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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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Sep 22, 2020

Polyplexus Ask Me Anything session

Sept. 22, 2020 you can join me for a 90 minute conversation about systems--natural, artificial, and in between

On Sept. 22, the gracious people at Polyplexus are hosting me for a 90 minute discussion about our planetary crisis and potential solutions to it that involve systems thinking--and, potentially, a turning-away from the linear, mechanistic industrial culture we currently have.

Go register on Eventbrite or to join the session. The session will be moderated by Laura Anne Edwards, NASA Datanaut and TED Resident.

Jan 28, 2019

Interviewed by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

In advance of my keynote in Austria on April 2, I was asked about the future of journalism

I'll be in Vienna in early April, speaking at the European Digital Media Awards ceremony. To get a sense of the flavour of the upcoming talk, I was interviewed by journalist Chris Sutcliffe.  You can read the interview here.

An excerpt:

“It’s funny: I’ve included augmented reality in my stories for 20 years now. As it finally becomes a viable technology, I find myself doubting it more and more. At first it seemed natural and convenient that we should want to explode the images and interfaces currently inside our screens out onto the physical world. But that may be a terrible idea for a number of reasons...

Aug 05, 2016

Worldcon : Final Schedule

This is the definitive one

Here's my final (-ish) schedule.  Things can always change on the day-of, but you should note that I've got a few events on Friday, so make a particular note of that; if you want to see me, Friday's a good day.  Here's the full schedule, including times and locations:

Reading: Karl Schroeder

Friday 10:00 - 11:00, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Karl Schroeder

An Idiot's Guide Revisited, circa 2000

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

It's circa 2000 and authors Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder just published The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction. Fast-forward 16 years later, and the world of publishing has evolved, but how much has it really changed? Cory and Karl take a look back and discuss what they got right, what they got wrong, and how things have changed over the years.

Karl Schroeder, Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Literary Beer : Lawrence M. Schoen, Karl Schroeder

Friday 16:00 - 17:00, Literary Beer Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, Karl Schroeder.  [Yay, Lawrence!  You should sign up to talk to him, he's a fascinating guy and vastly entertaining.  I can only promise to show up, myself.]

Futurism vs. SF

Friday 18:00 - 19:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Science Fiction explores the future.  Futurism explores the future and tries to relate it to the real world.  What causes someone to be a Futurist rather than a science fiction author?  Where are the overlaps and the differences between the two practices?

S.B. Divya (M), Karl Schroeder, Andrea Phillips, David Brin

"Ellie's Last Line". Scriptwriting and Narrative for Videogames

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Some of today's most popular video games are based upon narrative storytelling, but that's only part of conveying the tale implicit in a videogame. What does it take to develop a game script? Participants discuss the ins and outs of building a quality gaming script.

Seth Dickinson, Karl Schroeder (M), Carol Wolf, Brianna Spacekat Wu

Societal Aspects of Technology

Saturday 13:00 - 14:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

If your cellphone died would you be late for work? When your power goes out, would you dispair for entertainment? In a world where people are digitally dependent, what will happen when energy fails us? Downton Abbey dramatized the advent of home electricity, the telephone and the radio. How did those advances change social lives? Instead of bringing us together, have phones increase our isolation? We discuss how technology changes the way people communicate and relate in society. 

Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Andrea Phillips, Edward M. Lerner (M), Karl Schroeder, David Brin

The Future of Government

Saturday 17:00 - 18:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

The world has seen many different forms of government over the centuries. What might governments be like in the next 10, 50, or 200 years, and how will changing technologies and world conditions (e.g. climate change) affect those forms? Are there forms of government that have been proposed that have never existed in the real world, but might?


Cat Greenberg (M), Matthew Johnson, Dr Jamie Metzl, Karl Schroeder, Ada Palmer

Autographing: David Boop, Ellen Datlow, Richard Hescox, Jack McDevitt, Karl Schroeder

Sunday 10:00 - 11:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

David Boop, Ellen Datlow, Richard Hescox, Jack McDevitt, Karl Schroeder

Is Mining the Asteroids Feasible?

Sunday 11:00 - 12:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Once the province of science fictiion, asteroid mining is moving into the realm of venture capital, with startup efforts from here to Luxembourg. A number of approaches exist, none of them downselected by experience... yet. Does it make more sense to bring raw material back or process it in situ? What might the near term, mid term and far term of asteroid mining look like? 


Karl Schroeder, Dr. Jordin Kare, Courtney Schafer, Les Johnson (M), Jennifer Brozek

Feb 20, 2014

Mathematics in Science Fiction - this weekend

I'll be one of the speakers at the Fields Institute's panel discussion

How does math influence science fiction?  In my case, I'm functionally inumerate and yet have created hard-SF universes that others have written scientific papers about.  How does that work?  This Saturday myself, Suzanne Church and Tony Pi will be talking about the intersection point of math and imagination--and perhaps, about the idea that there's no real difference between the two.

See you there!

Fields Institute Event

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

Oct 19, 2011

An Enchanted Materialism reading list

Something I'd promised my audience at Applied Brilliance. Here it is

I found the latest issue of Nature waiting for me when I got home from speaking at this year's Applied Brilliance conference in Jackson Hole. In this issue of Nature (October 2011, Vol. 478) there's a brief article by Jan Helge Solbakk in the News & Views section on "Persons versus Things."  To quote:

Since the time of Roman law, legal thinking has operated with a fundamental distinction between person and thing. Even today, the entities subject to regulation are either persons or things, and there is no third option. This conceptual lacuna continues to generate regulatory paradoxes in the health and life sciences, because many of the entities subject to regulation--including bodies, body parts, organs and tissues, and sperm and oocytes--cannot be considered either persons or mere things.

How interesting. This is what I was talking about at Applied Brilliance--although on a more abstract level. More and more people are starting to realize that we need a third option; I talked about some of the lines of evidence from cognitive science that led this way, and mentioned some names, but I'm sure they flew by too quickly for most people in the audience to write them down.  Here they are.

In her book Vibrant Matter, Jane Bennett reminds us that we've been dancing around this third option for centuries. She introduced me to an old English word, deodand, which I've started adapting for my own use. In old English law, a deodand was an object that had killed someone (an cartwheel that had rolled over somebody, or a bag of grain that had fallen on somebody's head). Deodands were neither objects nor people; they had a strange intermediary status. Like a shirt that we might happily put on, unless we found out that it had once been worn by a murderer during his crime.

Bennett's book deals with the 'new vitalism' strand of current philosophy. It's a part of the New Materialism or Speculative Realist school (there are various names for this new phenomenon in philosophy). This school or movement consists of a number of young thinkers who are determinedly steering away from the Continental philosophy of the last 25 years or so--avoiding Deleuze, abandoning Critique and eschewing postmodernism in favour of a return to a belief in the reality of the physical world. Materialism, but a kind of vital materialism in which the third option--of material as vital and self-powered--is being explored.

I ran out of time during my talk at Applied Brilliance to really describe this stuff; all I was really able to do was present an introduction, using the metaphor of the Copernican Revolution.  There've been several such revolutions, I said:

  • Newton introduced the idea of motion without a prime mover;
  • Darwin presented evidence for design without a designer;
  • computers show us thought without a thinker;
  • and now, cognitive science is shaking up our fundamental ideas of who and what we are. It is presenting nothing less than a vision of spirit without a soul.

The best summary of this fundamental shift can be found in the works of Thomas Metzinger; The Ego Tunnel is a good place to start, and, for the not-faint-of-heart, the more thorough and daunting Being No One

Andy Clark, in books such as Being There and Supersizing the Mind, presents the theory of Extended Cognition, which proposes that the human brain off-loads cognitive activities into the environment whenever possible, and that therefore the mind has to be seen as normally extended into the world around us. And in Cognition in the Wild, Edwin Hutchins presents the theory of distributed cognition, which suggests that what we think of as thought is often carried out by groups of people (and instruments) rather than occurring in the head of any one member of the group.

Similar changes are echoing through other disciplines. For instance, in Where Mathematics Comes From, George Lakoff and Rafael Nunez claim that cognitive science shows exactly how we think when we do math, and those thought processes don't just operate without recourse to some separate realm of mathematical reality--how we actually do math precludes the possibility that a distinct mathematical reality exists. And, after more than twenty years of study into computers and computation, Dean of Information Sciences at the University of Toronto, Brian Cantwell Smith, concludes, in his essay "God, Approximately,"

We will never have a theory of computing, I claim, because there is nothing there to have a theory of. Computers aren’t sufficiently special. They involve an interplay of meaning and mechanism—period. That’s all there is to say. They’re the whole thing, in other words. A computer is anything we can build that exemplifies that dialectical interplay. 

I said during my talk that 'this is the point where some people start to panic.' With this phase of the Copernican revolutions, all agency has been removed from the world. Nothing is left of the spirit that was thought to move material reality, not even our own minds. If there is no special agency (mover, designer, thinker, or spirit) behind the material world, isn't reality left barren and empty? Yet, there is an alternative interpretation to this final step of creative destruction; Jane Bennett's 'enchanted materialism' provides a hint of what that could be.

The new materialists (or speculative realists, or new vitalists) see that what we've done by proving that there is no special agency (mover, designer, thinker, or spirit) behind the material world, is on the contrary to show that material reality itself is its own mover, is its own designer, that thought and thinker are identical, and that material reality is spirit. 'Enchanted materialism' indeed.

I've mentioned Bennett. Other respected scientists and philosophers who are going down this road include:

These thinkers all come at the problem from different directions, and their conclusions may seem to be divergent as well. But what they all share is that they are taking the extra step, from the facts of the final Copernican upheaval, to new and positive interpretations of what it means. It's good that their ideas are divergent--this is a creative period. What is important is they all see new vistas of possibility for our self-definition as human beings alive in a vibrant and essentially living universe; and they do this without resorting to mystification, new age formulas, or any turning-away from reality to some soothing metaphysics.

I tried to express all of this in half an hour at Applied Brilliance; I don't think I succeeded. Follow this trail of breadcrumbs, though; you'd be amazed where it leads.

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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."