Heir of the Void

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Heir of the Void last won the day on January 12 2016

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599 Dakhor Monk

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About Heir of the Void

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    Edgedancer Huey Long
  • Birthday 03/15/1997

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  1. There's no indication of that. We know from the prologue that they built them themselves. Maybe you're thinking of the Apparatus they use to refine ore? if they didn't dismiss Rig's proposal for a gyroscopically mounted cockpit out of hand, then they can probably make pretty substantial modifications. That system would almost certainly require the entire ship to be rebuilt around it, as you would need a spherical socket into which a smaller sphere containing the cockpit would be mounted, with enough space in between them for the machinery required for the cockpit to rotate freely, which would be a pretty sizable volumetic increase, and also require completely reshaping the cockpit. But that was implied to be viable, so they seem to have the ability to re-design their ships. Brutal. But not necessarily wrong. That said, there are some morale benefits to a pilot knowing the ejector seat is there, but those might not apply if they've been conditioned not to use it.
  2. But then why all the attention given to pulling ships out of uncontrolled descents? There are plenty of reasons for a ship to be falling other than ring damage (power system failure, booster damage, structural failure, destruction of control surfaces/systems, loss of control linkages to key system components, atmospheric scoop failure, etc), and we know from the story that ships absolutely do fall with functional Acclivity Rings. It's really a trivial amount of effort. It could potentially be done with an aftermarket kit attached to one of the ring hinges, but that has some drawbacks. And if ejection is so much trouble, why bother ejecting pilots? So you attach a parachute to something attached to the ring, as previously discussed. It's an easy fix.
  3. You're not wrong. The rings can obviously survive the fall (and the impact) - and the mention of working Acclivity Stone being found in the 'core' of fallen debris would suggest that the heating of atmospheric reentry is more responsible for the loss of falling rings than sudden deceleration. The only objection I'd make is that we don't really know what percentage of rings survive that fall. If there are billions of rings in the debris belt (not out of the question, given its size), then the survival ratio may be on par with the rate of people surviving falls from airplanes - but we use parachutes for a reason. Ultimately, we don't know, so it seems better to air on the side of safety and maximized returns. And you are correct about tactics. Like the same people who built starfighters in caves while dodging alien bombardments? It's not like they all took cyanide after the first battle of Alta. It's only been a decade or so - some of them might even still be around. They've had eleven years of open operations. They obviously have an abundance of time. But they're willing to tolerate this cost for a pilot ejection system, when by any rational analysis the ring is by far more important. Humans can be produced cheaply with unskilled labor; rings can't be produced at all. The logic of sacrificing pilots to save rings is entirely sound; the issue is that they usually can't. You also apparently missed the part where they produced several different classes of ships, including one used soley to transport valugely-defined 'valuable cargo', along with several different classes of specialized combat ships. You're assuming that they have zero R&D capacity, and that's simply... not true. Beyond that, by this logic, transitioning models of fighter aircraft during a war is never a good idea, when that simply doesn't appear to be true. New pilots can be trained on new aircraft, and they obviously have the manpower to rotate pilots through training periods. Which is just wrong. R&D is a completely different process than manufacturing, and while there might be some lag time while you retool factories, that's only going to impact a small fraction of your total component assembly lines, so you can account for that by planning your moves well. They obviously aren't producing at full capacity anyway, because they have enough anti-gravity systems to field them, as evidenced by the statements of several characters that they'd be able to field 'hundreds' of additional ships with the Acclivity Rings from the shipyard. Ergo, it should be possible to work overtime to build up a surplus of the components whose production lines need retooling so assembly doesn't need to stop. This depends of knowledge they don't have until the end of the book, so it can't be used for judging their decisions in the period before the Battle of Alta, or the decade between the battle and the events of the book. That also assumed the Krell don't decide to drop a lifebuster on Alta Base and wipe out Igneous. Even if they could evaluate the base, they'd lose the Apparatus which, according to the prologue, provides the smelted metal that forms the foundation of their industrial base. Why they haven't been producing mining gear and machine tools to distribute their population into more caverns I don't know (they many not have a large enough population to sustain an industrial society without the Apparatus), but the core issue is that they need to maintain enough throw weight to prevent the Krell from nuking their ability to fight at all. Tactical nihilism has a flaw here - there is an observable difference between a narrow bottleneck and a wider one. A wider bottleneck is universally preferable, as it allows higher maximum throughput, which you can choose not to use, and having the option is always better than not having one. And, once again, they obviously see getting more rings as being, if not paramount, then at least a high priority. If they didn't need more rings, Ironsides wouldn't have bet all the marbles on the falling shipyard. Discussions of public choice theory aside, the actions of the characters, who know more of the specifics of their industrial situation than we do, indicates rings are valuable. Yeah, but by reducing total casualties, you increase the average level of pilot experience by reducing the mean time it takes for a pilot to get killed. And that's assuming a re-designed ship is somehow automatically harder to operate, which is absurd. They seem to roll out new models and different classes without issue, so there's no reason to assume one of their ships sits at some sort of local maxima of usability. Why do they need to know? The humans managed to get their fleet operational and hide it from the Krell, so they should be able to conduct some modifications in effective secrecy. And presumably they'd keep doing what they've been doing, attacking the humans to keep them from focusing on anything else. But again, the Defiants don't know that until the very end, and can't be expect to make decisions to game a system they don't even know exists. Citation needed. The Lago, the Val, and the Slattra-classes all seemed to be more or less tolerated. And they're already going nuclear on suppression, and their own laws seem to prohibit them from dropping rocks.
  4. Given that the rings are mounted on a hinge rather than being an integral part of the structure of the ship, they're almost certainly attached at some point in the assembly process. And unless the ships are cast in a single piece, which seems unlikely given that Rig was able to get wing parts for M-bot. Plus we know the boosters, at least, at added seperately, so it seems reasonable to assume the Fighters are assembled from components. Added emphasis mine - it absolutely would. But the problem here isn't the total cost, it's that the rings are a bottleneck on the total number of ships they can launch at all, full stop. Without acclivity rings to provide anti-grav, more hulls are worthless, because they can't be flown. At the present state, they need more Rings to launch more ships, which is why Ironsides ordered the large-scale operation to protect the falling shipyard. Cost only becomes an issue once they can't afford to build as many ships as they have rings, sort of like how pilot count only matters once they don't have a ship for every man who can fly. Obviously, of course, preserving pilot skill is another matter - losing fewer dedicated, experienced pilots because they aren't trying to save their Rings is another benefit of such an arrangement.
  5. So, after finishing the book, one pertinent question sticks in my mind. Why didn't the Acclivity Rings have their own ejection systems? We know that the Rings are the limiting factor on the Defiant's ability to field forces, as they have large numbers of fighters apparently grounded do to lack of parts, and manpower can't be the issue as they haven't actually implemented conscription. So preserving the rings is paramount, but having pilots die trying to regain control of failing ships is a bad way of doing it, as they usually fail, which seems to mean the ring is usually lost. Egro, a system which mechanically preserves some fraction of the Rings is highly describable, but absent. We know it's possible to eject from a fighter, when they bother to do it, and a human is a lot squishier than a disc of rocks, so it's not as if it can't be done. Obviously, if the ring gets shot out from under you, there's nothing to be done, but this is intended to solve for the various other cases where literally any other system has failed catastrophically. The most basic form of such an arrangement would be as follows. The Acclivity Ring is mounted on a slab on the ventral side of the Fighter, in its customary location. This slab is flush with with hull, but connected to the rest of the ship by a series of heavy fixtures rigged with pyrotechnic fasteners. The power and control buses for the Acclivity Rings are routed along these, with their own pyrotechnic severing devices. Pyrotechnic fasteners are a proven and reliable technology in the modern era, and can be build to handle the massive structural loading the fixings holding the various stages of a chemical rocket together, so there shouldn't be an issue there. This might require the ship to be designed, or re-designed, around the system, but the Rings are important enough for that to be worthwhile. This slab mounts the hinges that hold the ring, and the servomotors (presumably) used to position it. The purpose of the slab is to provide a easy unit that can be ejected wholesale with the ring on it, and to provide a housing for the recovery equipment. Unless the ring is several times denser than the hull material, the geometry of the arrangement means that the center of gravity will be far from the ring and inside the slab. This is desirable, as it means the whole unit will orient to either be sideways or to with the ring up in free-fall. This can be manipulated by weighting, and either works. The function is as follows. The pilot ejects, and the Ring Ejection System triggers automatically. The explosive bolts blow, and the Ring/slab unit is blown off the falling fighter. After a few seconds to re-orient, solid-rocket boosters fire to blow the ring clear of the combat zone. This step is optional, but it makes it harder for the xeno scum to chase down the Ring, which they may or may not be inclined to do. Once the SRBs cut out, the slab launches a series of streamers to increase drag and begin slowing down the slab as it falls. This cancels the lateral velocity of the SRBs and slows the fall. At this point, the Ring descends, possibly deploying a drogue shoot at some point. It may or may not also deploy a regular parachute - all this depends on the velocity profile, which depends on a lot of other factors. Landing, is facilitated by inflatable impact cushion, of the sort presently used to land larger payloads on Mars. This gives a lot more flexibility in terms of acceptable surface velocity, and increases the odds of a safe landing for the Acclivity Ring. After a delay to allow the Krell to retreat, a radio beacon activates for recovery. Thoughts? Discussion on other aspects of the technology of the setting?
  6. I've seen that - unfortunately none of those give us a rough value for the total population of Alethakar, or it's population density, or the total size of the country, which is something I'd really like to know. The details about concentration make sense, as that was the big limit on historical city formation. It This, unfortunately, tells us nothing. Are we talking about London in 1500 (50,000) or London in 1600 (200,000)? Or Paris in 1700 (600,000)? Any of these could conceivably be 'comparable time periods'. This, at least, supports the theory that Soulcasters can't be used to make steel. The Azish soulcaster that made copper was apparently a rarity, and significant enough that they let it dictate the aesthetics of their capital, though a Radiant soulcaster might be able to. I was referring to making it via soulcasting; obviously they know how to make steel the normal way. The problem is the sheer volume of fuel and labor required. There don't seem to be enough forests to use charcoal fuel, and coke is out of a question. The labor required for both would also be... significant, especially considering the hundreds of thousands of men tied up in warfare. No, gunpowder doesn't get used because water, water everywhere. Fairly few chemical breakthroughs are made in an open field during torrential rain. It's a small distinction, but a key one. Also, if any form of explosive device were possible, one would expect that to be a common tactic against Shardbearers. Or at least a tatic; it couldn't possibly be worse than ropes. All that said, cannons would basically be the one way for normies to deal with Thunderclast. Presently, there isn't really anything they can do. Odium probably could have overrun most of Roshar, or at least sacked the major cities, by using thunderclast attack followed by a Drop Assault by airmobile Fused carrying other fused to mop up. Not necessarily. If your patronizing an alchemist for prestige or personal curiosity, you don't really care how marketable their products are. More broadly, technology for its own sake or for the purpose of implementing it is very much a modern Western bias, and is by no means a historical or cultural constant, even on earth. The ancient Greeks, for instance, considered the notion of a philosopher, including a natural philosopher, actually doing work with their learning to be somewhat distasteful. Chinese scholarship was more focused on the works of past masters, and the notion of research flies in the face in the Inward Perfection philosophy... but that's a tangent. Empirically incorrect; people taught a lot of things that didn't work, and I don't see why Roshar would be any different. But we know at least the antiseptics and trauma surgery does work, and anything else is pure speculation. Huh. So then why aren't the cities bigger? Yes, but feeding soldiers is only part of the equation. The part that's much harder, especially with a standing army, is paying them. We know soldiers, even in the providential armies, receive regular, fairly good pay. They are also extremely well equipped, which costs money. The aristocracy also seem to have no issue conscripting troops from the general population for their more-or-less continious conflicts, which is... impressive. Even more so considering that Roshar doesn't have Central Banking, and thus they can't finance warfare by monetizing debt (or printing money), which was the usual method of financing such things. So it's got to be more than just Soulcasters. Interesting. It's probably safe to assume none of these allow the population density of Earth-rice, given that we don't really see that level of density anywhere - Azimir is a larger city than Kholinar, though if it were twice or more as large (which would be entirely within reason for a rice vs non-rice/non-potato density). Beyond that, what we probably can say for sure is that there is no real mechanization of agriculture on Roshar. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure how a mechanical reaper would even work with rockbud-based crops, though I could probably come up with something - a rolling crusher followed by some kind of scoop, maybe. I'm aware - the issue is that without more details quantitative information, we can't really judge how effective human manipulation of that system is, and thus can't really make any judgement of their agricultural technology. While I'm all for the War of the Worlds, Brandon explicitly described it as 'A Plague of the Sniffles', and made it sound like it wasn't all that serious. Also, Sezth visited the Purelake, and it didn't seem like it was particularly disease-ridden. It's not exactly conclusive, but there's no indication it's worse than it is. This is a good point, actually. That said, there are other sources; guano was a big one for a while, and a Rosharan animal might have conprable biology. There are also a number of options involving allowing urine to accumulate with other organic materials to produce Calcium nitrate, then leeching it out with water and reacting it with potash to produce potassium nitrate. Though that might impede discovery. I doubt it. Jasnah is a revisionist historian, not a natural philosopher. The only times she directly addresses the natural sciences are to quiz Shallan on her education, and to adress that she doesn't know nearly as much about Fabrials as her mother. Of course, I assume someone could, unless my crackpot theory that there are no chemists on Roshar is actually true.
  7. So, the general technological capabilities of Alethkar (taken as being representative of Roshar in general, absent other information). In general, I also figured a thread like this would be a good resource to have. I am well aware of Sanderson's usual disdain for 'technological levels', though I wanted discuss a field-by-field breakdown. My take is something as follows: Agricultural Technology: The most important one in any agrarian society, as it determines both the labor productivity of the majority of the population/households and the sizeof the non-agricultural population you can have producing non-food goods or fighting. However, it's also extremely difficult to draw ANY conclusions about, because farming on Roshar is so radically different from on an Earthlike world, and also rarely touched on in the books. We can't really say anything about the management of nitrates (or a different limiting nutrient) in the soil because there is no soil and minimal mention is made of fertilizer or cover crops. Likewise, we see nothing of the implements used for harvesting/planting or how labor-intensive these tasks are. With a set pf population figures, we could find a ratio of farming:non-farming population, but for some reason Sanderson hasn't included the Alethi census figures in any of the books. And soulcasters would ruin that anyway. Military Science: Here used to refer generally to both the ability to raise and organize an army and keep it supplied in the field. The Alethi capability in this regard is, frankly, insane, and the continued territorial integrity of Jah Keved implies that they cannot be significantly inferior. The Alethi have maintained an army of at least 150,000 men in the Shattered plains for five years, as well as a large number of territorial armies in Alethkar proper. Amaram's army consisted of several thousand men, and it encountered/fought several others during Kaladin's tour of duty, which was presumably mostly within the Sadeas Princedom. Three armies of this size per prince would give us a total of 300,000 men under arms, and I feel this is a conservative estimate. And all this is apparently done without massive suffering on the home front. By comparison, Imperial China could maybe field similar numbers during their really big wars, but most records indicate this was usually accompied by serious hardship. Or millions of people starving to death. The best historical comparison for the Alethi armies is probably those of the American Civil War or the French Revolutionary War, which is using a lot of words to say that the organization of the armies is worlds apart from their arms. EDIT: The Turks were know to raise armies approaching this size on occasion, but those were not full-time professional armies. Most of the (reported) 170,000 troops raised to attack Vienna in the spring of 1683 would have returned to civilian life by 1684; only the Janissaries and some of the cavalry would have remained in the army in the long run. Contrast again with permanent Alethi armies. Medicine: This one is interesting, because I while Roshar, or at least the Vorin kingdoms, have highly developed medical knowledge (strong corpus of anatomical knowledge, working understanding of infection, and so forth), all of their actual medicine seems to be natural compounds. For instance, when Kaladin is purchasing antiseptic in TWoK, all the listed compounds are plant or animal products. While this is better than having no effective medicine (Assuming everything actually works as well as Kaladin believes it does, anyway, but that's another question), it seems like an important detail to mention. It's possible that Roshar is a low-disease environment for humans, given that they aren't native, but that's both speculation and off-topic. Chemistry: Probably the weakest field we've seen. Unless I am mistaken, we've never seen reference to a synthetic or manufactured chemical compound. Gunpowder is obviously absent, even as a siege implement or curiosity. None of Jasnah's spanreed contacts, so far as I can tell, are chemists of any sort. This might be Esoteric Knowledge held by the Stormwardens, which would be pretty neat. Metallurgy: There seems to be a lot of steel in the Alethi armies. For a typical infantryman, a steel spearhead and steel body armor and vambraces/grieves seem to be the norm. Considering how hard it is to manufacture steel with pre-industrial methods, this seems surprising. Roman armies issued body armor on such a scope, but the best Roman armor (Lorica Segmentata) was only iron, with the outside sometimes case hardened into mild steel, which is much easier than manufacturing good steel for the whole thing. This is especially surprising considering the general lack of fuel; forests are relatively rare compared to Earth-like worlds, and fossil fuels are non-existent. There might be some details related to the high-oxygen atmosphere that are relevant, but that's getting really technical. It could be soulcasters, but the fact that the Heralds would teach primitive humans to soulcast and cast bronze rather than soulcasting blanks directly into steel implies that producing steel via soulcasting is at least difficult. Anyway, if anyone else has thoughts or suggestions, or if I've gotten something wrong, please say so,
  8. At this point, I'm fairly sure a signfigant plot point in Book 4 or 5 will be Sigzil leading a class action lawsuit, The People v. Blightwind in order to seal Yelig-nar away. It's going to be great.
  9. Biggest problem is that a half lashing upwards would result in weightlessness, but weight is a function of gravity and doesn't have any influence on mass*, so that wouldn't explain what they're doing. That said, I agree with you that it seems unlikely that they're burning a consumable resource to float around the way they do; Szeth said that legends claimed Voidbringers could hold Stormlight perfectly, and while we have a WoB saying that they can't hold it perfectly, but they might have the ability to hold Stormlight/Voidlight much better than humans, probably by stashing it in their Gemhearts. This might then translate to a greater ability to use lashings on their own persons. The mechanics of this might be something like Shallan using a gemstone to power her long-term illusions. That said, without knowing where the Voidlight is coming from, I don't think it's possible to rule out the possibility that they're just topping off their stores of it frequently. *This is an outright lie, but the impact is relativistic and thus largely irrelevant in this context. Prehaps they use the same mechanism that Navani is planning for her flying ships. Or maybe the only people who survived the destruction of Ashyn were the Zeppelin enthusiasts. Let's be honest. The ideal Thaylen product is all of Roshar delivered to their dark master Odium in the name of Passion a Collateralized Debt Obligation backed by Mezzanine Chull Financing, but this seems like a close third second. I think this is a reasonable assumption. Granted, I don't think we know for sure that they don't use stormlight, given that a Greatshell's gemheart would hold enough to last through the Weeping, but I guess the smaller creatures seem fine, and there were no mentions of a problem during the period of disrupted highstorms following the Battle of Narak.
  10. I'm not sure there's any reason to assume there has to be a magical/Realmatic explanation for his insanity. He was tortured by (functional) demons for 4,500 years; just the isolation from that span of time would be maddening, let alone the actual pain. That said, Jezerian seemed nonfunctional in the prologue and when Moash/Vyre killed him, but at least lucid in the predule after they agreed to break the Oathpact. It seems like there may have been something that caused a degregation in his and the other herald's mental states. Has anyone considered if the Shattering of Honor might have played a role in all of this?
  11. I'm going with Teft's Spren, because I respect that level of commitment. She was (apparently) following him around for years waiting for him to kick the Devil's Lichen. That seems to be a league of its own. And also because I want do my part to make the results more contentious.
  12. Except the Alethi armies everyone and their dog axehound is apparently running around with. We know they were fighting in the north, but got pushed back into Herdaz, and we also know Kaladin saw cities still in human hands in the south. But I could see the territory of Free Alethkar being anything from the southern coastline to most of the Deathbend Basin. It did seem to have taken them months before they organized enough to occupy significant territory, and Kholinar was probably taken more easily than it should have been given its various severe issues. Then again, Dalinar didn't bother to try sending an expeditionary force from the Vedenar oathgate, so it probably isn't that bad.
  13. Something I have been wondering about this - Would it be behind enemy lines at this point? We know the Voidbringers had occupied all of Northern Alethkar at this point, but the furthest south that we ever get any location information about their operations was Kholinar itself, and we here nothing about any concrete locations south of the Sunmaker mountains.
  14. I honestly don't really get why people seem to expect a more dramatic response - almost every real country exists on land that was taken from someone else at some point if you go back far enough - recent cases like Turkey, Hungary, and the United States are just easier to point out. The vast majority of (real) people have no significant problem with this fact - certainly not enough of a problem to commit murder over - and I'm not sure why Roshar would be any different. Was it? I was under the impression that the Radiants were more perturbed by their God promising that they would destroy the world (again) with their Surgebinding than anything else, given that Radiants had apparently discovered the origins of man on multiple previous occasions without Recreance-ing. And besides, this is a Brandon Sanderson story. There's always another secret. We'll probably discover in book 4 or 5 that Odium was running some kind of psyop to get them to break their oaths, then in book 9 we'll find out that it was actually a false flag operation by Cultivation and blamed on Odium so he and Honor would weaken each other and allow her to take over. Or something. I think it was something to the tune of "You maniacs, you blew it all up", but I could be wrong on that. We don't know; Mraize said in his letter explaining what happened to Shallan's brother that he didn't know.
  15. Seems likely. I don't recall AU making mention of any abnormal rubble belts in the Roshar system that might be the wreckage of a planet, and Braize seems certain to be damnation. It would have to be - it currently appears that (living? normal-ish?) humans can't actually exist in the Spiritual Realm. Given that it lacks a spatial component altogether, it seems like it would be an incompatible mode of existence. And I doubt humans could be native to Shadesmar; recall that all the food eaten by Kaladin & Co during their excursion was canned. This would imply that it had to be brought from the Physical Realm, meaning that a human settlement in the CR would be dependent on a steady stream of food imports, which would require a developed Physical economy on the other side to trade with.