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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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The blackest of swans

Filed Under:

The future is a kaleidoscope. What we can see depends on where we are

Toronto was under siege by SARS when my daughter was born; in fact, it was in the hospital where we had Paige. As a result, we were quarantined a couple of days after bringing her home. This meant we all had to sleep in separate bedrooms, wear face-masks all day, and could not go out. Nobody could visit us, either, so we had a lonely week just when we should have had people pouring through the house.

I remembered this when digging through my foresight work from several years ago. Around 2005-2007, public worry about the future wasn't about the economy; it was about bird flu. If this strikes you as funny now, after one economic meltdown and as we balance on the edge of another, consider this: bird flu is back. It made a return in central Asia this summer, and may spread.

The future we imagine usually mirrors our concerns of the day. That's one reason we get blind-sided by events: we're looking one way and a crisis comes at us from another. This is why in foresight we look for what we call 'critical uncertainties,' which are trends or possible events whose occurrence or effects are highly uncertain, but whose importance would be high if they occurred. Right now, another global economic meltdown is not a critical uncertainty, because, well, it's highly likely and thus not uncertain at all. Lots of people are paying attention to it, and that means that foresighters (futurists? forecasters? still struggling with my terminology) don't have to.

No, in terms of near-future disruptions--particularly 'black swan' events--my money's on bird flu again. Don't forget, this is a disease with a 50% mortality rate, as high as Ebola's, but which is a hundred times more communicable than Ebola. If half your office comes down with bird flu, a quarter of your office-mates will be dead in a week. But we have no idea whether it'll break out the way SARS did, so it's one of our most critical uncertainties.

SARS was a lesson for me; I lived it and I know what a city under quarantine would look like. People dropped food baskets on our porch and then ran for their cars. On the other hand, disciplined efforts in Toronto, Ottawa and San Francisco eliminated the North American outbreak, and thus helped prevent a pandemic. 

It's good to feel prepared. The problem is, now that I know about this roving blindspot we all have towards the future, I find myself constantly wondering: what other critical issues have fallen off our radar because we've become distracted?

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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."