Blog (Ex Urbe)

On my blog, Ex Urbe, I write essays about history, philosophy, mythology, science fiction and fantasy, movies, comics, food, and other topics.  I often discuss my research travel, especially my times in European cities including Florence and Rome.  I also post travel photography, focusing on historic sights and art.  Many of my essays are more casual examinations of topics I have been teaching or researching, ways of sharing my work in a lighter and more public setting than the classroom or academic books.

I have also just launched the Ex Urbe Ad Astra Podcast, jointly with my good friend and award-winning F&SF novelist Jo Walton. In it we interview fellow writers, historians, scientists, and other friends, discussing topics ranging from the craft of writing, to city planning and philosophy, to Martian geology, to gelato and other nifty topics. You can listen to it for free on Libsynon Apple Podcastson Spotify, and on YouTube, or support my Patreon to receive episodes in advance.

Recommended Ex Urbe Blog Entries:

I also regularly post historical photos & facts on twitter as Ada_Palmer tagged either #historypix or #SomethingBeautiful 

I also sometimes blog for  There I write about fiction, the craft of writing, mythology, history, literature, television, and manga & anime.


RSS The Latest Posts

  • Barbie Career of the Year as a Window on Centrist Feminism August 13, 2021
    First, I’m excited to announce that you can now pre-order the first segment of the new cast recording audiobook of Terra Ignota that’s being done by Graphic Audio. I’m really excited about this new audio set, which is doing the whole series broken down into volumes so this first release is the first half of […]
  • 5 News Items: Podcast, Online Teaching, Gene Wolfe, Audiobooks, & Perhaps the Stars August 7, 2021
    Hello, friends – I have a proper essay underway, but short-term I have a five pieces of exciting news: My new podcast, An online history course I’ll be teaching this fall through U Chicago’s Graham school, which isn’t free but can be taken by anyone from anywhere. My Introductions to Gene Wolfe’s Book of the […]
  • Online talks: Apocalyptic Renaissance, Teaching Power in History, Inquisition, Rare Books May 13, 2021
    Hello, readers! The past few weeks have been very intense for me with the 2021 run of my Papal Election Simulation, but I wanted to post some links and announcements about a couple of free online talks, two recent and two upcoming.  One is today (May 13th) at 5:30 PM Central time on “The Apocalyptic […]
  • Who We Think Has the Power to Change the World? (transcript) April 16, 2021
    NOTE: An unfinished draft of this post was accidentally published for a little while on March 2nd-3rd, but it wasn’t actually ready yet then, but here’s the finished version: Hello, wonderful readers!  What I have to share today is not a polished essay, but the transcript, slightly cleaned up but mostly as given, of a […]
  • Why I Teach Machiavelli Through His Letters March 3, 2021
    Hello! It’s been a while since I posted since, as usual, many projects press, so it’s rare for me to have the time to write the kinds of polished essays I like sharing here. But I’ve been hoping to share more things, since a lot of the history work I’ve been doing lately has helped […]
  • Self-Care & Healthy Work Habits for the Pandemic July 30, 2020
    Short version: I’m posting today to share two files I made for my university. One is a Healthy Work Habits and Self-Care Guide for the Pandemic Crisis, which many people have said they found helpful and refreshingly different from others that are going around (details below).  Some bits are academia specific but most of it is […]
  • Black Death, COVID, and Why We Keep Telling the Myth of a Renaissance Golden Age and Bad Middle Ages June 4, 2020
    “If the Black Death caused the Renaissance, will COVID also create a golden age?” Versions of this question have been going around as people, trying to understand the present crisis, reach for history’s most famous pandemic.  Using history to understand our present is a great impulse, but it means some of the false myths we […]
  • Uncanny Censorship Essay & Writing POV June 3, 2020
    Below you’ll find some news, links to excerpts from Terra Ignota book 4, and a discussion of point-of-view in the craft of writing, but I’m posting today mainly to announce that I have an essay about censorship and its relationship with genre fiction in this month’s Uncanny Magazine, which is now free to read online.  […]
  • 2019 Campbell Speech + Refugee Charity Fundraiser August 19, 2019
    It was my honor last night to, for the second time, present the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, on behalf of last year’s brilliant winner Rebecca Roanhorse who couldn’t attend this year. Many have asked me to post the text of the speech, which was unluckily disrupted by automated voice recognition subtitles […]
  • Thoughts on a Bad Pain Day and How Teamwork Accumulates June 19, 2019
    I wrote 752 words of my novel after the pain set in today. I’m a writer. Getting the words down, advancing the project, is everything to me, my joy, my vocation, my activism, my chance to pay it back and pay it forward, everything. Today about 11:15 AM I felt a “bad pain day” starting […]