Bookmas! with Madeline Ashby


Madeline AshbyBookmas: when disciples gather together and read aloud selections from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Today’s not-so-secret BookSanta: Madeline Ashby!

Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, strategic foresight consultant, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. Her novels include vN, iD, and the forthcoming Company Town. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, and

What Knife Fight2014-published fiction would you recommend? Knife Fight and Other Struggles, David Nickle

What 2014-published non-fiction would you recommend? Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, Robyn Doolittle

What one 2014-published book do you believe needs more love? The conclusion to The Less-Than-Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, a beautifully drawn and wonderfully written road trip romance graphic novel by E.K. Weaver.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not necessarily a 2014 book) would you recommend? The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude, Andrew Nikiforuk

What ongoing series of books would you recommend? The Miriam Black novels, by Chuck Wendig. I eat those up with a spoon. They’re such fun books.

What’s the one book you’ve read in your lifetime that you think everyone should read? That’s tough. Possibly The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. I read it when I was fourteen. It made me a history major. But mostly, you should just read it for the language. Ondaatje is one of those novelists who is also a poet, and it shows in his prose. You could also read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and get much the same effect, with wildly different subject matter. (The opening to The Bluest Eye remains one of the most chilling first chapters in the whole English language, for my money.) But I like reading novels like that because they use language in a way that I myself can’t. I’m not that lyrical. I’m not that deft, that confident. So I like to read writers who are.

Let’s go specific: what one book would you recommend for

If, god forbid, people couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you suggest they seek out for a similar literary fix? Maureen McHugh. She also writes science fiction about working people.

RedbreastWhat would you recommend for the holidays in a non-literary context? I recommend Redbreast Irish whisky. It’s smoother than most scotches, but more interesting than Jameson or Bushmills. It’s a nice alternative if bourbon is too sweet for your taste. (For bourbon, I like Woodford Reserve or Four Roses Single Barrel.) But Redbreast tastes like the second drink, and so I recommend it for the holidays.