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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.

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Sep 22, 2009

Added a new (old) piece to the site -- plus interviews

Filed Under:

In my rather under-populated folder called "the lab"

Back in June of 2003 I gave a talk to LITA, the technology arm of the National Library Association.  The talk was about the respectability of science fiction within the literary and scientific communities, and it was called Traitor to Both Sides.  I've now posted the talk over in my folder called The Lab, because, well, it's not doing any good just sitting here on my hard drive.  --And you may find it interesting, particularly if you've ever had an interest in C.P. Snow's idea of the "two culture war."

I've also created an interviews page, with links to some of the interviews I've done that are available online.

Sep 20, 2009

Things may be about to change

...In a big way

While our attention was elsewhere, a truly earth-shattering change has been in the wind--a development most experts have dismissed as impossible, but which now increasingly looks like it is going to happen.

According to Lyle Dennis over at the AllCarsElectric blog, EEStor has applied for certification from the Underwriter's Laboratories for its ultracapacitor technology. If this is true, then the secretive company may really have succeeded in creating the ultimate in electricity-storage technology:  a device capable of running your car for hundreds of miles on one charge, and of recharging in under five minutes.  A device that is not a battery, and hence never wears out.  A technology that would make intermittent power generation sources such as windmills directly competitive with baseload generation sources such as coal.

Canadian electric car company Zenn Motors has licensed EEStor's technology for a soon-to-be-built fully electric sedan.  Zenn is betting the farm on EEStor, and they seem remarkably confident.  Naturally, we hear outrageous claims about new technologies nearly every day; and many industry watchers have been skeptically tracking EEStor for years.  The expectation has been that any day now, the company would disappear, and its executives would later be found living high off the land in Ecuador or somewhere.  That hasn't happened, and now the company appears poised to release an actual product--according to Zenn, by the end of the year.

If it happens, this will be a truly disruptive change.  It would be nothing less than the first nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel age.

And here's more on the developing story, from Zenn's point of view.

Jul 06, 2009

Catching up 1: back to school!

Filed Under:

I'll be working towards a Masters degree on a part time basis

It's official:  over the next two years I'll be working towards garnering a Masters in Strategic Foresight from the Ontario College of Art and Design.  This will formalize my skills and experience in an area where I already do a good deal of work--foresight studies, also called futures study or just futurism.Flying cars

I'm already a futurist, I suppose, though for me at least that term tends to conjure images of chrome-domed technophiles ranting about how we're all going to have flying cars in our driveways in ten years.  Technology foresight, which is what I specialize in, is less ivory-tower and more inclusive, however, because it involves the contribution of stakeholders in imagining both the scenarios and the probabilities attached to them.

I hasten to add that I won't be doing this work instead of my SF writing; I will be doing it in addition to writing.  I'm still deeply committed to my science fiction and to writing in all its forms.  What this degree program will do is give me more tools for my workshop, allowing me to approach the study of the future from more directions.  It's all good.

Feb 17, 2009

Cat out of bag

Filed Under:

...Yes, the Canadian army has hired me to write a sequel to Crisis in Zefra

The Halifax Chronicle Herald has an article about the military's new future-oriented analysis, and how I'm going to be writing a novelization of the material, just as I did for Crisis in Zefra several years ago.  Public reaction seems to range from supportive and admiring to derisive and outraged (as in, 'they can't even tell what they're doing next week, how are they going to look thirty years into the future?')  

Apart from the fact that I'm getting paid to do this, I think it's a good idea for other reasons:

Most businesses and governments only look ahead a few months, Mr. Schroeder said.

"That’s like painting your windshield black and driving out on the highway, as far as I’m concerned. You need to be able to look as far ahead as you can, even if it’s foggy and you can’t quite make things out."

In other words, foresight is responsible management every area of endeavour.  And don't forget, it was the difference between planning for the last war and planning for the next that led the French to build the Maginot line, and the Germans to develop the Blitzkrieg.

May 30, 2008

No time for the singularity

Climate change puts a hard deadline on global transformation: it has to happen now, even if we're not ready

Scientists like to low-ball their estimates.  The now-famous IPCC scenarios for the effects of climate change are already known to be woefully, unrealistically conservative (Freeman Dyson's recent opinions notwithstanding). Arctic changes expected 20 years from now are happening now, and in North America the beginning of spring has already been pushed back by two weeks, which is enough to play havoc with the fertility cycle of many migratory birds (among other consequences).  The worst-case scenarios used in public debate ignore some extremely worrisome factors, such as the possible release of oceanic methane from clathrates. If we're going to deal with this problem, we have to do it now, as in, within the term of your next government.

Science fiction writers, on the other hand, are generally optimistic--if not about the fate of humanity, then at least about the progress of technology.  The ultimate in technological optimism is the idea of the technological singularity, which posits that technological advance is exponential and, driven by progress in artificial intelligence, will soon hit the vertical slope of the curve.

Maybe.  In fact, let's assume that this mythology is true and, within about 25 years, computers will exceed human intelligence and rapidly bootstrap themselves to godlike status.  At that point, they will aid us (or run roughshod over us) to transform the Earth into a paradise. 

Here's the problem:  25 years is too late.  The newest business-as-usual climate scenarios look increasingly dire.  If we haven't solved our problems within the next decade, even these theoretical godlike AIs aren't going to be able to help us.  Thermodynamics is thermodynamics, and no amount of godlike thinking can reverse the irreversible. 

If there's to be a miraculous transformation of human civilization, it has to be accomplished by us, right now, and without the aid of any miracle technologies.  (That said, technology is a large part of the answer--and game-changing breakthroughs are possible--but until proven otherwise it's existing systems such as wind power that we have to assume we'll be using.)  The technological singularity may be real, but who cares?  By the time it happens, we'll have won or lost our grand battle with fate.

Therefore, here's a rare piece of advice for my fellow science fiction writers:  forget the singularity.  Even if it's real, it's irrelevant.  The decisive moment in history is now, before it occurs.  Seize that, write about that. 

All else is distraction.

Mar 15, 2008

SciBarCamp: opening night success

100+ self-starters crammed in one room. Order ensues

Well, the SciBarCamp's gotten off to a smashing start.  Last night over 100 people showed up at the Debates room in Hart House and we kicked off the event with drinks, shmoozing, and the ad hoc creation of our program.


Scibarcamp intros

Above's a picture of the introductions period, with everybody saying who they are and what their interests are.


Scibarcamp scrum

The scrum.  Nobody was shy; it was a complete mix-up of enthusiastic and wildly diverse people.

I'll try to post the Saturday schedule later.  My favourite proposed event so far is the "Interactive Salt Lick Sculpture."  That should be interesting.

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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.


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    Coming on June 18, 2019

    "Science fiction at its best."

    --Kim Stanley Robinson

    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."

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

    "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."