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Downloads

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.

Personal tools

Our Eucatastrophe

Filed Under:

The Stross Entries #7 (originally posted August 2, 2011)

In an earlier post I talked about prediction vs. preparation as different ways of approaching the future. Also foresight, which is the systematic study of trends and possibilities for the near future. When you do foresight, you quickly begin to realize that our ideas about the future are highly distorted, both by optimism and pessimism, as well as propaganda, ideology, and all the various things that various people and groups are trying to sell us. How do you cut through all of that to get some sense--any sense--of where we're really going?

One annual effort to do just that is the Millennium Project's State of the Future. This annual study of trends and drivers is grounded in research by hundreds of people in dozens of countries around the world. The full report comes with a CD or DVD containing 7000 pages of data, analysis, and background on the 15 years' worth of methodological refinement and legwork that have gone into the project. The pdf version of the executive summary is free to download here, and if you do look at it you may be shocked to discover something:

The 2011 State of the Future report is optimistic.

Cautiously so, and with caveats, but optimistic. The executive summary starts by saying, "The world is getting richer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, and better connected and people are living longer, yet half the world is potentially unstable." The overall message is that from where we stand right now, we couldbuild a poverty-free, sustainable world of free citizens. Or, we might pooch the whole thing.

Remember when I said in our last post that our problems are no longer technological? What I meant was that developing the technologies we need to save our collective asses is no longer the big issue; it's coordinating and cooperating to implement the solutions we already know will work, that's our difficult task now. TheState of the Future report agrees:

There is no question that the world can be far better than it is--IF we make the right decisions. When you consider the many wrong decisions and good decisions not taken--day after day and year after year around the world--it is amazing that we are still making as much progress as we are. Hence, if we can improve our decisionmaking as individuals, groups, nations, and institutions, then the world could be surprisingly better than it is today.

By almost every measure, our world is getting better. Literacy, crime rates, education, access to fresh water--you name it, it's vastly improved over the past decade, and on a global scale. There remain several significant issues that could derail everything, however--so under the "Where we are Losing" heading the report lists the following:


  • Carbon dioxide emissions (kt)

  • Global surface temperature anomalies

  • People voting in elections (percent of population)

  • Levels of corruption (15 largest countries)

  • People killed or injured in terrorist attacks (number)

  • Number of refugees (per 100,000 total population)

 

This is consistent with previous years' reports. Corruption, international organized crime, climate change and related sustainability issues, and the prospect of a global mass extinction that may or may not include us... it's serious stuff. But the number of things that are going right, and that may synergize to mitigate or reverse these bad trends, is greater still.

J.R.R. Tolkien invented a literary device he said was necessary to balance the Greek idea of the catastrophe, that moment in a tragedy when everything falls apart. Tolkien called his idea the eucatastrophe--the moment when suddenly, everything goes right. In The Lord of the Rings, the eucatastrophe is the moment when Gollum falls into Mount Doom with the ring. Exactly that force for evil that threatened to destroy everything, saves everything instead. In light of my last post on this blog, you might say that eucatastrophe is the exact opposite of a wicked problem: it's the unstoppable twining of myriad threads of fate to create an unexpected, but in hindsight inevitable, positive transformation of the world. And it's as likely for the complex systems we inhabit to do right by us as wrong.

So I want to think about what our world's eucatastrophe could be. Once you read the State of the Future reports, you will see that everything is aligned for one to happen; the question is when, where and how?

What if everything goes right? And what if we help make it happen?

 

Addendum:  For the original comment thread on Charlie's blog, go here.

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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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    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."
    --SFRevu.com


    "...A rollicking good read... fun, bookish, and full of insane air battles"
    --io9.com


    "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."
    --Locus