted in the book; but when I finally came to fold the stories together, these different threads, this one went opposite this one, and wow, it did not work. It was so bad. You would be reading these scenes about people dying, you'd be like, "I'm not interested in the people getting engaged." Even though it's something that maybe you've waited for the entire series to read because of the tone mismatch of where you're jumping back and forth. So that was one where we actually cut out the scene of the engagement, and just let the scene that was the more powerful scene stand on its own.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1261 Copy

    Questioner

    Was there a person in real life that you based the character Kelsier off of ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is not. Kelsier grew out of the idea, primarily, of the thief who is really good at his job, like the gentleman thief, who then picked up a larger purpose. And I kind of built him out of that. I built him first as kind of the con artist that I wanted to have gone through something that changed him. And I explored that and that's just who he became. But there's not really a specific person.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1262 Copy

    Questioner

    The Skybreakers, are they from the old Radi-- the old Shard?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, they've still been around. Not all of them. They aren't still alive-- The ones back then are not still alive, but they have an unbroken chain. The only Order that has that. They're the only one that didn't abandon their Oaths.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1263 Copy

    Questioner

    Are you cameo'ing as a [Seventeenth Shard] character, worldhopper, in any of your books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, I haven't really wanted to do that, I'm not sure why. If we did movies, I would want cameos. But I haven't cameo'd myself in the books. I was tempted more in Wheel of Time than in my own books. But, I think since we already have this connection thing happening with Hoid and stuff, I don't want to imply that I am Hoid or something like this, if that makes sense. Clive Cussler did that, it was always fun to find him in the book. I don't know, it's never been something that I wanted to do.

    Questioner

    There's just kind of a Where's Waldo for him.

    Brandon Sanderson

    When I first started this, I wanted Hoid to be a real thing, so I was putting this in. I feel like if I started doing cameos for me also, one would be silly and one would not be, and it'd kind of confuse the--

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1264 Copy

    Questioner

    When either Rashek or a Twinborn like Miles, how does he fuel his metalminds? Does he have to actually burn the gold in order to fuel them? Because, I feel like there's a paragraph in here where you kind of explained it, but I feel like you didn't actually say that you had to burn more gold in order to fill a metalmind. Is that how that works?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. You can cross the streams and use one to power the other. But you are using the metal to power your Feruchemy instead of your own-- You're using, basically, the power that's coming through the metal...

    Questioner

    So you do have to be burning one the whole time? Sounds good, good to know. So you could just infinitely fill it, basically? As you burn, you just use it to fill it and it just gets-- and that's where that comes from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep. You are burning a metalmind that you've already filled, right? That's the key there. You fill a metalmind, then you burn that, and what that does is it keys the metalmind to the Feruchemy instead. Which normally no one can do because you could-

    Questioner

    You can't do both.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. But if you can do both, you fill a metalmind, you burn that metalmind. What comes out of it is Feruchemical power instead, and you then are filling the metalmind with more.

    So Allomancy is fueled by the power of the Shard. So what you're doing is you're powering your Feruchemy with the power of the Shard, instead of your own body. Using their Investiture instead of yours. Which is very dangerous.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1265 Copy

    Questioner

    Aether, is that how you say the book? ...Aether of Night? Is that going to get published at some point?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will probably bring that into the mainline Cosmere. Right now, it's not in continuity because I've changed enough things about the way that Shards work, and things like that. The aethers themselves are in continuity. Mraize has some aether-- some bits of aether, in his little collection. They are in continuity somewhere, but I haven't dropped them into the actual continuity.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1266 Copy

    Questioner

    Hoid, Yolen, are you working on Dragonsteel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Working on, is kind of vague term for me knowing I'm going to write it someday, but it comes after The Stormlight Archive.

    Questioner

    I have so many questions about Hoid, I'm always googling it, I know people are asking you, but--

    Brandon Sanderson

    I came up with a really great idea, finally. For years-- so the first story I-- okay not the very first story, because the very first story I wrote is Dragonsteel right? So, the first Hoid story I ever wrote, I was seventeen and I wrote a story about Hoid on a planet, trying to figure out how the magic works, to investigate it, to see he wanted to bring it back and use it in his larger plot. 

    There, seventeen years old, the cosmere didn't really exist then. But the idea of a guy who went to different planets and investigated their magic and tried to figure out how it works, was. I wrote a whole chapter of him trying to work out how this magic worked on this planet. I had it in the back of my head and I actually just came up with an idea of how to use that.

    JordanCon 2018 ()
    #1267 Copy

    yulerule

    So, we have Shard names; Ruin, Preservation, Harmony, Cultivation, Honor, Ambition, Autonomy, Devotion, Dominion. Those are pretty much regular English words. And then we have Odium. That's a little more Latinate. It's not-- It doesn't fit the pattern.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So I don't really look as something as Latinate or Germanic, when I'm picking the names usually.

    yulerule

    But this one is more. Even in Devotion or Dominion, their more regular English. Why?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I just look for the thing that feels right. Remember, all these words are in translation. When you read the book, they were a word in the original language of the book, that then we have translated to English. And so, don't look to much about what's Greek, what's Latin, what's Germanic. I will mix those a lot. And that's just because I'm looking for the word that has right resonance in English, that I'm writing in. You might even find Latin and Greek mixes in some of my stuff. And that's not done to be like, "Oh, you should be paying [attention]." Usually, I'm just looking for a flavor.

    yulerule

    So is the flavor-- Because I actually did have *inaudible*

    Brandon Sanderson

    Because Odium is cooler. It just sounds cooler. There is no answer other than "I like the word better."

    yulerule

    Is there any connection with the thought that it's not Hatred? Because in Oathbringer, he says he's Passion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He would claim that he's Passion and not Odium. But that is part of why I chose it. Hatred felt too on-the-nose, because there is quite arguably that step toward just being all Passion, and that's what he claims that he is.

    yulerule

    His own perception of himself, can perception, in the cosmere, can that influence?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it can influence.

    yulerule

    So the Shard's intent can--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Can be influenced by their perception and the holder's, yes.

    Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
    #1268 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.

    Sofia signing ()
    #1269 Copy

    Questioner

    Can I have more Navani, please? She's my favorite?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There will be some more Navani. There's some Navani viewpoints in the third book. Not a ton, but there are a few. So will you will get some more Navani, and there is some more in the series. I think you'll be happy.

    Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
    #1272 Copy

    Questioner

    For some of the future Mistborn books, are you going to have them traveling between the worlds? Will they use shuttles, like we do now?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There will be a science fiction/space opera Mistborn series, that'll be like Star Wars type stuff, but with the cosmere.

    Questioner

    How does that work with the magic, then?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The magic will become the means by which faster-than-light travel is possible. Which is built into Allomancy somewhere.

    Questioner

    So if a Mistborn goes to another planet, he'll still be a Mistborn there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. The magics almost all work on other planets.

    ConQuest 46 ()
    #1273 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have the novella [Adamant] completed but I have no idea when I’ll be able to release it because it needs a lot of attention--in fact I’m going to skip one of the scenes, which is broken right now--and it’s me doing space opera.  So yay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Explosions shattered the void of space spraying vibrant reds, yellows, greens.  Each firework made Jeff flinch, but he maintained an even smile.

    “Quite the show, eh?” the shuttle pilot asked.  She had a southern accent, which sounded pretty authentic, but who was he to say?  It had been over a century since anyone had heard a real one in the flesh.

    “It’s lovely,” Jeff said, hoping she wouldn’t notice his wince as another large series went off near the shuttle.  He couldn’t hear the detonations--not flying through the vacuum of space--but he imagined them. Or were those other explosions, from another time?

    “You could say this is all for you sir,” the pilot said, then glanced at him.  She was pretty, with short blonde hair and a prim blue Armada uniform. A silvery sidejack gleamed on her left temple, just back from the eye.  “I’ve never flown a hero before.”

    “It’s war, Lieutenant,” Jeff said, “We’re all heroes.”  The shuttle flew through a ring of vibrant red light, sparks bouncing off of its shielding.

    No," the pilot said. "Sorry sir but it’s not war.  Not anymore. Not thanks to you,” she smiled broadly.  And she was right, the war had ended.  Those weren’t explosions, they were signs of celebration.  Vigilance and Valor, it was actually over.

    A flight of fighters zipped by in battle formation.  Two slower Obstructers on the outside, four Interrupters inside them, carrying a precious Carrier at the very center.  Today that Carrier dropped lines of fireworks instead of bombs. Jeff found himself smiling in genuine appreciation of the festivities.  He didn’t need to give the crawling darkness a place inside of him any longer. It was done; now the fun could begin.

    The shuttle banked around the side of a large gunship, finally bringing the Adamant into view.  The massive flagship was a wedge of steel and lights tipping the front lit the enormous wings sweeping backwards, almost like a pair of crashing waves.  Another sequence of fireworks burst around the Adamant, and Valor, their size must have been incredible for him to make them out at this distance.  Through the light show he got a nice view of the ship’s Impeller plate at the back.  The plate stretched long and wide, like a massive radio dish. An EDB detonation in the center would shove the ship directly into Negspace, letting it travel a great distance in a short time.  Of course if the detonation was off, the blast would irradiate the entire ship and kill everyone on board.  That was the risk of modern space travel. Fortunately, mistakes were very, very rare.

    “So how’d you do it, sir?” the pilot asked, “If you don’t mind me asking, how’d you know what the enemy would do?  You must be one hell of a strategist.”

    “No, actually,” Jeff said, still forward in his seat to get a better view through the shuttle window, “When it comes to tactics I barely know my flanks from my rearguard.  I’m a xenopsychologist.” She gave him a blank look. “I study aliens,” he said. “That’s my life’s work, both the <Shivana> and the <Alkour>.”

    “The <Alkour>?  You mean the Knockers?”

    “Sure, the Knockers.  I made a study of them. It wasn’t too difficult to decide what the Centurion would do once I teased out the specifics of his race’s psychology.  I passed word from my lab on FS21 to Armada tacticians, and they fortunately accepted my conclusions. So here we are.”

    “Wait, you’re a--” she cut off, blushing, “You lived on a station, sir.”

    “Yes.”

    She glanced at the colonel's insignias on his uniform and then back out the window.  Jeff ignored the slight. He wasn’t surprised that she expected the Hero of Broken Sky, as the <sidecasts> were already calling him, to be some swarthy general and master tactician rather than a short, pale scholar from a remote station.  Armada prejudice against staties was silly, and most of the Armada people he met seemed to know it. In a way, Jeff really didn’t care what this woman thought.  The anticipation of the moment was too thrilling. Decades of war finally over, the Knockers defeated in a resounding final conflict. More importantly, in the fury of the battle the Armada’s forces had accomplished something even Jeff had never thought possible.  They had captured the enemy general.

    “Well that seems good,” the pilot said.  Jeff glanced at her; they were in the shadow of the Adamant now, cruising along its side.  Being so close only emphasized how massive the ship was, bigger than some stations Jeff had lived on.

    “What was that lieutenant?” Jeff asked.

    “Hmm?  Oh I was talking to the docking attendants.  Didn’t they give you authorization to basic Armada side-channels?” She glanced at him and seemed to noticed for the first time the scar on his left temple, and the complete lack of a sidejack there.

    Jeff rubbed the scar.  “Jack didn’t take for me.”

    “That can happen?”

    “It has at least once.  What did they send you?”

    “That we are free to dock in 14OB, sir” she blushed again, bringing the shuttle into another sweeping turn toward one of the smallest of the docking cubbies.  “There should be a reception committee there for you sir, though I think you’ve missed a lot of the festivities.”

    “I’m not here for the party,” Jeff said, “I’m here for an interview.”

    “Debriefing?” the woman asked.

    “You could say that.”

    The Adamant’s side here was gouged with hundreds of holes, like a field after a heavy artillery bombardment.  Most ships couldn’t enter <Negspace> on their own.  Even the massive gunships would need a transport to carry them interstellar distances.  The flagship, and other transports of its class, were like hives. Each carried its own fleet of tiny fighters, larger shuttles, mid-sized assault-craft, and powerful gunships.  They all floated separately for the moment, arrayed to watch the festivities. Parties would be happening on each gunship, whose crew was like their own smaller borough within the city that made up a transport fleet like this one.  Jeff’s shuttle pulled alongside a boxlike cubby and then slid in like a peg into a hole, locking into place.

    “Good luck with the <GAF> sir,” the pilot told him.

    “Oh I’m sure Robert and I will have a good time catching up,” Jeff said, noting the look of shock in her eyes when he called the Armada's commander-general by his first name, “but my interview isn’t with him.  It’s with the Centurion.”

    She paled even further, “The Knocker general?  We caught him?”

    So it wasn’t common knowledge. Good.  Jeff had asked for the information to be kept quiet, despite Robert’s insistence that parading the Centurion about would improve morale.  “Yes,” Jeff said. “That’s classified information by the way.” The lieutenant nodded quickly; he wondered if she’d stay quiet. Well, discovering that his request had been followed was worth the potential leak.  He didn’t really care if people knew, he just didn’t want Robert using the general as a showpiece. A glorified carnival act. During their years of war, taking a Knocker captive had been a rare occasion, and to have the general himself…

    The docking process finished, and light above the airlock flipped to green, indicating the seals were in place.  Jeff reached up and put on his stiff, formal service cap and headed toward the door.

    “Good luck sir,” the pilot called to him, “With the Knocker, I mean.”

    “Aliens are rarely a problem for me lieutenant,” Jeff said, the doors sliding open, “It’s humans that give the trouble.”  He smiled politely, then stepped off of the Adamant.

    ***

    [scrolling past the aforementioned “broken” scene]

    So Jeff goes and meets the XO, or no the sergeant, one of the sergeants in charge named Chug and has a little conversation with Robert, the <GAF>, and gets to go meet the Knocker general.  He's wanted to the whole time, and is annoyed that people are not letting him.

    So they go and they are now at the prison, where they are keeping him, and they have met a little marine who is sitting outside.

    ***

    The marine looked Jeff up and down with a critical eye.  Tall, lean, and dark-skinned, the man surprisingly wore no armor and carried only a simple handgun as a sidearm.  In fact, he seemed far less imposing than Jeff expected of a marine, the Armada ship-to-ship boarding troops. The only distinctive thing about this man were his eyes.  They were… cracked.  Like a broken window.  Cracks spread across the man’s irises and whites, starkly visible.  Jeff had read about that effect somewhere, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember where.

    “So you're him,” the marine said.  Vigilance and Valor, those eyes were disconcerting when they focused on him. It almost made up for the fact that the man was basically unarmed.  This is what they had guarding the most dangerous warrior in the galaxy?

    “Jeffrey Salazar,” Jeff said, pulling out his hand.  The marine took it, surprisingly.

    “Maddox. Nice work, sir.”

    “Thank you,” Jeff said, uncertain how to interpret the pause.  “Why are you here marine, normally the brig isn’t your jurisdiction, is it?”

    “There’s a Knocker in there colonel,” Maddox said.

    “A prisoner.”

    “With all due respect, colonel,” Maddox said, “that thing is the most dangerous monster we've ever faced.  Every step we’ve taken in this war, he anticipated.  We’ve been playthings to it all along.  Now it’s on my ship. So as far as I’m concerned, we’ve been boarded by a hostile force, sir.”

    Jeff nodded slowly.  “I’m going to need to go in there and see him anyway, marine.  Can you call your superior and authorize us?” Maddox looked at Chug, and then back to Jeff.  He pulled out a datapad and checked it also.

    No sidejack, Jeff thought.  Marines didn’t use them.  The <Shivana> had claimed there was little possibility of the enemy learning anything from one, but it was still Armada protocol to keep them off the marines, who had a much higher than normal chance of being captured.

    “I can authorize you myself,” Maddox said, “I can’t open the door from this side though, as a precaution.  It will take me a moment.

    “Commander Maddox is head of the Armada’s marines,” Chug noted as Maddox sat down in a chair beside the massive metal door to the brig.

    “Commander?  Your uniform says airman.”

    “Yeah,” Maddox said from his chair, “This body is my runner.  I need the stripes off in case boarders are watching for officers.”

    “This body?”  Maddox went completely limp.  A second later, the blast door revealing... Maddox.  Only a much taller version, well muscled, and wearing full boarding armor and carrying a wicked looking gun.  Jeff glanced at the limp body beside the door. They were the same, only the less muscled body’s eyes were no longer cracked.  In fact, they stared sightlessly like the dead. “You’re a jumper!” Jeff said, finally remembering what the broken eyes indicated.

    Maddox nodded, waving for them to follow.  Jeff hurried after, entering a small, narrow metal hallway.  Slits on the side revealed gun placements beyond. Jeff shivered.  Anyone trying to run down this hall could easily find themselves in a death trap, bullets spraying at them at every step.

    “I didn’t think there were any jumpers left,” Jeff said, catching up to Maddox, “Didn’t the program get scrapped?”

    “Yeah,” Maddox said, each footstep thumping now that he wore his heavily armored body.

    “We kept losing soldiers sir,” Chug explained, “They’d jump from one body and never appear in a new one.  They just leave behind empty bodies staring sightlessly. No one ever returned.  Drooled a whole lot though.”

    Jeff shivered.  “So each time you jump…”

    “I might not arrive,” Maddox said, eyes forward, “But I don’t think about it too much colonel, I am what I am.  I simply make use of it the best I can.”

    “I suppose if I could keep two separate bodies,” Jeff said, “I might consider it to be worth the risk.”

    They reached the end of the corridor, and Maddox opened a door there and then turned to Jeff and smiled, “What makes you think I have only two, colonel?”

    Jeff raised an eyebrow but didn’t press for more information. He was growing excited about what would come next.  Together with Chug and Maddox he stepped onto a large causeway that ran around a steel box of a room two stories high.  Marines in full armor stood at mounted guns here, spotlights shining from the ends and pointing at the floor below.  At least they were taking proper precautions. Jeff counted two dozen marines here, not including the ones hiding behind the kill slits in the corridor.

    Maddox stepped up to a female marine who had been guarding the door.  She saluted him. “Any changes?” he asked.

    “No sir.”

    Maddox waved Jeff to follow him and led him down the causeway.  A row of cells covered one wall below, but there didn’t seem to be anything in them.  If the Adamant had been carrying any other prisoners before today, they had all been shipped out.  That meant their sole prisoner was in the cells underneath Jeff’s feet. He suppressed a shiver, though he couldn’t tell if it was born of excitement or nervousness.  Maddox led him along the causeway as his soldiers shuffled their feet in an odd pattern, several of them stamping while others slid to the side and set up their guns in new positions. To keep the Centurion from knowing where they ended up settling, Jeff realized. If the monster somehow escaped it wouldn’t know exactly where to target its attacks.  How disorienting would it be, gunfire falling on you, blinded by spotlights, trying to escape?

    I’m sweating, Jeff realized as they reached the small lift with open sides.  Maddox pointed for Chug to wait above then lowered himself and Jeff down to the floor below.  They hugged the wall and rounded it to stand before the empty cells, facing towards the ones under the causeway they had crossed above.  These were deep and dark, but Jeff could make out a hulking form inside the middle of the three. Something shifted in there. Valor, it was huge.  Maddox made a fist, and one of the soldiers above shined their spotlights into the cell. Jeff got his first in-person look at one of the Knockers. Its head brushed the ceiling of the cell, which had to be seven feet tall. The Knocker probably could have stood taller if it hadn't been forced to stoop.  It’s entire body was covered in silvery bits of metal. They actually grafted it onto their skin somehow, melding with it and creating armor plates that attached to their body. Indeed, as it stepped forward, trailing a ripped cloak that matched its deep red uniform, Jeff could see that it had long, knife-like metal spurs sticking out of the wrists and extending along the backs of the hands.  Its head was enormous, covered in bits of iron plate. It looked vaguely reptilian, with golden eyes and deep leathery skin underneath the grafted on bits of steel. The back of the skull bulged out in five wicked knobs. The hands were big enough they could’ve palmed a watermelon in each. Jeff had to resist taking a step backwards as the Knocker general walked to the bars of his cage, squinting, focusing despite the spotlight on it.

    “You,” the creature said softly, “are the Lurker.”  It spoke English well.

    “I…” Jeff’s mouth was dry.

    “Yes,” the Centurion said, its hands, which had metal bits embedded along the fingernails, scraping the bars as they moved along them, “I can see it, Lurker.”

    Time to assert myself, Jeff thought.  He stepped forward, meeting the thing’s eyes.  “I’m Jeffrey Salazar and I’m the one who defeated you.”  Now the creature would either bow before his dominance or rage against him, seeking to destroy him.  He waited for it, curious to see which--

    [missing audio]

    “I…” Jeff licked his lips.  Why was his mouth so dry? “I challenged your authority, you must respond.”

    “My authority?” The alien raised its enormous hands towards the cell.  “This authority?”  He shook his head, “We’ve been bested, you and I both, and so it ends.”  He looked at Jeff, and then, in a distinctly chilling move, he smiled.

    That smile, there was so much wrong with it.  Why would a Knocker use a human facial expression?  How much did this creature know, and why was it quoting Shakespeare?  The Knockers were brutes, driven by instinct, that’s what he’d written, that’s what he’d learned, it--  

    The alien’s smile deepened, and he closed his eyes again, “The game is done,” he whispered, “Farewell.” Jeff stumbled back, feeling sick.  He’d been wrong. whatever he’d thought he’d known about the Knockers and their society, he’d been wrong. His expertise has supposedly won this war, but it turned out that he had no idea what he was talking about.

    “Take me away,” he said to Maddox, “Now.”

    Manchester signing ()
    #1274 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    A WARNING FROM BRANDON: This scene gives major spoilers for Words of Radiance. Please don’t continue unless you’ve finished that book. This is a very short sequence of Jasnah’s backstory I’ve been reading at signings. It’s not a polished draft. I often read very rough (and potentially continuity-error filled) sequences at signings as a special treat to people who attend. This scene is even rougher than most—first draft, and shouldn’t be taken as canon quite yet, as I haven’t firmed up or fixed all the terminology or Shadesmar interactions.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Jasnah Kholin opened her eyes and gasped, fingers rigid, clawing at the obsidian ground. A knife in her chest! She could feel it grinding on her bones as it slipped between two ribs, glancing off her sternum. She spasmed, rolling into a ball, quivering.

    “Jasnah.”

    No. She could not lay prone. She fought to her knees, but then found herself raking her fingers across the ground, trembling, heaving breaths in and out. Moving—even breathing—was perversely difficult, not because of pain or incapacity, but because of the overwhelming sense of tension. It made her shake, made her made her want to run, fight, do anything she could to not die.

    She shouted, stumbling to her feet, and spun about, hand on her chest.

    Wet blood. Her blood. A dress cut with a single knife hole.

    “Jasnah.” A figure all in black. A landscape of obsidian ground reflecting a bizarre sky and a sun that did not change locations.

    She darted her head from side to side, taking in everything but registering very little of it.

    Storms. She could sense that knife again, sliding into her flesh. She felt that same helplessness, that same panic—emotions which had accompanied the knife’s fall. She remembered the darkness consuming her, her hearing fading, the end.

    She closed her eyes and shivered, trying to banish the memories. Yet the effort of trying to do so only seemed to solidify them.

    She knew that she would remember dying for as long as it took the darkness to claim her again.

    “You did well,” Ivory said. “Well, Jasnah.”

    “The knife,” she whispered, opening her eyes, angry at how her voice trembled, “the knife was unexpected.” She breathed in and out, trying to calm herself. That puffed out the last of her Stormlight, which she had drawn in at the last possible moment, then used like a lash to pull herself into this place. It had kept her alive, healed her.

    Ivory said that while a person held enough Stormlight, only a crushing blow to the head itself would kill. She’d believed him, but storms that hadn’t made it any easier to lay there before the knife. Who would have expected them to stab her? Shouldn’t they have assumed that a blow to the head would be enough to—

    Wait. Shallan!

    “We have to go back,” Jasnah said, spinning. “Ivory, where is the junction?”

    “It is not.”

    She was able to locate the ship with ease. In Shadesmar, land and sea were reversed, so she stood on solid ground—but in the Physical Realm, Shallan and the sailors would still be in their ship. They manifest here as lights, similar to candle flames, and Jasnah thought of them as the representation of the person’s soul—despite Ivory telling her that was an extreme simplification.

    They spotted the air around her, standing up on deck. That solitary flame would be Shallan herself. Many smaller lights darted beneath the ground—faintly visible through the obsidian. Fish and other sea life.

    Nerves still taut, Jasnah searched around for the junction: a faint warping of the air that marked the place of her passage into Shadesmar. She could use it return to the ship, to…

    One of the lights up above winked out.

    Jasnah froze. “They’re being executed. Ivory! The junction.”

    “A junction is not, Jasnah,” Ivory repeated. He stood with hands clasped behind his back, wearing a sharp—yet somehow alien—suit, all black. Here in Shadesmar, it was easier to distinguish the mother-of-pearl sheen to his skin, like the colors made by oil on water.

    “Not?” Jasnah said, trying to parse his meaning. She’d missed his explanation the first time. Despite their years together, his language constructions still baffled her on occasion. “But there’s always a junction…”

    “Only when a piece of you is there,” Ivory said. “Today, that is not. You are here, Jasnah. I am…sorry.”

    “You brought me all the way into Shadesmar,” she asked. “Now?

    He bowed his head.

    For years she’d been trying to get him to bring her into his world. Though she could peek into Shadesmar on her own—and even slip one foot in, so to speak—entering fully required Ivory’s help. How had it happened? The academic wanted to record her experiences and tease out the process, so that perhaps she could replicate it. She’d used Stormlight, hadn’t she? An outpouring of it, thrust into Shadesmar. A lash which had pulling her, like gravitation from a distant place, unseen…

    Memories of what happened mixed with the terror of those last minutes. She shoved both emotions and memories aside. How could she help the people on the ship? Jasnah stepped up to the light, hovering before her, lifting a hand to cup one. Shallan, she assumed, though she could not be certain. Ivory said that there wasn’t always a direct correlation between objects their manifestation in Shadesmar.

    She couldn’t touch the soul before her, not completely. Its natural power repelled her hand, as if she were trying to push two pieces of magnetized stone against one another.

    A sudden screech broke Shadesmar’s silence.

    Jasnah jumped, spinning. It sounded a trumping beast, only overlaid by the sounds of glass breaking. The terrible noise drove a shiver up her spine. It sounded like it had come from someplace nearby.

    Ivory gasped. He leaped forward, grabbing Jasnah by the arm. “We must go.”

    “What is that?” Jasnah asked.

    “Grinder,” Ivory said. “You call them painspren.”

    “Painspren are harmless.”

    “On your side, harmless. Here, harmmore. Very harmmore. Come.” He yanked on her arm.

    “Wait.”

    The ship’s crew would die because of her. Storms! She had not thought that the Ghostbloods would be so bold. But what to do? She felt like a child here, newborn. Years of study had told her so little. Could she do anything to those souls above her? She couldn’t even distinguish which were the assassins and which were the crew.

    The screech sounded again, coming closer. Jasnah looked up, growing tense. This place was so alien, with ridges and mountains of pure black obsidian, a landscape that was perpetually dim. Small beads of glass rolled about her feet—representations of inanimate objects in the physical realm.

    Perhaps…

    She fished among them, and these she could identify immediately by touch. Three plates from the galley, one bead each. A trunk holding clothing.

    Several of her books.

    Her hand hesitated. Oh storms, this was a disaster. Why hadn’t she prepared better? Her contingency plan in case of an assassination attempt had been to play dead, using faint amounts of stormlight from gems sewn into her hem to stay alive. But she’d foolishly expected assassins to appear in the night, strike her down, then flee. She’d not prepared for a mutiny, an assassination led by a member of the crew.

    They would murder everyone on board.

    “Jasnah!” Ivory said, sounding more desperate. “We must not be in this place! Emotions from the ship draw them!”

    She dropped the spheres representing her books and ran her fingers through the other spheres, seeking… there. Ropes—the bonds tying the sailors as they were executed. She found a group of them and seized the spheres.

    She drew in the last of her Stormlight, a few gemstones’ worth. So little.

    The landscape reacted immediately. Beads on the ground nearby shivered and rolled toward her, seeking the stormlight. The calls of the painspren intensified. It was even closer now. Ivory breathed in sharply, and high above, several long ribbons of smoke descended out of the clouds and began to circle about her.

    Stormlight was precious here. It was power, currency, even—perhaps—life. Without it, she’d be defenseless.

    “Can I use this Light to return?” she asked him.

    “Here?” He shook his head. “No. We must find a stable junction. Honor’s Perpendicularity, perhaps, though it is very distant. But Jasnah, the grinders will soon be!”

    Jasnah gripped the beads in her hand.

    “You,” she command, “will change.”

    “I am a rope,” one of them said. “I am—”

    You will change.

    The ropes shivered, transforming—one by one—into smoke in the physical realm.

    Words of Radiance Los Angeles signing ()
    #1275 Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    <Eelyell> was awakened by the whispering of the dead child who followed him.

    “Death and die. Death and die.” The girl’s words were often gibberish, though usually he could make out a few of them. Tonight, what she said felt eerie. It made the whispering in the darkness send a shiver up his spine.

    <Eelyell> sat up in his cot, realizing that he had fallen asleep in his uniform again, and looked across the darkened room, seeking out the child. There, she hid in the shadows beside the wooden bin that held his canes. Small, maybe four years old, she had long straight blonde hair that hung down by her face, ears peeking out like rocks in the sand.

    She met his eyes, “Death and die,” she whispered. It would be nice when that particular Echo passed.

    <Eelyell> rose, tugging at his crumpled jacket, still enough of a soldier to feel ashamed at its state. His father would have had <Eelyell>’s head if he’d seen such a uniform. Climbing from bed <Eelyell> took the cane beside it for support, then walked out onto the balcony. He put his back to the dead child; she was a figment, an Echo, or a side-effect from an Incubation he’d done a few years back. It was so long ago that he was losing hope that the Echo would ever fade. He might be stuck with this hallucination, for good.

    He stepped out onto the balcony, using the cane by habit though he was currently strong enough that he didn’t need it to walk. He was recovering from his Incubation two months back. The grind from that one had finally worn off. In fact he was probably too strong; he’d been getting too much sleep lately, he'd been eating too well. He needed to maintain a certain level of physical weakness so he could be open to Incubations, assuming he wanted to remain effective in his duties. And he did want to remain effective, for his own reasons, if not for the Corps themselves.

    Outside on the balcony, the sky burned. It smoldered high above, deep red lines, the color of a serpent’s tongue, glowing like rips in the air. The magma cast a warm red light across the city of <Suigmaat>. As always the air smelled faintly of smoke, though he only noticed it when he was first stepping out of the building into the open air. He knew logically that the burning place he saw above was actually the ground. He knew <Suigmaat> flew in the air, a city reversed, one of the few bastions of life left in the burning land. <Eelyell> was the one who was upside-down, as were all of the city’s inhabitants. It didn’t feel that way to him; he’d lived here too long. Upward was towards the burning ground and the land, downward was toward the sky and the sun. Things he never saw except on the rare occasion when he was called upon to visit the farms and orchards on the city’s sunward side.

    <Eelyell> stood for a time, holding to the cast-iron railing, staring up at swathes of burning ground high above. Molten rivers, a land destroyed. A warning flag, raised to them all. Omnipresent. Undeniable. The city itself slept beneath that scarlet glare, bathed in red. Sleeping.

    “Death and die,” The girl whispered from behind. She’d crawled out onto the balcony and now crouched there, looking up at the air.

    <Eelyell> glanced at her, “<Kareem’s> gaze, you’re a creepy one,” he whispered, “What must I do to be rid of you?”

    “Death and die,” she whispered

    He tapped his finger on the railing, then strode back into his quarters, splashed some water on his face, and checked the sword blade of his walking cane. Seconds later, he was out the door.

    The offices of the Corps did not look as a police station should. A police station was supposed to be a box-like thing, stable and functional, designed to indicate to all who visited that this was not a place where nonsense was permitted. Those ornamented columns, etched with the silver serpents of <Mokdeelor>, those golden doors, those soldiers with ridiculous feathered helms. Those were not the symbols of efficient law-keeping. They were quite the opposite.

    <Eelyell> walked up the steps and approached the guards, who were at least armed with functional halberds and two flintlock pistols at their belts. They saluted him by raising fists to their sides. As an Incubator, he outranked everyone in this building, except of course the ones who actually mattered. <Eelyell> felt a moment of lightheadedness at the top of the steps and was forced to stop, gripping the railing and leaning on his cane. So he wasn’t completely well. Good. Neither guard stepped to help him. Weakness was expected of Incubators, one of the marks of their station. And being near one of them at the wrong time could be dangerous. One need only look upward at the burning land to be reminded of how dangerous.

    With his head cleared, he continued up the steps, cane clicking, and passed the men without returning their salute. He stopped just inside the building, however, coming alert. Motion. Lesser watchmen calling to one another in a large room, aides carrying stacks of paper. Reddened eyes and yawns accompanied both groups. Many of these people had been called up unexpectedly, despite the early hour.

    “<Eelyell>?” A woman rushed up to him through the bustle. <Cual> wore the yellow and blue uniform of an Incubator, like his own but better fitting and far better kept. “You look like ash, man,” she said, “Are you still on a grind?”

    <Eelyell> looked back at the hall, noticing the motion of the bodies. Nobody was going into the weapons locker, though riot gear had been set out at the side. Large metal shields and larg swords cordoned in rubber from trees on the sunward side. They were getting ready for something, but he didn’t know what yet. A prophecy, he guessed.

    “I still can’t believe they called you up,” <Cual> said, “You deserve some relaxation after--”

    “I will visit <Patseepa>,” <Eelyell> striding, striding through the room, leaving <Cual> behind. He tried not to let himself be carried away in the chaos. The event that he'd been waiting for would come eventually, but this might not be it. <Patseepa> made prophesies with some frequency; that was why the Corps maintained her, and why she carried her terrible burden.

    It was difficult not to feel tense, however, in the room's frenzy. Nearby, a scribe turned and accidentally knocked over an hourglass, smashing it to the floor and spraying sand across it. He spared it a glance; sand always drew his attention. But he otherwise ignored it, focusing on a set of doors at the back of the room. This must have been an alarming prophecy indeed to cause such a fuss. The guards at these doors were even more flowery, with feathers on their shields after an old-fashioned style almost no one used any longer. The murals might depict men in simple wraps and women in nothing above the waist but necklaces. Those days had long ago passed, centuries before <Eelyell's> times. The <Moknee> people were as modern a one as he'd ever known. His own brownish-tan skin and dark hair blended in here well enough that he could have passed for <Moknee> himself, assuming he didn’t open his mouth. That was something he'd been better at when he'd been younger.

    These guards let him pass too, and no scribes or watchmen beset the hallway beyond. Only Incubators were allowed in here. Unfortunately, while they presented a more solemn group, it was no less unruly in its own right. Some two dozen of them clumped together at the other end of the darkened hallway, like a clot of hair clogging a drain. <Eelyell> strode forward, passing doors on either side set with glass. The small, well-lit rooms showed in the glass that they weren’t exactly cells, just like their occupants weren’t exactly prisoners. They just couldn’t leave. With the hallway dark and the rooms lit, each window glowed, like they looked into other worlds. Other worlds inhabited by the sick.

    It was hard to think of it that way anymore, after so long in this land. The people in those rooms weren't simply ill; they were Lay Incubators. Their job was to live in those little rooms, bearing their afflictions until they started to recover. Whereupon another individual could be brought in to catch their malady and take their place, ensuring the Incubation itself didn’t vanish. It was good money, assuming you didn’t mind the discomfort, which could range from the sniffles to deadly fevers, depending on the Incubation you agreed to receive. And of course there were... other benefits. In one room he passed, the occupant, a young man, hovered in the air reading a book; and in another, an elderly woman tapped on a cup, idly changing the color of its liquid inside with each tap. In <Suigmaat>, indeed upon on this entire land, every disease also granted a special capacity. That ability lasted as long as the ailment did. Many of these blessings were minor, while others were grand. Some few were very, very dangerous. And hence the existence of the Incubators themselves.

    Salt Lake City signing 2012 ()
    #1277 Copy

    Questioner

    I've heard you say before that Mistborn was gonna be three trilogies?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It'll be three trilogies, yes.

    Questioner

    So the technology advances to faster-than-light?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. The FTL is built into the magic systems, so there will be something where they figure out how to do that with the magic, and spaceships will be propelled using that.

    Questioner

    Expanding bubbles around the engines and around the ships?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You'll see. You will see.

    Questioner

    Someone on the site has a very convincing theory.

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're missing a very big important piece of the puzzle that you won't get for a few more books.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1278 Copy

    Questioner

    Before you started on all of your books, did you already have an idea of how they all came together or was it a sort of--

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did by the time I was writing Mistborn. But the thing you have to know about my career is that I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. So, in a lot of those early novels I had no idea what I was doing, that's how authors are. By the time I wrote Mistborn, which was book number fourteen--it was the second book published--but I really had an idea of what I was doing then. Elantris had to be retrofitted a bit to fit into it, because Elantris had been written when I was still figuring things out, but by Mistborn the whole thing was coming together and I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1279 Copy

    Questioner

    Would Dalinar or Kaladin like Kelsier?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know, I think they both would have their issues with Kelsier.

    Questioner

    'Cause he's more of a rogue.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It would really depend on what situation they were in. But I think Dalinar would not approve of his methods. And I think Kaladin would empathize with him, but at the end would not approve either. To Kaladin he would probably represent the things that Kaladin kind of wishes he would do, but is too moral to do. And that would be a dangerous thing for Kaladin.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1280 Copy

    Questioner

    Hoid references a place [in The Traveler] where, there's a presumption in the question, presumably he thinks he might be able to restore something he's lost. As of Oathbringer has he visited that place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *hesitantly* Visited the place?

    Questioner

    Visited the pace he thought he could restore?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I won't say a hundred percent if it's a place.

    Questioner

    Where did he hear about it from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hear about what? Give me the exact line, if you would.

    Questioner

    Yeah, I can look it up for you. "Besides, I've heard of a place... it doesn't matter, I don't care."

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, so he has visited that place he is referencing, but the place is not what he wants to restore.

    Questioner

    Thanks for the clarification. Who did he hear about it from?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will RAFO that.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1281 Copy

    Questioner

    Dalinar Ascends, right? Like, right then, there.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have RAFO'd that. Whether he is Ascending or not is a RAFO.

    Questioner

    Okay, because I know he kind of mentions from that, I don't know how to say his name but the older guy who has the Diagram--

    Brandon Sanderson

    Taravangian, yeah. Whether that deserves to be a capital "A" or not is a matter of argument. It can be disputed.

    Questioner

    I guess my main question would just be Dalinar's now able to pull Stormlight and give it to people now.

    Brandon Sanderson

    He definitely can. That is a Bondsmith power, so.

    Questioner

    That is a Bondsmith power, okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is specifically a Bondsmith power.

    Questioner

    Because my roommate was saying well, the Stormfather was surprised he could do that or was the Stormfather surprised that he was able to bridge--

    Brandon Sanderson

    He was surprised by what was happening to Dalinar as a whole.

    Questioner

    Oh okay, that's what I thought because I was like, because I felt like the Stormlight, that power would be a Bondsmith power.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Let's say that the Stormfather and Odium were seeing something in Dalinar that, perhaps, the average person watching even who is knowledgeable about Surges would not completely understand... But he will be able to use that power and Bondsmiths in the past have used that same power.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1282 Copy

    Questioner

    So at the end of Sixth of the Dusk, there's those people that travel in space.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, the Ones Above.

    Questioner

    Are those people from Silverlight?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have not revealed where they're from, but they are from a place you have seen before.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1284 Copy

    Questioner

    Is Hoid like-- Would you say he's generally well known in Silverlight? Most people know who he is?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. Yes, I would say he is fairly well known in Silverlight. If you went to your average person in Silverlight and said, "Do you know this guy?" odds are they would know. There are some people who wouldn't, but odds are they would.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #1285 Copy

    Questioner

    I was wondering what the Alethi, what kind of music they listen to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're gonna like stuff that sounds stuffy and snooty to you. So, the kind of equivalent would be a soft string quartet in our world. Granted, it's a little different there, but that'll-- Not much percussion. There is a time where they like a nice battle hymn, or something like that, you could get some equivalent of brass.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #1288 Copy

    Questioner

    So you said earlier that color has a lot to do with things and in Warbreaker obviously color is like a big thing *inaudible*. Will that have a relation to anything else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will have relations to a lot of things, including the way The Way of King's magic plays out and works. 

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1289 Copy

    Questioner

    My question was about Hemalurgy. There was a disagreement on the last Shardcast. When spiking a Mistborn to charge a Hemalurgic spike, does it matter how the Mistborn is killed or is what power is stolen based only on the metal?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So you want to place the spike in a specific place.

    Questioner

    In the donor. In the recipient, not the donor.

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the recipient. And you want to use the specific metal and so basically if you aren't precise about how you spike, you risk taking the wrong thing within the same family. Some of those, that's not as big a deal, but for some it is kind of a big deal. And so you want to be very precise, you'll get something, but if you're not placing the spike in the right place and going into the right place, then you risk it.

    Questioner

    You risk stealing the wrong thing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. Now if you're going off of somebody who's not a Mistborn, you can be a little more flexible, but you still have the danger that you're not going to end up stealing the power, you're going to steal something else. So, precision is advisable, how about that?

    Questioner

    Yeah. Because the question was kind of specifically about, like, we know that atium spikes can kill-- can steal pretty much any power.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. You want to be super precise with your atium spike.

    Questioner

    So, part of the question was like, exactly, if you just killed a Mistborn, you stab a Mistborn in the heart with an atium spike, and you're not placing it immediately--

    Brandon Sanderson

    What do you end up with? You are rolling the dice, let's say. Not as big a roll of the dice as you might think, but you still are. You might not get what you want.

    Questioner

    And then when you place the spike on the recipient, if you like tore that spike out again and put it in someone else, you're not going to be able to get more than one power out of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. No, and if you place the spike in the wrong place, then you're going to end up with interference and things like this where the spike might just not work the way you want it to. Taking a spike and putting it in the wrong place in someone is not going to make them have a different power, in other words.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #1290 Copy

    Personification

    Was there a similar things like the ten Highprinces were like-- What were the different roles that each Highprince could hold?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Highprinces were more like warlords fighting for and squabbling for land, they were not good at anything like that. So they were more like warlords.

    Personification

    But the Highprince roles though?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, the Highprince of? Yeah. They did have the official things like that and when it was working, way back in the day, you could probably align them-- I don't even know if you could align those to Radiants--

    Personification

    I wasn't saying the order of the Knights Radiant, I was saying just like, what role did they have?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, they would be pretty official, but if you're going back in the day, to where it actually worked, then they would have distinct roles that they would fulfill, and they would kind of be like-- Imagine the cabinet of a country.

    Personification

    I was wondering if I could have some specifics on the names.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, I can't do that right now. I might be able to dig that out of the notes, but I've remained flexible on some of those things because I don't want to name them all, specifically.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1293 Copy

    Questioner

    What inspired Hemalurgy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So Hemalurgy was probably-- It's hard for me to say, because it's been fifteen years, but I think I started with the image of the Inquisitors with spikes through their eyes. At the same time I was trying to work up a third magic system to go in the trilogy so I could have one magic, two magic, three magic, and I wanted one that was super creepy and evil. And I built it around those two ideas.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1294 Copy

    Questioner

    I know you have Dragonsteel planned and Hoid will play a role in the cosmere, does it have like a behind-the-scenes Hoid story like Secret History?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That is possible, but I don't have it on the list to do right now. 

    Questioner

    Just in your head maybe, someday.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mmhmm. Secret History was like that too, I wasn't sure I was going to get it out. We will see.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1295 Copy

    Questioner

    So, any idea when we'll get the sequel to Warbreaker?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have no exact promise. My goal right now is to get Stormlight 5 out, right, and then alternate Mistborn, Elantris, Mistborn, Elantris, Mistborn. Warbreaker will have to wait and see how that plays out. I do intend to get to it, but it's entirely possible that this won't be something I do until after Stormlight 6.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1296 Copy

    Questioner

    Did you always envision the way that Legion ended?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, I did not. That is one I worked out-- I didn't have an ending in mind for Legion when I started. So when I sat down and said, "What ending am I going to write?" This is the one that evolved out of that, but that one was more-- I outlined the story, but it was more of a discovery written ending.

    Questioner

    It was fascinating. I loved it, but I was really surprised.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is perhaps one of the oddest things I've done.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #1297 Copy

    Questioner

    What would Rock's favorite vegetable be in a soup? Like the Earth equivalents?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Ooh! Well, see, Rock is gonna base it based on the soup, because he's a chef. But if it's his perfect favorite, he's gonna want something crunchy, so he's gonna want like—

    Questioner

    Well, I know he'll want the, the essentially the equivalent of crawdads.

    Questioner 2

    She's trying to write a cosmere food article...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, yeah. But there are-- like, if you can get like a... radish, that's going to crunch, he's probably going to look for that in a soup, because that's going to be closer to what he likes. Something that's got some variance in the texture.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1298 Copy

    coltonx9

    How are the floating cities in Ashyn held aloft?

    Brandon Sanderson

    By local magic... So basically, I can tell you how it works, because I'm not saving any secrets here.

    One of the diseases gives this power. The reason it's called The Silence Divine is right now, the way I've devised it, is this power also causes hearing loss. So you have this virus that does this weird thing, but also gives you the power. And so there's a conclave of them, a chorus of them that keep the cities aloft. And that's why the book, if or when I write it, I guess it can't be a virus in this case. Whatever disease they have, someone develops penicillin and can potentially cause the city to come crashing down. That was the premise for me, but that means it needs to be a bacteria, not a virus but it needs to be a bacteria that stays with you long, so I have to work out exactly how I would make these diseases work.

    Idaho Falls signing ()
    #1299 Copy

    coltonx9

    How many kings have had a Wit?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is common for a king to have a Wit.

    coltonx9

    Has Hoid been more than just Elhokar and Jasnah's Wit?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He has been. Most Wits, historically, were a little more fool-like, more court-jestery. Wit does not think highly of that. But there have been others in the past that were more like what he would think what a Wit should be.