Monica Byrne was part of the 2016 TED conference in Vancouver earlier this year. I would say she gave a TED talk, but that wouldn't really be accurate. Most TED talks have a fairly distinct form and style, but not Monica's.
Instead, she performed a story she'd written for the occasion called "A Sci-Fi Vision of Love from a 318-Year-Old Hologram." Afterward, Monica heard that people in the audience were unsure if she was a life performer or an actual hologram- so cool!
The TED conference is, as Monica described it, is "a massive networking opportunity for very, very powerful, wealthy people." There are always really big name speakers mixed in -this year's lineup included Al Gore, astronaut Mae Jemison, John Legend, and Shonda Rhimes- and a few breakout talks, like Sheryl Sandberg's talk that became her book Lean In. I was curious how Monica got invited and what it was like being introduced by Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline and American Gods.
"I actually knew him already because he was my teacher at the Clarion Workshop. Clarion Workshop is a science fiction and fantasy writing workshop that I took in 2008, and he was one of my instructors then. So, that meant when The Girl in the Road came out, we asked him for a blurb, and he very generously gave a very generous blurb, and then he knew about me and knew to ask me to come to the TED conference and read a science fiction story. He introduced me as the love child of William Gibson and Toni Morrison, which I loved. He's a very sweet guy, and I mean being introduced by him, it's just surreal."
Watch the talk below and check out the footnotes to find out more about Monica's inspirations, thought processes, and how Monica made herself look like a "priestess from the future."