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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.

Personal tools

What Canadian health care is really like: 3. Heart surgery in a public system

Filed Under:

Access is an issue, but it's a geographic one. I was lucky I live in Toronto

In July 2008 I learned I would have to have heart surgery to replace my defective ascending aorta.  Since I also had a bicuspid heart valve, my surgeon and I discussed whether to replace that at the same time.  This conversation did not involve money, because money wasn't a consideration for either of us.  Neither my insurance company nor any level of government were even consulted, because it was a matter between my doctor and me.

We decided to leave the valve where it was, for now.  I got to set the date of the surgery, and with some irony decided on the day after my birthday: September 5.  The surgery would happen at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.  (Sunnybrook is a teaching hospital and research center, but because there's only a single tier of health care in Canada, everybody in the community has equal access to it, regardless of their demographic.  My GP is at Sunnybrook, but I needed no particular privilege to get her.)


At this point, all sorts of things were set in motion, but all I had to worry about was keeping in good physical shape, not getting sick--and banking blood.  This last activity is an option for major surgery, where you may go through many units while on the table.  What you do is donate to yourself ahead of time.  So, on two occasions prior to the surgery, I went downtown to the blood bank to get drained.  The procedure was, of course, to flash my OHIP card and then fill out a form; and then to get hooked up.

Having already been entered into the system, the process on the day of the surgery was even simpler:  I just showed up, lay down on a gurney, and was taken to the OR.

--Actually, that's not quite true.  I had to sign a waiver:  $3.00 for the use of the phone next to my bed, once I got up to the recovery ward.

Having a so-so time

The surgery went really well--five hours in a cradle of crushed ice, with no pulse and my chest splayed open.  It was afterwards that things got a little dicey.

My heart wouldn't settle down.  Rhythm problems afflict about a third of heart surgery patients, so it wasn't at all surprising--to them.  To me, though, the next ten days were hellish, because with my heart popping into atrial fibrillation at the least provocation, I couldn't even get out of bed.  The first few times it happened, they cardioverted me (which is to say, they put the paddles on me and stopped/started my heart).  After the third time, they decided something a little gentler was called for, and put me on a drug called amiodarone.

Amiodarone is sometimes called "the devil's anti-arrhythmic" because it's incredibly effective--and has incredible side effects.  --Side effects like crystallization of the corneas, and stiffening of the lungs.  For the first three days I was on it I threw up constantly.  To cope with that, they fed me a cocktail of other drugs with exotic names.

All told I spent eleven days in hospital--six more than usual.  Normally they kick you out less than a week after the surgery.  Normally, they don't ply you with all the drugs I ended up taking.  But, because I had my surgery in a public system, the extra time and the cost of those drugs weren't factors in anybody's decision-making.  I got the care I needed, and when I did go home I was ready for it.

I was also, by the way, in a semi-private ward, meaning I shared a room with two other guys.  We had physios, TV, 24-hour nursing care (of course), and utterly abysmal food that was the only element of the system prepared by a private company.  (They should be shot for giving nauseated heart patients meals consisting of two slabs of white bread with a dry piece of turkey breast between them; my wife snuck in rich pate-and-crackers, and fresh raspberrries--high-iron foods, both.) I'd brought in my iPod and a portable DVD player, and watched many episodes of Avatar:  The Last Airbender while waiting for my heart to settle down.

All this did end up costing us; aside from the $3 waiver, there was about $100 in parking that my wife paid for.  For everything else, however, economic considerations were simply not a factor; nor was access.

Then I got home, and had to face six months of recovery.  Luckily, a system was in place to help me with that, too.

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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."