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So I reread "Steelheart" today, and I noticed 2 things.  

 

1. In the prologue, David notes that Epics only started showing up a year after Calamity.  

 

2. In the climax, Prof says that he's been an Epic since Calamity arrived.  

 

That makes Prof the "oldest" current Epic by a long shot, and a definite outlier.  This, I feel, is significant.  

 

He's also got Wolverine levels of healing power and he's effectively impossible to contain; given the sheer speed of his regeneration, I believe that it constitutes a Prime Invincibility, and that even Steelheart could not kill Prof (Prof gets his head crushed by Steelheart and is projecting forcefields MAYBE a minute later; at this rate Steelheart could blow him up all he liked, Prof'd just regenerate when Steelheart got tired).  

 

Plus, the tensor powers make him impossible to contain, and if he's feeling like it the protective field makes him basically invincible.  

 

Prof clearly hates Steelheart intensely, and possibly other extremely powerful Epics.  His hatred of Steelheart is even present, and possibly strengthened, when he is using his powers.  I don't know why, but this also seems significant.  

 

I have no idea what Prof's weakness is, but it appears that Epic weaknesses are linked to something that their former selves cared about or spent a long time around (c.f. Mitosis).  

 

Does anyone else have thoughts or ideas about Prof/Jonathan Phaedrus and/or his powers and weakness?  

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Huh. I admit I hadn't even considered most of those points—though now that you point them out, they're interesting to say the least. Most of my wondering about Prof had to do with his past—when he became an Epic, what made him decide to hunt other Epics down, how long Tia has been with him through all that. 

 

Occasionally I've wondered if Tia isn't his weakness, but I don't have any grounds for that. Children, or bystanders at least, makes more sense, considering what he said about some nameless Epic destroying his old school and killing his students. I've wondered if he isn't perhaps responsible for it, and if that was what made harming children/bystanders his weakness.

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Almost all of my thoughts are probably spoilerish to full on red alert spoiler...soo....

 

I personally wouldn't be surprised to find that Tia was one of his students. He was a 5th grade teacher which would make her about 10-11 at the appearance of calamity. It was two years (right?) AC when David's father was killed and 10 years from there was when Steelheart takes place...so that would make her between 22-23....that seems to line up with her characterization (Old enough to be scholarly, young enough to grasp technology and still possess some more juvenile traits like her cola obsession). It would also make sense as to why she appears to have been the only one of the Reckoners that knew Prof was an Epic (she's the only one who obviously knew....I suspect Abraham did. Megan obviously did not and I doubt Cody did either).

 

If that's in fact the case, then perhaps she does factor in. Possibly proximity to her (although him leaving the city in Mitosis without her would have been a big risk) or maybe something about her well being (maybe that's why she is usually the one furthest away from the fighting but never so far away that Prof can't offer help).

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The student theory makes sense, I like it.

However, I´m not sold on Prof´s potential weakness, for three reasons. One is that given what Prof said he should have been an Epic, when his class got killed, obviously double so if he killed them himself, which would have interesting implications if Tia was his student, so they most likely wouldn´t have enough impact to form his weakness.

The other one is that it is just way to selfless for an Epic. I mean they are evil jerks and I wouldn´t be suprised if Calamity treats earth as some kind sadistic reality tv ala Bad Wolf Game Station. Deathpoint even phrased his idea to rob a bank with "it asked me."

The third one is that weaknesses seem to be more temporal but guranteed to exist, while killing Tia, if she is his weakness, would either mean that he would lose either his weakness or his power.

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Perhaps he gained/discovered his powers during the attack, just in time to save Tia. I'll shelve the weakness bit as I just don't think there's enough source material yet to really nail it down one way or another.

 

I am starting to see Calamity as being an invading force (alien or other world government [since we've been so America centric so far]) that conquers by offering up enormous power to achieve what the subject might want at the cost of being under its control/influence anytime you use it. Going Wheel of Time for a moment for the comparison this would be similar to the taint on saidin.... it's a power that once used is hard to not use more and the more you use it the more and more corrupted you become (the difference being that the corruption in this case seems to lessen fairly rapidly when not used). A pretty common trope in writing, since I think the corrupting influence of power is a major fear of most people, but as per usual Mr. Sanderson manages to frame a common topic in a way that is unique and interesting. 

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Deathpoint's statements suggest that extremely evil Epics, who have been using their powers for a long time, hear Calamity in their head a la Ruin.  

 

As for Prof's weakness; I don't know what it is, and I am not willing to speculate on it yet.  We know VERY little about Prof, although I suspect that we will learn a LOT more about both him and Megan in book 2.  

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Perhaps he gained/discovered his powers during the attack, just in time to save Tia. I'll shelve the weakness bit as I just don't think there's enough source material yet to really nail it down one way or another.

 

I am starting to see Calamity as being an invading force (alien or other world government [since we've been so America centric so far]) that conquers by offering up enormous power to achieve what the subject might want at the cost of being under its control/influence anytime you use it. Going Wheel of Time for a moment for the comparison this would be similar to the taint on saidin.... it's a power that once used is hard to not use more and the more you use it the more and more corrupted you become (the difference being that the corruption in this case seems to lessen fairly rapidly when not used). A pretty common trope in writing, since I think the corrupting influence of power is a major fear of most people, but as per usual Mr. Sanderson manages to frame a common topic in a way that is unique and interesting.

Well said. Upvote for you. I agree with calamity being an invading force. I think that calamity is probably sentient.

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Well said. Upvote for you. I agree with calamity being an invading force. I think that calamity is probably sentient.

 

And malevolent. 

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Calamity seems to be a Shard-level being at the bare minimum.  Assuming that Epic villainy as a result of power usage is linked to Calamity's influence (assuming a Shard-like system, do Epics count as Splinters?), sort of like the Steel Inquisitors and Ruin or the Voidbringers and Odium, it would seem that Calamity is at least as powerful as Odium and is in some ways similar to the "typical" wannabe Evil Overlord Epic, with a need to be worshiped and feared.  .  

 

That's what I can come up with off the top of my head.  

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Calamity seems to be a Shard-level being at the bare minimum.  Assuming that Epic villainy as a result of power usage is linked to Calamity's influence (assuming a Shard-like system, do Epics count as Splinters?), sort of like the Steel Inquisitors and Ruin or the Voidbringers and Odium, it would seem that Calamity is at least as powerful as Odium and is in some ways similar to the "typical" wannabe Evil Overlord Epic, with a need to be worshiped and feared.  .  

 

That's what I can come up with off the top of my head.  

 

I'm going to disagree that Calamity bears shard-like power.  Shards have the power to control pretty much everything unless opposed by a separate shard.  So unless there is an earth guardian that is opposing Calamity, I think we can assume she has much less power or she would be doing things on a grander scale (scary thought).

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Re: Prof's weakness

 

Weaknesses seem to be related to things which Epics did not like about themselves (see Mitosis). You can easily extend this to Steelheart (did not like being not feared/respected) and other Epics. Something that reminds them about their humanity, perhaps. Though that one with the vulnerability to people who are exactly 37 years old might be hard to rationalize… Maybe the thing that reminds an Epic most of being human and powerless actually makes them powerless. Sort of like Cognitive perception of oneself (Vasher, anyone?).

 

(Yes, I know that Steelheart isn't Cosmere, but Brandon seems to like to use pseudo-Realmatics even when Realmatics don't directly apply in world.)

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Although, if Tia is Prof's weakness, then the song "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down just took on a whole new meaning.

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I doubt Prof discovered his powers when his class was killed. We've already established that he is possibly one of the oldest Epics, if not the first to discover his powers. I'm inclined to believe that his class was killed when the Epics actually started appearing in public, which was a year after Calamity appeared.

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In my opinion, Calamity is simply the most powerful gifter of all, but himself with a fairly narrow power set.

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In my opinion, Calamity is simply the most powerful gifter of all, but himself with a fairly narrow power set.

 

I've always imagined Calamity as female. And her name is Jane.

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Back to OP for a moment...

Prof's definitely not a high epic. He's close though. He's REALLY close. But a knife to the spinal cord while he's sleeping is totally possible. Then decapitate him. He doesn't seem to be double-gold level. 

 

 

Anyways, I love all your thoughts on this. I think Curiosity's theory on weaknesses in general is awesome (and I hope it's right, although the discussion about the nature of items that are usually weaknesses seems to debunk it. Kryptonite would fit right in with these guys---and would also remind Superman of his origins. Hm. I like it more now. =) 

And I'm in favor of Tia/children/students being his weakness somehow. I don't know how, but I want it to be so. 

 

As for Prof and Steelheart, I'm not sure about the timeline, but is it possible that Steelheart was the epic who took out the school? Seems to obvious though. 

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Relatively unlikely, I think. I gather that Steelheart's first significant public action was conquering Chicago, in which he primarily targeted politically or economically significant institutions, and he didn't seem to go in for indiscriminate slaughter during the attack. It's specifically noted that he left rescue workers alone everywhere except the bank, so he clearly didn't see a need to maximize casualties. Overall, specifically targeting a school doesn't seem like his style; the children aren't a threat and serve as future subjects, and he prefers intimidation through displays of power rather than sheer bodycount.

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Somebody said this upthread, but I seriously think that Prof may have been the Epic who destroyed the school where he worked.  One accidental use of his tensor powers could take down a building in seconds.  

 

And I THINK that Prof's healing, like Wolverine's, is always active and can revive him from what ought to be fatal injuries.  The speed at which it works certainly seems to support that.  

 

Have to wait for Word of Brandon on that, though.  

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