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Sep 16, 2014
We're touring for this one. Details below
Neal Stephenson's inspired vision to inspire a new generation to enter the sciences and engineering, the Hieroglyph Project, has launched its self-titled anthology. We held a book launch here in Toronto on Sept. 13, which was well attended, and will be doing more events over the next month, all across North America.
Here's what people are saying about Hieroglyph so far:
Goodreads (average rating of 4.6 out of 5 so far)
Slate (story excerpt)
io9 (Madeline Ashby's story excerpted)
There's going to be a lot more; this is just a sample. Meanwhile, we're doing launch events across the country. I'll be attending two more, myself: on October 2, I'll be in Washington, and we'll be discussing Hieroglyph at the World Bank Narrative Hackathon in Phoenix, AZ October 21-25th. Hope you can make one of those!
(My story in the anthology is "Degrees of Freedom," which is about a separatist Haida nation in the Pacific Northwest that uses new technologies of governance to render the current national and provincial governments in the region obsolete.)
Jul 23, 2014
The first episodes of the graphic novel version of SoS have been collected in a single volume. You can buy it now!
Run on over to Blind Ferret and you can pick up the print edition of Sun of Suns, Vol. 1. This volume collects the first episodes of the story. You'll meet all the main characters here: Hayden Griffin, our sullen hero; Lady Venera Fanning, mad princess and spymaster; Martor the ship's go-fer, and even the pirate Dentius and his men.
The script for this excellent adaptation is by Jeff Moss, the ink's by Guy Allen, and color by Michael Birkhofer.
This was an amazing project and I had great fun working with such talented artists to bring my visions of Virga to life. I hope you enjoy the result.
May 09, 2014
My latest "scenario fiction" for the Canadian military is out
Back in 2005, the Directorate of Land Strategic Concepts of National Defense Canada (that is to say, the army) hired me to write a short novel, which they named Crisis in Zefra, about future peacekeeping and the evolution of the military in the 21st century. Zefra did very well; you can learn more about it elsewhere on my site. In 2010, they commissioned a second project.
Crisis in Urlia is now published. You can read it online for free or download the PDF. Where Zefra concentrated on military evolution on the squad level, Urlia is about command-and-control, and includes a vision of a crowdsourced military that some might find downright shocking, as well as side forays into online nations and religions, post-agricultural food supplies, and 3d printed buildings.
These works view the future through a particular lens (that of the military) but include as broad (practically epic, in fact) synopsis as I could craft of all the changes facing humanity and our environment over the next thirty years or so. In terms of the rigour that went into them, they're probably my best science fiction.
Apr 07, 2014
The intersection of installation art and fiction
On Saturday, May 3 and Sunday May 4, 2014, I will be hosting a workshop called Feedback Loops, on the mutual influence of art and speculative fiction, at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery here in Toronto. Using the works on view as starting points for narrative development, participants will learn the mechanics of writing and refining a speculative short story, resulting in an original piece of fiction that may be published in the gallery's online journal Switch On.
The workshop is being co-hosted by the Power Plant, the International Festival of Authors, and the Humber School for Writers. If you're interested in attending, please contact the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000.
Mar 21, 2014
Saturday, March 29 at 3, at Bakka Books here in Toronto
Fresh out of a dentist's appointment, I will be launching Lockstep at Bakka-Phoenix Books on Saturday, March 29 at 3:00. There'll be entertainment (me), copies of Lockstep to be signed and book-related ideas to be explained, and other novels to be bought (hint: we'll be breaking into the vault to offer some out-of-print hardcover editions of novels like Ventus and Permanence).
If you're really lucky you'll get to hear me do a reading with my mouth still frozen from the dentist. Major fun!
You can get to or contact Bakka-Phoenix here:
84 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G5
Mar 18, 2014
Derek Künsken gets it
I'm finding that the more a reviewer knows classic space opera (the 20th century version) the more they "get" Lockstep. Young Adult reviewers have been particularly kind, but now Derek Künsken, writing in The New York Review of Science Fiction, has explicitly compared Lockstep to its predecessors, and to what's often called the "new space opera." In the article (which you can find here, mind that it's $2.99 to buy the issue) he takes as a challenge my own assertion that with this book I've reinvented space opera, and sets out to see whether I'm right. To do this he compared the novel to its classic forerunners as well as recent works by Banks, Greenland, McCauley, McDonald, Reynolds and Stross. He starts by admitting that
Schroeder has preserved the interesting bits of the space opera setting, the light-year-spanning civilization, without jettisoning respect for known physics. This is an impressive addition to the canon.
His analysis is a fascinating read and a good reminder to those of us who've lost track over the years, of where this beloved branch of science fiction came from and what it's evolved into. In doing so, he highlights one of the issues that led me to write the novel: the pessimism of much of the current genre. There's no sense of innocence in science fiction these days. Now, I'm a firm believer that SF needs to shed its technophilic naivete; the time has passed when we could write starry-eyed tales about how science will cure all our ills. The hero of my long-running short story cycle, Gennady Malianov, is a pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector who, in tale after tale, ends up cleaning up the messes left by exactly that kind of naivete. So, I'm right there.
However, not only is there space for a mature optimism in SF, I believe it's absolutely essential. Anyone who has kids has to be an optimist, and we who are to bequeath a transformed world to our descendants are equally obligated, as a society, to work toward a positive future. That doesn't preclude being grimly aware of the mess we're in and the messes we could still create, as Gennady well knows. But it means we can still dare, and dream big, and care about the world we're for good or ill bringing into being. Space opera is a primary myth-form for that civilizational task.
As Künsken puts it,
Schroeder does not undermine, as Letson and Wolfe noted for writers of new space opera, the optimism present in the classic space opera form—quite the opposite. Lockstep is a novel overflowing with the optimism of a simpler time, fully embracing in its tone the adolescent yearning for the adventure, grand gestures, and romance of the classic space opera. Lockstep asserts thematically that it is possible to go back, to recover that innocence of an earlier age.
So, in the end, does he think I've "reinvented" space opera? Actually, no. Instead,
He created conditions under which the charm and wonder of classic space opera could live again. This is an equally valuable feat.
Good enough. I'm happy now.