Ada Palmer grew up in Annapolis MD and attended the Key School, then the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. In 1997 she became frustrated with high school, so left without graduating at the age of 16, and went to college two years early, attended Simon’s Rock College of Bard for two wonderful years, then transferred to Bryn Mawr College for her final two years, because she wanted more Latin and Ancient Greek so could be a Renaissance Historian.

She chose Harvard for her Ph.D. specifically because she wanted to study with James Hankins, whose intellectual history work on the impact of the rediscovery of classical thought in the Renaissance fit her interests perfectly. She is now Assistant Professor of Early Modern European History and the College Affiliated Faculty, Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Chicago. Additional details at her website

Balticon congratulates Ada Palmer for winning the 2017 Compton Crook Award, which will be presented at Balticon’s Opening Ceremonies on Friday night. Her winning novel is Too Like the Lightning, from Tor Books. You can read an excerpt from the book at the Tor website.

Compton Crook Award Winning Book: Too Like The Lightning

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer—a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

Compton Crook Award

The members of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc. (BSFS) created the Compton Crook Award in 1982 to honor the best first novel of the year written by an individual author (collaborations are not eligible) in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. Since its inception, the award has been presented at Balticon — the four-day annual Maryland regional science fiction convention produced by BSFS, currently held on Memorial Day weekend in the Baltimore, MD area.

The Award was named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall, and who died in 1981. Professor Crook was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award. The first Compton Crook Award was presented in 1983 for Donald Kingsbury’s debut novel Courtship Right, a work published in 1982.