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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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Jun 18, 2010

Coming July 6: Cities of the Air

The best introduction to Virga yet

Cities of the AirIn three weeks Cities of the Air hits the stands.  In some ways it's nothing new:  Cities is Tor Books' omnibus edition of the first two Virga books.  You might wonder why we're doing this when the paperback editions of these books are already available.  But with Pirate Sun coming out in trade paperback in the fall, if you haven't familiarized yourself with Virga yet, you can do it by just picking up Cities.  Together, Cities of the Air and Pirate Sun form the full story arc for the first part of the series.  If, after reading them, you've still got a taste for the weightless world I've constructed, The Sunless Countries is out now in hardcover, and Ashes of Candesce will be coming next year.

Dec 30, 2009

Virga: Cities of the Air

It's available now for pre-order, and will be published July 6, 2010

Tor Books has been very happy with my Virga books, so much so that they've decided to release a new, omnibus edition of the first two.  Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce will appear together in one volume, entitled Virga:  Cities of the Air.  This book will hit the stores on July 6, 2010, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Yes, there is in fact already an omnibus edition of these books--it's Virga 1.2, from the Science Fiction Book Club (advertised in the right-hand sidebar of this page, with cover art by Dave Seeley).  That edition is only available to book club members, though; the new omnibus will be from Tor and will be in bookstores everywhere (and, presumably, in ebook form too).  We hope to have further omnibus editions to round out the series.

Aug 12, 2009

SciFi Wire reviews Sunless Countries

They say the book is "essential to Schroeder's artistic scheme and to the full enjoyment of this saga"

Nice review at Sci Fi Wire, full of words like "rich" "hectic" "dangerous" and "exciting."  Not to mention "enigmatic" "exotic" and "bizarre."  A book full of "perilous intrigue" that contains "revelations about Virga's place in the 'foam of worlds.'"

But the reviewer (Paul Di Filippo) is careful to make the point that while Sunless Countries fills in the blanks on the map provided by the other books, it can also be read on its own:

It might very well serve as a good gateway for newbies into the fascinating Virga cosmos, an enormous, air-filled fullerene balloon in the Vegan star system containing worldlets of varying size that center around the "sun of suns," Candesce. It's a Boschian landscape, full of rich cognitive estrangement, and Schroeder gets the most out of his conceptual playground, with taut prose and wild plotting.

In short, a very happy, enthusiastic review for the fourth book of "the Virga trilogy." 

Jul 30, 2009

And now... The Sunless Countries

A fourth Virga book? Where can we go after Pirate Sun?

What do you do when you've created an open-ended universe of unmatched richness and potential?  You keep exploring it!  I'm very far from exhausting the possibilities of my world Virga, and here's The Sunless Countries to prove it.  This novel is connected to the previous three in the series, but doesn't require that you've read them.  It introduces new characters in a new setting while retaining enough links to the other books for fans of those stories.  It really is all one grand epic tale, but I've tried to keep the action local in each book, and that's definitely the case here.The Sunless Countries

Meet Leal Hieronyma Maspeth.  She's a history tutor at the University of Sere, in the nation of Abyss.  Leal's a curious mixture of discipline and unbridled imagination:  she works hard to get ahead in her cut-throat academic world, but nonetheless dreams of being swept away by the dashing sun lighter, Hayden Griffin, who has recently come to Sere to build a new sun for some other country.

As events conspire, she will end up meeting Griffin, but nothing is like she imagined it would be.  In particular, she never dreamt that something ancient and terrible might awaken in the darkness beyond Sere's streetlights--perhaps a fabled worldwasp, come to wreack vengeance on humanity for some long-forgotten slight.  Nor could she have anticipated that, in Abyss's current anti-intellectual backlash, she would end up being the only person who even knows what a worldwasp is, much less how to deal with it...

The Sunless Countries will be appearing on bookshelves within the next few days.  I've just received my first copy (and, by the way, on the actual book, the bands of colour on the top and bottom aren't lime green like they are in the above picture; they're indigo/purple, to go with the overall design).  In a couple of days, you too can meet Leal, and the worldwasps...

Jul 13, 2009

Virga and Firefly: a mashup

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James Graves has been thinking about my Virga books, and the TV series Firefly.  He's got a fabulous post over on his blog about how you could make everything in Firefly make perfect sense--in scientific and logical terms--if Whedon had just set the series in Virga to start with.  He even recasts the episodes in the new setting, and judges individually which ones it would improve.  Ha!

In some ways this doesn't surprise me at all.  After all, I deliberately created Virga as a scientifically possible setting for classic space opera storytelling.  That's what Virga is is for.  So, I'm not that startled that Firefly could be recast in this setting:  you could in fact redo many many classic stories and series within a Virga-like setting.  For those of us who still wish there could be a space-opera-like future, well, this is the place where it can happen.  That's why I designed it.

James has done a lot of work on this particular mashup, and deserves our applause for it.  He's certainly got mine--and he's got me thinking about how I might be able to write a few new short stories that riff on this stuff.

Hey James--thanks!

Apr 01, 2009

Limited edition print of The Books of Virga

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This is Dave Seeley's cover art for my book club edition. You can own a signed copy

The Books of VirgaAvailable now and for a limited time, Dave Seeley is selling signed prints of his wondrous cover for The Books of Virga.  Needless to say I have one myself, and it's quite striking, with very deep colours and dark blacks.  And yes, the expression on Venera's face is priceless.

Dave is selling these prints over at his online store.  As you'll see when you get there, he's got a world of other great art for sale as well.  I'd been hoping to get Dave to do some cover art for me for years, and was delighted last fall when this opportunity came up.  I think he's captured the madcap pace of Sun of Suns as well as the conniving personality of Venera Fanning quite well. 

And yeah, I want one of those racing bikes.



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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."