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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 Houses of Westerhaven

Livia's home is a very different kind of place

The heroine of Lady of Mazes, Livia Kodaly, lives in a nation called Westerhaven, within the Manifolds of Teven Coronal.  Westerhaven is different from civilizations we're familiar with in a number of ways.  To give just one example, let's look at architecture.

The people of Westerhaven have a very distinctive style of architecture. I was interested, upon opening the October, 2006 issue of Architectural Digest, to find articles on several houses that hint at what Westerhaven-style dwellings would be like. The first house is by Wallace E. Cunningham and sits on a bluff outside La Jolla. It's a modernized version of a Roman peristyle house, complete with interior courtyard--but done entirely in glass.

You can look straight through Cunningham's houses. Interior and exterior are more a matter of emphasis than well-defined facts. (Such a house would never work in the -40 of our Canadian winters, of course, but that's beside the point.) There is ample privacy to be had in Cunningham's house, but it's not obvious and never detracts from the sense that you're at one with the landscape.

(Above and below:  Wallace E. Cunningham's Razor house in La Jolla)

Another house that hints at Westerhaven forms is one by Norman Foster, shown in the same issue of AD. Both houses try to dissolve the boundaries between interior and exterior by using broad sweeping panoramas of glass; Foster's house also uses movable sails as sunshades, a design feature prominent in the city of Barrastea in Lady of Mazes.

Why talk about how the houses in a novel are designed? --Because where we live is one of the best indicators of how we live, and Lady of Mazes is all about what new kinds of human lives are possible. The technologies that the main characters in LOM use have important implications not just for how they perceive the world, but how they live in it in the practical sense. That most concrete manifestation of such technologies is the house.

Livia Kodaly's house in Westerhaven is not a single, distinguishable object; it's an idea, and is spread out over an extensive area of downtown Barrastea. This is why I say that the houses in the AD issue hint at Westerhaven architecture: because they try to dissolve the boundaries between interior and exterior, or (in the case of Eddie Jones's) dissolve the boundaries between public and private spaces; but do not yet do both. Jones's house isn't really a public space, and the other two are public only in a somewhat voyeuristic sense (you can look in from outside). In Barrastea, however, a house is declared more than built.

Elsewhere, I've talked about what's possible with Steve Wozniak's Wheels of Zeus and related technologies (like RFID): the ability to tag objects as yours in such a way that if they move you know about it. Imagine that everything you own has WoZ-style tags: your coffee table "knows" that you own it, and if somebody tries to walk off with it the coffee table will protest, loudly, via the internet. And, its movements will be tracked, so it's easy to retrieve.

Now consider the purpose of the wall. The wall is a barrier for the movement of people--and goods. The walls of your house help condition the environment, but they also make it harder for people to walk off with your stuff. But WoZ-type technologies potentially replace this function, and with modern environmental conditioning in a benign climate, walls are no longer so important. With unobtrusive security technology like cameras and motion detectors, intruders can be detected before they become a threat. So, the last function walls might perform is to preserve privacy. But, in Westerhaven, even this is no longer necessary.

The pervasive augmented reality system of Westerhaven allows its citizens to 'tune in' or 'tune out' features of the landscape. You can place a virtual vase next to a real one on your coffee table, and the two can appear indistinguishable. Real and virtual occupy the same space.

Here is what the modern houses in Architectural Digest can only hint at: a world in which objects like houses are partly physical and partly virtual. Some aspects of Livia Kodaly's house are merely designated: i.e. some objects scattered around the landscape are tagged as hers, and will be returned to her if carried off, or simply hidden to anyone but her by the augmented reality system (her bedroom is invisible to everyone but her). Many of these objects and places (like the bedroom) actually reside in otherwise public spaces; privacy does not require walls, only the pervasive augmented reality that permits the virtual to sit next to the physical. So, other people's houses may interpenetrate with Livia's, and if she has cordial relations with her neighbours they may happily co-habit--or, if not, then they can tune one another out.

It's significant that it is the very wealthy who can afford (and who want) these boundary-transgressive houses. The poor love their walls; for the rich, the ability to dissolve the boundaries between interior and exterior is a symbol of their power. In Westerhaven, that power is available to everyone, in the freedom to treat an entire city as your own private space.

Much is still possible for un-modified human beings. We haven't even begun to realize how much more freedom we can have while still being ourselves. The houses of Westerhaven barely hint at what's to come.


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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."