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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 09, 2010

And the winnah is...

By a hair, it's the city of Naypyidaw! Because it's REAL

Well, the "win a copy of Tor's gorgeous new edition of Metatropolis contest" is over, and the prize goes to Jim Rion, for alerting us to a dystopian nightmare that's actually being built over in Burma.  Now, I gotta admit, some of the other entries were weirder--flying blimp refugee housing for a flooded New York, for God's sake?  Thanks to Jon Hansen for that one.  And what about Arcosanti and Biosphere 2?  (Thanks, Neth Space!)  The obviously-his/her-real-name Potato gave us perhaps my favourite, which was the microwave indoor heating system (or Personal Pain Ray) and, well, that's just damned weird.  Millennially weird, actually.  

And yet... with a little twist of perspective, I could actually see most of these ideas being implemented.  The common thread in the designs I ultimately didn't pick was that they were largely motivated by genuinely reasonable concerns about function and efficiency, albeit usually hypertrophied compared to the rest of the body that usually goes into a good design.  Microwave heating as a way of saving 75% of heating costs... okay, I can sort of get that (though if I had to choose, I think I'd bury my house in sod before prying the door off my microwave oven).

I really wanted ideas that had at least reached the municipal planning stage, however--proposed, not just thought of.  Most of these wonderful plans have, alas, not been seriously taken up by any real municipality.  

It came down to sheer lunatic inventiveness vs. sinister Orwellian reality.  The other big contender was Shimizu Corporation, whose website contains not one, or two, but seven gobsmackingly wild visions of future urbanity.  In the end, it was the fact that Naypyidaw really exists that pushed it over the edge for me.  I mean, come on--a city built with extra-wide roads that can double as military runways?  A place where the military 'fortress' and government quarter are literally walled off from the rest of the city?  --Where not even the families of government workers are allowed to visit?  (You too could live in a colour-coded apartment block, whose roof colour can tell the air force exactly which units to precision bomb to take out entire sectors of the bureaucracy.)  Where key government officials and high-ranking military personnel live in a dedicated system of bunkers and tunnels 11 kilometers from the rest of the city; but there's waterslides and not one, but two golf courses for the happy citizens?

Ah, Naypyidaw.  It'll make a dandy theme park some day.

Incidentally, what stunned me was that nobody mentioned Dubai.  What the frack?  Was it too ordinary for you guys?  Did I miss the memo and is Dubai reasonable or something? Or just so obviously the elephant in the room that nobody felt it worth mentioning?  Not citing Dubai... now that's weird.

So, anyway--Jim, I'm just coordinating with John Scalzi about getting you your book.  And thanks for bringing just a little grim, dystopian magic into all our lives!

Mar 01, 2010

Flavours of Penguicon

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A little sampler of what the convention's panels are like

I'll be author Guest of Honour at Penguicon, April 30 to May 2, 2010.  Penguicon is not a science fiction convention, though there's a lot of overlap among the attendees; it's an open source con, dedicated to all things linuxy and open.  I hope this year to have the chance to talk about some of the research I did last year into open source biotech.  Meanwhile, however, if you're wondering what the con is like, I've managed to dig up a couple of podcasts of panels I was on at the 2007 convention:

  • Cutting-edge SF author Karl Schroeder joins Ron Hale-Evans, author of Mind Performance Hacks, and Dr. Jonathon Sullivan MD PhD in neurology, to consider "The brain is a computer, the mind is software." That's been the ruling metaphor of cognitive science, neurology and AI studies for decades. The software of thought is supposed to operate much like that of a computer, going from discrete state to discrete state. However a new study from Cornell shows that our thoughts change continuously; the brain works "in shades of grey". And there are good reasons to think that the mind is not an artifact of the brain alone, but is extended into the environment as well.
  • Christine Peterson, Jason Ahlquist, Karl Schroeder, and Ron Hale-Evans discuss the term 'posthuman'. The term "posthuman" seems to indicate a lack of humans. This is not what is meant, but itâs really bad marketing, and scares people. Even transhumanism is not a very friendly term. Names are important; perhaps it needs a new name the same way Free Software came to be known as Open Source Software?

If you're curious about Penguicon, give these a try.  

Jan 19, 2010

Tor edition of METAtropolis

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Publication date is July 30, 2010

Having been a roaring success in audiobook form and in its first print incarnation from Subterranean Press, METAtropolis is returning this summer in a new edition from Tor Books.  I don't have too many details yet, but I'll post cover art here when I get it; the publication date, however, is July 30th.

Aug 06, 2009

The Sunless Countries audiobook now available


Coinciding with the launch of the paper edition of The Sunless Countries, MacMillan and have released the audiobook version!  

As with the previous books, this one is read by the inimitable Joyce Irvine, with David Thorne.  They bring a great one-two punch to these stories; I'm very lucky to have such lively and entertaining readers.

I wish I could release the persistent massively multiplayer online role playing version on the same day as well, but that's a little harder to do.  But hey, if you have the coders and a server farm just sitting around idle (hint hint, Matrix Online), maybe we should talk.

Jun 07, 2009

Publisher's Weekly loves METAtropolis

Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, John Scalzi and I reviewed

Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say about the upcoming (August) print edition of our Hugo-nominated shared world project, METAtropolis:

Editor Scalzi (Zoe’s Tale) and four well known writers thoughtfully postulate the evolution of cities, transcending postapocalyptic clichés to envision genuinely new communities and relationships. Selfsustaining walled cities struggle with their responsibilities to dying suburbs in Scalzi’s “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis”; goods are exchanged through multiple microtransactions in Tobias S. Buckell’s “Stochasti-City” and a reputation economy in Elizabeth Bear’s “The Red in the Sky Is Our Blood.” A lone man attempts to overthrow an early enclave in Jay Lake’s “In the Forests of the Night,” while Karl Schroeder’s “To Hie from Far Celenia” brilliantly combines steampunk, urban sociology and network theory as entire subcultures go “off the grid.” Each story shines on its own; as a group they reinforce one another, building a multifaceted view of a realistic and hopeful urban future. (Aug.

Edited by John Scalzi. Subterranean, $30 (264p) ISBN 978-1-59606-238-2 )


Jun 02, 2009

Sun of Suns audiobook is free until June 12

Just head over to and pick up your copy



To promote the upcoming release of The Sunless Countries, we've decided to offer the Sun of Suns audiobook for free download.  There's a discussion about it going on right now at; for the download itself, go to the site.

Now, since I'm the author anything I say about the quality of the story itself is obviously biased; but I can say without reservation that the reader, Joyce Irvine, does an excellent job with my material.  If there's flaws in my prose she easily talks around them, and she's a great choice for the material.  (And if you like how she does this, you should try her dry and distantly amused rendition of Queen of Candesce!)

All of the Virga books are available in audiobook format; The Sunless Countries will be as well.  And don't forget that Metatropolis, currently nominated for a Hugo Award, is also available from


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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."