The history of humanity is arguably the history of us trying to explain everything around us. Both science and religion have developed as divergent threads of this goal, inextricably linked but often at odds with one another.

The Fallen by Ada Hoffmann (published by Angry Robot books)

Science fiction and cosmic horror also like to explore similar issues, so it feels natural that we are seeing more and more mash-ups of these two genres. Mixing the unexplainable cosmic horror with our need to define everything precisely in the realm of hard science fiction leads to endless narrative tension.

Ada Hoffmann’s debut, The Outside, gave us a queer scientist with autism protagonist who tackled reality-warping science as well as unknowable and seemingly all-powerful gods. This year, the follow-up, The Fallen, has hit shelves. So we wanted to talk to Ada about this popular genre mashup trend.

Texts and authors mentioned in this episode include:

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Moon
  • AI
  • Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed
  • H. P. Lovecraft
  • Victor LaVelle
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Ruthanna Emrys
  • H. G. Wells
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  • Battlestar Galactica

Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel THE OUTSIDE, the collection MONSTERS IN MY MIND, and dozens of speculative short stories and poems. Ada’s work has been a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award (2020, THE OUTSIDE), the Compton Crook Award (2020, THE OUTSIDE), and the WSFA Small Press Award (2020, “Fairest of All”). She is the winner of the Friends of the Merrill Collection Short Story Contest (2013, “The Mother of All Squid Builds a Library”) and a two-time Rhysling award nominee (2014 for “The Siren of Mayberry Crescent” and 2017 for “The Giantess’s Dream”).
Ada’s novel-length work is represented by Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates.

Ada was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. Her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to in-depth discussions of autism representation in speculative fiction. Much of her own work also features autistic characters.

Ada is an adjunct professor of computer science at a major Canadian university, and she did her PhD thesis (in 2018) on teaching computers to write poetry. Under her legal name, she has published eight papers and presented her work at conferences around the world. She is a former semi-professional soprano, tabletop gaming enthusiast, and LARPer. She lives in eastern Ontario with a polyamorous family and a curious black cat.