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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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short stories

Dec 01, 2020

The Suicide of Our Troubles

Filed Under:

...Is the title of my latest short story, up now on

You can read the story for free on Slate. As a bonus, journalist Anna V. Smith has written a companion piece for the story, which is here.

"The Suicide of Our Troubles" is set in the same universe as my novel Stealing Worlds, and in fact happens at the same time and in the same city. I guess I'm not quite done talking about the personhood of natural systems, which is a theme I've been writing about for twenty years now.

I hope you enjoy the story, and if you do, pass on the link!

Jul 05, 2017

Me in 14C

I've got a story in this innovative online anthology/short story contest

Seat_14CThe XPrize Foundation has sponsored a new, visionary time-travel anthology that you can read online--and contribute to!  It's called Seat 14C, and you can enter your own story to join myself and a stellar cast of SF greats as we explore the world twenty years in the future.

My own story's called The Urge To Jump, and it's about adventurers doing a High Altitude High Opening parachute jump onto the back of a mile-wide aerostat (high altitude balloon) in the South Pacific.  For the bounty... and a chance to build themselves a new home.

Come join us on the flight, there's one seat left.

Jan 12, 2017

New story in "Chasing Shadows"

Filed Under:

Look for "Eminence" in David Brin's new anthology of stories and essays about the Transparent Society

A new year, a new publication.  I've been flying under the radar lately, with nothing of note published in 2016; in part this was due to the passing of my editor, David Hartwell, and some ensuing career chaos.  Partly, though, it's just been luck:  I've been writing and selling stories--even finished a new novella recently--but events have conspired to push back publication dates for multiple projects.  Some of those projects are on hold, others--tied up in sinister government appropriations mazes--are in doubt entirely.  

After Lockstep I started a blitz of stories about next-generation government and economics.  I followed through on that promise, writing and selling multiple pieces over the past year or so.  None of them have appeared--until this week.

Chasing ShadowsDavid Brin has been bravely fighting a battle for greater governmental and societal transparency for many years now.  He's now assembled a roster of heavy-hitters in the fabulous new anthology Chasing Shadows.  My story, "Eminence," is about First Nations seccessionists, potlatch cryptocurrencies, fully homomorphic encryption, and other parts of the computational plumbing that will either set us all free over the next few decades, or consign us to a hell of state surveillance far worse than Orwell's darkest nightmares.  I choose to be optimistic, but I suspect the battle will be a close one.  The more we all know about what's at stake and the strange adventures we may all undergo on the way to one of those fates, the better.  Hence this story.

I hope you enjoy "Eminence," and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

Apr 22, 2016

"The Dragon of Pripyat" reappears France

Stellar French SF magazine Bifrost is marking its 20th year in print.  As part of the celebration, they're republishing highlights from their past issues, and have honoured me by choosing "The Dragon of Pripyat" as one of the reprints.  You can find the retrospective issue on their website.

Jul 28, 2015

James Bond lives ... in Canada

Filed Under:

And the anthology is coming out this fall

License ExpiredA funny thing happened in 2015. James Bond came out of copyright... in Canada.  Everywhere else in the world, as far as I know, you still have to deal with the estate of Ian Fleming to clear any new Bond books or movies--but not here.  So, in an incredibly gutsy move, writers Madeline Ashby and David Nickle decided to edit together and publish an anthology of brand new James Bond stories... which they have done.  The anthology is coming from the ballsiest publisher on the planet, Chizine Publications, and is called License Expired:  The Unauthorized James Bond.  You'll be able to buy and read it in November... if you're in Canada.

This is going to be one of the most talked about anthologies of the year.  --Not because it's about Bond, but because the stories are good.  Great, some of them.  I have one, "Mosaic," and I'll make no claims for its quality, but with authors like Charles Stross contributing, and completely new and daring takes on Bond, his exploits and foibles, this is collection is huge fun.  I'm proud to be a part of it.

Sep 15, 2012

Declinism and SF

A recent review pushes well-worn buttons

Declinism is the theory that the world used to be better than it is now--it is the conviction, common to many people, that Things Are Getting Worse. There's a brilliant example of the theory at work in a recent, very thorough and well-written review of three Best-of-Year SF anthologies at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Now, the problem with declinism in art criticism is that everybody has their own model for what the best of a particular genre or style is. If your favourite SF was all published before 1980, you're going to believe SF has been in decline since then. If it was 1960, then... well, dates differ. But declinists can always find some cut-off point where things started going downhill.

In this case, the reviewer, Paul Kincaid, seems to place the beginning of the end in the late 1990s, and he has this to say about the best SF of the past couple of years:

In the main, there is no sense that the writers have any real conviction about what they are doing. Rather, the genre has become a set of tropes to be repeated and repeated until all meaning has been drained from them.

Is this true? Or is it rather Kincaid's own perceptions that have shifted? There lies the problem--one can't tell. But even if it's all in the eye of the reader, if everybody else is having the same reaction to SF as Kincaid, then it's a real effect, whether the exhaustion lies in the stories themselves, or in the minds of the readers. What seems to be true, however, is that this particular reader is finding that he's no longer inspired by science fiction. And that really is a problem.

The bigger problem, for me, is that Kincaid goes on to list my story, "Laika's Ghost," as emblematic of this malaise. I can't let that stand. He says this about the story:

 It is one of the best stories in these three collections, but it is almost anti-SF in its affect: the future has run its course and come to an end; what was one of the most exciting aspirations of science fiction—the promise of life on another world—is here made available only to those looking backward to a former time. It is a story that makes manifest the exhaustion that is immanent throughout these three collections.

This is great stuff--but (quite apart from the fact that SF never promised its readers a technological and metaphorical rose garden) it's also a clumsy misreading of the story. First of all, "Laika's Ghost" has to be read in the context of the other Gennady Malianov stories. It only sorta kinda stands on its own; the fact is it is part of a continuum of stories that paints a very specific view of the near future. That view is not of an exhausted world, but of a world that is shifting gears--undergoing civilizational change. Sure, the scions of the old world order may be exhausted, but there are plenty of new and dynamic forces at work in Gennady's world. This is most thoroughly shown in another of these stories, "To Hie From Far Cilenia."

Secondly, Gennady himself is a necessary character for science fiction at this time. Why? Because he's neither a starry-eyed optimist nor an apocalyptic nihilist. He's a realist who fully intends to have a future, and for the world he lives in to have a future too. So while the people around Gennady rise and fall, taking whole civilizations and possible futures with them, he's cleaning up the mess. It's what he does. 

The necessity of buckling down and tidying up the trash left by 100+ years of techno-optimism in no way contradicts the wondrous potential of the future. It's just a necessary piece of the whole process. Gennady knows this; he knows that decommissioning old nuclear reactors is a manifestation of Progress. Shooting radioactive camels in the Gobi desert is one of the prices to be paid for our industrialist past, and somebody has to pay it. Gennady represents that side of technological progress that we in SF so rarely acknowledge: he's a trash collector.

It's not starry-eyed wonder that we need at this point in history; it's a rolling-up of the sleeves to finish what we started when we introduced electric power, vaccinations, indoor plumbing and all the other critical inventions of modernism. In that sense, "Laika's Ghost" is not the best of a bad lot. It's a reminder that science fiction ultimately reflects where we stand in the world right now. And where we stand, is at a time when there's work to be done. If the science fiction of today represents that harder-edged and less sentimental vision of the future, then great! I'll write more of it.



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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."