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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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While I was thrilled to hear the excellent, excellent intro to Alloy of Law, I was a little sad that we didn't get to the Q&A part of the session. So I headed over to the Harvard Bookstore, where he would be signing and answering questions. Now, this bit was a little strange for me. I've met Brandon before (probably a dozen times or so between '06 and '09), all at varying levels of fame, I listen to writing excuses every week, and I follow his blag, so it wasn't "oh my gosh, I get to meet him" jitters. I feel like, in all the ways that I want to, I already know Brandon.
The jitters were probably a combination of a couple of things: (1) I had no desire to have him sign anything, I just wanted to ask Brandon a couple of questions. I've never a big "sign things" person, especially when the signer is a person to me, and not a Figure (if that makes any sense). And (2) this was the first time that I had one-on-one interaction with Brandon while considering myself an agent for a higher group (namely, the 17th Shard). It was a bit nerve-wracking in a way that was completely new to me. Anyway, ending my indulgent self-psychoanalysis...
I figured out the way to overcome (1). Instead of having him personalize it to me, I asked him to write a clue about the Cosmere in my worn copy of Elantris (it's my first Sanderson, and is literally falling apart; the cover is scotch taped on ).
He wrote "Do not go to Shadesmar on this world (really, I'm not kidding)" on the title page, then said to me "You guys can chew on that for a little while."
I like that. I think that I'll bring in all of my books to his next New York/Boston signing and ask him for Cosmere clues instead of signatures.
How could a person from Scadrial access Shadesmar? An alloy of a god metal?
He RAFOd me on this one and said it was a plot point for future novels.
Aons look like Arelon; soulstamps look like MaiPon. Aons get weaker when you get further from Arelon, right? That's not just cause Elantris acts like a focus?
That's right, it's based on distance. That's why there are no stamped objects in Elantris.
So do soulstamps get weaker further from MaiPon? If you left Sel via Shadesmar and went to another planet, would the soulstamp stop working?
Could soulstamps be carved that used Arelon as a base form instead of MaiPon?
That's very interesting, isn't it?
I asked him if it was possible to enter or exit Shadesmar in interplanetary space.
He laughed nervously for several seconds with a look that suggested "Uh-oh!" and replied (as best as I can remember):
I would say no. The Cognitive Realm does exist there, but Shadesmar is a special case.
Discussion of the week: Shadesmar & Truthspren
It says that it's dangerous to travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Why?
It has to do with the Dor and the lack of an entity controlling much of the power Odium left in his wake on Sel.
Woah, that's interesting. I had no idea Odium left little bits of his power on Sel... I guess it kinda makes sense for evil monks to be powered by pure hate, though.
Odium did not leave his power behind, one should note. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless...
This is an awesome answer!
If you wouldn't mind answering, does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?
No, Roshar does not have the same problem. There are some differences going on. (One reason being that the spren are far more extensive on Roshar, and provide something of a "release valve." The Seons and the Skaze on Sel are not numerous enough to fulfill a similar function. Though, of course, that's only one part of the puzzle. Raw power is dangerous.
It's one reason everyone should be thankful Kelsier was around on Scadrial.
I suppose one thing to wonder is how do you enter Shadesmar? We know of a number of people who are jumping from world to world through Shadesmar. Grump Thinker and Blunt, Hoid too. How are they accessing the cognitive plane to transport themselves across the lands?
Presumably Shallan's bond with the truthspren let her get in. How does this work? If she had only a dim sphere then does it not require any stormlight, any spiritual power? Is it a purely cognitive change? I could see some advantages to that. You could hop into this alternative dimension at will if you were being attacked, even with little power.
The scholars earlier talk of whether there is food in Shadesmar, so presumably others have visited it. Can non soulcasters visit it? Is there some fabrial that grants you access? Are they only referring to the distant past, when KR had the power to access it? Is it purely a thing of the mind that anyone can learn? Is it only possible if you have access to a splinter of a shard?
And on an unrelated question, they have symbols on their heads. If Shallan managed to draw one of these would it be some glyph? Perhaps some glyph that we would recognize, like the glyphs in the artwork at the front?
There are many ways to enter Shadesmar. You'll see more of this in the future. One thing to keep in mind about Shadesmar is that space where things are thinking is expanded, while space where there is nothing to think is contracted. In other words, in an empty void, you get almost no Shadesmar. This makes distances as we think of them very different there.
As for the symbols making up the heads of the cryptics, those are not glyphs. But it's possible you would recognize them...
Is it possible to build a city that only exists in Shadesmar?
Do people inhabit Shadesmar, like normal people?
Letís rephrase that, describe the people that inhabit Shadesmar.
Well, you have seen people who inhabit Shadesmar.
I haven't yet discussed the nature of the relationship between Shadesmar and the Physical world.
So, when Dalinar has his vision in what he assumes in the Purelake, he sees an obsidian fortress. Is that fortress in any way related to the fact that the Purelake in Shadesmar is mountainous?
It seems like a movie adaptation would have just constant spren everywhere?
That's why I made it so that not every use of the emotion causes them-so it wouldn't get too crazy even when I'm writing them. And what's happening is the spren exist on the Cognitive plane, on Shadesmar, so they have to be attracted, they have to be nearby enough to flock to you, so it depends on how common the spren is.
How deep are you going into Shadesmar in WoR?
Not terribly deep in WoR. We're going to have to wait until Jasnah or Shallan are exploring it more.
Is there a difference between Shadesmar and the Cognitive realm?
Shadesmar is a word for the Cognitive Realm specifically touching - It's like San Diego is a word for a place in America. It's a local word.
They are bigger than BB size.
Okay, and everything melts into beads. But when people touch them, do they form into the thing they are supposed to be, or just one bead represents the stick, and...
One bead represents the item that is seen and views itself as a cohesive item.
Is there a picture inside it, or...?
We will get more into this as time progresses.
Hoid has indeed gotten between worlds before through Shadesmar.
And would you be willing to give us a hint as to how he does that?
There are hints in the books. There is a hint in the very first cosmere book I released [Elantris]. Which I thought was a huge hint, but so far I haven't seen anyone talking about it.
Mmhmm. I thought that once people started figuring the cosmere, they would see the massive in-your-face hint I put in that book, but so far, as far as I know, no one has. [Some chat about Brandon's tendency to drop sneaky hints and how he likes doing that] Now, the one [hint] about the map, that one I don't think is obvious. I know people have been trying to figure it out. It's something fun once you figure it out, but it's not something huge and obvious. The Elantris once was, like, enormously "HIIINT!"