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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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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!

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Missed by a hair

Posted by Potato at Jun 09, 2010 10:06 AM
Thanks for the mention at least!

And it's as real as it needs to be: it's what people know me as on the internet, what they call me in RL too, and Canada Post delivers books to "Potato" equally as well as to the name on my driver's license :)


Posted by Sara Davis at Jun 09, 2010 02:46 PM
Hello, that is soooo 90's. We are looking to the future here. I like the pretend places better. Because when they are real, they turn into Burma. Or Dubai. sigh. Its better in your imagination.


Posted by Jim Rion at Jun 09, 2010 05:47 PM
Thank you, sir, and, well, bringing grim, dystopian magic to people's lives is what I'm all about.

Second Place!

Posted by Jonathan Rose at Jun 11, 2010 02:43 PM
I think I was the first to reference the Shimizu Corporation. I didn't win, but it's neat to have been close. Withe the other sites, this was an interesting contest. Thanks.
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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."