Nov 23, 2015
I share this award with Charles de Lint--the vote was a tie!
Yesterday we held the 35th Annual Aurora Award ceremony, at Canvention here in Toronto. I was up in the Best Young Adult Novel category, along with a field of impressive peers. My novel Lockstep tied with Charles de Lint's Out of This World to win in the Young Adult category.
I'm thrilled and honoured to be in the company of such fine writers. I'm also delighted to have won in the Young Adult category, as this seals an Aurora win for me in each of the Short Story, Novel, and YA Novel classes.
It's an early Christmas present, and I'm grateful to everyone who contributed to the awards, and in particular the Aurora Committee who have worked so diligently for 35(!) years now to bring this award to the Canadian readership.
Jul 17, 2015
A story I'm proud to see included
My short story "Jubilee" can be found in The Year's Best Science Fiction, 32nd Annual Edition, edited by Gardner Dozois. "Jubilee" is set in my Lockstep universe, but it explores the ideas of that book from the outside in. It's about a hereditary caste of couriers who transfer letters between two people who live in separate locksteps. The couriers live in real-time, but the Authors, as they call them, are from locksteps that only awake at 30 and 29 year intervals, respectively. Centuries pass between jubilees--those brief times when both locksteps are awake at the same time.
Here's the thing, though: the letters are just love-letters between two teenagers from different worlds. "Jubilee" is a love story, but one that's played out over hundreds of years and mediated by people who live their entire lives in between the exchange of two letters.
This story was huge fun to write, and was originally published on Tor.com. I'm delighted to see it in print form, and especially in a place like the Year's Best.
Feb 01, 2015
...And that's nine for nine! Every novel I've published since 2000 has made the list
Once again, Locus Magazine has put me in their annual Recommended Reading List. This time it's for Lockstep (which will be out in paperback in March) but, in a twist, they've included me in the Young Adult category rather than Science Fiction.
I don't know how to feel about that. I'm flattered to be told that I'm a success in the YA category, and I sort of understand why I'm there, in that Lockstep's protagonist is not an adult, there's no sex or graphic violence, and all ends well. But since when were those things required to make something an "adult" book? I wasn't writing a book to exclude a young audience, but then, I wasn't writing it to exclude an adult audience either. When I was growing up, these categories weren't so distinct and the result was I was reading books like The Worm Ouroborous and Dune when I was twelve. And why not? My nephew read Ventus when he was the same age and had no difficulty with it; so what's with this YA stuff?
I wrote Lockstep to consciously hie back to the classic space operas of the 1950s and 60s, but updated and--unlike every book that's used faster than light travel to generate its galactic empire--scientifically possible with what we know today. That was all. Whether kids read it or adults wasn't the point.
All of which means I'm overjoyed to be selected again for the list, and not at all upset to be in the YA category. I just don't really understand why the category exists. It's worrisome in that many potential adult readers who might really enjoy it may not even consider the book because of that categorization. That would be a shame for everybody involved.
Ah well. Thanks, Locus, and everybody who's enjoyed the novel--whether you consider yourself an adult, a "youth" or (and this is what I hope) another kind of person who falls into no marketing category: namely, a reader.
Mar 21, 2014
Saturday, March 29 at 3, at Bakka Books here in Toronto
Fresh out of a dentist's appointment, I will be launching Lockstep at Bakka-Phoenix Books on Saturday, March 29 at 3:00. There'll be entertainment (me), copies of Lockstep to be signed and book-related ideas to be explained, and other novels to be bought (hint: we'll be breaking into the vault to offer some out-of-print hardcover editions of novels like Ventus and Permanence).
If you're really lucky you'll get to hear me do a reading with my mouth still frozen from the dentist. Major fun!
You can get to or contact Bakka-Phoenix here:
84 Harbord St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G5
Mar 18, 2014
Derek Künsken gets it
I'm finding that the more a reviewer knows classic space opera (the 20th century version) the more they "get" Lockstep. Young Adult reviewers have been particularly kind, but now Derek Künsken, writing in The New York Review of Science Fiction, has explicitly compared Lockstep to its predecessors, and to what's often called the "new space opera." In the article (which you can find here, mind that it's $2.99 to buy the issue) he takes as a challenge my own assertion that with this book I've reinvented space opera, and sets out to see whether I'm right. To do this he compared the novel to its classic forerunners as well as recent works by Banks, Greenland, McCauley, McDonald, Reynolds and Stross. He starts by admitting that
Schroeder has preserved the interesting bits of the space opera setting, the light-year-spanning civilization, without jettisoning respect for known physics. This is an impressive addition to the canon.
His analysis is a fascinating read and a good reminder to those of us who've lost track over the years, of where this beloved branch of science fiction came from and what it's evolved into. In doing so, he highlights one of the issues that led me to write the novel: the pessimism of much of the current genre. There's no sense of innocence in science fiction these days. Now, I'm a firm believer that SF needs to shed its technophilic naivete; the time has passed when we could write starry-eyed tales about how science will cure all our ills. The hero of my long-running short story cycle, Gennady Malianov, is a pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector who, in tale after tale, ends up cleaning up the messes left by exactly that kind of naivete. So, I'm right there.
However, not only is there space for a mature optimism in SF, I believe it's absolutely essential. Anyone who has kids has to be an optimist, and we who are to bequeath a transformed world to our descendants are equally obligated, as a society, to work toward a positive future. That doesn't preclude being grimly aware of the mess we're in and the messes we could still create, as Gennady well knows. But it means we can still dare, and dream big, and care about the world we're for good or ill bringing into being. Space opera is a primary myth-form for that civilizational task.
As Künsken puts it,
Schroeder does not undermine, as Letson and Wolfe noted for writers of new space opera, the optimism present in the classic space opera form—quite the opposite. Lockstep is a novel overflowing with the optimism of a simpler time, fully embracing in its tone the adolescent yearning for the adventure, grand gestures, and romance of the classic space opera. Lockstep asserts thematically that it is possible to go back, to recover that innocence of an earlier age.
So, in the end, does he think I've "reinvented" space opera? Actually, no. Instead,
He created conditions under which the charm and wonder of classic space opera could live again. This is an equally valuable feat.
Good enough. I'm happy now.
Jan 28, 2014
Head over to Goodreads and enter today
You can enter to win a free copy of my newest book, Lockstep. Goodreads and Tor Books are sponsoring the draw, which is open until February 25, 2014.
Early buzz on Lockstep is very flattering (see this blogger's review, and this one). I had a lot of fun writing this novel; like 2002's Permanence, it's something of an homage to the Andre Norton juveniles I grew up reading.
One cool aspect of this particular draw is that what you'd be winning is an ARC--an Advance Reader's Copy of the novel. These are generally the same as the hardcover edition on the inside, but paper-bound and usually without cover art. Plain, intended for reviewers--and collectible.
So what have you got to lose? The contest's open to anyone in the U.S. and Canada, and goes for another month.
Jul 09, 2013
As befits a book written for a younger crowd, the cover art for Lockstep is by the inestimable Chris McGrath
Here ya go. Risingshadow.net has let the cat out of the bag and posted the cover art for my next novel, Lockstep. Not to be outdone, I'll present it too. Here is McGrath's excellent rendering of Toby and Corva on the planet Wallop:
The novel will be serialized first in Analog, this fall, then hit the stores in hardcover form March 25, 2014. I know that seems like a long time to wait, but there's the serialization--and there will also be a lot of other stuff from me during the summer/fall, including new installments of the Sun of Suns graphic novel, audiobook work, and a major secret project I can't yet reveal.
Meanwhile, am I leaving behind adult hard SF? Is Lockstep truly YA? No, and I dunno. I wrote it in the style I felt the story needed. Tor says it has a sufficiently YA-ish feel to it that it can be marketed that way; the hero is 17 years old, but so was Rue Cassels in Permanence. (By the way, Lockstep is not another Halo Worlds novel.) I don't think my older readers are going to be disappointed by this story, and I've always written with younger readers in mind. (You think the steampunk air-pirates of Virga are just for grownups? Ha!) Anyway, you can judge. Here's the marketing bumpf/synopsis of Lockstep:
A grand innovation in hard SF space opera — a slower-than-light civilization of planets without stars
When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still — that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.
Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.
Toby’s brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.
Lockstep's one of those books I wrote purely for the fun of it, without bothering to think about market. I hope the fun shows through, and I hope you like it.