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Ada Palmer

Ada Palmer is a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. She is also a composer of folk and Renaissance-tinged a capella vocal music on historical themes, most of which she performs with the group Sassafrass. She writes about history for a popular audience at and about SF and fantasy-related matters at Too Like the Lightning is her debut fiction book.


Ada Palmer talks TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING and gives away a book!

Ada Palmer is true Renaissance woman: she's a professor by trade, specializing in history and the history of ideas at the University of Chicago, a Manga Scholar, composer, and has published the nonfiction work Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance. Palmer's fiction debut, Too Like the Lightning, is a complex and broad-reaching work of sci fi, that smartly wraps several interconnected mysteries within a serious suite of philosphical and cultural themes. I was able to grab some time with Ada Palmer as she was in the midst of promoting the book. One commenter with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address will win a copy of Too Like the Lightning. See below for details.

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Too Like the Lightning: An ambitious speculative novel

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Ada Palmer’s debut novel, Too Like the Lightning, is an absorbing, exhausting, and complicated work of science fiction literature. This is not the kind of book you can read in bits and pieces and quickly pick up the plot threads after watching a couple of nights of TV. Once you jump in, it’s best you stay focused, allow her world to wash over you and trust that Palmer’s taking you a worthwhile ride.

It’s the 25th century, the church wars are long over, and society is in relative balance. We’re reading the government-edited recounting of something of political, cultural, and pan-global significance. The narrative of Mycroft Canner is largely first-hand, but some elements are witnessed through trackers that allow him to see and hear events through a device attached to individuals. And some events Canner has asked others to retell on th... Read More

Seven Surrenders: Still intellectual, still philosophical, still glittery and intricate

Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer

War is coming.

That’s the plot premise of Seven Surrenders (2017), the second book in Ada Palmer’s TERRA IGNOTA series. War is coming, and the many characters in this intricate tapestry of a series can’t stop it. Along the ways alliances are broken, people are betrayed, and secrets revealed.

Jason reviewed the first book in this series, Too Like the Lightning.

Before I start the actual review, I have a couple of suggestions. Read Too Like the Lightning before you read Seven Surrenders. Just as Too Like the Lightning was not a stand-alone, you cannot pick up Seven Su... Read More

The Will to Battle: War is still coming — oh, wait, it’s here

The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer

Unlike winter in George R.R. Martin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series, the long-dreaded war in Ada Palmer’s TERRA IGNOTA finally does show up, or appears to, at the end of Book Three, 2017’s The Will to Battle. The war starts in the final six or seven pages of the book.

This doesn’t mean nothing happens in the 344 pages leading up to the war. In The Will to Battle, the avatar of the Greek warrior Achilles appears; the role, if not the identity, of the editor designated as A9 is revealed; the various Hives grapple with their governance structures and their identities. Sniper is abducted; J.E.D.D. Martin steps onto the world stage in a leading role rather t... Read More