2023 was a good year, actually

(You can also view this post on Buttondown.)

Well, it’s 2024. And now that 2023 is over (I chafe at writing “year in review” posts while the year is still ongoing!) it’s time to look back on what happened in this trip around the sun.

I had two books out this year, which is amazing. THE INFINITE came out in January 2023, concluding the Outside trilogy; and RESURRECTIONS, which you are probably already tired of hearing about, released in December. Two big book-shaped bookends to the year. I’m proud of them.

I was focused on book-sized projects and didn’t put out many individual shorter works, but my poem The Fox’s Lover appeared in Orion’s Belt; there are also several new, not-published-before poems in RESURRECTIONS.

If you are nominating for awards, then all these things are eligible – including for Canadian awards like the Auroras, and LGBTQ+ awards like the Lambdas, as well as the usual sci-fi suspects. The Outside trilogy, which is now complete, is also eligible for Best Series.

Some exciting things happened at my day job: a raise, thanks to the efforts of the faculty union; a return to research; a trip to a conference for the first time since graduate school; a cool and very topical new course that I might-cross-my-fingers be designing! And I attended a number of wonderful writing events – the crown jewel, of course, being the trip to Barcelona.

I know 2023 was a hard year for many people and I don’t want to make light of that. But for me, after years of post-PhD burnout, it felt like the year I got my professional mojo back.

In light of all that, I’m not thinking of my goals for 2024 in terms of new resolutions; I’m thinking of following up on the seeds that are already planted. I have manuscripts to revise and submit; I have new book-sized ideas that I’m already starting to explore; I have work projects I’ve started and I intend to stay the course. I also have some personal goals. I’m still in therapy, which regularly kicks my ass with FEELINGS; I’m still renovating my house; I’m still trying to figure out how to make writing friends who are more local to me and not just disembodied voices on the intarwebs, and how to keep up with the online ones in a more engaged and involved way. A lot of what I’ve done this year, and the years previously, is very solitary and internal.

Paradoxically, looking back at my journals, I also learned a lot this year about the need to slow down. One thing I’ve learned is that I cannot get to this level of achievement by pushing for it, or by punishing myself. I might have been able to do that a decade ago; I can’t now. But the right writing on the right project at the right time is a comfort activity for me. It helps me to process my feelings and cheer myself up. Sometimes I need to do it, even if I’m tired. Sometimes it comes in big bursts, where I feel like I can’t not write the thing, or I’ll explode. Therapy has only increased this feeling. I have to laser focus on the projects that feel like this to me, not the ones I think somebody else will want from me, and keep ruthlessly pruning back the “should”s and feelings of obligation that grow up like weeds around them.

My day job and other duties follow similar principles. I can only perform well when I’m taking care of myself. I can only do the hard work when I’m also making time to breathe and sit compassionately with my own feelings. They call it “work-life balance” but it’s not simply about having a certain amount of time for work and a certain amount for other things. Not to sound twee, but it’s also about things like harmony and patience and alignment and love. I feel like I know a lot more about this than I did a year ago. I feel like I still have a lot to learn.

Whether you’ve had a wonderful, exciting year or whether all you could do was keep breathing, I hope you can carve out some space to look at yourself and your needs with compassion this year, too.

Meanwhile, I owe you the last bits from the 12 Days of Resurrections!

Buttondown is giving me weird errors when I try to attach a lot of images, but I think I’ve attached two of the Ten Cats A-Leapin’ from Day 10? If you want eight more, you can see them on Dreamwidth.

And one (1) last bit of microfiction, to the prompt “Don’t Blink” from Dominic Walsh:

Alvina eyed the six-foot-long mutant cat, its irises a radioactive green, its pupils wide and black in the dim light of the ship’s corridor. She could not look away. The moment she lost this little staring contest, she knew, was the moment it would pounce.

Everything Is True has moved to Buttondown!

I’ve successfully migrated my official author newsletter from Substack to Buttondown. Effective immediately, Everything Is True is no longer hosted on Substack and my Substack account has been deleted.

If you have paid any attention to the news of the last few days, then you already know why I did this. (I have also deleted my X account and my author page on Facebook, while I’m at it, not because they had anything to do with Substack’s mess, because life is too short to enter 2024 still desultorily engaging with moribund platforms that have been enshittified to the point of unusability.)

This is also no longer a paid newsletter. Everything in it is free. I have refunded everyone who was still in the middle of a paid subscription. More on that later.

You can subscribe to it here, if you feel so inclined.

How I feel about Substack right now

I first joined Substack right before the first big waves of authors who left the platform, on account of how it was platforming TERFs. And I was like, ugggh. And I didn’t leave.

Why didn’t I leave? Partly, I didn’t believe there was going to be any platform, ever, that didn’t have TERFs. Leaving every platform that had them felt like ceding too much ground. Partly, I liked Substack’s features; they’re still among the best in the business.

But also: I think I am a tiny bit more of a freeze peacher than most queer and trans people. It’s not that I don’t believe speech can be harmful – obviously it can, and if I didn’t think so, or if I thought all speech should be exempt from criticism, then I wouldn’t have started writing all these autistic book reviews! It’s just that I have been around here for a while, and I have watched an exhausting number of queer and trans authors get cancelled for the stupidest reasons. I have watched, sometimes, as right-wing bigots intentionally start campaigns to get them cancelled and the left-wing queer community eagerly picks up on it, because right-wing bigots are not stupid, and they know how to hold our favorite shibboleths and buzzwords against us. It is not lost on me that the current campaigns of hate against trans people revolve around framing our existence as harmful – as child grooming, for instance – and insisting that we shouldn’t be heard or seen for that reason. This aspect of things is only going to get worse.

So I dared to think that maybe, a platform that offers useful tools to any author, even if people are loudly insisting that author’s speech is harmful – even if it is harmful – might be a net good for trans authors.

Turns out I was hilariously wrong about that. And that’s on me. And even I am not enough of a freeze peacher to be okay with actual fucking Nazis.

So here we are. And I’m angry with myself for staying this long. I’ve been told that it’s too easy for me to direct anger like this at myself – as opposed to, like, at the actual Nazis. Nonetheless, “angry with myself” is where I’m at, and it’s not going away anytime soon, so I think I need to sit with it and figure out what to do with it constructively.

(“Why did I stay in this toxic situation?” is also a big theme in RESURRECTIONS, so…)

But what about the 12 Days of RESURRECTIONS?

The 12 Days of RESURRECTIONS event was always being held on multiple platforms at once. If you’re on Bluesky or Dreamwidth, you’ll be able to keep participating without an interruption.

For those of you who were depending on Substack, I think I’ve handled every interaction that I needed to handle, except for one (1) microfiction prompt that was being saved for tomorrow. There are some things, like cat pictures, that I was waiting to post on Substack until the end of the event (although Bluesky and Dreamwidth will get them faster); these will be posted on Buttondown instead, and the one (1) outstanding piece of microfiction will be posted along with them.

What’s next

I’m going to keep posting most of the regular features that I was putting on Everything Is True – book reviews (though I’m woefully behind on those after Barcelona and the book launch), Things I’ve Been Reading, general author updates and announcements. (I owe you a Year In Review very soon!) Some of these will be in the newsletter, and some – as Autistic Book Party already was – will be posted on my WordPress blog and linked in the newsletter.

What’s changing is my essays and other nonfiction. These are not going completely away, but they are going to come out less often, and when they do come out, they will be for everyone. They will not be behind a paywall.

For reasons that are more complicated and harder to articulate than “because there are Nazis,” I’ve been feeling disillusioned lately with the paid newsletter model. It hasn’t been sitting fully right with me. Look, I have an honest to God middle class dayjob that I mostly enjoy, okay? I don’t actually have a burning need for the modest amount of money that Substack was earning me. I have a very lovely, if small, group of fans; but most fans do not, in fact, have $5 a month to give separately and piecemeal to every single author they enjoy, nor should that be a fan’s responsibility when they’ve already done us the favor of buying our books. Even I with my middle class income don’t have that much to give to every author I like, and I’m tired of it, frankly. You haven’t seen the last of my essays, but I think I’m going to go back to writing them when I feel like it, and asking for nothing in return.

Thank you for bearing with me through this fairly sudden transition. We live in some interesting times.

Barcelona, part 3

Hi folks! A couple of quick news items:

  • If you missed the RESURRECTIONS virtual launch, you can watch it here.
  • RESURRECTIONS is also the Book of the Month on the Apex Book Company Patreon. I mean, of course it is, because it’s the book they’re releasing this month, but I whipped up a photo tour for them. It has a lot of the same photos as these posts here, but I organized it differently, focusing less on a blow-by-blow account of where I went when, and more on the lessons learned. (It’s also free to read, I think, unless I somehow got subscribed to their Patreon without realizing.)

And now, on to Barcelona!

(Read the full post on Substack)

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!