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.

A model of the heavens, made for the Medici, at the Florentine Museum of the History of Science.
Travel photos, like this Medici model of the heavens, are another blog feature.


Recommended Ex Urbe Entries:

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


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

  • Campbell Award & Invisible Disability August 12, 2017
    Last night I was overjoyed and overwhelmed to receive the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Hugo Awards ceremony at Worldcon 75 here in Helsinki, Finland. I was so overwhelmed by this warmest of possible welcomes to the field that I mounted the stage crying too hard to actually read my […]
  • The Key to the Kingdom, or How I Sold Too Like the Lightning July 7, 2017
    I want to share an essay today, one of the most personal things I’ve ever written, and one of those I’m proudest of. It’s about how I sold my first novel. I’ve been stunned since I learned Too Like the Lightning is a finalist for the Best Novel Hugo. This really is the highest honor I can […]
  • Seven Surrenders is Out: New Links Post March 7, 2017
    Ada’s second novel, book two of the Terra Ignota quartet, Seven Surrenders, is published today, so at last people who have been waiting since reading Too Like the Lightning last May can read it. If anyone hates cliffhangers so much that they have been waiting to read Too Like The Lightning until Seven Surrenders came […]
  • Promoted Comment: The Scary Atrocious Thomas Hobbes March 2, 2017
    In the comments to the Progress post, a reader asked for clarification on what was so awful about Hobbes, and this was Ada’s response, which I am reposting as a post so that it doesn’t stay buried down there: Ah, yes, that was probably to brief an abbreviation. To be clear, I LOVE Hobbes, and […]
  • On Progress and Historical Change January 4, 2017
    Is progress inevitable? Is it natural?  Is it fragile? Is it possible? Is it a problematic concept in the first place?  Many people are reexamining these kinds of questions as 2016 draws to a close, so I thought this would be a good moment to share the sort-of “zoomed out” discussions the subject that historians like myself […]
  • Spot the Saint: More Dominicani October 29, 2016
    Hello, all.  Deadlines, page proofs, preparing for tenure, and an extra heavy autumn teaching load with classrooms full of enthusiastic-and-therefore-time-consuming students have continued to keep me too busy for another skepticism essay, but here for your enjoyment (and with some help from the excellent Jo Walton who’s wonderful at hunting down saint pictures for me) is […]
  • Four Updates June 21, 2016
    One day (soon! Soon I hope!) Ada will have time to make the more substantive posts here we’d all prefer, but for now I’m doing another brief update for her. Some things come in fours — elements, doctors of the church, virtues, and this post. First, fire, St Augustine, and fortitude: an intensive review of […]
  • San Marco: The Dominican Monastery at the Heart of Renaissance Florence June 2, 2016
    Off to Italy again.  This seems like a good time to share a link to a video of an illustrated talk Ada gave at the Lumen Christi institute in Chicago in February. It’s a fascinating overview of the place of San Marco in Florence, with lots of excellent pictures. It’s like an audio version of an Ex […]
  • Day After the Book Comes Out Link Round-up May 11, 2016
    The long wait is over at last, and Too Like the Lightning came out yesterday! This is just a simple little links round-up post by Jo. Too Like the Lightning is available right now as a hardback book and as an e-book in multiple formats, and the audiobook was also just released — and here’s the audiobook cover, […]
  • Novel Launch Blog Entries, plus Useful Plants May 6, 2016
    Hello, friends & readers.  This is a quick update to share links to a couple short essays I’ve written for other blogs. My first science fiction novel Too Like the Lightning comes out very soon now, May 10th!  Initial reviews and reactions have been extremely enthusiastic, and these days Twitter sometimes feels like a surreal dream, with […]