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.
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.
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:
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.
I'll be adding new stories here periodically. First of all, you can try my Aurora-award nominated short story "Hopscotch." The year this was nominated, another of my stories was also nominated: "The Toy Mill," which I wrote with David Nickle. "The Toy Mill" won the award; but I've always been fond of "Hopscotch." Here it is, in its entirety excerpted from my collection The Engine of Recall.
Easily had for $0.99 at http://www.comixology.com/Virga-1/digital-comic/DIG004336
Aaaand here it is!
You can't imagine what it's been like having to keep all this under wraps. I mean, I could talk about the fact that the comic was being developed, but practically every day I would get some amazing new art in my inbox... which I couldn't show anybody. Now, finally, Sun of Suns is here in the medium it was truly meant for, and we can share the vision.
And just wait for Issue #2...
Here's a teaser for you. Watch http://virgacomic.com for the launch
You can pre-order it now.
The last Virga book, Ashes of Candesce, is doing well in hardcover, and still getting great reviews. It'll be published in trade paperback format early next year: March 12, 2013, to be exact.
For some perverse reason I'm really excited about the prospect of lining up all the trade editions of these books. I loved the hardcover editions and have done that with them on my bookshelf, of course; but there's something about the trade books that I keep coming back to. The design of both editions is stunning and elegant... but I think I like the trade editions a teeny bit better.
There. I've said it. Now ignore all that and buy the hardcover edition because... well, you know... I'll make more from it.
I'm making some of my better stories available as ebooks. You can buy 'em
I haven't got a huge backlog of short stories, but I've been lucky enough to have many of my best collected in the book The Engine of Recall, which is still available. Not all my good stuff made it into that collection, however--mostly because my editor, Robert J. Sawyer, wanted to focus on my strictly science fictional output. That naturally excluded "The Toy Mill" for instance--but it also left other fantasy I've written, as well as works I consider SF, but Rob did not.
I've started transforming some of these works (previously published, but not collected) into individual bite-sized ebooks. Initially, you can find them on Amazon.com, but I'll be making epub versions as well; it's just a matter of finding the time for that, as it's a little more hands-on than the Amazon conversion.
As of now, you can find three of my stories on Amazon.com:
Reviews for all the Virga books have been overwhelmingly positive
On the heels of great reviews at Locus and Canada's premiere newspaper, The Globe and Mail, I'm delighted that SF Site has looked at Ashes of Candesce and pronounced it good. It's not just a ringing endorsement of this last Virga novel; the message that's emerging from people who've read all five books is that there's no low spot in the series. The books are consistently good.
For me, there's always two goals: each book had to be as good as it could possibly be; and the series as a whole had to be excellent. The reviews for each individual book have been stellar, but it wasn't until I read Greg. L. Johnson, in this latest review, saying "With Ashes of Candesce, Karl Schroeder brings his Virga series to a rousing, fitting conclusion," that I started to believe I'd succeeded with Virga as a whole.
Russell Letson had already said this over at Locus:
In a recent (as I write this) Locus Roundtable post, Karen Burnham posed the question of the appeal of SF and fantasy – ‘‘Why do you enjoy this crazy brand of literature?’’ I responded with several paragraphs of babble, but I think I could have just offered this series as my answer.
All this clearly places Schroeder’s work in discussion with that of Greg Egan, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross, and Vernor Vinge, among others.
In the SF Site review, Johnson also says,
Karl Schroeder is also exploring many of the ideas that have dominated hard science fiction for the last twenty years or so... Those themes place the Virga series and its author in the company of writers like Greg Egan, Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, and others.
And, summing up,
That the story and character development never lags as a result makes the Virga series a first-class reading experience both for long term fans and anyone looking for a good introduction to the ideas, and artistry, of contemporary hard science fiction.
I've been proud of the individual Virga books. Now I'm proud of the series, too.
Coming in May. Get the whole set!
Yeah, it's about time. The Sunless Countries will be arriving in trade paperback edition on May 8 or thereabouts. This is another fine edition and looks great next to the Cities of the Air and Pirate Sun trades. When it's out you'll be able to buy all the Virga books except for Ashes of Candesce in this format. They're beautiful editions and I highly recommend going this route if you want to quickly get up to speed with the editions.
On the other hand, I'm hoping to set up an offer on this site of signed original hardcover editions of all my books... hopefully in the next week or so. So maybe you want to hold out for that hardcover original...
It's available now
Ashes of Candesce will hit the shelves on February 14, but meanwhile,Tor.com has an excerpt you can read online! I hope you like it.
Ashes brings together all the disparate plot threads from the first four books, and wraps them all up in one epic adventure. You'll encounter all the main characters from the previous books, and some surprising new ones. And, we finally get to see more than just a glimpse of the strange posthuman world that lies outside Virga.
The Virga series has been a great ride, and I hope you enjoy reading the cataclysmic ending as much as I did writing it.
Guess what this is about
Yes, it's finally (almost) here: the graphic novel version of Sun of Suns! And I'll be doing the full reveal and talking extensively about the project this weekend at SFContario, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in downtown Toronto.
Sun of Suns is set in the world of Virga, the ultimate hyper-technological-post-singularity-cannons-and-swordfights-pirate-infested steampunk playground of the imagination. There's much to say about the new project, and I'll be unveiling the artists, our writer and editor and their work on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. For now, you'll have to get by on this teaser image.
Hope to see you there!
Tor has unveiled the cover art for my next Virga novel, Ashes of Candesce, and this time, Stephan Martiniere has outdone himself. I've always been delighted with his covers--as a matter of fact, not two hours ago I was in a framing store arranging to have the Lady of Mazes cover piece framed--but THIS! This is by far the most gorgeous cover he's done for one of my books. But what makes it such a personal and emotionally moving experience for me is that, as with his image for Queen of Candesce, this is a particular, specific scene from the book that he's represented here--and he's captured my vision perfectly. I got all choked up when I saw it; and then I danced around in delight for ten minutes.
And who exactly is that, standing at the top of the stairs? And where is she? You've met her before, and very recently, in the series. The light that floods the scene is not that of Candesce, the sun of suns, nor is it the light of any sun we've yet seen in these books--but the sun that's casting that light is very important to one of our main characters. --And that's all I'll say about it for now.
I could not be happier. Thank you, Stephan, for this stellar piece of art, and thanks, Tor, for believing in this series.
My German editions of the Virga books have been spectacular, and the third in the series, Segel der Zeit, is no exception. You can order it now from Amazon.de, since it'll be released in only a couple of weeks. These mass-market editions are gorgeous, and I can't wait to get my comp copies!
Canada's juried SF/Fantasy award has some strong contenders this year - plus me
The short list for the 2010 Sunburst Award has been announced, and once again I'm on it! Here's what they have to say about The Sunless Countries:
Immediately captivating, this is equal parts great world-building and strong characterization. Wonderfully original settings and visual detail light up this richly imagined world. Leal, her friends and her enemies are vividly drawn and sympathetic. Particularly impressive is Schroeder's ability to make this, the fourth book in the Virga series, as accessible to readers as the first.
The complete list of shortlisted works:
The short-listed works in the young adult category for the 2010 Sunburst Award are:
The best introduction to Virga yet
In three weeks Cities of the Air hits the stands. In some ways it's nothing new: Cities is Tor Books' omnibus edition of the first two Virga books. You might wonder why we're doing this when the paperback editions of these books are already available. But with Pirate Sun coming out in trade paperback in the fall, if you haven't familiarized yourself with Virga yet, you can do it by just picking up Cities. Together, Cities of the Air and Pirate Sun form the full story arc for the first part of the series. If, after reading them, you've still got a taste for the weightless world I've constructed, The Sunless Countries is out now in hardcover, and Ashes of Candesce will be coming next year.
It's available now for pre-order, and will be published July 6, 2010
Tor Books has been very happy with my Virga books, so much so that they've decided to release a new, omnibus edition of the first two. Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce will appear together in one volume, entitled Virga: Cities of the Air. This book will hit the stores on July 6, 2010, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.
Yes, there is in fact already an omnibus edition of these books--it's Virga 1.2, from the Science Fiction Book Club (advertised in the right-hand sidebar of this page, with cover art by Dave Seeley). That edition is only available to book club members, though; the new omnibus will be from Tor and will be in bookstores everywhere (and, presumably, in ebook form too). We hope to have further omnibus editions to round out the series.
They say the book is "essential to Schroeder's artistic scheme and to the full enjoyment of this saga"
Nice review at Sci Fi Wire, full of words like "rich" "hectic" "dangerous" and "exciting." Not to mention "enigmatic" "exotic" and "bizarre." A book full of "perilous intrigue" that contains "revelations about Virga's place in the 'foam of worlds.'"
But the reviewer (Paul Di Filippo) is careful to make the point that while Sunless Countries fills in the blanks on the map provided by the other books, it can also be read on its own:
It might very well serve as a good gateway for newbies into the fascinating Virga cosmos, an enormous, air-filled fullerene balloon in the Vegan star system containing worldlets of varying size that center around the "sun of suns," Candesce. It's a Boschian landscape, full of rich cognitive estrangement, and Schroeder gets the most out of his conceptual playground, with taut prose and wild plotting.
In short, a very happy, enthusiastic review for the fourth book of "the Virga trilogy."
A fourth Virga book? Where can we go after Pirate Sun?
What do you do when you've created an open-ended universe of unmatched richness and potential? You keep exploring it! I'm very far from exhausting the possibilities of my world Virga, and here's The Sunless Countries to prove it. This novel is connected to the previous three in the series, but doesn't require that you've read them. It introduces new characters in a new setting while retaining enough links to the other books for fans of those stories. It really is all one grand epic tale, but I've tried to keep the action local in each book, and that's definitely the case here.
Meet Leal Hieronyma Maspeth. She's a history tutor at the University of Sere, in the nation of Abyss. Leal's a curious mixture of discipline and unbridled imagination: she works hard to get ahead in her cut-throat academic world, but nonetheless dreams of being swept away by the dashing sun lighter, Hayden Griffin, who has recently come to Sere to build a new sun for some other country.
As events conspire, she will end up meeting Griffin, but nothing is like she imagined it would be. In particular, she never dreamt that something ancient and terrible might awaken in the darkness beyond Sere's streetlights--perhaps a fabled worldwasp, come to wreack vengeance on humanity for some long-forgotten slight. Nor could she have anticipated that, in Abyss's current anti-intellectual backlash, she would end up being the only person who even knows what a worldwasp is, much less how to deal with it...
The Sunless Countries will be appearing on bookshelves within the next few days. I've just received my first copy (and, by the way, on the actual book, the bands of colour on the top and bottom aren't lime green like they are in the above picture; they're indigo/purple, to go with the overall design). In a couple of days, you too can meet Leal, and the worldwasps...
James Graves has been thinking about my Virga books, and the TV series Firefly. He's got a fabulous post over on his blog about how you could make everything in Firefly make perfect sense--in scientific and logical terms--if Whedon had just set the series in Virga to start with. He even recasts the episodes in the new setting, and judges individually which ones it would improve. Ha!
In some ways this doesn't surprise me at all. After all, I deliberately created Virga as a scientifically possible setting for classic space opera storytelling. That's what Virga is is for. So, I'm not that startled that Firefly could be recast in this setting: you could in fact redo many many classic stories and series within a Virga-like setting. For those of us who still wish there could be a space-opera-like future, well, this is the place where it can happen. That's why I designed it.
James has done a lot of work on this particular mashup, and deserves our applause for it. He's certainly got mine--and he's got me thinking about how I might be able to write a few new short stories that riff on this stuff.
This is Dave Seeley's cover art for my book club edition. You can own a signed copy
Available now and for a limited time, Dave Seeley is selling signed prints of his wondrous cover for The Books of Virga. Needless to say I have one myself, and it's quite striking, with very deep colours and dark blacks. And yes, the expression on Venera's face is priceless.
Dave is selling these prints over at his online store. As you'll see when you get there, he's got a world of other great art for sale as well. I'd been hoping to get Dave to do some cover art for me for years, and was delighted last fall when this opportunity came up. I think he's captured the madcap pace of Sun of Suns as well as the conniving personality of Venera Fanning quite well.
And yeah, I want one of those racing bikes.
From Porter Square Books in Boston
I'm just emerging into that phase of the Virga series when the books can be reviewed as a whole; and of course this won't seriously happen for another couple of years, when Ashes of Candesce is finally out. But it's starting, and a very nice, and highly favourable review of the series as a thing in itself is now online at the Porter Square Books blog.
You can read the review yourself if you're interested; I was just very proud to read the following bit (talking about Queen of Candesce):
Following the machinations of Venera and her enemies really did remind me of Frank Herbet’s Dune; it is a rare treat to read about smart people outsmarting other smart people.
I'm not even done the book; how weird is that?
So I'm in my office going through the page proofs of The Sunless Countries, worrying that the pacing is off, and I decide to procrastinate by doing some ego-surfing--and what should I find but a review of TSC! A favourable one! And he doesn't even mention the pacing.
Schroeder evokes the slow, crushing drift into ideological nonsense in a distressingly compelling way, & puts Leal [Maspeth] in the heart of it; should she collaborate with the Eternists to try to salvage some representation of science & history (even if she has to teach it as heretical, along side accepted dogma) or should she make a meaningless stand?
Wow. This is like getting a newspaper from next week. It also suggests to me that the current practice of sending out Advanced Reading Copies this early needs to be reconsidered, because that practice is predicated on it taking reviewers months to get their reviews out. I could literally tweak the book right now to solve some of the issues the reviewer, Mordecai, raises. Luckily he hasn't found many.
Very timely and useful.
...If you're a member of the Science Fiction Book Club, that is
The SFBC has made the first two volumes of the Virga saga, Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce, available together in an omnibus edition (link to Canadian site; the US site is here but doesn't have a direct link to the VIRGA page). The SFBC is a venerable and highly respected institution in science fiction and fantasy publishing; they previously made my first novel, Ventus, available.
The price for members of this edition is $15.99, but if you join you can have it for $0.20.
By the way, one of one my favourite features of this edition is the wonderfully over-the-top cover by Dave Seeley. Dave and I tossed many ideas back and forth, and he consulted with me at each stage of the process. That is indeed the vitriolic Venera Fanning, riding bike-back with Hayden Griffin in the skies of Slipstream.
(Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce are combined in Cities of the Air)
“The most thought-provoking and interesting work of hard SF that
I've read in the past year."
"With paradigm shifts one inside another like a set of Russian dolls, this splendid novel propagates into a demolition derby of Big Ideas. Required post-human reading.”
—Scott Westerfeld, author of The Risen Empire
“An astonishing saga. One helluva read!”
“Karl Schroeder has always had a knack for intelligent and provocative thought experiments disguised as space opera. Now he ups the ante with a fascinating riff on consensual [and conflicting] realities. Lady of Mazes contains more cool ideas than Ventus and Permanence combined.”