Barcelona, part 1

Hello, readers – I had the most amazing experience in Barcelona; it was truly a once in a lifetime journey. It took a little while to recover from all the excitement and get my thoughts in order – a lot longer than I thought it would, actually; thanks for your patience! But I met an amount of fandom that I didn’t even think I had, and now I need to tell you all about it! In fact I have so much to say that this is going to get split into a few posts.

First, though, here’s a little bit of news:

  • I’m excited to announce the upcoming virtual launch of RESURRECTIONS, which will take place at 12pm EST, December 8, on YouTube. Check out this cool banner and feel free to share:
  • I didn’t have time to promote it properly before I left, but Dawn Vogel was kind enough to interview me about RESURRECTIONS at History That Never Was.
  • A little birdy tells me that the Playstation edition of TRINITY FUSION is now up for pre-order!
  • For folks hoping for an e-ARC of RESURRECTIONS, it’s available now on NetGalley – in fact, it looks like it was the #2 most requested book in that week’s SFWA NetGalley program!
  • Five e-copies of RESURRECTIONS are also being given away to subscribers of the SFWA New Releases Newsletter – you can sign up to the newsletter (anytime before Dec 25) for your chance to win, as well as the chance to hear about all sorts of other new speculative fiction coming out.
  • RESURRECTIONS now has a blurb from Nebula winner Kelly Robson: “A stellar collection. Ada Hoffmann’s stories are vivid and transporting.”
  • And from Juliet Kemp: “I loved this varied collection of thoughtful and often hopeful stories and poems, many of which challenge accustomed views of the world or twist tropes in satisfying ways. Hoffman writes vividly imagined worlds peopled with characters – frequently queer and/or neurodiverse – with fascinating experiences of the world. Well worth diving into.”

And now, Barcelona, here we go!

(Read the full post on Substack)


Hey folks! We’re going to deviate a little from the usual newsletter schedule for the next few weeks – because I have some AWESOME NEWS!

Because of the popularity of the Catalan translations of THE OUTSIDE and THE FALLEN (with a translation of THE INFINITE dropping into Catalan bookstores on November 6!) I’ve been invited to be a guest at the Festival 42 literary festival in Barcelona.

If you didn’t know about these translations, you should! Look how cool looking they are:

Covers of the books L'Extern, Els Caiguts, and L'Infinit, which are Catalan translations of Ada Hoffmann's Outside trilogy, translated by Anna Llisterri. Each cover shows a stylized human figure against a black background, surrounded by eerie lights.

I’ve been sitting on this news and quietly making arrangements for nearly a year now, but I didn’t want to announce it until the schedule was up. (If I’d known the schedule would not be up until less than two weeks before the festival, then I might have reconsidered this, but eh.) It’s up today! You can see the whole thing here, but here’s my list of author events both in and out of the festival:

Thursday November 9, 6:30pm: “The Universe of Ada Hoffmann: Diversity, Computation and Cosmic Horror.” Conversation hosted by Karen Madrid.

Friday November 10, 6:45pm: The Infinite Catalan launch event at the Gigamesh bookstore, hosted by Miquel Codony.

Saturday November 11, 12:00pm: A talk hosted by Marc Riera at La Carbonera bookstore.

Saturday November 11, 7:30pm: The 42’s Big Roundtable: What Future Should The Genre Recreate? A panel with all of the international guests – oh my God. Look at that lineup. You expect me to speak coherently about pressing issues in science fiction, in the presence of such luminaries? I guess I will try!!!!

Tuesday November 14: A gathering with the Editorial Chronos book club at La Font de Mimir bookstore.

(All times are in Barcelona time, of course.)

I have never been to this region of the world before. I am so thrilled and honored that Editorial Chronos decided to pay for me to fly out and see them, and so excited to see the Mediterranean sights as well as the fans there.

Seriously, ever since last December when the invitation first arrived, I’ve had this song stuck in my head:

An epic song for what, by all accounts, is an epic city.

I’m not actually sure where all the readers of this post are in the world, but if any of you are within shouting distance of Barcelona, I would love for you to come by one of these events and say hi!

And now I will go back to my frenzy of planning and packing! Cheers!

Autistic Book Party, Episode 80 and a half: Short Story Smorgasbord

Mary E. Lowd, “The Most Complicated Avatar” (Daily Science Fiction, July 2012)

[Autistic author] When I said that Lowd was at her best writing about children and virtual reality, she directed me to this story, and I scratched my head because I could have sworn I’d reviewed it before. But back in 2012 I didn’t know Lowd was autistic, so the review went in one of my other posts – maybe on Livejournal? – which appears to be lost to the mists of time. Anyway, I re-read this one and it’s still good; it’s about a child living through a messy divorce who runs away; and whose mother finds her by connecting with her in the virtual world. I really appreciate what this story is doing, and especially the way that the daughter’s own technology-mediated way of looking at the world is taken seriously – the way it /must/ be taken seriously before anything can resolve. [Recommended-2]


Kiya Nicoll, “Of Winter and Other Seasons” (Climbing Lightly Through Forests, January 2021)

[Autistic author] Using the metaphor of treasures buried in ice, this poem describes parts of the narrator’s experience that they were able to recognize in Ursula K. LeGuin’s writing. It’s a nice meditation on how people find and understand themselves through stories. [Recommended-2]


Jennifer Lee Rossman, “If That Cowbird Don’t Sing” (Penumbric, December 2022)

[Autistic author] The narrator here is a non-speaking autistic child, who unconsciously remembers being a changeling, and who manifests psychic powers during a meltdown, with mixed results. It is not my favorite of Rossman’s stories – it feels rushed and unclear in places – but I like what it does with changeling myths and the cowbird metaphor, showing how deep the narrator’s feeling of being foreign and unwanted goes, and how seemingly small moments can result in unbearable frustration. Many of my readers will relate. [YMMV]


David Far, “New Friends” (Penumbric, June 2023)

This story revolves around a brilliant marine biologist named Iris; after the death of her brother, her friend comes to check on her. The two of them, in sorting out their grief, also discover a secret that could save the world. The narrator is not Iris but her childhood friend James, and at times his descriptions of Iris feel clumsy or othering. (“Iris must have been the only expert on communication that didn’t look people in the eye during a conversation,” goes one clunker of an early line. As if autistic people who study communication aren’t a real thing?) But in the end the day is only saved because people took Iris’s communication preferences – and her deep connection to her dolphin friends – seriously. I will forgive a lot in a story that goes like that. [YMMV]


Robin M. Eames, “Ghosts in the Smoking Area” (Sunder, Issue 1, July 2023)

[Autistic author] A vivid tribute to queer elders, their formative role in the community, and the ways so many of them have been lost too soon. [Recommended-2]


S.T. Eleu, “Paradox Lost” (Haven, Issue Ten, August 2023)

[Autistic author] After his grandfather homophobically murders his lover, the protagonist of this poem invents time travel for the express purpose of killing his grandfather before the hate crime occurs. This doesn’t end up where I thought it would. The ending might feel like a cop-out to some readers, but I appreciate its insistence that we don’t always have to pay the prices we tell ourselves we must pay in order to set things right. [Recommended-1]


Louise Hughes, “The Only Way Out” (Small Wonders, Issue 2, August 2023)

[Autistic author] I really appreciate this short, quietly angry story about a woman who helps abuse survivors disappear into a new life. When a mother and daughter come to her with an unusual request, she re-evaluates the assumptions behind what she’s doing – and take a risk to help them. It’s a gentle story despite the subject matter – no lurid details, only a sense of poignant desperation. [Recommended-2]


R.B. Lemberg, “Firebird, Stormbird” (Strange Horizons, September 25, 2023)

[Autistic author] Birds, and firebirds in particular, have been an important symbol in Lemberg’s work for a long time. Dousing a firebird with water might seem likely to put out the flame, but instead the bird in this poem only transforms, as powerful and uncontrollable as before. [Recommended-2]

“Your meltdown brain is wise.”

Hello! Before we get into today’s post, some news:

  • Look at this lovely cover art for the Catalan translation of THE INFINITE:
    Cover of the Catalan translation of THE INFINITE. The text on the cover says "L'INFINIT, Ada Hoffmann, Traduccio d'Anna Llisterri. The art shows a stylized human figure with long black hair obscuring her face, clasping her hands in front of her chest. White and golden ight blazes out from her clasped hands. Purple light also streams in an irregular pattern behind her, sharply contrasted against a black background.
  • Speaking of Catalan, due to the generosity of my Catalan publisher Editorial Chronos, I’m going to be a guest at Festival 42 in Barcelona next month! I’ve kind of been sitting on this exciting plan for most of the year, and I’ll say more about it in early November when the full schedule is sorted out, but for now I’ll say that if you’re out in that area of the world, I’d love to see you.
  • On Wednesday, November 22, you can see me on a panel discussion called “AI, Science Fiction and Imagined Technological Futures” hosted by the Digital Humanities Research Hub at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Register here!
  • I would also be remiss if I didn’t do anything to promote Bogi Takács’ upcoming collection, POWER TO YIELD AND OTHER STORIES! I wrote the introduction to this book. (It was originally supposed to be a blurb, but then I was very long-winded, and the publisher asked me if I could adapt the long-winded version into a proper intro.) And check out this excellent cover:
    Power to Yield and Other Stories (Paperback) | Wild Rumpus

I had a lovely time at Can*Con last weekend, but things in the wider world are looking grim, aren’t they? I haven’t been speaking about current events because it feels like one of those situations where I have nothing to say except trite versions of things that better-informed or more directly-affected people have already said better, very loudly. At the same time, it’s one of those times in world history where trying to talk publicly about something else – especially about my career or my usual areas of interest – feels just the teensiest bit selfish.

So instead I thought I would take this week’s post and share a piece of advice for dealing with overwhelm that I’ve been thinking about making into a post for a while. This is something I was told years ago, and it’s about meltdowns. The meltdowns don’t have to be about anything that’s happening in the world right now, but they can be if you want them to be.

(Read the full post on Substack)

The Symbol Grounding Problem

Before we get into today’s post, some news:

  • RESURRECTIONS is up for pre-order on Kindle! (If you’re not in the US, it may take a few days before it propagates to your country’s version of Amazon; it took a day before it showed up for me in Canada, for instance.) If you’ve been looking forward to this book, please feel free to pre-order as soon as possible; the timing really does help. If you prefer a physical copy, I’ll let you know when those become available as well.
  • I don’t remember if I announced this earlier, but I’ve been appointed to the SFWA Emerging Technologies Committee, where we’ll do some projects and organizing related to the effect of new technologies – including, but not limited to, generative AI – on speculative fiction authors. It will be a lot of behind the scenes stuff that I mostly won’t be able to publicly discuss, but I’m super excited.

And now, some cognitive science!

Every year – and now more than ever – I tell my first-year students about the symbol grounding problem.

It goes like this:

In the orthodox view of cognitive science, information processing consists of representations and procedures. Something – in your mind, in another animal’s mind, or on a computer – creates representations that refer to the world, and uses them to carry out procedures – whether it’s as simple as adding two numbers, or as complex as writing a novel. A representation can be fuzzy and diffuse (as in the brain, where our knowledge is stored as patterns of connection) but without some form of representation, there is no thought.*

All the representations in a human mind share some important properties.

First: all representations are symbolic.

To be symbolic means that a representation is not the same as the thing it represents. (We call the thing itself a referent.) The map is not the territory. As I like to tell my students, words like “water” are representations; but I can’t drink a glass of the word “water.” Whether a representation is a word, a picture, or something more abstract, it refers to something other than itself.

Second: all representations are grounded.

(Read the full post on Substack)

Meet me at Can*Con!

Can*Con is my “home” convention – close to where I live, smallish, literary-focused and full of excellent people. So I’ll be back there again this year, October 13-15 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa, Ontario.

Here’s the panels where you’ll see me:

Saturday, 1:00 pm: Disability in SciFi and Fantasy: Worldbuilding for Disabled Heroes

Melissa Blair, Ada Hoffmann, A.D. Sui, Cait Gordon (m)

Sunday, 1:00 pm: Hot Necromancers , Go! (AKA The Locked Tomb Panel)

Kaitlin Caul, Nina Nesseth, Sienna Tristen, Ada Hoffmann (m)


  • I’ve got a Bluesky account now finally, so follow me over there if you like!

COVER REVEAL, NEW POEM, and poem notes!

I’ve got some really cool news for you today! First, feast your eyes on the OFFICIAL COVER for my upcoming collection, RESURRECTIONS:

Cover of the book RESURRECTIONS by Ada Hoffmann. The title and author are displayed over art of a glowing person approaching a large tree over a misty, cloudy, pink background.

The planned release date is December 19. If you want more about RESURRECTIONS, I’ve made an official page on my website; more detail will be added as we get closer to the date.

Second, I have a new poem out: “The Fox’s Lover” in Orion’s Belt. It’s the tale of a person who falls in love with an Arctic fox-shifter spirit, but reacts strongly to their unpredictable comings and goings. More on that in a bit, but you can go read it right now.

Third, my old friend RB Lemberg is giving a talk on September 22 at the Sturgeon Symposium: “Representations of queer neurodivergent communities in Ada Hoffmann’s The Fallen and Andi Buchanan’s The Sanctuary.” I am, no joke, extremely excited about this; “someone writes academically about my fiction” was always one of my secret career goals. And if you’re talking about queer neurodivergent communities then Sanctuary is absolutely the perfect book to pair with The Fallen. Chef’s kiss!

If I find a transcript or recording of the talk later, I’ll let you all know.

That’s all the news (and that’s probably plenty for one week!) but behind the cut, for paid subscribers, I’ve included some poem notes giving a little more insight into the process behind “The Fox’s Lover.” Probably read the poem first but then, if that interests you, please click on through.

(Read the full post on Substack)

The Courtroom Scene

So, in the draft of MOTHER DRAGON, there is a fantasy courtroom scene. Not literally a courtroom – it’s a fantasy culture and our modern court system is not quite how they do things – but a sympathetic character is essentially on trial because of something they did. They had their reasons, but it’s pretty serious. Damages have to be assessed. Restitution has to be made.

I really did not want to write a courtroom scene, but given the way I’d set up the story, there really wasn’t any way around it.

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autistic Book Party, Episode 80: The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

Today’s Book: “The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester” by Maya MacGregor

The Plot: Sam, a nonbinary autistic teenager, moves to a new school in a more accepting city after an incident of queerphobic violence that almost killed them. They soon become haunted by the ghost of another teenager who may have been murdered, in their new home, a generation ago – and by a mysterious stalker who seems intent on stopping Sam from digging up the past.

Autistic Character(s): Sam, and the author!

I have a complicated relationship with the word “likable.” There’s a whole brand of discourse about whether characters should be likable, and likable to whom, and what that even means. But when I try to sum up this book and its protagonist, “likable” is the first word that comes to mind – and it’s not ironic, but very sincere. There’s a warmth and an irrepressible sweetness to this book despite its dark subject matter, or maybe, in a roundabout way, because.

Sam is an adorable autistic seventeen-year-old with a big heart, good fashion sense, and amazing hair, who lives with their adoptive father, Junius – more on him in a sec. But as you can see from the plot summary, Sam has a lot of trauma. One of the ways that they cope is through a special interest in dead queer teenagers – those who might have been murderered, or might have otherwise had their lives cut short before they could become the adults they were meant to be. Sam has a whole scrapbook where they keep details from news and the Internet about each of these people, documenting and memorializing each short life as best they can.

By sheer coincidence, this is the second book I read in a row that portrayed an autistic character with a dark or morbid special interest. (I haven’t reviewed the other one yet; I’m finding it unusually difficult to put my thoughts together about that one.) It’s easy for neurotypical people to be put off by these kinds of interests or to characterize them as unhealthy. MacGregor’s approach to the topic is a lot wiser and kinder. Sam is mindful of the way most people would react to their interest, and of its potential pitfalls – the danger of becoming disrespectful, for instance, or invading families’ privacy. But it’s also made very very clear through the narrative that this interest is something Sam needs, a way of processing not only what they’ve been through but how their own trauma connects to a broader history. Plus, it’s what helps them solve the mystery and save the day.

Secretly, like many trauma survivors, Sam doesn’t feel that they’re really alive. Before long, they’re going to turn nineteen, and they have a strong feeling that they’re not going to survive past that birthday. Fate, or awful happenstance, will somehow intervene.

All this trauma is offset by the fact that Sam’s support network is genuinely warm and wonderful. To begin with, there is Junius, the best and coolest adoptive dad I’ve ever seen in a story. He is also a Black single parent – although Sam is white. MacGregor doesn’t shy away from showing how frustrated Junius gets with the racism he encounters, but also the resilience with which he seeks out situations where he and Sam can thrive. Junius is steady, supportive, and playful with Sam in ways that fully take Sam’s needs as an autistic young person into account. Check out this quote, for instance:

“Come on,” he says. “We’re gonna unload the car. And then we’re going to set up our egg crates and sleeping bags, and then we are going to go for a walk to see . . .” He pauses to stare at me melodramatically. “The ocean.”

I can’t help the small bounce I do. Dad is good at this. Giving me direction, expectations. Especially because tomorrow will be stressy, and even he can’t tell me how it’ll go.

Dad notices the bounce and grins wider. He has learned to tune himself to my frequency.

The community Sam finds at their new school is also good like this. It’s not perfect – there is some bullying and other instances of garden variety high school drama, and MacGregor takes those episodes seriously. But for the most part, as soon as Sam joins Rainbow Island – a student group for LGBTQ+ and allies – they are immediately welcomed by a new friend group full of queer teenagers who are just as adorable, quirky and sweet as they are themself.

The sheer warmth and love in this story provides an effective counterweight to the heaviness of the violence it’s processing. This is a book that doesn’t bowlderize the aftermath of murderous, queerphobic violence – or the effects of stalking and death threats in the present. But it’s a book that holds and supports you while it shows you those things. At heart, it’s an affirming book, and it refuses to leave Sam in the darkness alone.

In case there was any doubt, they do turn nineteen – and they do survive.

The Verdict: Recommended-1