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Downloads

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.

Personal tools

Sun of Suns: Book I of VIRGA

Large town wheel (not Rush)

 Above is one of my "Virga Visualizations:"  in this case, a major city spinning in the weightless skies of Virga

The Story  

I put it this way in an interview with Paul Raven

Sun of Suns is pure unabashed fun. Imagine sky above, sky below, infinite blue to all sides peppered with cloud, randomly floating spheres of water and chunks of soil - and you flying free of gravity. This is my world Virga, a rigorously extrapolated and completely possible artificial world that’s the perfect playground setting for a pirate adventure - a tale of revenge, betrayal, treasure maps, swordfights and boarding parties, yet set in a world where fish fly and where young, bitter Hayden Griffin zips around on a wingless jet engine mounted with a saddle and handlebars. Hayden’s bent on revenge for the deaths of his parents, but the man he’s targeted is a prominent admiral who hires Hayden as a flyer on a dangerous and possibly illegal trip into the darkened corners of Virga–the empty places collectively known as Winter.

There’s low humour and high drama, massive set-piece battles and intimate moments amongst the clouds. And Sun of Suns is only the first book in a series - there’s much more to come …”

 Japanese SoSStandard thriller?  Nautical adventure?  Sun of Suns could be these things, but for the fact that the novel takes place in a world without gravity.  To be exact, the world known as Virga is a balloon five thousand miles in diameter, orbiting a distant star. This vast sphere contains only air, water and aimlessly floating chunks of rock.  The humans who live in this bizarre environment build their own fusion suns and “towns” that are basically big wood-and-rope wheels which they spin for centripetal gravity.  They fly home-built fanjets that use bicycle-level technology, and fight wars with jet-powered cylindrical ships that fire broadsides of rockets at one another.  The technology--except for the suns--is early twentieth-century.  The places and situations, though, are mind-bogglingly different from any earth-bound story.

"Outrageously brilliant and absolutely not to be missed."
--the Kirkus Reviews

In Sun of Suns, we follow Hayden on his luckless quest for revenge, as he is shanghaied into Slipstream’s navy and made to work for the very man he has sworn to kill.  Sent on a secret mission into the realms of “winter” (the unlit, frozen spaces between the fusion suns) he meets a cast of rogues and odd characters who each have their own private demons and hidden agenda.  Together they dodge pirates and giant tear-drop oceans, ferret out spies and try to keep their own goals secret from one another as they tick down the days to a planned sneak attack against the overwhelming forces of Slipstream’s enemies.

Just for fun:  A new kind of science-fiction world

Cover by George KrauterIn 2005, I'd pretty much broken my brain writing Lady of Mazes and needed a rest.  I decided to write an entertainment in the purest sense:  a story purely for fun, set in the coolest setting I could imagine.  The result was Sun of Suns.

Other people had set stories in a shirt-sleeve weightless environment before.  There was Larry Niven's Smoke Ring, of course; and Iain Banks had used a setting essentially identical to my world of Virga in Look to Windward several years before.  So in that sense I've done nothing innovative with Virga; what I did decide to do was follow the implications of this idea as far as I could--which, strangely enough, nobody had done before.

For Sun of Suns, that meant crafting a kind of 'grand tour' of the whole world--a technique that also has precedents, such as Niven's Ringworld.  In this case the tour was framed as a nautical adventure, complete with pirates, boarding parties, lost treasure, treachery and revenge.

Before it was published as a novel, Sun of Suns was serialized in Analog magazine.  George Krauter did the art for the cover and interior, subsequently winning the 2006 AnLab Award for best artist for this image.

Tor Books released the hardcover edition on October 3, 2006, and the paperback came out the following summer.

 Reactions

Sun of Suns was nominated for the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and the critical and public reaction was overwhelmingly positive.  Here are a few snippets from some of the reviews:

 “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)

 

"We already knew that Karl Schroeder could do Kubrick. Now it turns out he can do Dumas as well. And more: not since Middle Earth have I encountered such an intense and palpable evocation of an alien world. Sun of Suns puts the world-building exercises of classic Niven to shame."
Peter Watts
"Mix in one part thrilling action, one part screaming-cool steampunk tech, and one part worldbuilding and you've got Sun of Suns. And oh, what worldbuilding! Schroeder is a master."
Cory Doctorow, author of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leave Town and co-editor of Boing Boing

“Karl Schroeder's Sun of Suns not only creates an even more unusual and evocative setting than his previous work, but is replete with adventures and turns, and characters that are anything but one-dimensional.”
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Sun of Suns

 

“I loved it. It never slowed down. The background is fascinating and the characters held my attention. It reminded me a little of The Integral Trees, with technology a little more advanced.”
Larry Niven

  "Over the years, science-fiction has provided us with awesome environments, the best ones based on careful logic. There was Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity and Robert Forward's Dragon's Egg. Karl Schroeder's new novel is in a class with these masterpieces. The longer one ponders Sun of Suns, the less paradoxical--and the more intricately sensible--it comes to be."

Vernor Vinge

"Sun of Suns is a rip-roaring story full of marvellous images and cutting-edge ideas. Schroeder has the rare and invaluable ability to develop wholly new concepts and turn them into compelling narratives. The scientists are already studying Schroeder's ideas.Take him very seriously."
—Stephen Baxter

“Karl has managed to have his cake and eat it [too]. . . .It’s a satisfying story in itself, but raises enough questions for me to want to buy the next in the series.”
—Neal Asher, author of The Skinner

“Schroeder's deft alchemy fuses scrupulously detailed, mind-expanding world-building with unabashed, rip-roaring pulp adventure to produce a twenty-four carat story sparkling with science fiction's finest virtues.”
—Paul McAuley

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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.

 
Sheer Fun

Original Hardcover Edition

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."
--SFRevu.com


"...A rollicking good read... fun, bookish, and full of insane air battles"
--io9.com


"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."
--Locus