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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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Jo Walton on Lady of Mazes

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A great review over at

Jo Walton has some very kind words to say about Lady of Mazes; it's the sort of review I could have hoped for more of when the book first came out.  Actually, the public reception to this novel perfectly encapsulates my career:  rave reviews, nobody buying.  Jo talks about how much she enjoyed the novel, and how surprised she was that it wasn't being talked about everywhere.  I wasn't surprised--more like, resigned. 

Somebody recently told me, "science fiction can only look in one direction at a time, and right now, that direction is Charlie Stross."  (Who is, I hasten to add, eminently worthy of our regard.)  But it does seem to be the case that "there can be only one" in SF, or at least it seems that way when it comes to SF novels in any given year.  I'm currently enjoying the irony of having thousands of people become aware of my work through the free download version of Ventus--for which I receive nothing, of course--rather than, say, through my current, critically-acclaimed, award-nominated series.  I've given up trying to figure out why this sort of thing happens, but I know I'm far from alone--check out Kaythryn Cramer's list of 100+ people who have never won a Hugo, for instance (it's astonishing who's on it).

Anyway, my warm regards and thanks to Jo for talking about the book that is, in many ways, my favourite--Lady of Mazes was certainly the more challenging and rewarding project I've ever undertaken, and of all my characters Livia Kodaly is closest to my heart.

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Great review

Posted by David Fowler at Aug 17, 2008 07:50 PM
I read the review yesterday and was surprised it was for Lady of Mazes not Pirate Sun. I hope this leads more readers of all your books. Anyway I was one of those who recieved Ventus as a free download from Tor. It was the first one I recieved after signing up. Ventus blew me away. It was such a fun read. I can't wait for Queen of Candesce to come out in MMP.

Analog audience vs the franchise mills

Posted by Cary Thomas at Aug 17, 2008 11:11 PM
You don't mention that you are getting your name and product out to 10's of thousands sf readers through your 2 serials in Analog.

I suspect the battle these days, for newer authors, is getting exposure over the "franchise SF", such as Star Trek or other "tie-in" prose that begin in other media.

What is the cross-over rate for franchise readers? Do they seek out any other prose authors, other than their favorite franchise?

Fortunately, I grew up in the era before the SF franchise prose market, so I watch out for new authors, as a matter of course. The magazine market built in that kind of reader discipline with editors who wanted to find and present new authors - how many award winning authors were newbies in their day, introduced through the magazine market? How many remember that DUNE first appeared as serials in Analog?

Unfortunately, the role of genre magazines is in decline.

The last, big captive marketplace would seem to be in public schools - so what is the formula to get new authors in front of those new readers?

-- Seattle
P.S., I tried a couple of OpenID logins (, on your site, but they didn't seem to work, so I used the old site registration process.

Franchise and "traditional" audiences

Posted by Karl Schroeder at Aug 18, 2008 04:24 PM
I'm coming to the conclusion that a very large proportion of the SF readership reads very narrowly. They may not be the "fans" at all (does anybody know what proportion of SF books are bought by people who self-identify as fans? I don't.) You're right about the Analog exposure, of course--though it has been pointed out to me that many people will not buy the hardcover or paperback if they have already read the Analog version, so in that sense some proportion of the Analog readership counts as "lost" sales to Tor.

My wife pointed out that my post, above, sounds rather bitter. It's possible I am, only in the sense that Lady of Mazes and Ventus are the books I worked hardest on, and I so hoped for a bigger reaction to LoM. It was my "baby," and I wanted it to grow up and have a successful life. None of which means I'm bitter about my writing career in general, because I'm having an uproariously great time with the Virga books and couldn't ask for better success there.

As to the OpenID login thing, it's a known problem. I have to do some brain surgery on the site to get rid of it, and just haven't had the courage yet.

It sold at least one copy...

Posted by Doug Miller at Aug 24, 2008 09:50 AM
It sounds (unfortunately) like I might not be the norm, but I can tell you that Jo's review prompted me to immediately order <i>Lady of Mazes</i>, which I am reading now and enjoying a great deal. The Analog serializations of your work lead me to purchase both <i>Sun of Suns</i> and <i>Queen of Candesce</i>, and I'll pick up <i>Pirate Sun</i> just as soon as I whittle down my backlog some. <i>Permanence</i> is one of my very favorite books of the last five years. <i>Lady of Mazes</i> though - this one is really, really breathtaking. I can tell this is going to be one of those books I think about for months and years afterwards.

That's part of the issue, I think - your stuff isn't (just) escapist literature, it really requires thought and in turn causes the reader to re-examine assumptions about the world and our place in it. There are <i>implications</i> in much of what your write, and thinking about those sometimes isn't always comfortable. I tend to think that's what SF is about, but not every reader today might agree with that, and those readers probably find at least some of your writing challenging. Watt's <i>Blindsight</i> has a similar issue.

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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."