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 also record 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

  • Tools for Thinking About Censorship January 21, 2024
    “Was it a government action, or did they do it themselves because of pressure?” This is inevitably among our first questions when news breaks that any expressive work (a book, film, news story, blog post etc.) has been censored or suppressed by the company or group trusted with it (a publisher, a film studio, a […]
  • Strange Horizons Column & New Essay Published October 18, 2023
    I am now a regular non-fiction columnist for Strange Horizons, a wonderful magazine that it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with. I’ll have an essay coming out a couple of times a year, and I’m very excited to be working on this. I’m writing here to share the link to an essay I’m doubly […]
  • All People Are Created Educable, a Vital Oft-Forgotten Tenet of Modern Democracy November 14, 2022
    (I have one of my more traditional history posts underway, but wanted to post this separate thought first. Felt timely.) Many shocking, new ideas shaped the American Experiment and related 18th century democratic ventures; as an historian of the period, I often notice that one of the most fundamental of them, and most shocking to […]
  • Terra Ignota Nominated for Best Series Hugo! April 7, 2022
    Jo here. I’m delighted to be writing to celebrate that Terra Ignota is nominated for a Best Series Hugo. I feel this is utterly deserved, and hope very much that it will win, though really the nomination is the important part — finding one the best is much harder than finding the five or six […]
  • Terra Ignota AMA Questions: Meatmakers and Kitchen Trees December 17, 2021
    Briefly: live right now is the Chicon Auction to raise money for this summer’s Chicago Worldcon, and they have some great Terra Ignota stuff including signed books and a special 2454 Antarctic Olympics Hoodie I made for Terra Ignota fun. You can bid online! Meanwhile, hello friends! Sharing some more fun discussions from my recent […]
  • Terra Ignota AMA Questions: Craft of Writing & Performer Casting December 10, 2021
    Hello, friends!  Sharing some more more favorite questions & answers from recent AMAs, including some about the craft of writing, and about the question of what it would be like casting Terra Ignota for film or TV. Q: Why Don’t You Describe the Flying Cars? So, we get a bit more detail in book 4 […]
  • Worldcon Schedule & Terra Ignota Calendar December 6, 2021
    No essay today, friends, but two announcements, of a fun project and sharing the spectacular list of panels I’m doing at Discon (Worldcon) in Washington DC in a few weeks! Worldcon is hybrid this year, so many of my panels will be available online! Fun project first: working with the brilliant crafts & design artist […]
  • Gender in Terra Ignota (Queership Repost) December 3, 2021
    This is an essay I was invited to write in 2017 for the delightful spec fic blog Queersship, which has since ceased to exist, but many people have asked me to re-post the essay, especially now as the series finale is coming out. For a more recent (though less expansive) discussion of similar issues see […]
  • Perhaps the Stars Essay Roundup plus AMA best-of: Religion & Utopia in Terra Ignota November 26, 2021
    Hello, friends!  Quick post today to say three things: I am (barring emergencies) going to Worldcon in DC this December! It looks like my recovery/therapy should be just enough to try it, my first venture out to an event since the onset of the new problems, but the doctors are encouraging! It will be wonderful […]
  • Medical Leave Reflections plus Empathy Sphere Essay October 8, 2021
    Good news first, I have a new essay out in Uncanny Magazine, “Expanding Our Empathy Sphere Using F&SF, a History,” where I talk about my term ’empathy sphere’ meaning the collection of beings we consider coequally a person with ourselves, something which historically has expanded over time, and which is useful in thinking about why […]