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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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Karl Schroeder

Mar 21, 2008

24 hours in the air... Perth... Swancon day 1

After having kids, 30 hours without sleep doesn't faze you

The first time we went to Perth, seven years ago, we took a packed 747 and the flight was hellish.  By the end the toilets were backed up, I was crawling under the seats to try to sleep, we'd run out of food and there was nothing to do.  This time, the plane was a brand-new 777 with little movie screens in the seat-backs, we were fed at perfectly strategic times, the toilets were clean, and Paige was very well behaved.  I wasn't even sore when we finally arrived in Perth.

Kings Park

This was good, because I was supposed to be in front of people, doing panels with Ken MacLeod and others, less than 24 hours after we'd arrived.  Despite the 13-hour time difference between Toronto and Perth, this has turned out not to be a problem.

Swancon's being held at the All Seasons Hotel, not the one we're staying at, but about a mile distant.  I sauntered over from our hotel about an hour before my first panel, through neighbourhoods that seem to have been utterly transformed since 2001.  Downtown Perth's quite familiar to us, but last time  parts of it had a rough look to them.  These parts seem to have been bulldozed and replaced by new and upscale establishments; downtown is being gentrified. 

The Good Friday morning was bright and warm (19 C overnight, warming up to 33 by the afternoon), with just a few people about; I passed through a gorgeous little park with gigantic, sprawling tropical trees and a dance troupe warming up on the lawn; past late-night clubs with their doors open to air out in the morning light; past 100-year-old stone buildings with wrap-around balconies, reminiscent of New Orleans.

Then it was time to talk about the Singularity with Ken MacLeod and Dirk Flintheart, and then the obsolescence of the "brain is computer" paradigm with  Ken and David Cake.  I sort of breezed through these despite being addled from lack of sleep; the real challenge was talking, without notes, for an hour by myself on the subject of foresight studies vs. traditional futurism.  This talk was scheduled for 4:00 p.m., which is 3:00 a.m. Toronto time.  I had a really great time and chatting with the attentive and interested audience for an hour was easy.

Tomorrow should be interesting.  Either it all catches up to me and I collapse into a drooling mass of inappropriately cold-weather-oriented clothing; or I'll be fully adjusted to the time change and raring to go.  I'll let you know.


Mar 17, 2008

Off to Australia

We'll be there for a month. Yes, the pets have a house-sitter

I'll be attending Swancon later this week.  You can find a programme here (although, it doesn't have names on it and I'm not entirely clear on which panels I'll be on).

Our itinerary takes us first to Perth for the convention, then up to Kalbarri for a week and then outside Geraldton.  If you'd like, you can check out some of these locations in Google Earth.  I will be posting pix as I can, though for some of the time I will be off the grid entirely.

This is an important point:  you may not be able to get in touch with me.  Use email, certainly, but don't be surprised if even that doesn't work, or is delayed.  The people who're staying at our house will be monitoring the phone, and we'll be giving our Aussie contact info to close friends and family; so if it's urgent you can find me.  If even email doesn't work, try posting a reply to this message.  I'll be checking the site whenever I can.

And yes, I'm taking the laptop, and working on The Sunless Countries while we're there.

Mar 16, 2008

SciBarCamp day 2

A fantastic ending to a highly successful first camp. We plan more

The entire weekend went off with very few hitches--the worst being a bit of schedule crunch on Saturday, but nothing that actually stopped people from presenting.  I took a few more photos, but at this point there's a lot of other people who had much better cameras than my phone, and who were much better photographers; so I'll just point you to the Flickr page where many of the pix have been collected.

If you'd like more detail about what we discussed, you can drop by the SciBarCamp website and look at the program schedules.  We've encouraged people to blog about the event and to tag their entries with SciBarCamp, so you can track down a lot more about it at sites like technorati.

I'd like to thank everybody who had faith in us and came.  I'd also especially like to thank the other organizers, Jen Dodd, Michael Nielsen, Eva Amsen, Lee Smolin, and Jamie McQuay.  Jen and Michael were the instigators and they, Eva and Jamie did most of the work; I was just along for the ride, really.  Jen and Jamie in particular spent their own money to make it all happen, and deserve special mention for it.

We've talked about whether we're doing another SciBarCamp; there's no reason why not, it's a scheduling issue more than anything.  I hope the meme spreads, and that it becomes a regular in Toronto and beyond.

SciBarCamp day 1

Filed Under:

Just a blur. Here's some stuff that happened

I'll hopefully have a more detailed report about the conference later; suffice it to say that the first day was a roaring success.  Here's some moments:


Scibarcamp day sessions

The morning sessions, held in Hart House's music room.


Scibarcamp talk proposals

Proposals for talks, panels and discussions were posted upon these boards.


Scibarcamp solar car

This was a surprise--we all poured outside to check out BlueSky's high-speed two-seater solar car.


Scibarcamp robots

Meanwhile, the robots were roving with little or no supervision...


Scibarcamp foresight talk

While Melanie Swan and Darren Harnett (pictured), and Mark Tovey and I give an introduction to foresight studies and futurist techniques.

But there was much more, including participatory musical performances, discussions about the ethics of synthetic biology, the philosophy of the Chinese Room, brain imaging, consciousness studies, open source drug development, and a panel discussion with myself, Lee Smolin, and Robert J. Sawyer on the nature of time.

And that was just Day 1!

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.

Mar 12, 2008

Several Earths-worth of air

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Cool graphic illustrates how much air Earth has; Virga, it seems, has more


Found on BoingBoing (and previously by them here):  a very interesting graphic that displays how much water and air there are on the surface of the Earth.  The ball of air appears to be about 2000 kilometers in diameter.  Now, in my novels Sun of Suns, Queen of Candesce and Pirate Sun, I posit an enclosed sphere of air more than twice that diameter.  I hadn't really thought it through, but this means that my world Virga has several Earths-worth of air in it, probably a dozen or more.  So, when I say that Virga is 5000 miles in diameter, that doesn't mean we're talking about a small world, because the entire volume of this sphere is living space, whereas on a planet only the surface is livable.  So the ecosystem of Virga is far, far bigger than that of the Earth, or even of the Earth and all the terrestrial planets combined (assuming they were terraformed) by a considerable multiplier.

When I set out to write Sun of Suns, I conservatively estimated about 120 artificial suns and attendant nations inside Virga.  I imagined that each nation might have a population in the low millions, but once again if you look at the volume lit by the suns instead of the area of the circle they light, it's probably safe to say that Virga could hold tens of billions of people without overcrowding.

And to think, Virga is a small world by the standards of what's possible.

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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)

     β€œAn 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. ”
    β€”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."