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I've made my first novel, Ventus, available as a free download, as well as excerpts from two of the Virga books.  I am looking forward to putting up a number of short stories in the near future.

Complete novel:  Ventus


To celebrate the August, 2007 publication of Queen of Candesce, I decided to re-release my first novel as an eBook. You can download it from this page. Ventus was first published by Tor Books in 2000, and and you can still buy it; to everyone who would just like to sample my work, I hope you enjoy this version.

I've released this book under a Creative Commons license, which means you can read it and distribute it freely, but not make derivative works or sell it.

Book Excerpts:  Sun of Suns and Pirate Sun

I've made large tracts of these two Virga books available.  If you want to find out what the Virga universe is all about, you can check it out here:

Major Foresight Project:  Crisis in Zefra

In spring 2005, the Directorate of Land Strategic Concepts of National Defense Canada (that is to say, the army) hired me to write a dramatized future military scenario.  The book-length work, Crisis in Zefra, was set in a mythical African city-state, about 20 years in the future, and concerned a group of Canadian peacekeepers who are trying to ready the city for its first democratic vote while fighting an insurgency.  The project ran to 27,000 words and was published by the army as a bound paperback book.

If you'd like to read Crisis in Zefra, you can download it in PDF form.

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Pirate Sun

The Three Musketeers meets the Odyssey in the third Virga book

Ernest Lilley of SFRevu described Pirate Sun this way:

In the third, but by no means final, book in Karl Schroeder's Virga saga set in a zero gee bubble of gas and heated by an artificial sun, Admiral Chaison Fanning, imprisoned by the country he attacked to stop a strike against his own, breaks out and takes it on the lam with a girl straight out of anime. Schroeder mixes action, character, and political thought with creativity and aplomb.

The third Virga book is probably the most-action packed story I've ever written.  It's pure adventure from start to finish.

Read the Excerpt

Want to give it a try?  Read the entire prologue to the book here.

Reviews and Reactions

I'd actually been really worried about my choices in crafting the Virga series, because everybody seemed to have opinions about where the story should go next, and their ideas never seemed to jibe with my own.  "Hayden Griffin has to come back in book three!"  "The third book needs to go outside Virga and look at Artificial Nature!"  And on and on.  I had this terrible feeling as I was writing Pirate Sun that I was crafting a book that would please no one, and I let it go to Tor's production department with something of a feeling of dread.

And then the novel came out, and Ernest Lilley, over at, had this to say:

In the Virga saga, Schroeder demonstrates that he is capable of rich characters, exciting action, compelling plot, and very solid science. ...It's fun in the same league as the best SF ever has had to offer, fully as exciting and full of cool science as work from the golden age of SF, but with characterization and plot layering equal to the scrutiny of critical appraisers.

Britain's Sci Fi UK website fielded a smashing review of Pirate Sun.  It's worth quoting at length:

This series by Schroeder succeeds remarkably on two distinct levels. Actually, three levels if you count the hybrid fusion of its two modes as a separate success itself.

On the one hand, the series exemplifies all the many wonders inherent in the Big Dumb Object-or "extremely alien environment"-mode of SF. ...Schroeder has conjured up a mind-croggling "steel beach" to add to the genre's rich roster of such places, worked out its mechanics and cultures with masterful ingenuity, and then figured out what kind of adventure such a place would best support...

But on top of this, he has found a way to legitimately recreate the melodramatic thrills found most prominently in the literature from what editor and critic David Pringle calls "the Age of the Storytellers." The exploits of Chaison and Venera, and the gleeful yet bloody-minded pellmell tone and pace of the telling, hark back to Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Dumas and, of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Publisher's weekly was more cool and collected, but they clearly enjoyed it as well:


This fast-paced virtuoso exercise in world-building is the third novel (after 2007’s Queen of Candesce) set in Virga, a 5,000-mile wide balloon with a central artificial “sun” and many nations clustered around their own smaller suns. ... Virga is wonderfully imagined, with itinerant gravity sellers, floating farms in nets of dirt, and battles in which one town invades another as buildings smash together and people gather at windows with homemade weapons. The intrigue surrounding a brewing revolution and the threat of invading forces carry readers quickly through this adventure and on to the next installment.

Locus magazine called my world Virga "one of the most intriguing and enjoyable story-spaces of recent devising."

I always eagerly await my reviews in Locus, but luckily they've been reviewing my Virga series well in advance of the books' arrival.  Pirate Sun was published in August, but in the June, 2008 issue of Locus Russell Letson revealed all.  Though there's no easy pull-quotes from his review, it's clear that he really enjoyed the book.

Actually, reading this review made me realize just how byzantine a storyline I'd crafted:

Chaison (Fanning) wants to get back to Slipstream, but first he has to hide out in Falcon Formation, which turns out to be threatened with invasion by the neighboring nation of Gretels and to be harboring a resistance movement against its own authoritarian government.  Elsewhere, the defeated nation of Aerie... has developed another underground... if that weren't complicated enough, Chaison is being hunted by agents of his own government... an action that has caused turmoil in Slipstream and a crisis in the rule of the Pilot.  Oh, and...

Well, it goes on.  All I can say is, it seemed pretty simple to me as I was writing it.

As Letson pointed out (with some glee), Pirate Sun wraps up the main plotlines introduced in Sun of Suns, but doesn't answer all questions.  As he puts it, "even three volumes seems much too short a ride for the possibilities offered by Virga"--and I agree.  I'm currently putting the finishing touches on Ashes of Candesce and (bonus!) I'm writing some Virga short stories and novellas.

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About Me

I'm a member of the Association of Professional Futurists with my own consultancy, and am also currently Chair of the Canadian node of the Millennium Project, a private/public foresight consultancy active in 50 nations. As well, I am an award-winning author with ten published novels translated into as many languages. I write, give talks, and conduct workshops on numerous topics related to the future, including:

  • Future of government
  • Bitcoin and digital currencies
  • The workplace in 2030
  • The Internet of Things
  • Augmented cognition

For a complete bio, go here. To contact me, email karl at kschroeder dot com

Example: The Future of Governance

I use Science Fiction to communicate the results of actual futures studies. Some of my recent research relates to how we'll govern ourselves in the future. I've worked with a few clients on this and published some results.

Here are two examples--and you can read the first for free:

The Canadian army commissioned me to write Crisis in Urlia, a fictionalized study of the future of military command-and-control. You can download a PDF of the book here:

Crisis in Urlia

For the "optimistic Science Fiction" anthology Hieroglyph, I wrote "Degrees of Freedom," set in Haida Gwaii. "Degrees of Freedom" is about an attempt to develop new governing systems by Canadian First Nations people.

I'm continuing to research this exciting area and would be happy to share my findings.

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Coming on June 18, 2019

"Science fiction at its best."

--Kim Stanley Robinson

A Young Adult Scifi Saga

"Lean and hugely engaging ... and highly recommended."

--Open Letters Monthly, an Arts and Literature Review

Sheer Fun: The Virga Series

(Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce are combined in Cities of the Air)

 “An adventure-filled tale of sword fights and naval battles... the real fun of this coming-of-age tale includes a pirate treasure hunt and grand scale naval invasions set in the cold, far reaches of space. ”
Kirkus Reviews (listed in top 10 SF novels for 2006)

"With Queen of Candesce, [Schroeder] has achieved a clockwork balance of deftly paced adventure and humour, set against an intriguing and unique vision of humanity's far future.
--The Globe and Mail

"[Pirate Sun] is fun in the same league as the best SF ever has had to offer, fully as exciting and full of cool science as work from the golden age of SF, but with characterization and plot layering equal to the scrutiny of critical appraisers."

"...A rollicking good read... fun, bookish, and full of insane air battles"

"A grand flying-pirate-ship-chases-and-escapes-and-meetings-with-monsters adventure, and it ends not with a debate or a seminar but with a gigantic zero-gee battle around Candesce, a climactic unmasking and showdown, just desserts, and other satisfying stuff."