AdaPhoto1000Welcome to the home page of Ada Palmer. I am an historian, an author of science fiction and fantasy, and a composer. I teach in the History Department at the University of Chicago.

Here you will find information about my works and activities, samples of my writing and music, links to publications and blog pieces, my curriculum vitae, my forthcoming schedule of teaching, public presentations and concerts, and other useful information.

The Latest Book

The Will to Battle

The Will to Battle is the third book in the Terra Ignota series.  In Books 1 and 2, convict Mycroft brought us his history of the seven days of change that remade the world.  Now starts his chronicle of the days that follow, reporting the events at the start of the new world, as the remnants of the old cling to the structures of their civilization and maneuver for advantage in the new order.

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The Latest Lecture

Paideia Institute Public Lectures – Recovering a Lost Classic in the Renaissance

The Paideia Institute is pleased to host a free public lecture on the process of recovering a lost classic in the Renaissance, examining how rare texts were acquired, multiplied, corrected, and distributed from 1350 into the many stages of the post-1450 print revolution (with live examples of Renaissance books to show), and also following the money, looking at new Renaissance ideas about the political utility of the classics which funded library-building and manuscript collection in an era when a single book could cost as much as a house.

Excerpt - Terra Ignota Book 4 Perhaps the Stars

FlagsSoloUtopiaTwo Ruminations Upon Distance excerpted from Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer
(New Decameron Seventy-Eight)
This is written for The Decameron Project, to support Cittadini del Mondo, a charity running a library and clinic for refugees in Rome.


Censorship & Information Control In Information Revolutions

An exhibition and video series at The University of Chicago

Why do people censor? For ambition? Religion? Profit? Power? Fear? This global history of attempts to control or silence information, from antiquity’s earliest written records to our new digital world, examines how censorship has worked, thrived, or failed in different times and places, and shows how real censorship movements tend to be very different from the centralized, methodical, top-down censorship depicted in Orwell’s 1984, which so dominates how we imagine censorship today. From indexes of forbidden books, to manuscripts with passages inked out by Church Inquisitors, to comics and pornography, to self-censorship and the subtle censorship of manipulating translations or teaching biased histories, the banned and challenged materials in this exhibit will challenge you to answer: how do you define what is and isn’t censorship?

Sections of the Project:

  • Eight public Dialogues among the participants, October 5 through November 20, 2018.
  • Videos of the public dialogues, available streaming online.
  • Museum Exhibit “History of Censorship and Information Control from the Inquisition to the Internet” in the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Library, open September 17 through December 14, 2018.
  • A printed catalog of the exhibit, and further publications to come.

Recent Music

KickstarterCoverNewMy second Kickstarter campaign has funded two new CDs.  The first CD “Stories & Stone” is now complete, and contains variant recordings of my Norse Myth music, to accompany the “Sundown Whispers of Ragnarok” Cast Recording. Thanks to a stretch goal, a second CD “Friend in the Dark” is now in progress, the first album with myself and my vocal partner Lauren Schiller performing as the duo “Sassafrass: Trickster & King.” The album is up for digital pre-order, which gives you eight finished tracks now and a complete download as soon as the CD is released. Check out the Kickstarter Campaign.