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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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May 12, 2012

Me on Singularity Weblog

...And a surprise review on The Atlantic's website

Nikola Danaylov sat down in my living room last week and grilled me for over an hour about my thoughts on technology, the Singularity, and my alternatives to it. The whole interview can be seen here, or downloaded as a podcast; be warned, it covers a huge amount of ground and I don't get much chance to fully flesh out the ideas I'm throwing around. Hence much of it may sound like gibberish. 

There is much that I told Nikola that bears extensive expansion and I would love to lay out these ideas (eg. about the Technological Maximum and the Rewilding) in a book... but only when somebody pays me to write it. I am sadly unable to take on a project like that without backing anymore; I'd starve before I finished the thing.

Lady of MazesMeanwhile, others seem to be discovering my work. There's a new review of Lady of Mazes on The Atlantic's website! It's a pretty awesome exploration of the key themes of the novel; I have to say that, seven years after the novel came out, people finally seem to be ready for the conversation that it proposes. Should we control the technologies that influence our lives, or do we willy-nilly spin the roulette wheel of technological change and simply accept what comes out of it? This is the question Lady of Mazes asks; there could be no more relevant a question for the present, yet when the book first came out, there wasn't much said about that aspect of the story. People didn't really... get it. Now, it seems they're starting to.

Apr 09, 2012

io9 talks military SF

--And references my work for the Canadian military

Over at io9, Andrew Liptak has written a well-considered article about the national differences in military-oriented science fiction--contrasting American SF with Canadian, British and other nations' takes on the future (or lack thereof) of war. He extensively references my 2005 short novel Crisis in Zefra, which I wrote for the Canadian military. Zefra has been widely read and commented on; it was even excerpted in Harper's magazine.  Liptak praises Zefra for presenting something different from the American perspective on war, by describing a multi-stakeholder peace-keeping mission without any of the 'winner takes all' characteristics of U.S. triumphalism.

To say that I'm ambivalent about war would be a huge understatement; I come from a Mennonite background, after all (you do the math). Nonetheless, while my attitudes definitely played into Zefra, the document is ultimately a reflection of Canadian military doctrine and forward thinking. 

Yes, we think differently up here; and we wage war differently, too.

Apr 02, 2012

Locus reviews Ashes of Candesce

Filed Under:

Locus has followed this series from the start. Their opinion on this final book counts

Ashes of Candesce hardcoverI've been waiting for this particular review with the proverbial bated breath. Locus magazine, which is the multiple-award-winning industry review and news magazine for SF and fantasy, has reviewed Ashes of Candesce. Russell Letson knows the series, and so he's in a position to compare Ashes to Sun of Suns and the rest of the Virga books. He puts it this way:

Because schemes and puzzles have been staples of these books from the start, one expects to encounter hidden agendas, mixed motives, secret histories, confused or conflicting loyalties, concealed plans, and unmaskings. But alongside the engagingly busy cut-and-thrust of the intrigue plot runs an equally intriguing component of the book – the play of ideas and science-fictional inventions that make this more than a cunningly engineered thrill ride – and a deeper kind of fun starts when those plot secrets and revelations connect with that layer.

--And, in terms of where these books sit in the broader field of science fiction, he makes the observation that 

All this clearly places Schroeder’s work in discussion with that of Greg Egan, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross, and Vernor Vinge, among others.

...Which seems about right, considering my obsessions and reading habits. Mitigating this somewhat daunting list of comparisons, though, are Letson's closing comments, where he says

In a recent (as I write this) Locus Roundtable post, Karen Burnham posed the question of the appeal of SF and fantasy – ‘‘Why do you enjoy this crazy brand of literature?’’ I responded with several paragraphs of babble, but I think I could have just offered this series as my answer.

Thank you, Russell. And adieu Virga, it's been a great ride. Time to move on to something wilder, and to those ideas that have been bottling up in me since I began this series... seven years ago, now.

Mar 27, 2012

Nice review of Ashes of Candesce

Filed Under:

The Globe and Mail, Canada's premiere newspaper, weighs in

Over at the Globe and Mail, Tom Sandborn talks about my fifth and final Virga book, Ashes of Candesce--and he likes it despite not having read the previous four. Now, I did all I could to make each book in the series stand on its own, but there was always going to have to be one that tied up everything that was left dangling in the others--and that one couldn't be engineered to be a complete stand-alone work. Hence, the cliff-hanger ending to The Sunless Countries, and the dive-in-with-both-feet approach to Ashes.

One tactic I've used throughout the series, though, was to use a different point-of-view character for each book. I do the same with Ashes, and I think it paid off because Sandborn was able to enjoy the book because it remains Keir Chen's story, though of course he's fully aware that there's a massive history to all the other characters and the setup to this particular story. To which I say, yay! That's what I had in mind.

Sandborn says:

The action scenes are brisk and exciting, and all the space-opera elements are linked to remarkably sophisticated reflections on themes of embodiment, attachment and artificial intelligence. Think Buck Rogers meets Buckminster Fuller meets the Buddha. ...This is, in the end, a thought-provoking and oddly beautiful story, with enough charm to send me back to read the earlier books in the Virga series.

If you've been following me on twitter or here lately, you'll know I've been fretting about this book, waiting for the reviews. So this is a big relief and a reason to cheer about all the hard work that went into Ashes--the book I undertook while recovering from heart surgery. 

I'm happy now.

Mar 02, 2012

Figure & ground redefine the thriller for Tobias Buckell

Filed Under:

Arctic Rising is a roller-coaster ride in a daunting but plausible near-future world

What if our planet suddenly gained a new continent? Imagine Atlantis unexpectedly rising, seaweed-cloaked, from the depths. --Imagine the political upheavals, the land rushes, resource booms, profiteering and euphoria and misery. 

Arctic RisingImpossible? Well, what if the Earth suddenly acquired a new ocean, and the traditional distances between ports suddenly skewed and shifted? Wouldn't that be the same as gaining a new continent? --After all, it would mean new coastlines, new ports and destinations for rail lines; areas of countryside formerly lying fallow suddenly opening up: new frontiers in neglected corners of supposedly-settled countries. 

Like those figure-and-ground visual illusions, oceans define the  land. Tobias Buckell knows this--so when he writes a thriller set in an open Arctic ocean, he lays out incredible possibilities for us to savour. Suddenly places like Pandora Island and the Barendts sea become common place names, even destinations. This is half the delight of Arctic Rising: the exploration of a literal new world brought to life by extreme global warming.

The other half of the delight is that within this setting, Arctic Rising is a straight-ahead, no-nonsense old-school thriller. You're not going to have to learn quantum mechanics to get what's going on here: Anika Duncan, airship pilot and fiercely independent loner, has been framed and decides to get her reputation back. She does so in true James Bond fashion, but she's nothing like Bond--she's black, a lesbian, and beholden to no state or secret society. The book is just her against the world, and that's what makes it great.

Buckell has taken a great idea and run with it. He owns this new Arctic sea, and Anika is a true 21st century heroine who just might sustain a whole series of works set there. 

A new ocean defines new continents, new nations--and a whole new brand of thriller.

Jan 30, 2012

Reviewing the never-before-reviewed

Filed Under:

Hey, somebody had to do it. Why not me?

If you head on over to, you'll find a review I've just posted of the Shell Energy Scenarios to 2050. A review of a foresight project? Hell, why not? Foresight exists as a kind of parallel world to science fiction--a realm of official futures and aspirational texts that plays off of SF tropes but also invents its own. There are a lot of foresight projects out there and their findings can be fascinating, illuminating and controversial (remember the Limits to Growth and all the ink that was generated around it?).

If people like this little review I'll be happy to write more. Should be interesting, because there's an obvious subtext to this first review: it's the question, is the science fiction readership actually interested in other visions of the future?

Let's see what happens. Should only take a day or two to find out.

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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)

     “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."