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Seattle Firefight Signing 1/6/2015


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Wetlander, you are absolutely wonderful. Thank you for that!


I like the implication of Sazed having purposefully "nerfed" Feruchemists/Allomancers so that there's no TLRs popping up. One downside: I'm going to have a hard time not thinking of Brandon's books as transcribed gaming sessions. (Kaladin holding off two Shardbearers with a helmet? Natural 20. Failing a moment later? Natural 1. The DM suddenly realizing that Feruchemists and Allomancers interbreeding could cause TLRs? Nerf Feruchemy.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

And... here's the second hour. Sorry I'm not marking things out with "spoiler" flags; I haven't figured out how to do that. If anyone thinks something really ought to be flagged, tell me how! :/  In terms of the Stormlight Archive, there's not a lot in here by way of interesting revelations, but there are some things about how he's approaching it. Also, I apologize for taking so forever stinking long to get through this. Only about an hour left to go... but a lot of it is down to chitchat, so hopefully it will go faster.

(Note: some of the fan questions are paraphrased, because a lot of people are hard to hear on a recording. Fortunately, Brandon is NOT AT ALL hard to hear! In transcribing his answers, I took out most of the “um”s and “so”s, and generally cleaned things up to make real sentences, etc. The details of specifically book-related answers are verbatim, with only filler noises removed.)

Fan: In the Mistborn trilogy, was it hard to write the final twist, or had it been planned that way?
BWS: This is always the way it was planned. There are some smaller things that I’ll allow spontaneity to change the book, but the general structure of the book is always planned out. And if something changes while I’m writing I go and throw away the plan and rebuild the plan, so I’m always writing with a plan.

Fan: Have you come up with the title character for Book 3 of Stormlight yet?
BWS: I have not. I have to finish Calamity.
Fan: Do you still think 2016 is realistic (for Stormlight 3)?
BWS: Yeah, it is realistic. One every two years is very realistic for me, and you can just watch along. I’ll have Calamity done by March, and then all I have to do is finish the book by January next year and we’ll be fine, so I’ll have eight months. Considering I have the outline done, that’s about a third of the work for me.

Fan: What was the book that was the hardest to write for you?
BWS: It would definitely be A Memory of Light, the last Wheel of Time book.
Fan: Why?
BWS: Well, number one, I had been following that series for 20 years, and I was finishing off the writing of an author I respected a lot, and trying to fill his shoes, and not being able to do it because no one could, and the end of a journey. Every other book I’ve finished, I know if I wanted to I could go back and write more about those characters. Wheel of Time, I can’t. It’s done. It’s not mine; I can’t go write another book about Mat or Perrin or anything like that. So there’s a finality to finishing that book that I haven’t had with any of my other books. And then in addition, logistically it was a very difficult book to write.

Fan: What is the little symbol you put in Elantris (when you sign it)?
BWS: It’s one of the Aons.
Fan: I haven’t read yet.
BWS: You’ll understand once you read. Most of the things I write in the books you won’t understand until you read it. Like “potato in a minefield” – that makes sense once you’ve read the book.

Fan: I’ve gotten both Legion books from Subterranean Press, and I was wondering if you’ve planned on doing any more through them.
BWS: I would like to. The thing is, it is kind of a hassle, just because working out release dates and things like that, part of the reason to do - I think they do gorgeous editions - but part of the reason to do the e-book things is so that I can be a little bit more spontaneous in releasing them and things like that, and so I’m likely to continue, but it is a bit hard. This time, we were like, “Why don’t you guys just release a limited edition, and we’ll do a print edition,” but then they were like, “No, please don’t do one.” So I think I’d go back to letting them do a cheap edition and a limited edition if I did another one with them, I don’t know.

Fan: Infinity Blade – are there other plans to continue with that, and are they going to release a print edition?
BWS: What the plan is right now, if I can convince them to do it, is to do a nice print edition that will include the script of the first one, annotated by the guys who wrote it, my story in between, then the script for the second, then my story, then the script of the third, so it’s a complete story, with the cut scenes illustrated, and things like that. So even a graphic novel, then prose, then a graphic novel – something like that.

Fan: (something incomprehensible about emotion…) Do you like to connect with your reader on an emotional level?
BWS: I do. So here’s the thing: I am not an emotional person by my nature, and one of the only things that makes me feel very strong emotions is fiction. A really good piece of fiction makes me feel like the characters do, and the rest of the time, I’m just kind of – I won’t say emotionless, but not emotional. It’s not that. It’s like some people have wild mood swings; one day they’re a 20 and one day they’re an 80, on a scale of 1 to 100, right? I’m always a 70, right? Like almost consistently always pleasantly happy. I don’t know what depression feels like. I don’t know what it really feels like to be sad. I’ve never really felt that – except when I’m reading a book. Does that make sense? So that’s one of the reasons I write, because I want to be able to (go through?) those emotions with people.

Fan: What was your inspiration for coming up with Szeth?
BWS: So… I designed his culture first, one of the odd cases where I was working on the culture, and out of that grew his character, at odds with his culture. So I wanted somebody who was both the paragon of his culture and the person who was at odds with it. That concept just worked for me.

Fan: I read online, something about one of your original drafts, (I think it was about) Gavilar, and it was where he was blind?
BWS: Yeah that was actually Taravangian, in the oldest version. One of the very first things I wrote was that, though Taravangian had a different name then, and was very different. Szeth has stayed the same through all the revisions. Kaladin has changed wildly, and almost everybody has changed dramatically, except Szeth is the same person. Him and Dalinar are the same.

Fan: Do you ever have trouble keeping your characters straight? How long does it take to get back into them?
BWS: If I stop writing and go back, it is hard. It takes about a month to get back into a story after I stop. I don’t get the characters mixed up.
(related question I couldn’t decipher)?
I try to, but I don’t always manage it, because of deadlines and things. It’s always going to cost me, and I know it will, sometimes you can’t avoid that. In the old days, I never did it, when I didn’t have a publisher, but now it’s my job. When they say, “We need this revision done,” I stop and do the revision, but it costs me.

Fan: What was your inspiration for Sixth of the Dusk? It feels so, Polynesian or Hawaiian…
BWS: I love Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, and it was basically me reading some stories about Kamehameha, and his unification of the islands, and all this stuff, and I’m like, “Ah, I’ve got to use this someday.” It was years later before I got to use it, but I did find a time to use it. And then we got Kekai to do the illustration, and he’s Polynesian, so…

Fan: If you drew a stick figure of a chalkling, would it be able to spike other chalklings and get their powers?
BWS: (laughter) No, because no one in this world knows what that is, because they’re separate universes, but it is very clever. If you were doing it, I’d probably let you get away with it.

Fan: At the end of A Memory of Light, it mentions that Rand is no longerta’veren – does that apply to Mat & Perrin as well? And if it does, how does it apply to Mat’s luck?
BWS: Everything I’m saying right now is not 100% canon, because I’m only working off of my guesstimates based on his notes. I believe that Mat’s luck is a soul attribute that is independent of him being a ta’veren, but enhanced by his ta’veren nature. Part of the proof of this is the Heroes of the Horn knowing him as Gambler, which means in other Ages when he’s been born and not been ta’veren, he’s still had luck and attraction to things like that. Plus things in the notes, I’m basing on that. So it does not necessarily mean they aren’t ta’veren right now, but even if they weren’t, I think Mat would still have his luck.
Fan: So you don’t know whether they’re ta’veren or not?
BWS: I do not know. My suspicion is that if he would have written the outriggers, Mat still would have been, and maybe Perrin, because Perrin was going to be in the outriggers, we know this. But I don’t know for sure.
But I think it would have been fun, if in some parallel dimension if I were to have written them, which I’m never going to, I would have not made Matta’veren, or Perrin, I would have made Tuon ta’veren, and forced Mat to deal with someone else who was ta’veren, which I think would have been interesting.
Fan: Can women be ta’veren? Because in the entire series there is not a single female ta’veren.
BWS: There is not, but I’m very sure that they can be, based on things that I read in the notes. So, that’s what I would have done, but I don’t know if that’s what Robert Jordan would have done. Can you just imagine that, Mat having to think that he’s in someone else’s story now?

Fan: In Rithmatist, you mention that Joel actually sneaks into the classroom, is that a spin-off of what you did?
BWS: I actually had a teacher once ask, “Who are you?” One of them actually picked me out. Fortunately, that was one that my roommate was going to, so I was able to (pretend I was just there with him. -Paraphrased, because what he said involved too many gestures and non-word sounds.)

Fan: How do you keep it all organized when you’re doing so much at once?
BWS: A wiki. An internal wiki is where I keep all the Cosmere and all the notes on that. The other things, I don’t have to worry about as much. For instance, Reckoners, I’ve got one viewpoint character and one major plot; that I can keep in my head. I’ve got note files and things like that, but the Cosmere? Big old wiki full of stuff.

Fan: In The Emperor’s Soul – when did you decide to change the beginning?
BWS: It was Mary, from the podcast with me, is very good at short fiction. She read it, and she said, “This intro is just holding the story back.” And I read it again, and I’m like, I really feel that she’s right. I felt at the end of it that the intro was interesting for people who liked Hoid already, but for people who didn’t, it was just distracting and confusing. So at the end of the day, I cut it out, and I think it was a good move, even though it was sad. If you google the phrase “killing your darlings,” it’s a phrase we talk about in writing and storytelling. That scene was what made me want to write the book, it’s what started me off in writing the book, and then I cut it out. But sometimes you have to end up doing that.

Fan: When are you going to write the other Warbreaker book? Last time I came to hear you talk, you said you were going to, and now you have 3000 other projects!
BWS: I know, and the Warbreaker fans really get on my case about that. Well, I wrote Words of Radiance, and I got Vasher into it, so that would kindle interest, and make sure that you at least got to see your characters again. But did you hear the story about that? So, I wrote The Way of Kings in 2002, the first version, and in that version Kaladin trained with a swordmaster, and that swordmaster, a guy named Vasher, had a mysterious past. After I finished that book, later on I wrote Warbreaker as a prequel to Way of Kings, to show Vasher’s backstory. But then Warbreaker came outbefore Way of Kings, which was a really kind of interesting thing. So in myhead, Warbreaker is the prequel, but to everyone else… Yes, it is a totally different world, different planets, people get around…
Me: So how much of Vasher’s backstory do we actually have?
BWS: Well, a huge chunk of it…! If you were reading Way of Kings, you would know nothing, and then you’d read Warbreaker and you’d be like, “Oh, here’s a whole past that he had!” That doesn’t mean it’s all of his past.
(He’s not giving any hints as to whether Vasher had any connection with Roshar prior to Warbreaker – or at least not without someone asking a much more direct question.)

Fan: In Sixth of the Dusk, and where that fits in the timeline, are the visitors from anywhere we’ve seen before?
BWS: You have seen people from that place before.
Fan: And if I were to speculate more on which one, you’d say…
BWS: Then I would say RAFO.

Fan: There was the poem at the end of Way of Kings. How long did that take?
BWS: It took an embarrassingly long amount of time. I am not a poet, so mixing poetry with a really rigid form… Yes, the keteks take a long time. Both of them.
Me: Are you going to do that in every book?
BWS: A ketek? Yes, I probably will do that.

Fan: Warbreaker. Will we see more?
BWS: Yes you will. It is the project that is the most distant right now – the major project that is the most distant. Getting back to that, I feel like I have to do more Stormlight before I can get back to a different epic fantasy.

Fan: Elantris, though, how you came out with Emperor’s Soul, it didn’t involve any of the magic or anything, I have a feeling they’re going to collide?
BWS: Yeah, there will be – you will see much more of that. Definitely.
Fan: So we’ll be able to see the actual Elantris again? Shining and beautiful again?
BWS: Yes, you will.
Fan: It was very sad, to see them all in pain, the continual pain and…
BWS: One of the reasons I wrote Warbreaker was that I didn’t think I could get back to Elantris yet, but I realized I’d written this entire book about the city of the gods, and you never got to see the city of the gods. So Warbreaker was another take on that idea.

Fan: So have you decided whose book is going to be the (anchor? in the Stormlight Archive)?
BWS: I have not. What I’ve decided is that I need to actually write out, rather than just having the outlines, write out the three backstories that are left of the first five, and then compare them to the story as I’m writing it, and see which one works. Because any one of them could work, but as I’m writing the book… yeah. It’s one of those things that I know I need the flexibility on, as I write, to make it work.

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Last hour:


Fan: Do you have any word on the Mistborn video games that are coming out?

BWS: I have no official word, other than to say that we did option the rights to the film to the people who are making the video game, and told them, “You have to make the video game or you can’t make the film.” I actually really like them, and their script treatments on the film are great. And it’s not their fault, really, that the game hasn’t taken off. It’s just that they’ve had – these things happen in video games. The studio they were working with went under, and another one split, and this sort of stuff happens.


For a family who came through very late; it was about 10:30 by then:

BWS: For kids who have to wait in line with their parents too long, I bring stickers. So if you want a sticker, I’ve got Human the Koloss, he eats people’s heads, he’s got a big sword, or I’ve got Syl, the windspren, she’s like a fairy thing, she’s very sarcastic. So if you want one, you can have one. (Dad wanted Syl – the kid chose Human instead. Dad got Syl anyway.)


Fan: Can you tell me anything about Kaladin’s maternal grandparents?

BWS: Let’s just say that his mother (you’re asking a very astute question) gave up more than most people gave up in that city to go be what she became. She’s definitely fallen in social standing since her childhood. She took a hit.


Question re: Brandon’s involvement in the Infinity Blade series.

BWS: What happened there was, I came in when the first game was already made. They said we’d really like to do something, and I really like the guys, they’re friends of mine, and I’m like, “You don’t have a story here. You’ve got to have a protagonist and things like this.” So then I said, “Okay, let’s take what you have, tell me what you have for the world, and let’s brainstorm together, and let’s construct a narrative. And so we did it together. We spent a lot of time in their offices constructing the next two games, then I was able to write the novellas between the two.

Fan: So did you have any input on the game stories, then?

BWS: Yes, I did. I had a lot of influence, though I did not write the dialogue, so sometimes it’s a little bit cringe-worthy. They sent me the script, but I just didn’t have time to go over the scripts for them. Sometime I’d like to actually do a game with them, because they make great games.


Fan: When you started writing Cosmere novels, how much of it had you outlined? How far ahead had you thought?

BWS: When I started writing Cosmere novels? When I started started, I was a teenager. Totally hadn’t thought very far ahead. When I was an adult and I was writing them, I wrote one when I was like 20, and I had an inkling, and I played around with things. The first one that I wrote with a real, conscious eye toward the Cosmere was Elantris. So the ones that have been published, yes. But when I first started, I had a little bit of an inkling.

Fan: Have you ever backed yourself into a corner with it?

BWS: Not yet! I have backed myself into corners by saying things to fans that I’ve already changed in my notes and hadn’t realized I had, and stuff like that – I do that all the time. But usually when I do that, I just tell them. “Ah, I’m sorry, I just changed this, guys.” I’m still convinced that Stayer and Stepper – that (RJ) didn’t know those were two different horses. I’m utterly convinced that he made the mistake, and then just covered it. Because that’s the sort of things we writers do.

One of the ones I’ve been working on a lot lately is, how much can you affect things that are Invested with other magic systems? Should it be not at all, should it be a little bit, should it be…? But then I have to go back to Mistborn, and I’ve got canon here, where people are pushing and pulling on things that are Invested, but I tried when I was even writing Mistborn to make sure that the someone was drawing on the Mist, or had extra power for some reason before they were pushing on… and so I left myself that room, but at the same time I’ve established that you can do it, so anyway.


In conversation about how long it takes to write a book, how fast he writes, etc.:

Last year, he wrote Firefight and two Mistborn novels, each at 100K words. This year, he will only write Calamity and the sequel to Words of Radiance. He will probably finish that one up in February or March, and it will come out in the fall. So he’s generally got about 300- to 400-thousand words of polished work to work with each year

BWS: I actually plot the Stormlight Archive books as a trilogy; each book – like I would plot the entire Reckoners series – I plot that for a book, and then I plot the short story sequence, and then I plot the novella. Usually the flashback sequence is a novella. And so then I write basically three books, a short story collection, and a novella, and put them all together woven as one book.


Fan: Which is your favorite Epic to write?

BWS: To write? Obliteration, because he’s creepy in the way I like people to be creepy.


Fan: In Sixth of the Dusk, it feels like it’s a crossover…

BWS: That is true.

Fan: So is it a planet that we’ve seen before, or ???

BWS: Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling “The Ones Above.”

Fan: And you’re not going to tell any more?

BWS: Nope.

Fan: When will we know?

BWS: Yeah, fifteen years maybe? Hopefully it won’t take me that long, but I only just finished the outlines for Era Three Mistborn, which is now what we’re calling the 1980s, so I haven’t even at the moment got the sketches of the sci-fi one, I don’t have the outlines and things. So in other words, we aren’t to the science fiction era; we’re a ways off from that.

(This looks to me like a clear indication that The Ones Above are from Scadrial…)


Fan: What do you think is the difference between SciFi and Fantasy?

BWS: SciFi works with the improbable becoming reality; Fantasy works with the impossible pretending to be reality. I think the line is between what could be and what can’t be. By my definition, that kind of takes Star Wars into Fantasy. I don’t necessarily like Asimov’s definitions, just because he was very down on fantasy. A lot of the fantasy of his era was very Conan-ish. He was a great writer, I respect his fiction a lot, but I don’t think he gave fantasy its fair due.

I would count Star Trek definitely science fiction, they’re trying to talk about – even though they’re using fantastical teleporters and stuff – they’re trying to say this is what’s possible. It’s social science fiction, a lot of it.

Fan: But wouldn’t you say Star Wars is really both?

BWS: I would say it’s a mash-up hybrid. It’s a fantasy magic system in a space opera science fiction setting.


Fan: What was the main inspiration for Elantris?

BWS: My main inspiration for Elantris was reading in the New Testament, actually, about lepers and leper colonies, and wanting to write a story about a magical leper colony. And that’s where the idea for the people who got this disease, and the city, and everything like that.


(In the acknowledgements to Firefight, he thanks his beta-, gamma- and proof-readers and promises that if he ever becomes an Epic, he will kill them last. This triggered a discussion among said readers regarding their defense, and the primary question… what’s his weakness? Chocolate? No, not chocolate.)

Spoiler for Firefight:

BWS: Mac n cheese? Well, No ‘cause I like mac n cheese too much. Fish sticks. It would be fish sticks.

Fan: I thought you disliked fish sticks.

BWS: Exactly. That’s why they’d be my weakness.


(Re: Legion books)

BWS: We will eventually be doing a collection of those on my website, so if you want to wait on those, I’m going to do three novellas, and then we’ll collect them into a three-novella thing, so it’s a regular book size. 


Fan: When is the second book of the Rithmatist coming out?

BWS: I haven’t written it yet. I started doing the research, and it was so much work I realized I needed more time to do it, because I’m going to South America in it, and I just needed to know South American cultures better, so I decided I need to take another year to do research. So I’m doing research for it right now, I’m going to write it hopefully after I finish the next Stormlight book, and then we’ll release it soon after. So it’s a little ways away.

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Wetlander is awesome in the extreme! (Alice Is Wonderland!)


Some of those are incredibly interesting, actually. I'd say I 80% agree that he gave tacit confirmation that the Ones Above are Scadrian, or at least related. :) 


I'm particularly relieved to hear him say that all of his published works were written with the Cosmere fully in mind, especially with the mention of making sure future rules work with the stuff from Mistborn. In reading Stormlight Archive, which is much more Cosmere involved, I've been terrified that some of the clues and revelations from Mistborn and Elantris weren't quite in line. I had faith in Brandon's awesomeness, but I'm still extremely relieved to hear him say that he's committed to sticking with the rules of his early works. It's a credit to his genius that he added things like duralumin or the mists being required to do things which are supposed to be difficult on other worlds. He's pointed out several times that hemalurgy will completely unbalance things if it ever becomes widely used. I think that allomancy, in several ways, overcomes a lot of the weaknesses in his other systems. I think that's why Scadrial is going to be the focus of the sci-fi, inter-shardworld series. It's because the Metallic Arts are going to really shake up the other worlds.


Thanks Wetlander! You're so great!

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BWS: Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling “The Ones Above.”

Fan: And you’re not going to tell any more?

BWS: Nope.

Fan: When will we know?

BWS: Yeah, fifteen years maybe? Hopefully it won’t take me that long, but I only just finished the outlines for Era Three Mistborn, which is now what we’re calling the 1980s, so I haven’t even at the moment got the sketches of the sci-fi one, I don’t have the outlines and things. So in other words, we aren’t to the science fiction era; we’re a ways off from that.

(This looks to me like a clear indication that The Ones Above are from Scadrial…)


I'd say I 80% agree that he gave tacit confirmation that the Ones Above are Scadrian, or at least related.


Actually, I had been almost fully convinced before, but the wording on this WoB makes me less certain. Yes, he's saying we'll find out who they are in the Mistborn sci-fi trilogy, but presumably that trilogy is already intended as a massive crossover. We could easily meet spacefaring Nalthians, Rosharans, etc. and have them be the "Ones Above"

Note: I still think Scadrial is most likely, this quote just makes me less confident in that assumption.

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You're welcome, all! Glad I was able to pick up a few interesting odds & ends.


Thank you for the transcripts, that's a hefty amount of audio you've gone through! :)

That'll teach me to record four hours' worth of questions & answers... you'd think. But I expect I'll do it again. Some people are just slow learners.

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Actually I've just been wondering recently if the Ones Above might be from Taldain.  From what little we know publicly, White Sand is one of the earliest chronological cosmere stories and it features Khriss who comes to know even more about the cosmere than Hoid himself, possibly.  Given the cosmere timeline and certain other factors from the book, I have wondered if that planet might be the first to achieve space travel (which doesn't mean that they're the only ones that have it by the time of Sixth of Dusk, so it could still be Scadrians even with that being true).


Just something I've been thinking about.  Although now I want to ask Brandon 'with all other things being equal, which planet's magic system is the easiest to figure out a way to power FTL with'?  I believe he mentioned once that all the magic systems had FTL capabilities built into them?

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Rosharian Empire against Scradian Fedaration will happen =)

Roshar Have three planets in they system two inhabited so space travel have a significant allure there. Also they have the better magic system currently know to provide means of travel between worlds. Create a gemheart ftl driver fabrial and voilá scifi setting.

Serious Fabrial science will develop rivers, in the past they had the oathgate, they very well could create they version of oath"stargate", the spacesuit (shardplates) and lightsabers (shardplates) are already done. Create a gravitational spren rifle to squire-infantry (soulcaster provide ammunition and gravity spren propulsion) and everything fit together.

And the motivation for both planets? Bu of course, discovery the origin of life (Yolen and Adonalsium) =)


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  • 4 weeks later...

And Wetlander's transcription is in the database.


Also something I noticed when Brandon references the Ones Above it's phrased like "you have seen people from that place" or when asked if they are from a planet we've seen "Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling 'The Ones Above'." (that second one could be seen as Brandon backtracking a bit from saying we have seen their planet).


I'd say this could be a point against them being Scadrians (which I'm skeptical of anyway).

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And Wetlander's transcription is in the database.


Also something I noticed when Brandon references the Ones Above it's phrased like "you have seen people from that place" or when asked if they are from a planet we've seen "Yes. Well, you have seen the people they are calling 'The Ones Above'." (that second one could be seen as Brandon backtracking a bit from saying we have seen their planet).


I'd say this could be a point against them being Scadrians (which I'm skeptical of anyway).


If he specifically wants to distance himself from the idea that we've seen their planet, could it be because they don't have a planet? Could "The Ones Above," with their non-interference policy, be the Seventeenth Shard?

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