The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Malka Older

Malka Older

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and PhD candidate. Her science fiction political thriller Infomocracy is the first full-length novel from Tor.com, and the sequel Null States will be published in 2017. She was nominated for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, she has more than a decade of experience in humanitarian aid and development. Her doctoral work on the sociology of organizations at the Institut d’Études Politques de Paris (Sciences Po) explores the dynamics of multi-level governance and disaster response using the cases of Hurricane Katrina and the Japan tsunami of 2011.

Selected Media

"The Rumpus Interview with Malka Older." Justin Ellis, The Rumpus (Nov 8, 2016).

"Ursula Le Guin recently called on writers of science fiction to “see alternatives to how we live now,” and Older’s novel does just that. A doctoral candidate and self-proclaimed policy nerd, Older wrote a futuristic political thriller that with shadows of the issues that have surrounded our recent political campaigns and geopolitics. Because she is interested not only in telling an interesting story—which she does in Infomocracy—but also in helping readers to become more engaged in policy issues, she is donating a percentage of her royalties to Accountability Lab, an organization whose mission is to hold leaders accountable to the people they serve."

"Malka Older and Daniel José Older Discuss Infomocracy, Cyberpunk, and the Future!" Leah Schnelbach, Tor.Com (Jun 10, 2016).

"DJO: I love this book. I know I’m supposed to cause you’re my sister, but I really love this book. Could you talk about the moment it was born?

MO: It was a conglomeration of a few things. I was interested in a new world order, where, instead of nation-states, each country can be scattered across continents. With technology, we don’t need to be bound to contiguous borders, or physical proximity. In Infomocracy, the population is divided into “centenals”—100,000 people have jurisdiction, and can vote to belong to any government in the world. There are idealist governments, corporates, interest groups… having worked in places with secessionist groups, I was struck by the way we still want our countries to be physically large. So I was wondering, how can we get away from that? Size is not so important anymore, so how will a government work once we move away from that idea?"

"Patchwork Futures: Sci-fi meets the political thriller." Marina N. Bolotnikova, Harvard Magazine (Sep-Oct, 2017).

"Null States is concerned with a different type of narrative: the collective ones that animate ethnic and regional conflict in the era of nation-states. The sparsely populated desert of what used to be Sudan is transitioning to micro-democracy when the head of the governing DarFur party, Al-Jabali, who’s been calling for his people to embrace a larger government uniting all oppressed ethnicities, is assassinated. “Nothing makes nationalists so fast as persecution,” one analyst remarks. The Information establishment appears so earnest about the promise of a post-national world as to be willfully blind to the reality that nationalism and ethnic-based identity still exert a strong pull within the micro-democratic system.'


"The Black Box: These Memories Are Made to Last Forever." Malka Older, WIRED (Dec 13, 2016).

"The Lifebrarian was installed just after Sumi’s first birthday. Her grandparents insisted on paying for it. They insisted on the whole thing. Liliana was reluctant; she wanted her daughter to have the kind of life she still thought of as normal.

'It will probably affect the way her brain evolves,' she argued to Hideyoshi. 'Imagine if you never had to remember anything.'"


"The PEN Ten with Malka Older." PEN America (Aug 8, 2017).

"Q: When, if ever, is censorship available?

A: Nope."