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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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Ashes of Candesce

Feb 03, 2013

Ashes of Candesce makes Locus Magazine's annual recommended reading list

Every one of my novels published since 2000 has made Locus's annual list

...And that's eight for eight. Locus Magazine is the defacto industry-insider's publication for science fiction and fantasy. Locus has a cast of truly stellar reviewers and tracks everything to do with the industry--names, gossip, sales, film projects--as well as reviewing as much as they can of everything that comes out every year.

And, every year, they publish a list of recommended works. To quote from the site, this list is compiled in the following way:

This recommended reading list, published in Locus Magazine’s February 2013 issue, is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers — Liza Groen Trombi, Gary K. Wolfe, Faren Miller, Jonathan Strahan, Russell Letson, Graham Sleight, Adrienne Martini, Carolyn Cushman, Tim Pratt, Karen Burnham, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Paul Di Filippo, and others — with inputs from outside reviewers, other professionals, other lists, etc. Short fiction selections are based on material from Jonathan Strahan, Lois Tilton, Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, David G. Hartwell, Ellen Datlow, Alisa Krasnostein, Paula Guran, and others.

I know some of these people, but have never met most of them. The list ranges from 15 to nearly thirty names on any given year. This makes it doubly astonishing that every single one of my novels (excepting The Claus Effect, that madcap romp through all things Christmasy that I wrote with David Nickle) has made the list. Wow.

Check out this year's list through the link above. It's great company to be in, as always.

Aug 30, 2012

Ashes trade paperback release date

Filed Under:

You can pre-order it now.


Ashes trade cover art

The last Virga book, Ashes of Candesce, is doing well in hardcover, and still getting great reviews. It'll be published in trade paperback format early next year: March 12, 2013, to be exact. 

For some perverse reason I'm really excited about the prospect of lining up all the trade editions of these books. I loved the hardcover editions and have done that with them on my bookshelf, of course; but there's something about the trade books that I keep coming back to. The design of both editions is stunning and elegant... but I think I like the trade editions a teeny bit better.

There. I've said it. Now ignore all that and buy the hardcover edition because... well, you know... I'll make more from it.

Jun 03, 2012

Ashes of Candesce gets great review at SFSite

Reviews for all the Virga books have been overwhelmingly positive

On the heels of great reviews at Locus and Canada's premiere newspaper, The Globe and Mail, I'm delighted that SF Site has looked at Ashes of Candesce and pronounced it good. It's not just a ringing endorsement of this last Virga novel; the message that's emerging from people who've read all five books is that there's no low spot in the series. The books are consistently good.

For me, there's always two goals: each book had to be as good as it could possibly be; and the series as a whole had to be excellent. The reviews for each individual book have been stellar, but it wasn't until I read Greg. L. Johnson, in this latest review, saying "With Ashes of Candesce, Karl Schroeder brings his Virga series to a rousing, fitting conclusion," that I started to believe I'd succeeded with Virga as a whole. 

Russell Letson had already said this over at Locus:

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.

He added, 

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.

In the SF Site review, Johnson also says, 

Karl Schroeder is also exploring many of the ideas that have dominated hard science fiction for the last twenty years or so... Those themes place the Virga series and its author in the company of writers like Greg Egan, Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, and others. 

And, summing up, 

That the story and character development never lags as a result makes the Virga series a first-class reading experience both for long term fans and anyone looking for a good introduction to the ideas, and artistry, of contemporary hard science fiction.

I've been proud of the individual Virga books. Now I'm proud of the series, too.

Apr 02, 2012

Locus reviews Ashes of Candesce

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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

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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.

Jan 09, 2012

Read the prologue to Ashes of Candesce

It's available now

Ashes of CandesceAshes of Candesce will hit the shelves on February 14, but meanwhile, has an excerpt you can read online! I hope you like it.

Ashes brings together all the disparate plot threads from the first four books, and wraps them all up in one epic adventure. You'll encounter all the main characters from the previous books, and some surprising new ones. And, we finally get to see more than just a glimpse of the strange posthuman world that lies outside Virga.

The Virga series has been a great ride, and I hope you enjoy reading the cataclysmic ending as much as I did writing 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."