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.
Release date is October 15, 2013
The third in our audiobook series of speculations about cities, ecosystems, and the intersection of human and non-human ambition, Metatropolis: Green Space, will be coming out this month. You can pre-order it from this page.
Green Space takes up the story of the Metatropolis world a generation after the last set of stories. This time, we've got some of the best talent in current SF: the inestimable Jay Lake and Ken Scholes are editing and contributing, and as well Seanan McGuire, Toby Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal and Elizabeth Bear also supplied stories. Oh, and me too. This is the most complex and audacious Meta yet; I think you'll be impressed.
Finally we can reveal what our little team's been working on for months now
The first Metatropolis audiobook, published by Audible.com, edited by John Scalzi and authored by myself, Elizabeth Bear, Toby Buckell and Jay Lake, was a roaring success--if you consider two subsequent print editions plus a Hugo nomination successful. The sequel, Metatropolis: Cascadia, did even better, garnering the project an Audie Award. Now we're proud to announce a third installment in the series, Metatropolis: Green Space, because, we just haven't exhausted all the amazing possibilities of this future.
Cascadia was edited by the inestimable Jay Lake, and for Green Space it'll be him and Ken Scholes doing duty. Like Cascadia, Green Space will be graced with a work by the amazing Mary Robinette Kowal and joining us, Seanan McGuire. Of course Jay, Ken and the usual suspects from the first volume will also contribute (excepting John Scalzi, who's too busy riding the wave of RedShirts--more power to him).
We're going even further into the future this time, to track down the implications of the bizarre yet possible world we developed in the previous two volumes. This will be an audiobook project too, of course. The details, of course, are secret, but watch this space for announcements as we draw closer to the publication date.
...Although I'll reveal one thing: my contribution, this time, will not be another Gennady Malianov story. I have other plans for him, in a nearby publishing ecosystem affiliated with The Mongoliad...
A recent review pushes well-worn buttons
Declinism is the theory that the world used to be better than it is now--it is the conviction, common to many people, that Things Are Getting Worse. There's a brilliant example of the theory at work in a recent, very thorough and well-written review of three Best-of-Year SF anthologies at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Now, the problem with declinism in art criticism is that everybody has their own model for what the best of a particular genre or style is. If your favourite SF was all published before 1980, you're going to believe SF has been in decline since then. If it was 1960, then... well, dates differ. But declinists can always find some cut-off point where things started going downhill.
In this case, the reviewer, Paul Kincaid, seems to place the beginning of the end in the late 1990s, and he has this to say about the best SF of the past couple of years:
In the main, there is no sense that the writers have any real conviction about what they are doing. Rather, the genre has become a set of tropes to be repeated and repeated until all meaning has been drained from them.
Is this true? Or is it rather Kincaid's own perceptions that have shifted? There lies the problem--one can't tell. But even if it's all in the eye of the reader, if everybody else is having the same reaction to SF as Kincaid, then it's a real effect, whether the exhaustion lies in the stories themselves, or in the minds of the readers. What seems to be true, however, is that this particular reader is finding that he's no longer inspired by science fiction. And that really is a problem.
The bigger problem, for me, is that Kincaid goes on to list my story, "Laika's Ghost," as emblematic of this malaise. I can't let that stand. He says this about the story:
It is one of the best stories in these three collections, but it is almost anti-SF in its affect: the future has run its course and come to an end; what was one of the most exciting aspirations of science fiction—the promise of life on another world—is here made available only to those looking backward to a former time. It is a story that makes manifest the exhaustion that is immanent throughout these three collections.
This is great stuff--but (quite apart from the fact that SF never promised its readers a technological and metaphorical rose garden) it's also a clumsy misreading of the story. First of all, "Laika's Ghost" has to be read in the context of the other Gennady Malianov stories. It only sorta kinda stands on its own; the fact is it is part of a continuum of stories that paints a very specific view of the near future. That view is not of an exhausted world, but of a world that is shifting gears--undergoing civilizational change. Sure, the scions of the old world order may be exhausted, but there are plenty of new and dynamic forces at work in Gennady's world. This is most thoroughly shown in another of these stories, "To Hie From Far Cilenia."
Secondly, Gennady himself is a necessary character for science fiction at this time. Why? Because he's neither a starry-eyed optimist nor an apocalyptic nihilist. He's a realist who fully intends to have a future, and for the world he lives in to have a future too. So while the people around Gennady rise and fall, taking whole civilizations and possible futures with them, he's cleaning up the mess. It's what he does.
The necessity of buckling down and tidying up the trash left by 100+ years of techno-optimism in no way contradicts the wondrous potential of the future. It's just a necessary piece of the whole process. Gennady knows this; he knows that decommissioning old nuclear reactors is a manifestation of Progress. Shooting radioactive camels in the Gobi desert is one of the prices to be paid for our industrialist past, and somebody has to pay it. Gennady represents that side of technological progress that we in SF so rarely acknowledge: he's a trash collector.
It's not starry-eyed wonder that we need at this point in history; it's a rolling-up of the sleeves to finish what we started when we introduced electric power, vaccinations, indoor plumbing and all the other critical inventions of modernism. In that sense, "Laika's Ghost" is not the best of a bad lot. It's a reminder that science fiction ultimately reflects where we stand in the world right now. And where we stand, is at a time when there's work to be done. If the science fiction of today represents that harder-edged and less sentimental vision of the future, then great! I'll write more of it.
This was a team effort
I just received word from Audible.com that our followup to Metatropolis, Metatropolis: Cascadia has won the 2012 Audie Award for Best Original Production!
The Audies have been awarded annually by the Audio Publisher's Association since 1996. The gala award ceremony for this year's awards was held last night.
Metatropolis: Cascadia is a collection of novella-length works, written by myself, Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tobias S. Buckell, Elizabeth Bear and Ken Scholes, and set in the world of Metatropolis. It embraces and extends the ideas of the first anthology, and in its audiobook incarnation, the stories were read by cast members from Star Trek.
So, if you've been thinking lately that you want to listen to an award-winning story of mine that's read in a particularly gonzo faux-Russian accent by Jonathon Frakes, Cascadia is the best place to go.
Jay, Mary, Toby, Bear, and Ken: thank you, and congratulations.
June 5 at the New York Historical Society
Nominated again! This time it's for Metatropolis: Cascadia, the second audiobook project set in the near-future world of the Cities. This volume features stories by me, Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Scholes, and Toby Buckell. You might remember that the first Metatropolis was nominated for a Hugo Award, so this continues the tradition and it's pretty exciting!
Here's the full roster of nominees under the Best Original Work category:
This is a pretty solid lineup. What really scares me is that we're up against one of the idols of my youth, Stanislaw Lem, whose Solaris has been made into movies at least twice, and stands the test of time as a true classic of SF. Yikes.
The gala and awards ceremony will be held on June 5. I've got it on my calendar and will be crossing my fingers and toes.
All about the project, including interviews with the Star Trek alumni who provided our voice acting
Head on over to Audible.com and you can visit the METAtropolis: Cascadia pages. There's lots of stuff here, including a downloadable free story from the first METAtropolis audiobook project. They even have a semi-decent photo of me. As well as having lots of cool info about the METAtropolis project itself, the site also provides links to other audiobook projects by the authors, myself included. It's a good place to start in looking at current audiobook SF by some of science fiction's brightest young minds (and me).
METAtropolis: Cascadia will be published on November 16, 2010.
(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.”