Wandering Investor

Skyward Universe Theory (+ bonus Krell theory) (spoilers for all sanderson book/stories)

3 posts in this topic

Another attempt at puzzling out which shared universe Skywards belongs to. First off, all of Brandon's non-cosmere stories.

Spoiler

Reckoners

Rithmatist

Evil Librarians

Legion

Infinity Blade

Firstborn

Defending Elysium

Perfect State

Dreamer

Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine (henceforth harre or HARRE)

Centrifugal

I hate dragons

And now all the possible candidates. They have to be capable of reasonably supporting a space opera.

Spoiler

Firstborn

Defending Elysium

HARRE

Centrifugal

Perfect State

Taking out Perfect State, as I don't feel like a simulation would make for an interesting story in this context. Taking out Centrifugal, as I don't feel like there is any reason to create a shared universe from it, as there isn't anything that I felt needed further exploration or could set the grounds for another story.

So we're left with Firstborn, Defending Elysium, and HARRE. I'll run through some reasons for and against each one, along with a guess about what the Krell are.

Firstborn:

Spoiler

For

Takes place in an advanced space empire. During the story is is suggested that the Empire has in the past had trouble holding onto territories do to its own size, slowly shrinking. This suggest that rebellions, civil wars, and territories seeking autonomy are entirely reasonable, and the original population in Skyward could have been a ship fleeing from one war or another.

The story has several forms of advanced technology, among which light lines and acclivity ring would fit in with.

Against

Earth is never mentioned during the story. Could still be there though

Nothing in Firstborn jumps out to me as something that needs to be explored further.

AI is not mentioned.

There isn't really any standing reason on why the Skyward humans would be pursued for so long. FTL travel in Firstborn is fast enough to cover large portions of the galaxy in a matter of days/weeks, months at the most, with information transfer being instant. So one side of the other should have received reinforcements if the issue was worth pursuing for so long. 

Krell

No strong theories here, could be humans from the other side of the rebellion/civil war, AI ships from the rebellion/civil war, or a never before mentioned alien race.

Defending Elysium

Spoiler

For

Cyto. Cyto is awesome, and could definitely be explored further.

Humanity possesses advanced technology, such as element specific gravity generators.

At least 14 aliens species are present in the universe.

Dissidents among at least one, but possibly more, alien species are unhappy with the status quo and are seeking violent options to change it, so there's a reason for the conflict.

Against

Cyto. Cyto is never mentioned during the pre-release Skyward chapters, even though its a very powerful tool. FTL travel in Defending Elysium is reliant upon cyto, so the original settlers would not have been able to have reached the planet without some knowledge of cyto. While it is possible that cyto is just a well kept secret, or the Cyto user died after the jump to the planet, I feel like its a less likely option.

I also think cyto would be a distraction from the 'girl and her dragon ship' story that Brandon is going for. This is probably my biggest against.

A character in Skyward mentions engine crews that allowed the ship to travel the stars, further indicating a non-cyto method of FTL.

The Krell would also need cyto to follow the humans, but consequently would also be able to FTL jump bombs into the human bases.

Krell

The krell could easily be one of the alien species mentioned in Defending Elysium, who are on the verge of potentially violent revolutions. Although the alien species were upset with their own governments, not humanity. But times change.

HARRE:

Spoiler

For those that haven't read HARRE (I hadn't in till a few hours ago while researching options for the skyward universe ^^), it features a man in a robotic mech-suit with an AI assistant, dubbed the Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine, although every just calls it Harry.

For

Features an interesting AI that I think would fit into Skyward very well, specifically our mystery ship. The AI seems somewhat organic in nature, being capable of being wounded and having a noticeable personality difference after "He lost a lot in the reset" (I say personality, but he was just talking more than usual, kinda like settings reset to default). The AI was excellent at information collection, analysis, and display, but sarcasm went over its head (although it may have been learning). At one point the AI was given authority over a certain decision, and actively chose to ignore standard procedure and a human that was giving it orders. This shows some level of free will under certain conditions, although I would hesitate to call the AI fully sapient. I think it would fit the 'train your dragon ship' theme very well.

Further spoiler for the decision that was made, and its context:

Spoiler

The pilot of the mech was bleeding heavily and lost consciousness, not to far from dying probably. At the loss of consciousness, Harry was granted authority to control the mech. Both protocol and the mech-pilot's partner were telling Harry to go back to base, but Harry chose to continue fighting, knowing that's what his mech-pilot would have wanted, since it could save civilian lives.

In this story humanity and other alien species are engaged in a war with a self replicating machine infestation. Even if the SRMI isn't the Krell, this shows the possibility for an AI to go rouge.

I noticed a theme of a fragile human inside of a very powerful machine going on here. While Firstborn and Defending Elysium were more focused on ship captains/admirals and psionics, HARRE seems more inline with the 1st person pilot feel. This is a small 'for' though, since its easily changed.

Against

The self replicating machine infestation is noticeably different from the Krell in a variety of ways. Krell seem entirely spaceborn, while the SRMI goes through stages, building smaller machines, then bigger machines, and then air-forces. While the SRMI could be based in a large orbiting debris, I don't see why it wouldn't try and land some ground forces. Several of the machines seen in HARRE would be excellent at fighting in the tunnels, like game over excellent. Then again, the SRMI also seems to follow semi-rigid patterns, and deploying ground troops from a orbital CC might be too big of a jump, although I doubt it. But as noted earlier, the presence of the SRMI indicated the possibly of different AIs also going rouge, or being built that way as a tool of war. 

Why wouldn't the be AI elsewhere? HARRE isn't noted as being unique, although no other AI are shown during the course of the short story.

HARRE was co-authored between Ethan Skarstedt and Brandon Sanderson, so I'm not sure if Brandon would use HARRE in further stories.

Krell

The krell could be explained as the SRMI, or a different AI, that has gone rouge, or was otherwise deployed as a tool of war. This would explain the apparent lack of creativity/tactics from the Krell, as they don't seem to have a large variety of strategies only fighter raids and the occasional bomber, they are described as rarely working together, and it is indicated that the humans are better pilots than the Krell, even though they're outclassed in shield and firepower. The Krell being an AI would also explain why the Krell have pursued the humans for so long with no apparent gain.

With all of this in mind... I rank the likelihood of these stories sharing a universe with Skyward in order of: HARRE, Firstborn, and then Defending Elysium. HARRE's tech and AI would fit the best, and DE's cyto I think would be a distraction, with Firstborn sitting in the middle. But ultimately, I don't have enough info to make a final decision. Hopefully that ch. 17 will enlighten us. 

What do you think? Did I miss any candidates, any of my reasoning off?

Edited by Wandering Investor
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I'm all aboard the Defending Elysium train.  I think the biggest strikes against the other stories are:

  • Firstborn - no Earth, no aliens, nothing super interesting to warrant further exploration
  • HARRE - shared author

 

There's a lot of evidence that DE is the novella:

 

I guess most of this boils down to whether you view Cyto as a distraction or not.  I think that it could pretty easily mesh with what we've seen so far: already reference by the aliens human-sensing abilities, having been disguised as standard technology (like it was in DE).  

I think from a purely story/tech perspective, HARRE (which I haven't read) would fit better.  However, I think the combination of Cyto's interestingness and HARRE's shared author push the balance toward Defending Elysium.  

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I have not read HARRE, but from your description (and my reading of the other candidates), I agree with you. Neither Firstborn nor Defending Elysium feel like they would extend to Skyward.

But from what you say of HARRE, I can definitely see the mechanical evolution of the technology. This is also based on the fact that I get the feeling that the Ships used in Skyward are not made by conventional means. I'd have to reread the preview chapters to verify that, but their manufacturing seemed odd to me. I got a "3D" printed vibe from the story.

So, here's what I'm thinking. (Note: All of these are speculation)

  1. The AI suits you're talking about are the Krell. The reason there are no bodies, is because there never were. The AI either naturally evolved to work without humans (which seems to be possible based on your spoiler comment), or were programmed to by humans. Then they did what AI do...turned against humanity. Of course, this doesn't explain why no one knows this fact. Especially given that they seem to know about very old literature.
  2. The planet that the humans are on in Skyward was originally an SMRI world. Since I haven't read HARRE, I'm not sure what happened to them in that story, but I"ll assume they were defeated. I think the humans are making their ships using SMRI technology.
  3. The ship that Spensa finds is an older AI ship, from the original fight against the SMRI. The fact that you said in HARRE the AI is semi biological dovetails nicely with my theory that the slug in Skyward is the AI. Because it's an older AI, it still requires a human pilot and doesn't want to kill them.

I've also been tracking down and reading the non-cosmere stories (which are just as good). I missed HARRE though, so I guess I'm going to have to go read that now.

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