Understanding Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere

The Cosmere of Brandon Sanderson is a huge, overarching concept driving the narrative structure of his work, and while it may seem fairly straightforward on the surface, the deeper ramifications of these connections are going to be felt all across his books, especially going forward with the rest of his series.

So! Let’s get started. First question: What the heck is a Cosmere?

The origin of the Cosmere goes something like this: a long, long time ago, there was a singular entity that went by the name/title of Adonalsium. From what little we know, it was a celebrated force of life and creation. But something happened and Adonalsium was shattered into sixteen shards, each of them containing a single aspect of Adonalsium’s cosmological DNA and power, with both positive and negative aspects contained within.

Present at the Shattering of Adonalsium were sixteen individuals, who found the Shards left from the ...

Getting to Know The Stormlight Archive’s Dalinar Kholin: The Man That War Made

Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive may be an immense epic fantasy in the making, but its success can be attested to the finely focused crafting on a character level. While there are dozens of stories and many more points of view, Sanderson really focuses on a handful of characters, giving each of them their own focal book in which to explore their pasts, and what made them who they are. The Way of Kings belonged to Kaladin, a doctor turned soldier turned slave turned Windrunner, whose leadership and abilities are called upon time and again, even as he struggles with the guilt and trauma of his younger days. Words of Radiance belonged to Shallan Davar, whose scholarship and pursuit to secure her family’s future was thrown to the winds when her abilities as a Lightweaver are revealed, and she becomes embroiled in a secret society on Roshar.

And now, as we ...

Oathbringer Brandon Sanderson

The Evolution of an Epic Fantasy Writer

Springing onto the epic fantasy scene a few years ago with his debut novel, The Emperor’s Blades, Brian Staveley was clearly a writer of immense potential energy. His debut, the first in a trilogy, promised a family steeped in tragedy and power, facing hard choices while occupying a world of deep lore, chaotic forces, and endless mystery. And as the children of the Annurian Empire grew, so too did Staveley’s mastery and range in the telling of their story. From The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, and through his newest novel Skullsworn, Staveley has continued to not only level up on a nuts-and-bolts level, but to push himself as a writer, delving further into those corners of the world where he finds himself unsure, and balancing along that narrative knife’s edge, pushes on and breaks into brighter worlds. Staveley not only has injected a major breath of fresh ...

Flawed Futures Make for Better Stories: Ada Palmer and Utopian SF

At Readercon last summer, when I saw that Ada Palmer was hosting a kaffeeklatsch, I jumped at the chance to join in. Having just read her debut, Too Like The Lightning, a few months earlier, I was thrilled at the prospect of having an hour to sit with her and other fans and pick her brain about the vast, complicated world of Terra Ignota and the future of 2454 that she had painstakingly created. During the discussion, someone asked something about how she had written a utopia, to which Ada chuckled for a moment, possibly thinking over all the complications—all the wrenches she’d thrown into the gears, basically—when it came to creating her world. Then, she said, “Well, it’s not quite a utopia, as it is utopian,” which she went on to explain means that while the world itself is utopian in nature, the future itself is far ...

Gaming Vicariously: Rolling the Dice with Critical Role

Fan art by Amanda Oliver Elm If you’ve ever participated in a role-playing game, you know that moment: when everything is on the line, the monster is this close to defeat, and you have the perfect opening. All you need is a little cooperation from your dice. You take a breath. Your party holds theirs. You toss the dice. And when it’s a success—or even better, a crit—that blooming bubble of joy, giddiness, and celebration bursts from you and your party, as your DM describes the moment of victory. If you miss that feeling of unrestrained, breathless happiness at the twists and turns to be found in a roleplaying game, then you’re probably the perfect audience for Critical Role. Started by gaming and nerd channel Geek & Sundry in late 2014, Critical Role chronicles the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition adventure of eight professional voice actors and friends. They started playing Pathfinder together a year ...

Hearts of Darkness: The Short Fiction of Shirley Jackson

lottery-jackson

< p class="frontmatter">December 14, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Shirley Jackson’s birth. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of her most memorable novels and short fiction. If you asked anyone about a American short story that stuck with them for their entire lives, it would not shock me if they were to think for a moment, and then say, “that one story, ‘The Lottery,’” followed up with some form of, “that shit is fucked up.” One of the seminal works of American short fiction, “The Lottery” is the most widely-read piece of Shirley Jackson’s to worm its way into the heart of many a reader, but it is far from her only piece worth of attention. While “The Lottery” remains her best known story, Jackson was a prolific writer of short fiction, and though her other stories may not have involved a signature pile of smooth stones, they ...

Brandon Sanderson’s Arcanum Unbounded: A Non-Spoiler Review

Arcanum Unbounded Brandon Sanderson, the epic fantasy sensation known for putting out tomes thicker than some cookbooks, has now put out a collection of short fiction which is actually just as large as some of his novels. (I’ll give you a moment to let all that sink in.) All play aside though, Arcanum Unbounded represents a first in several capacities. First, this is the never-before-collected of short fiction that Sanderson has written across his story universe, The Cosmere, now all together in one beautifully bound space. Second, and of more excitement, this is the first time we as readers are getting a full glimpse into the wider universe of the Cosmere, complete with star charts, constellations, and planet/realmic notations, with plenty of revelations to keep even the most avid Sanderson fan happy. All of the stories save one, which we’ll get into toward the end, have been published already in ...