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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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The Manifolds

The next step after Virtual Reality

Much of the action of Lady of Mazes happens in and around the Manifolds. So what are manifolds and have we seen them before in SF?

As with the idea of thalience in Ventus, there's no single answer. But here's two ways to think about manifolds:

When I go back to the prairies to see my family, I often feel like I'm going back in time. This impression doesn't just stem from seeing the places and people I grew up with; they've evolved. It has to do with switching on the radio in the car and hearing the same songs that were playing when I left twenty years ago. It has to do with the way everything is still oriented around the agri-business as it's existed for decades--a world of pickup trucks, dusty roads and television. Of course they have the internet, but few or no hotspots, for instance. Everybody's white, and the politics are still largely appropriate to the last century.

This is what I see--but it's a superficial impression: the farmers in the area have smoothly moved into using GPS-based devices to do everything from grain testing to guiding combines. Winnipeg has a thriving New Music Festival where extraordinarily daring pieces are performed; and windmill farms are popping up everywhere. Yet for me, the impression remains of entering a slightly different world--of stepping through the looking glass.

Manitoba is in a different manifold.

The mix of technologies is different out there. And that mix both arises from and heavily influences the culture. Pickup trucks, golden-oldies radio and GPS; windmills; socials at the local community centre; grocery stores that carry no oriental or Indian foods and small-town restaurants that serve emu burgers. The volume is turned up on some aspects of life compared to Toronto, turned down in others. The resulting complex wave-form makes for a difference that I call a manifold. The key determining factor in the generation of a manifold is not geography, but the particular mix of technologies that are important to a given people.

A second way to look at manifolds: I live in Toronto, which the U.N. calls the most culturally diverse city in the world. I used to live next door to a Hindu temple in a Polish catholic neighbourhood, for instance.

Big cities are kaleidoscopes. There's no single experience possible of a big city. There are people who live in North York (up past the 401 freeway) who never come downtown, and some of them may not even know they live in a major port. Their mental map of the city is different from mine; and mine changes every time I move to a new neighbourhood. Your mental map contains grocery stores, dry cleaners, subway stops and restaurants, and moving across the city forces you to discard your old set and compile a new one.

Add language and cultural differences to this and it becomes clear that many of my fellow Torontonians have maps of the city that are completely alien to mine. They watch TV channels I'm unaware of; shop in giant megamalls I've never even seen (I keep hearing about somewhere called the Pacific mall where you can get pirate DVDs and such-like; it sounds like a Blade Runner type of place, but I have no idea where in the city it is) and live in neighbourhoods I've never driven through. Theirs are different manifolds.

In Lady of Mazes I have imagined that the technologies we are developing today (such as augmented reality and position-based internet servies) serve to amplify the manifolds we already have. It becomes harder and harder to reach some places--the places of the mind, the mental maps of the city that others use. It's as if a rift into the multiverse opened up in the town square of the global village: at the very moment when the planet is poised to develop a single overarching culture, that culture explodes into a billion mutually inaccessible realities.

Livia Kodaly is born into the manifolds, and she can walk among them with ease. She is the Ariadne of the new age--or rather, an anti-Ariadne, because her intent is not to find a way out of this new maze, but always, always further in.

Livia sang; and as she sang she began to fade; and as she faded into the bright air, the song faded with her...

Farewell, One world.

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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.

Science Fiction that's about something

“Bulging with complex ideas and extrapolations … amazing."
—Kirkus Reviews
“The interrelationship between technology and philosophy that informs [Livia's] choice gives depth and breadth to a book that many will want to reread to get all the nuances.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Schroeder continues to improve his unique blend of hard SF and vivid, dreamlike prose and bids fair to become a major genre voice.”

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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."