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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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Feb 29, 2008

Today is Hugo nomination deadline

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Run, don't walk, to

Last Chance to nominateWhat more's to be said?  Hugo nomination season was brief this year; it's highly likely as a result that you wield disproportionate power if you nominate and vote because nomination numbers are always very low.  Literally, every single nomination counts for this award, and books can get on the ballot with as few as 30 nominations.

Nomination for this award is perhaps the most concretely effective thing you can do to support the career of writers you like.  Of course I'm shamelessly cadging for Queen of Candesce here, but there's plenty of other award categories that would benefit from your opinion, such as best short story, best novella, dramatic screenplay etc. 

That said, if you're not already a member of Denvention, you're out of luck. I suspect this sort of draconian membership is part of the reason the nomination numbers are so low (doubtless there's a flame-ridden discussion thread about that around somewhere)--but hundreds of people who could nominate don't, and I'm sure many of them intend to but are caught with their pants down when the deadline passes. 

Feb 27, 2008

Martiniere wins silver Spectrum Award

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Congratulations to all the winners

As reported over at The Art Department, Stephan Martiniere, my cover artist for the Virga books, has won the Spectrum Silver Award for book covers, for his cover art for City Without End by Kay Kenyon. The art director was Lou Anders, who just bought a short story of mine.


"Little Brother" pulls no punches. Read it

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There is probably no book more likely to be banned this summer than Little Brother. Every kid should read it

Napoleon was denounced as dangerously liberal when he introduced a law forbidding husbands from beating their wives with any wooden implement thicker than their thumb. Even the most hide-bound American conservative is traitorously liberal by the standards of 200 years ago.  In fact, the history of these past two centuries could be seen as the record of humanity being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of a nightmare of violence and hatred inconceivable to us now--while at every stage, there's been people desperately trying to drag us back.

This long war--the real long war, and the only one--has its set-backs.  It's up to each generation to re-invent civilization, to reaffirm it and to fight once again against fear, prejudice and easy solutions. Often, the weapon of enlightenment for a generation is a book.  Sometimes, those books are just so much damned fun to read that you forget, for a while, that their purpose is deadly serious.

Little BrotherLittle Brother is huge fun.  It's nominally a "young-adult" novel (whatever that means) but it doesn't condescend to its readership.  People die in this story. People--good people, whom we cheer for--are tortured.  Not everything turns out okay.  But there's also triumph here, and it's our triumph, because Little Brother is a novel that is also a resistance-fighter's toolkit, a manual for subversives, and an inspiration.  There is probably no book more likely to be banned and burned this summer than Little Brother.  Every kid should read it.

Want specifics?  Well, the story begins with San Francisco's Bay Bridge being blown up by terrorists.  Four thousand people are killed, and a small group of high school students is rounded up in a random sweep by the Department of Homeland Security, and treated very, very badly.  One of them, Marcus Yallow, vows revenge when they're released, because his best friend Darryl has not been released.  He hasn't even been acknowledged to be missing.  He's just gone.  (Is this likely?  Ask Maher Arar.)

The book is the story of Marcus's (successful) war to take down the DHS.  If that were all, Little Brother would still be a great read, a wonderful revenge fantasy against the stupidities of the past eight years.  The thing is, that Little Brother doesn't just show Marcus taking down the DHS; it shows how he does it.  How you could do it.

This is where Little Brother leaves fictional territory, and becomes the kind of book that gets banned.  It teaches kids how to spoof government security measures.  It teaches them how to become invisible to the DHS's spying eyes.  It unlocks the secrets of cryptography, hacking, and disinformation.  It gives all these tools to you.  More importantly, it gives all these tools to your kids.

I'm old enough to remember previous salvos in the long war.  Back in 1974 Alan Wingard published The Graffiti Gambit, about a TV-signal hacker who scrawls graffiti across the faces of politicians as they're giving speeches on TV.  It's a grim book:  our hero's arrested, tortured, and eventually lobotomized by the Feds.  I was about 12 when I read it, the same age many of Cory's readers are going to be.  If you're under 25 today, Little Brother will serve as a good introduction to what's been going on all these years--updated for the 21st century.

If you'd like another perspective on the book, from someone who is under 25, check out Madeline Ashby's review.   She's more qualified than me to talk about the impact this novel is going to have.  Check out her comments, and then order your copy.

Feb 25, 2008

Technology really is legislation

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Australian high court judge says laws will be embedded in technology, not subject to it. He's wrong

I used the catch-phrase "technology is legislation" in my novel Lady of Mazes, to express the idea that technology does an end-run around law.  Now, an Australian judge is saying just this, and more:  that technological objects will increasingly encapsulate deliberately-crafted legal structures in their very design.  He says:

"We are moving to a point in the world where more and more law will be expressed in its effective way, not in terms of statutes solidly enacted by the parliament...but in the technology itself--code."

He's nearly right; except for having it backward, that is.  What he's describing has similarities to my idea of the tech locks, which are socially-imposed limits on technology expressed in the technology itself, not in laws that surround it.  Judge Kirby is focusing on computer code here, but the principle is actually more general than that;  in the future, his idea implies we may have a legal system that operates not according to what's allowed, but according to what's possible.  If criminal use of a particular technology is simply not possible, then that's the same as having a law against that use. 

I think most people would prefer to live in a world where things are possible if not allowed, rather than the nightmare scenario of a world where many things simply can't be done.

However, Kirby is wrong about one crucial thing.  Laws will not be expressed in their effective form through code; code does and will continue to effectively create law--without reference to the legal system.  Groups like the record companies and the RIAA are finding out this out now.  Their people are trying to design devices that by design can only be used legally.  Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an example of this kind of pixie-dust sprinkled on technologies that are inherently a-legal.  Kirby is wrong when he imagines that law can be embodied in code, because code is inherently elastic; it's more like water than iron, because it partakes in a basic fact of nature:  that our definitions of things aren't the things themselves. 

Computer code relies on this fact.  Its identifications are all contingent, all temporary, all local.  As Brian Cantwell Smith points out in On the Origin of Objects, types ("can this kind of variable contain a text string or only integers?") are impossible to hard-code into a computer.  And if you can't even dictate that something is always and only an integer, how can you enforce any kind of higher-level legal structure in code?

Technology is legislation, but it can't be controlled on the level that Kirby is talking about.  Any attempt to do so can only result in Orwellian, and unintentionally hilarious, results (again, the entire current state of the music industry is both).

Thanks to Walter Derzko over at SmartEconomy for bringing this one to my attention.


Feb 20, 2008

6-alarm fire 1 block from Toronto's Bakka Phoenix bookstore

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625 Queen West gutted; Bakka's at 697 QW

Not surprisingly, I can't get through on Bakka's phone line; but I don't think they've been caught up in the disaster.  Bakka Phoenix is Toronto's oldest SF bookstore, kind of a Mecca for SF travelers.  It's where Cory Doctorow worked before he published his first novel; myself, Peter Watts, and many other Canadian SF writers have held book launches and signings there.

A six-alarm fire is one level below the maximum on Toronto's scale.  I'm not sure what seven would look like, but this one involves over 100 firefighters, a dozen fire trucks, and essentially an entire downtown city block on fire.

The big problem is the cold and wind chill; I just saw a picture of a fire ladder completely encased in ice up against the side of a building.  Whatever they spray freezes instantly, so the storefronts, streets and sidewalks in the area are quickly turning into a glacial mess.  There's also a lot of smoke and transit chaos--just not a good place to be right now.

I wish the best for everybody affected; nobody's died, which is a blessing, but many people are homeless and local businesses may be devastated.  It's very sad.

Feb 19, 2008

Boskone: a great time

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My schedule at Boskone was packed this year, but luckily the Westin Boston Waterfront has a great lobby, which doubles as a bar; this meant that any time I wasn't on a panel or giving a talk or signing books or reading, I was lounging in a high-traffic area.  As a result I was able to connect with a lot of people--really, truly too many to list here--and because there was such a large contingent of Tor Books employees there, also get in a good deal of business.  Huge thanks to the organizers, in particular Mark Olson, for inviting me down this year.

There's a bunch of photos online showing the mayhem--just hop on over to Irene Gallo's website and check out her  Friday and Sunday posts. Here's one I borrowed with her permission, showing Rick Berry (left) and I in approximately the state we were in all weekend:

Boskone Friday

I'd decided to stick around until Monday for a change, so I was able to head out with a small group to Rick's studio on Sunday evening.  Hanging out with the artists was one of the high points of the weekend for me--it's something I rarely get to do, but they're such a literate and interesting group of people--so I had a great time.  When we got back to the convention we found a dead dog party in progress, and were given some fine Ardbeg scotch (which brought tears to my eyes in more ways than one).  Dave Seeley was gracious enough to show up late that night for a further round of joviality before the scotch took hold and I drifted off.

Pleasant company, good food and drink, nice surroundings, and successful business transacted--who could ask for more?

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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."