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.
It's a beautiful edition
The mass market paperback edition of The Sunless Countries will be released tomorrow, May 8, 2012. This book starts a new storyline, but brings in some old friends and definitely begins tying up the loose ends (and there are many) from the previous three books.
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.
Coinciding with the launch of the paper edition of The Sunless Countries, MacMillan and Audible.com have released the audiobook version!
As with the previous books, this one is read by the inimitable Joyce Irvine, with David Thorne. They bring a great one-two punch to these stories; I'm very lucky to have such lively and entertaining readers.
I wish I could release the persistent massively multiplayer online role playing version on the same day as well, but that's a little harder to do. But hey, if you have the coders and a server farm just sitting around idle (hint hint, Matrix Online), maybe we should talk.
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...
...But this one's not for me
David Nickle notes on his blog The Devil's Exercise Yard that his book Monstrous Affections, among others, will be launched at Worldcon in a couple of weeks. What's of note is that due to an organizational snafu, the bought-and-paid-for ad for the event won't be appearing in the Worldcon programme book.
So here's the particulars from David's blog:
The launch is taking place Saturday August 8, at Maisonette Suite 2802, Delta Hotel Centre-Ville, 777 University Street, Montreal, QC. The titles being launched are all represented in the collage to the right. Starts at 7:30 p.m. Ends when the Red Death shows up. The party will be the best one at Worldcon.
...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.
Didn't know this was coming? Well, we'd been discussing it from the very beginning, and Audible was kind enough to give us the print rights to do with as we pleased. The result is that these excellent novellas have a chance of reaching an even broader audience.
Thanks to both Audible and Subterranean for believing in this project--and thanks especially to John Scalzi for his light touch as an editor. It's a talent desperately needed when you're "herding cats" on such a strong set of personalities as we had here, and John handled it with aplomb.
I've got copies of the paperback edition of Queen of Candesce in my hands at last, and tomorrow you can too! It's quite a gorgeous edition, showing off Stephan Martiniere's artwork to best advantage. It's due to hit the shelves on the 30th, but you can probably find it already.
It helps to have read Sun of Suns before diving into this book--but it's not essential. I wrote QofC as much as a standalone as I could, so even if you haven't tried any of the Virga books yet, you can certainly start with this one.
A great new year's gift to me, to have it show up today.
As I'm currently recovering from a little medical problem and have no energy to post at length these days, I'll let John Scalzi tell you all about it. He does a much better job of it than I would, anyway.
The second Virga book is out in audio format.
As previously mentioned, Sun of Suns is out in audiobook format; you can get it at audible.com and also download it directly into your iPhone or iPod Touch from iTunes (i think). But, as promised, the other Virga books are following quickly, and now Queen of Candesce is out!
Pirate Sun should follow in short order. Since each of these books clocks in at about 10 hours in length, they should provide plenty of jogging, exercise-biking, or commuting time.
I'm finding it really interesting listening to these books. I've started with Sun of Suns, and thought initially that it would be really weird and, well, narcissistic if I did more than listen to the first chapter. But the thing is, though I know what's happening and what's to come, and often wince at what I actually wrote down, the experience of hearing the story told by someone else actually changes it. For the very first time since I started writing, I'm having the (partial) experience of encountering my own work as a reader.
There's a certain melancholy to being a writer, in that sense: you write the books you want to read, but once they're done you can't read them. But, while the experience of encountering the books through the readers isn't completely fresh, it's different enough to greatly reduce that sense of melancholy. And I never expected that.
The third Virga book brings back some old friends... and jousting cities
Sales seem brisk on Amazon, even though the official release date is tomorrow; and people are telling me that they've been seeing it in the stores and buying it already (thanks, Fred!). There seems to be a gratifying level of interest out there, and early reviews have been highly favourable.
Let me warn you, though: Pirate Sun is the most adrenalin-packed of the three Virga books. I know the first two just tore along, with sword-fights, boarding parties, naval/aerial battles and lots of intrigue. Pirate Sun ups the ante on all this stuff. It's a cross between The Odyssey and The Three Musketeers, and starts with a prison-break unlike any you've ever heard of (I guarantee that!). Along the way you'll encounter a Virgan flood (also unlike anything else you've seen) and a battle between two cities where they throw whole neighbourhoods while trying to encircle and absorb one another. (A little hint about that: the fantastic cover art by Stephan Martiniere is actually an accurate rendering of a scene from that part of the book.)
I'm now in the middle of editing the fourth book, The Sunless Countries. Don't despair: Pirate Sun wraps up the major plotlines that were kicked off in Sun of Suns. The Sunless Countries will expand the world of Virga in new directions, introduce some new characters, and answer some of the questions raised in the earlier books.
The complete, unabridged text is available for download from Audible.com, and soon on iTunes
You can listen to the complete text of the novel, read by Joyce Irvine. This is the first of three rapid-fire releases coming from MacMillan audio--the next two books in the series, Queen of Candesce and Pirate Sun, should be made available within the next few weeks.
To get it, bounce on over to the page at Audible.com. And enjoy!
It's out in three weeks... here's a teaser
“One thing I can guarantee,” said Venera Fanning. “There has never been a prison break quite like this one.”
The barrel-shaped tugboat was so old that moss had spread continents over its hull, and tufts of grass jutted from its seams like hairs from an old man’s chin. The powerful drone of the vessel’s engines, as its small crew tested them, put a lie to any impression that it was feeble, however. In fact the bone-rattling noise of the test quickly drove Venera and her small group away from the drydock framework that enclosed the tug.
Venera turned away from it and squinted past the light of Slipstream's sun. The city of Rush spread across half the sky, its gaily bannered habitat cylinders turning majestically among wisps of cloud. It was mid-day and the air was full of airships, winged human forms, and here and there cavorting dolphins.
One figure had detached itself from the orderly streams of flying people, and was approaching. Venera saw that it was a member of her private spy network, a nondescript young man dressed in flying leathers, his toeless shoes pushing down on the stirrups that drove the mechanical wings strapped to his back. He hove to and she admired the sheen of sweat on his shoulders as he saluted. “Here's the latest photos.” He proffered a thick envelope; Venera took it, forgetting about him instantly, and tore it open.
Her fingers rose of their own accord to touch the scar on her jaw as she looked at what the pictures revealed: the planes and corners of a stone prison that hovered alone in cloudy skies. Not one building, but six or seven that had been lashed together over the decades, the blocky, boulder-like edifice hung half-wreathed in its own fog bank. The blocks, spheres and triangles of the Falcon New Prison were of various architectural styles and colors, literally thrown together and hybridized with clumsy wooden bridges and rope-and-chain lashings into one cancerous monster whose only common element was that all its windows were barred.
With no gravity to flatten it, the composite prison was stable enough; storms were rare on the edge of civilization and there were no obstacles for the place to run into in its endless drift. The New Prison was a child of neglect, a forgotten mote on the fringe of the vast cloud of worker's dormitories, collective farms and planned cities that was Falcon Formation. Most of the cargo delivered here was on a one-way journey.
Venera intended to make an unscheduled pick-up.
Now available from amazon.fr!
My second novel, Permanence, has been released in a beautiful mass-market edition. The cover art is cool--it shows Rue's Ediacaran fossil pendant, which figures prominently in the story.
Amazon describes the novel like this:
La jeune Rue Cassels est née et a toujours vécu dans le Halo, cette région riche en naines brunes située à mi-chemin entre le Système solaire et les Mondes illuminés. Fuyant la tyrannie de son frère Jentry et l'ambiance interlope de la station d'exploitation cométaire Allemagne, elle s'empare d'une navette pour rejoindre Erythrion. Chemin faisant, elle fait valoir ses droits sur un objet stellaire non répertorié, ignorant que sa découverte aura des répercussions sans précédent. Avec ses combats spatiaux, ses énigmes extraterrestres plus anciennes que l'humanité et ses planètes exotiques décrites avec minutie, Permanence est un roman palpitant, s'inscrivant dans la mouvance du Nouveau Space Opera illustrée par des auteurs comme Iain M. Banks, Peter Hamilton ou Alastair Reynolds.
My first novel Ventus is also available in Folio SF mass-market format.
I contributed to this massive tome, edited by Mark Tovey, which explores the nascent science of collective decision-making
Collective Intelligence expert, editor of WorldChanging Canada, and all-around polymath Mark Tovey has released a huge collection of essays optimistically entitled Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace. There's contributions from dozens of experts in this nascent field, as well as activists and stakeholders in a variety of different disciplines who are experimenting and refining the ideas behind CI. To name just some of the people involved in this project: Tom Atlee, Howard Rheingold, Jerome C. Glenn, Jaron Lanier, Thomas Malone, Pierre Levy, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Alex Steffen--and myself. I contributed a short fiction piece that starts the whole collection off. There's an afterward by former prime minister Rt. Hon. Paul Martin.
Collective Intelligence is not yet a mature field, either in terms of research or application. This book accepts that, and asks what first steps are needed to get us on the road to understanding CI. There's a healthy dose of skepticism--Jaron Lanier provides a good dollop--and I have my own reservations about the ultimate power of this idea; but it has to be explored, and CI may just turn out to be the key to the next step of human social evolution. We owe it to ourselves and our children to find out, and this book starts the process off with a bang.
I don't have specific dates, but here's what I know
Tor has told me that they're going to release the Virga books in audiobook format (through MacMillan's audio division) on an aggressive schedule. I don't have exact release dates, but here's the general timing--and it's quite tight:
(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.”