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Posted by Carl Engle-Laird

As I open another chapter of the Stormlight Grimoire, my in-depth exploration of the many magical systems of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, I find that it is time to turn to a new topic. There are volumes more to be said about Surgebinders, and even, I’m sure, more to be discovered about the Windrunners, to whom I paid special attention last time, but that will have to wait for future books. In the meantime, let’s talk about Soulcasting, the magical process of transforming rocks into wheat, Settlers of Catan style.

Oh, I’m sorry, maybe I forgot to mention that I’m a huge nerd. Deal with it?

(Editor’s note: this article is originally from 2013, and therefore does not discuss Words of Radiance or Oathbringer. Be aware that spoilers for these novels and other Cosmere stories may appear in the comments.)

Soulcasting, in broad strokes, is the ability to turn just about any substance into one of ten categories of substance by focusing stormlight through gemstones. So far as we can tell it is limited to only ten substances, although if the Mistborn trilogy has anything to teach us it is not to be satisfied with the established body of knowledge in one of Brandon Sanderson’s universes. New gemstones might be discovered with unknown soulcasting properties, just as Vin discovered new allomantic alloys. For now, however, here is the list of gemstones, with their associated properties:

Gemstone Soulcasting Properties
Sapphire Translucent gas, air
Smokestone Opaque gas, smoke, fog
Ruby Fire
Diamond Quartz, glass, crystal
Emerald Wood, plants, moss
Garnet Blood, all non-oil liquid
Zircon All kinds of oil
Amethyst Metal
Topaz Rock and stone
Heliodor Meat, flesh

Sadly for my Catan analogy, it seems extremely difficult, if not impossible, to turn rocks into sheep using this system.

The Chemistry of Soulcasting

These designations seem arbitrary at first. In fact, it was this arbitrariness that made me suspect that there were more Soulcasting-enabled gemstones. As I attempted to think of a substance that would fall outside one of these categories, however, I found myself mostly at a loss. I’m eager to hear if any of you can think of some simple substance (so, not a sheep) that would fall outside all of these categories. Given that lead-in, I think I might be able to figure out the underlying physical/chemical reasons that define these categories and make each of them worthy of being separate.

Let’s look first at Sapphire and Smokestone. Both can Soulcast specific kinds of gasses. What separates them is their opacity. Really? That can’t be right. Looking into it, I don’t think that any of the standard elemental gases are technically “opaque” in normal conditions. The other things that Smokestone can Soulcast, smoke and fog, are both mixtures that contain not only gases, but also airborne solid and liquid particulates. Air, on the other hand, is by pure definition a mixture of gases. I’d bet you anything that Soulcast air contains no airborne solid or liquid particulates.

With this separation in mind, I think it’s possible to detect that the different categories of Soulcasting are actually separated chemically, rather than the somewhat impressionistic categories we currently have. So blood, in this example, is a bit of a red herring. It’s metaphorically charged, for certain, and Jasnah soulcasting Shallan’s blood to remove the poison is certainly striking, but the fact that blood is listed first covers up the fact that garnets can Soulcast any non-oil liquid. Oils, on the other hand, have a totally different chemical structure than blood, or water, or fruit juice, or what have you. They’re hydrophobic, actively repelling water, and lipophilic, making them capable of mixing with other oils and fats. And it makes perfect sense to separate quartz and crystals from other kinds of rocks and stone: molecules in crystals form a crystal lattice, arranging themselves in an ordered pattern in three dimensions. Most rocks and metals are instead polycrystals, made up of many microscopic crystals fused together. It also explains why fire is its own category. Unlike everything else on this list, fire isn’t a solid, a liquid, or a gas. It is, instead, a plasma. I’m sure that if the people of Roshar could conceptualize any other plasmas, they could Soulcast them using rubies.

I’m very curious about the Soulcasting of plants. At face value, plants are a lot more complicated than the other things on this list. We know a lot more about Soulcasting plant matter, though, since it’s the most common task that Soulcasters perform. Soulcasted food is apparently very bland and mushy. Perhaps there are people who can Soulcast things into a complicated living system like an oak tree or a prickletac, but that must be a task of monumental difficulty. Likewise with heliodor, which can craft meat or flesh. There might someday be a Soulcaster who can make a bunch of rocks into a real sheep. I’ll hold onto hope.

Actual Practice

There are a lot of different ways to Soulcast. Because Jasnah and Shallan are potential initiates to two different orders, the Elsecallers and Lightweavers, if I remember correctly, we know that at least two orders of the Knights Radiant were able to Soulcast. In addition, fabrials have been devised that allow non-Surgebinders to Soulcast.

Shallan, who discovered Soulcasting entirely by accident, managed it through communication with a spren. While she was panicking about the symbol-headed invisible beings that she thought were driving her mad or coming to kill her, one of them spoke into her mind, asking her what she was. She told it the truth, that she was terrified, and was instantly transported to a vast sea of glass beads. While flailing about, she grabbed one of them, which corresponded to a glass goblet in the room around her, and convinced it to change. Stormlight which she had unwittingly drawn in flowed from her into the goblet, and it melted into blood.

I’m fairly certain that the process of buying access to that sea of glass beads with a personal truth is unique to the order of Lightweavers. The journey to that location, which is DEFINITELY the Shadesmar, in the Cognitive Realm, is also requisite for the Elsecallers, since Jasnah follows Shallan there. I’m not certain that both orders require specific gemstones to Soulcast specific essences. Jasnah called for a garnet when she needed to Soulcast Shallan’s blood, and Shallan had one when she turned the goblet into blood, so I think it’s likely. It’s the only magical art that care at all whether its Stormlight comes from gemstones, let alone specific kinds of gemstones.

What’s fascinating about all this is that, although the distinctions I made above are based on differences in chemical and physical arrangements, the process of actually Soulcasting seems to be much, much fuzzier. Shallan wasn’t thinking about the difference between a crystal lattice and blood. She wasn’t even thinking about blood. She was talking to a little bead that decided it was happy to change from a cup into a pool of blood. Soulcasting involves interacting directly with objects as they are represented in the Cognitive Realm. It doesn’t just have to change their physical structure, it has to convince them to occupy a different conceptual space. It seems to require more persuasion and bribery than artistry. I expect, however, that watching Shallan practice will reveal depths of possible artistry to Soulcasting.

I know almost nothing about the real experience of Soulcasting using a fabrial. Throughout the entire course of The Way of Kings I don’t think we even see anyone have a conversation with someone who Soulcasts using a Soulcaster fabrial. Interlude I-8: Geranid, gives us a hint, though. The ardent Ashir speculates as to whether people can eat in Shadesmar, and decides to look to see if anyone’s written about the experience. The ardentia knows about Shadesmar, and also controls the Soulcasters, so the fabrials might also involve this same journey and bargaining process. It seems too… polite, though. So much of the artifabrian’s task seems to involve forcing order onto a disordered state and finding creative ways to break the rules.

This article was originally published in December 2013 as part of The Stormlight Grimoire.

Carl Engle-Laird is an assistant editor with Tor.com Publishing as well as Tor.com’s resident Stormlight correspondent. He can lose a game of Catan within two moves. He dares you to beat his record. You can follow him on Twitter here.

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:24 am
camwyn: (knitting)
[personal profile] camwyn
Sentences I honestly had not expected to see at any point during my day when I got up this morning:

"In more than 30 years of cymbal cleaning I have used everything from ketchup to gasoline."

(I was trying to find out whether Noxon, a metal cleaner I remember using as early as Montessori preschool, would remove green discoloration from Artistic Wire, which is copper with a colored or clear coating. Turns out the process of cutting the wire into little bits and bending/looping/etc. the bits to make figure-of-eight chain exposes a lot of copper to the air and provides the opportunity for verdigris to form.)

New Xena Vid: Airplane

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:11 pm
frayadjacent: Xena and Gab walking/riding away together, text says "Journeys" (Xena: Journey)
[personal profile] frayadjacent posting in [community profile] vidding
Title: Airplane
Fandom: Xena Warrior Princess
Vidder: [personal profile] frayadjacent 
Song: Airplane (edited for length) by The Indigo Girls
Characters: Gabrielle, Argo, Xena
Summary: Travelling with Xena is hard

Download and streaming at my journal

superboyprime: (Default)
[personal profile] superboyprime posting in [community profile] scans_daily

"There’s also a lot of Uncanny X-Men to Jason [Aaron]’s Wolverine & The X-men. Good guys and bad guys, each telling their own story, each readable by themselves, each feeding into one another." - Kieron Gillen on collaborating with the main Star Wars title

Read more... )

The Blood is the Life for 22-09-2017

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:14 am
apprehensiveacolyte: (cass)
[personal profile] apprehensiveacolyte
So, we've figured out a possible way to rehabilitate our new arrival (read: keep her from trying to restart the Rapture Family 2.0, which she clearly stated she has every intention of doing. Seriously, it's taking the combined strength of me, SV, and R. Prydonius to restrain her from doing so.) Apparently she's pretty musically inclined. She's been collaborating with me on a few of the tracks that are going on the next album.

I just wish that I could actually, you know, credit her (or any of my other systemmates) in the liner notes and still be taken seriously. The people in the Bioshock fandom chat server I run know I make music, if they see "Sofia Lamb" credited as a collaborator on any of my tracks they'll think I'm crazy. Which, okay, that's not really up for debate (anyone society doesn't like is given that label eventually) but the point still stands.This is the problem with sharing mental space with people who most of the world thinks are purely inventions of fiction.



Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:22 am
zhelana: (Marvel - Puny God)
[personal profile] zhelana
How do you do your hair/makeup? Why?

It's long and curly. I just brush it. I don't do makeup. Because I really couldn't give a flying fuck.

the rest )
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[personal profile] laughing_tree posting in [community profile] scans_daily

Halfway into [writing] the latest Lost Light and — uh-oh! — it's all getting a little *political*. -- James Roberts

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Open Thread: Oracle Hotline

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:09 pm
mithen: (Default)
[personal profile] mithen posting in [community profile] superhero_muses
--Describe your most recent POV character’s mother.

Oooh, this gets into awkward territory for me, and this is why wrestler's families very rarely enter into my stories, because while Kevin Owens is fictional, his mother is not, and has never appeared in canon to give a plausible fictionalized version of herself. She seems a nice woman, very supportive of her son; she's French-Canadian and I assume a little shy about the fact that English is not her first language, based on the fact that she doesn't appear on Kevin's DVD even when his father does. I do wonder what Kevin's kayfabe parents think of the fact that he makes the life of his former best friend--who seems like something of an adopted son to them--a living hell. I know people have caught his father being chummy with Sami on Twitter, to Kevin's OTT chagrin. :)

Classes start next week, so not much writing this week. I've promised myself that if I can just finish prepping for Monday's classes, I get a treat of being allowed to work on fic for an hour. I have two more to go... Wish me luck and I hope all your characters have mother-issues that are interesting to the plot!


Sep. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?

89F - 66F : Late night thunder

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:32 pm
zhelana: (X - forever my love)
[personal profile] zhelana
The bad decision train left at 4am, with me too tired to stay up until noon, and with too little sleep available to wake up at 11, so I didn't get to temple this afternoon. I did temporarily wake up at the appropriate time, but then I was like "there's no transliteration in the books and you stumble too much to say the prayers, so you won't get anything out of it anyway, and you'll have to park across the street which will be a hard and painful walk and your back will hurt before you even start standing up to pray. So I talked myself out of it and went to sleep.

Kevin called at 11 and said he was done with work for the day because he has to work Saturday. Then when I woke up at 2 he still wasn't home. Apparently he called Brian and wound up going out to lunch with him, and decided I wouldn't know because I'd be at tmeple, so he didn't tell me he wasn't coming straight home, and I was very nervous by the time he came home. Now he has two days of working from home, plus he gets to get off early on Friday (next Friday I think not this Friday), to make up for the hours he did work today.

We talked a little bit, then I went to Panera to meet Tia and Klepto. I wrote over 1000 words on my Star Trek short stories, and then started reading DW for about half an hour because my brain was just not having any of it. My brain had better get over this not having any of it by November because I'm relying on a successful NaNoWriMo to finish my goals for the year. I think it'll be better when I have a novel I'm writing instead of the short stories. I hope.

Came home, read LJ, read my bat mitzvah portion over again - the first half of it came easier, the second half came harder for some reason, even though I know most of the words in the second half of it. Read my Bible, and generally prepared for the end of the day.

Anyway, Shanah Tova to the Jews, and Happy Mabon to the pagans, happy Friday to the rest of you.

Another Friendzy

happy fall multifandom friending meme!

Big Year - Sonora/Ft Stockton/Portal

Sep. 21st, 2017 09:16 pm
laridian: (Default)
[personal profile] laridian
https://laridian.dreamwidth.org/2662274.html is the master list

Quail, Gambel's
Jay, Mexican
Nuthatch, white breasted
Hawk, Swainson's
Sparrow, black throated
Hummingbird, blue-throated
Hummingbird, Costa's
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, magnificent
Hummingbird, Anna's
Curve-billed thrasher
Tanager, western

Which brings us to 171! Previous record was 160 so now we're at a whole new record to try to beat in future years.

Sidetracks - September 21, 2017

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:45 pm
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[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag. For more links and commentary you can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr. You can also support us on Patreon.

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Defenders drive-by review

Sep. 21st, 2017 07:22 pm
sabotabby: tulip pointing a gun (preacher)
[personal profile] sabotabby
On a more trivial note (yes, yes, the world is ending, and I'm blogging about telly), I really enjoyed hate-watching Defenders. Which is to say that it was nearly all shit except for the scene where Luke Cage teaches Iron Fist about white privilege. I mean, I can't believe I wasted like 8 hours of my life but in the same way, it made me feel like a better writer because I didn't write it.

spoilers )

Putting acid on my face, a report!

Sep. 21st, 2017 04:23 pm
cupcake_goth: (Default)
[personal profile] cupcake_goth
I have now used the 30% glycolic acid peel twice. I'm also using 5% glycolic acid cleaning wipes on my face every night, because that's what a lot of the skin care forums recommended. And doing the usual stuff: really good, soothing moisturizer every night (Bee Friendly, yes, really), and wearing sunblock every day.

I have noticed an improvement in my skin. The texture is smoother, and the brown spots from hormone wackiness are definitely lightening. They're not GONE (yet), but they don't jump out at me whenever I see myself in a mirror.

(I know, I know, probably no one else noticed them.)

So! Putting acid on your face! I totally recommend it!
[syndicated profile] earthobservatory_iod_feed
The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) departed from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute at the end of August, 2017, on a mission to understand how gases and particles present in the ocean get into the atmosphere and influence clouds and climate. This is the third voyage of the NAAMES project. Read more about their 2017 expedition.
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[personal profile] sirsapling
Hey, time for a first post, and what better to do than to encourage people to go take a look at the newly released Superhusbands Aluminum Anniversary Anthology, A collection of never before seen SteveTony works all created with the common purpose of supporting and celebrating our favourite superboys.

Without further a do, here's my contribution:

Sometimes it isn't all flash and action with these two, sometimes it’s the little things.

The entire fantastic collection is available for download here with both Fan art and Fan Fiction specific versions available, though I'd strongly recommend the entire collection, it's well worth it.

If you are perhaps more Inclined to other sites maybe go check this art out at these links:

Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram | DeviantArt

And lo, such a thing exists

Sep. 21st, 2017 08:52 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

As much as I thought it might not, time is starting to assume its normal course.  The days are starting to be the length that I expect them to be, not stretching out in front of me like a desert I didn’t bring enough water to get across.  For a while there I had to be so busy just to fill those days up. Walking, riding, swimming, cleaning, organizing… if I stopped too long and tried to do something like write or knit then I had too many of those pesky feelings all at once and had to clean out another damn closet. Now I’m mostly okay as long as I don’t think about how Thanksgiving is in two and a half weeks and I really don’t know how to manage that holiday if I can’t have it with my mother and where do we have dinner now for all the holidays and really I’m going to have to move because my dining room can’t hold everyone and… see. There it goes.  I’ll worry about that next week when it might not result in having to clean all the grout in the house with an old toothbrush after jogging 3km.

The point, before I started worrying again, was that things are okay enough now (oh man who is going to make the pies) that as long as I stay sorted, I can knit, and it feels like it helps a lot, and what’s really interesting is that this idea, that once the shock passes, that knitting is going to be a really useful way through grief… It’s not just me who thinks it. My inbox (thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful notes and letters and thoughts, I am reading them all, even if I can’t answer) is chock full (okay there are five) people who have written to me not just to suggest that knitting would be helpful (because there are a lot more than five of you who think that) but to call the kind of knitting they think would be helpful “Grief Knitting.”  These charming knitters have even gone so far as to cite the specific projects that they think would be the most helpful, and you know what’s interesting? They have a lot in common.

All the projects are challenging – challenging from the perspective of that particular knitter, for sure, but challenging none the less. They were kinda tricky for the knitter to complete, and they took up some of that scary mental energy that comes with grief. (Oh no mum always makes the turnips too.) All the projects are things that sparked a tremendous amount of joy and pride – the knitters think what they made was beautiful, and feel that they did a good job… and finally (here’s where it gets weird.) All of the projects but for one, were for babies.

Think about that. It’s a pretty compelling bit of information, and it makes me feel better that the two things I’ve knit since my mum died are both tiny things.  First the little hat, and now Elliot is bedecked in a matching sweater.

gussweater 2017-09-21

It’s beautiful to be sure – the yarn is Northampton, but with a bit of a twist. It was the natural colour, but I gave it to Judith to dye at the last Strung Along retreat, and it went for a swim in her indigo pot.  It’s a beautiful blue now, and reminds me of her when I look at it, which is really quite nice, and it suits Elliot pretty well.

wholegus 2017-09-21

The pattern is Gus, and here’s where it didn’t quite fit the bill to be Grief Knitting, it was pretty easy.  The pattern’s well written – so I didn’t struggle with anything at all.  I’ll have to try something from a less competent designer next.

gussweater2 2017-09-21

I tell you this, even unfinished (which it technically is, I’m waiting for the buttons) it does spark a tremendous amount of Joy.  Part of it is that little face, and the other part?  It is the pockets. I can’t tell you how much I love pockets on a baby sweater. It gives me an unreasonable amount of happiness to think of two perfect, tiny pockets, in a proper, handy spot… all for someone who has absolutely nothing to put in them.

pocketsgus 2017-09-21



Sep. 21st, 2017 09:21 pm
kadma: (→ bubble pop)
[personal profile] kadma posting in [community profile] femslashficlets
Title: pretty reckless, pretty wild
Fandom: WWE
Pairing: Nikki Cross / Ruby Riot
Rating: G
Prompt: #13 - Shakespeare Quotes
Word Count: 400

Summary: Ruby hunts Nikki down.

The Good Place: Season 2, Episode 1

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:32 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Absolutely fantastic. Do not click on cut unless you've already seen it. The whole series is streaming on nbc.com.

Read more... )


star_swan: (Default)
I was promised tea

April 2017

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about me

I'm a mad translator with a degree in Comp Lit and assorted languages. Writing a novel and studying violin. (The story has been flailing along for the past couple of years. I think that the Scrivener research file is larger than the actual text.)

I live with a rather naughty ginger cat. Is there any other kind?

I love tea, loose leaf teas, teas in sachets, all sorts of teas and COFFEE. The more legally, addictive stimulants, the merrier!

Music and books are my life. I basically live in a closet-sized library with a container garden. I occasionally sleep. <3

ivybellis ------> star_swan

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