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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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Apr 20, 2019

An excerpt and early reviews of Stealing Worlds has some words for you

Head over to and you can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Stealing Worlds, which hits the shelves on June 18. In this clip, Sura is dusting off old skills--breaking into the former family home...

Early Reviews

“Lesser writers use technology as a metaphor; Schroeder is a master of rigor in technological speculation. Part prophet, part critic, Schroeder is a hell of a storyteller.”―Cory Doctorow

“Karl Schroeder seizes cyberpunk traditions and larps them into the onrushing era of blockchains, sentient contracts and rapid-paced convulsions of reality!”―David Brin, author of The Postman and Existence.

“This is a vivid exploration of what the coming decades might really be like, combining several major contemporary forces for change, like AI and climate change and online gaming, in a startling new vision. Add a tense plot and engaging characters, and the result is science fiction at its best.”―Kim Stanley Robinson
"Readers looking for a little optimism mixed in with grim predictions will find a good balance here."--Publishers Weekly

Jan 09, 2019

New interview up at Plural

It's kind of a skeleton key to my new work

There's a new interview with me over at Plural. I was asked about digital governance and how humanity can address our growing climate crisis, among other things.  My answers are actually hints at nearly everything that's coming in Stealing Worlds--the ideas, the world and its issues, and--just possibly--hints at a solution.  Check it out!

Jan 30, 2018

The Million: Let's talk about money

Filed Under:

Actually, let's not. Because, let's face it, if you're one the Million you don't have your own money--you have your own economy.

If you're thinking about wealth in terms of money, you're just not thinking big enough.  This was one of the principles I decided to run with when I set out to write The Million.  I mean, this is a story about the literal inheritors of the Earth--the culmination of human civilization, distilled down to a population small enough to prevent the extinction of the species, and large enough to permit diversity, creativity and ambition to flourish.  One million people, who have inherited all human history, all human art, all our accomplishments, our homelands, cities, technology and, yes, money.The Million

Think of The Million as Downton Abbey without the servants.  In the future, after all, we assume robots and AI that serve us hand and foot.  You want an suborbital spaceplane?  How about a whole air force of them that can do aerobatics around you while you fly yours?  You want a yacht?  Why not a migratory island?

No amount of thinking big is big enough for understanding the ordinary lives of the Million. Just one teaser:  while you're drowsing in bed, not yet fully awake, an army of bots has fanned out across the land, looking for individual stands of ripened wild wheat.  By the time you're blinking at the cathedral ceiling of your bed-chamber, they've picked thousands of wheat seeds, judged them and selected the best, and have ground them into flour.  When you finally stagger downstairs, thinking about the temporary city your cousin built for last night's party, with its crowds of fake humans revelers, the smell of fresh baked bread entices you to the kitchen where you see the newly cut loaf... and decide to have something else instead.

The one thing you won't be doing, as a citizen of the Million, is going online.  Or watching television.  Why watch a recorded program--so gauche!--when you can summon a set of robot players to perform the thing on sets built just-in-time by your other army of carpenters?  Why play a first-person shooter on a console when you can have a city neighborhood built to play out a raid for real?  Or, when it comes to romance--well, the possibilities are endless.

So:  forget money.  Forget the whole concept of wealth, it no longer applies. 

What does still apply, even in this world, though, are jealousy, envy, pride, ambition, and deceit.

What's all the wealth in the world worth, after all, if you can't conspire against your neighbours...?

Aug 13, 2015

Loosed Upon the World

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An apocalypse just for you, coming Sept. 15, 2015

Loosed Upon the WorldJohn Joseph Adams' glorious climate-change anthology Loosed Upon the World will be coming out this September from Saga Press.  The book has stories by Kim Stanley Robinson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Robert Silverberg, Greg Benford and lots of other.  I have two stories in the anthology:  "Kheldyu," my most recent and most pessimistic Gennady Malianov piece, and "Mitigation," the open-Arctic-ocean romp that Tobias Buckell and I wrote together.

Climate change isn't your ordinary apocalypse, since it's actually already upon us.  It's a slow, nearly imperceptible alteration of all our affairs--"boiling the frog" but not necessarily all negative.  It's not a destroyed world that results, but a reconfigured one.  Loosed Upon the World explores this ambiguity with panache and energy--and a book like this is long overdue.  

Jul 09, 2013

Lockstep cover revealed

As befits a book written for a younger crowd, the cover art for Lockstep is by the inestimable Chris McGrath

Here ya go. has let the cat out of the bag and posted the cover art for my next novel, Lockstep. Not to be outdone, I'll present it too. Here is McGrath's excellent rendering of Toby and Corva on the planet Wallop:

Lockstep Cover 1

The novel will be serialized first in Analog, this fall, then hit the stores in hardcover form March 25, 2014. I know that seems like a long time to wait, but there's the serialization--and there will also be a lot of other stuff from me during the summer/fall, including new installments of the Sun of Suns graphic novel, audiobook work, and a major secret project I can't yet reveal.

Meanwhile, am I leaving behind adult hard SF? Is Lockstep truly YA? No, and I dunno. I wrote it in the style I felt the story needed. Tor says it has a sufficiently YA-ish feel to it that it can be marketed that way; the hero is 17 years old, but so was Rue Cassels in Permanence. (By the way, Lockstep is not another Halo Worlds novel.) I don't think my older readers are going to be disappointed by this story, and I've always written with younger readers in mind. (You think the steampunk air-pirates of Virga are just for grownups? Ha!) Anyway, you can judge. Here's the marketing bumpf/synopsis of Lockstep:

A grand innovation in hard SF space opera — a slower-than-light civilization of planets without stars

When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still — that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.

Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.

Toby’s brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother,  whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.

Lockstep's one of those books I wrote purely for the fun of it, without bothering to think about market. I hope the fun shows through, and I hope you like it.

Apr 16, 2013

Three Talks: Fahrenheit 451 - Parallels in the 21st Century

These will be taking place at Toronto Public Library branches in April; details below

Starting this week I'll be doing several talks and speed-forecasting exercises around the city of Toronto, to help Toronto Public Library celebrate Keep Toronto Reading 2013. Everybody's invited to come out and to participate. These are going to be short, focused sessions--an hour on average--so we won't have time for long debates or in-depth analyses. However, one thing I'll be hoping to do is an exercise I call 'speed forecasting.'

Scenario-based forecasting is a foresight methodology that goes back to the RAND Corporation and Hermann Kahn, the man who inspired the character of Dr. Strangelove. Generally, scenario design is a meticulous process that takes months and involves a research phase, consultations and often several rounds of workshops convened for experts in the field being analyzed.

We're going to do the whole thing in a half an hour.

While we'll be leaving the smoking wreckage of a decades-old methodology in our wake, I guarantee you we'll have fun and it'll be an interesting glimpse into the future. So, come on out on one of the following dates and places, and join in!

April 18, 2013: Spadina Road Branch

When: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: 10 Spadina Road, Toronto

April 22: Pape Branch

When: 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Where: 701 Pape Avenue, Toronto

April 30: St. Lawrence Branch

When: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Where: 171 Front Street East, Toronto

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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."