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Introducing new guest blogger: Madeline Ashby

Charlie here. I'm off to Sledge-Lit in Derby tomorrow, a one day SF convention at Derby Quad. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce our latest guest blogger: Madeline Ashby.

Madeline is a science fiction writer, columnist, and futurist living in Toronto. She is the author of the Machine Dynasty series from Angry Robot Books, as wells as the forthcoming novel Company Town from Tor. Recently, she co-edited Licence Expired: the Unauthorized James Bond, an anthology for ChiZine Publications. She has worked with organizations like Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, the Atlantic Council, Nesta, and others. You can find her on Twitter @MadelineAshby or at



Hi! Kudos for how in vN, the repression (for lack of a better word) against the vN felt very real. On the off chance that you somehow still look for ideas what to write about here, I'd be intersted in your take on the intersection between forecasting, futurology and writing SF. Purely for reasons because that's something I'm curios about now. cheers!


Welcome Madeleine!

I'd not heard of your work till now, but the premise of vN sounds awesome and I've bought it without a moment's hesitation (chalk another one up to the awesome sales power of author blogging that supports other authors). Looking forward to reading your posts here, too.


Cool! I enjoyed vN and iD. I'm looking forward to reV. This will be very interesting.


I just saw this on her blog (

"...There’s a time and place to invoke Godwin’s Law. Or at least, there used to be. But lately, I’ve been thinking we should repeal it.

We have Donald Trump to thank for this. With his suggestion that all Muslims in America wear ID badges, he hewed too close to his platform’s Fascist roots. Think that’s too strong a word? Well, the truth hurts. It hurts a lot. But what hurts more is not Trump’s arrival (he’s always been out there, lurking, waiting for this opportunity to arise), but that the conditions have been met that guaranteed his arrival."

Oh, this is going to be good. I don't know if repealing Godwin's Law is necessarily the correct approach, but I agree overwhelmingly with the sentiment.

Welcome, and I look forward to the discussion.


Yaaaaaay! I love your books, Madeline!


I stumbled across that post as well, and had it in mind when I went to witness and counter-protest the Reclaim Australia rally (a.k.a. the fledgling Australian Golden Dawn movement). When your ideological opponents are quoting anti-Semites and, quite literally, rallying against an ethnic/religious group on the proviso that they're a threat to the nation... yeah, it doesn't seem so much like a fallacy to invoke the Nazis.


"Reclaim Australia"?

I assume that's like right-wing, white-supremey types in the US calling themselves Native Americans without a hint of irony?

I saw Ashby's blog post too, and agree with her point, which seems to have been missed by the two commenters there who were getting all pedantic about Godwin's Law.

I think Donolph Trumpler may be my new name for him. His latest bit a-holery is to say of an African American demonstrator at one of his rallys "maybe he should've been roughed up" just shows more of what a bully he is, and his followers love it. I'm trying to decide if his vocabulary is actually as limited as it seems, or if it's to appeal to his supporters. And don't get me started on Carson.

But, this ain't the place or time.


"I assume that's like right-wing, white-supremey types in the US calling themselves Native Americans without a hint of irony?"

Slightly worse than that. There was a point in time, in the 19th C, where the British were telling the Australian governors that they needed to form some sort of treaty with the Indigenous population if they were going to continue administering the country as if they owned it. Those governors declined that opportunity and, in this sense, Australia makes the US, Canada and New Zealand look downright progressive. The Commonwealth of Australia still has never attempted to make treaty with the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples who still claim sovereignty over the Australian landmass.

In the eyes of Reclaim Australia, that is, and most white Australians, there is no irony in 'reclaiming Australia.' Partly because Aboriginal people don't feel like they're Australians – – but also because greater Australia doesn't tacitly acknowledge the legitimacy of its pre-colonial past.


That's because the British only respect those who could give them a kicking. The Zulu and Maori probably top the colonial list, but only because we never did get around to holding Afghanistan (then or now).


Dick, that version of history that indigenous Australians didn't fight back has been largely discredited (except for a few old die hards)in Australian Unis anyway.

There is now archaeological and primary source evidence that not only did they fight back, they won a few battles as well. One of the main problems with admitting you have an actual war going on is it makes it inconvenient to have the doctrine of terra nullius stand up (the legal fiction that no-one lived in Australia prior to British settlement that allowed the land grab.)You humanise the enemy, you can't say no-one lives here and the land is up for grabs.

I happen to have a copy of an encyclopaedia Britannica dated 1882 and Aboriginals were listed in the mammal section alongside gorillas and chimpanzees with words to the effect of 'little better than a beast'. That's 100 years after the Brits arrived. (and there is now archaeological evidence that Indigenous Australians were actually involved in trade with the Dutch and possibly the Portuguese as early as the 1600s in the top end)

One of the few credits of that time was that one of the original colonial governors was anti slavery so banned it when he got here it (not that it stopped QLD sugar plantation owners from 'blackbirding' ie. scooping up Pacific Islanders and forcing them into 'indentured labour' situations which didn't work out for anyone - the Islanders pretty much dragged their feet and got returned to the Islands randomly with no regard to where they came from)Totally recommend anyone interested to look into 'blackbirding' - it totally screwed up Pacific Island culture as well.

Sorry, back on topic, Was not aware of you as an author Madeline but will definitely check you out now.


That's not true. The British were never blind to the ethics of their empire building, and we have smoking-gun evidence that they directed their governors in Australia to treat Aboriginal and TSI peoples with legitimacy. It was never a simple calculation of might equals right, and your comments aren't particularly illuminating.


Meanwhile in Syria, Russia and Turkey found a new way to fight terror: make the da'esh leaders laugh themselves to death.


Meanwhile, Bezos wins the 1st round of the Bond Villain contest? Will be more impressed when it puts something in orbit and lands safely.


The point is that those people who exhibited serious cultural aggression, such as the Maori and Zulu, did better than those who did not. Afghanistan being a case in point.


The Navajo and the Cherokee seemed to have done better than the Sioux and the Apache. While none of these tribes were completely peaceful (who is?) with other nations and the settlers, the more warlike nations do not seemed to have done better in the long run. The Navajo were known for adapting the good ideas of other nations even before they met European culture.


One thing to keep in mind - early New Zealand was a hell of a tough country to move around and settle in - it was a temperate jungle out there, and the Maori had locked up all the useful land on the rivers and coasts, then substantially fortified it during their tribal wars prior to widespread settlement. The British were initially forced into making treaties to gain their foothold, then used divide and conquer to take over the country. Their main advantage was depopulation from the Musket Wars and a lot of grudge settling between tribes giving them a ready source of auxiliaries. When the British decided to properly conquer the country though it only took them two major campaigns. Professional warriors beat part timers every time because they don't have to stop to harvest.

Australia is far far drier and less fertile overall, so movement was a lot easier, and expansion into the open interior was more straightforward. Aboriginal tribes were also far more widely distributed than the concentrations in NZ so cooperation was less. Queensland was probably the only part with a high native population, and they were summarily crushed as the settlers moved in because of the disparity in weapons.

The other country that has a similar impact from environment is New Guinea, and it is noticeable that no western country succeeded in colonising New Guinea outside of a few coastal trading enclaves until WW2 forced roads to be built deep into the interior - it was simply too tough, and the locals so hostile that it was easier to hire them and trade the goods out for sale.


So, did Madeline Ashby ever write a blog entry here or was that in a universe I missed?


You're shifting the goalposts on your own claim. And even in shifting them, you're not capturing the reality of the situation. At this point, I'm honestly begging you to consider that 'the British only respected those who gave them a kicking' perspective is not only historically incorrect but also endorses a Social Darwinist worldview.There really are a great many histories of Australia which empirically contradict your line of thinking – would you care for a recommendation list?



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 20, 2015 9:29 AM.

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