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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

Virga Visualizations

I'm not an artist and can't do justice to my ideas the way that George Krauter and Stephan Martiniere have with their gorgeous cover art for Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce.  It's precisely because their images are created primarily for aesthetic effect that I decided to make some of my own. I'm using 3d software to visualize what the world of Virga might actually look like. So consider the following to be snapshots taken by an amateur photographer--light on artistic merit, but accurate to the places depicted.

Cities

Large town wheel (not Rush)

 

This first snapshot is of one of the largest town wheels you'd encounter in Virga. This is not the city of Rush in Slipstream, whose wheels are smaller. Such a town wheel could be constructed of iron or stronger metals like titanium. It is kept at rotational speed using large jet engines mounted at fixed points (not visible in this image).

Features of note in the picture: this town wheel rotates around a small asteroid. The asteroid is forested, and there are also several small free-floating groves visible in the foreground. There is a fairly large airship (100+ feet in length) cruising past as well. This is not an airship in the earthly sense, of course; in close-ups you'll see that this particular ship is covered in shingles. I'm currently thinking it's a good model for Chaison Fanning's ship The Rook.

There's a few clusters of buildings floating free in the air too. One feature not visible at this distance is the myriad spoke cables that stretch, like a suspension bridge's, throughout the town wheel.

It's day, of course, with some artificial sunlight coming in from the left. That blue you see to the rest of the sky: don't take it for granted. That colour indicates that we're looking in the direction of deep Winter here, because if there were suns out there the sky would be tinted by them.

This second snapshot is a bit sloppy, and I've included it only because it gives some sense of the scale of the city. In the Virga books I've aimed for more of a steampunk feel to the technology and society, but the towers depicted here are in keeping with the level of sophistication this nation would need in order to maintain structures this huge. They're really on the technological cutting edge of Virga culture, and it shows.

Another close-up, this one a tighter shot of the forested asteroid and inner surface of the wheel. You can clearly see some of the city's parks, which are places of great novelty to the people of Virga; they're the only places where you're going to find plants growing under gravity. People come to them to stare at the trees, which look bizarre and squat compared to what they're used to.

And finally, a little teaser. Who do you suppose that is? Her Admiralty garb is a clue, as are her black hair and the rather ruthless twist to her lips.

This picture isn't finished, by any means; I want to show the lady reaching to pluck a flower from a nearby grass-covered clod of earth. She shouldn't be wearing shoes, by the way. Behind her is a small forest--ordinary enough for Virga--but note the colour of the sky. We're nowhere near Winter here, in fact there must be at least several suns in this sky. Perhaps we're not far from Candesce?

Town Wheels

A Virga town wheel

The first picture, above, shows a typical small town wheel being visited by two large ships (perhaps passenger cruisers, or freighters). What's most prominent here are the low-gravity decks suspended above the main wheel; these are places where people who've spent too long in freefall can regain their 'land legs,' and those infirm or with chronic osteoporosis (common in Virga) can live in low-g.

Another town wheel

This second image, side-on, shows a feature of the town wheels that I've often mentioned but never explained: the yin-yang staircases. Two of them can be seen snaking from the outer rim of the wheel up to the axle. Yin-yang staircases are very simple: they are stairways that start out with a reasonable slope in the heavy part of the wheel, and get gradually steeper as you climb, so that the effort involved remains about constant but you gain more height with each step. By the time you get to the axle, they're vertical.

Missing from these shots is the huge amount of detail that would flood an actual picture of such a place: there'd be outrigger buildings, cargo nets and balls of water floating nearby, smaller vehicles coming and going, and dozens of winged human figures visible surrounding the wheel. When I get the time I fully intend to create some images like that; for now, you can treat these two as very rough sketches.

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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