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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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Dec 30, 2009

Excellent review of The Sunless Countries

Russ Allbery provides another well-balanced assessment of my work

Russ Allbery has reviewed most of my novels on his site, and he's always provided an extremely good litmus test of how well I'm doing.  (Except of course for his giddy and utterly approving review of Lady of Mazes, which if not entirely objective was at least a great piece of ego-boo for me.)  As well as praising the strengths, he finds the weaknesses in my work with unerring precision and for this reason I always await his reviews with great anticipation.

What he has to say about The Sunless Countries is extremely positive, and his criticisms are fair.  I can learn from a reviewer like this:

 The Eternists are a bit over the top, though. Schroeder paints the politicians as manipulative, self-serving slime, and since the protagonist is an academic, the conflict follows stock fault lines and seems pat and cliched. He makes it work within the book, but the obvious analogies outside the book are too easy and a bit distracting.

Yeah, okay.  I'll try to do better.  On the other hand, this is his overall assessment:

The Virga series still falls a bit short of Schroeder's other work for me, but this is the most intellectually interesting entry. He moves away from steampunk set pieces and into more analysis of the nature of government and the perils and alliances of high technology. It's one of the better books in the series, although it still trails Queen of Candesce.

Fair enough, and thanks once again for a well-measured review.

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." 

Aug 05, 2009

A fine review in Locus for Sunless Countries

The August, 2009 edition - and R.I.P. for Charles N. Brown

Russell Letson has read all the Virga books, and so he's eminently qualified to compare them with one another in his review of The Sunless Countries.  Does this fourth book, which diverges so totally from the arc of straightforward adventure that tied the first three together, pass muster?  Apparently.

Science fiction is supposed to be the genre that melds the adventures of the mind and body into a single thrill ride, as though a roller coaster could be combined with the Discovery Channel and an advanced degree in speculative anthropology and experienced all at once.  This series, and this entry in particular, fulfills that promise.

This is an excellent first major review of the book, and especially good as it arrived two days before Worldcon starts.  In my usual way I had no idea whether I'd crafted a masterpiece or a doorstop; at least I can go to the yearly party with some confidence that I've done right by the other Virga books.

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 03, 2009

Monstrous Affections is ready for pre-order

David Nickle's short story collection is creepy and fun. You'll want it

Monstrous AffectionsIn the interest of full disclosure, let me say right off the bat that I've written an award-winning short story and a novel with David Nickle.  I consider him one of the finest horror writers around, and in combination we've crafted some pretty weird stuff; but by temperament David's always been a short fiction writer.  His best pieces are small, intricately-crafted, and often disturbing glimpses of humanity's dark side.  Now, he's finally collected some of them into a book you can buy.  The book is Monstrous Affections.

David's work is by turns horrific, touching, and wickedly funny--sometimes all at the same time.  (Consider a vampire-as-special-needs-kid story where the poor misunderstood vampire toddler is swarmed by righteous preschoolers and--well, you can imagine.)  David's got a blog you can check out, The Devil's Exercise Yard, which is lots of fun, and of course you can still find copies of the novel we wrote together, The Claus Effect, which is basically a James Bond thriller with Santa Claus as the super-villain.

Monstrous Affections is available now for pre-order from the Horror Mall (as warm and cuddly a website as you can imagine).  The book will be released on Halloween of 2009; but by ordering it now, you send a strong signal to the publisher and other interested parties that you're interested in David's work.  And, if you later forget that you've put in the order, you'll have a pleasant little surprise in your mailbox around Halloween (and it won't be a stick or somebody's left ear!  Although, who knows, you might get that too).

Apr 30, 2009

Gunnerkrigg Court

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My favourite webcomic is now a book. Buy it!

Gunnerkrigg CourtI don't read very many web-based comics.  I don't find many of them are very good.  So it's come as a surprise to me that I'm totally hooked on Tom Siddell's Gunnerkrigg Court, a Gormenghastian saga about a very strange school/factory/city and the enchanted and often sinister forest that lies next to it.

Antimony Carver is a new student at the school called Gunnerkrigg Court.  She's come from the hospital where she spent much of her sheltered youth watching her mother slowly wane and die.  Now, at the Court, she has the chance to make friends and learn how the world works.

Except that Antimony's world is far stranger than she (or we) could have imagined.  It's a madhouse of ghosts and robots, forest spirits and virtual classrooms; a school so huge and labyrinthine that whole neighbourhoods of it have remained unexplored for who-knows-how-long.  The story unfolds at a rate of three pages per week (updated on mondays, wednesdays and fridays) but as it's up to Chapter 22 and the chapters average 30 pages in length, there's plenty of reading to do to catch up.

I'm completely addicted.  I'm also delighted that you can now buy the first volume of the series on Amazon.  Siddell's work deserves wide recognition and praise.  Gunnerkrigg Court brightens up at least three days of my week, and for a writer and artist to be able to sustain such a high quality of output for so long is itself a feat worthy of recognition. 

All hail the Court, and three cheers for Antimony Carver!

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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."