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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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Win free books! (METAtropolis, to be precise)

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From now until the 7th, you have five chances, on five blogs, to win free copies of the new Tor Books edition of Metatropolis

Metatropolis Tor editionThe new Tor edition of Metatropolis will be out in just a couple of days, and you can get it for free.  All you have to do is enter any of the five contests being held by myself and the four other authors on their blogs (John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, and Jay Lake).  Winners will receive free books!  

In my case, you need to reply in the comments below (you'll sadly have to sign up for my site first, an annoying restriction necessitated by the large amounts of spambot garbage I've been receiving in my comment threads).  Then, you need to describe--and hopefully link to--the most bizarre, weird-ass example of urban planning or urban renewal you've ever heard of.  It can be anything from Russia's scheme to light cities at night using giant orbiting mirrors, to nuclear-powered commuter trains.  But it has to have been really proposed at some point.

Contest closes on June 7th.  Ready... set... go!

Document Actions

Arizona is Weird

Posted by Neth Space at Jun 02, 2010 02:49 PM
Gee...take your pic from this link:[…]v=onepage&q&f=false

Arizona is weird.

I've always liked the Quartzite Yacht Club (no actual water within 20 miles), but Arcosanti may be more what you are looking for.

Futuristic mega-projects by Shimizu

Posted by Jonathan Rose at Jun 02, 2010 03:26 PM
Here are several extreme plans -- no giant robots protecting cities, though.[…]/

The Russia that never was

Posted by Farley Ong at Jun 02, 2010 03:27 PM

Maybe someday every city will have a Tornado Alley

Posted by Todd Johansen at Jun 02, 2010 09:11 PM[…]/

I'm not quite sure how he keeps them under control, but it's a cool idea.

It's a train, it's a car... it's a train of cars

Posted by Serge Boivin at Jun 02, 2010 09:15 PM
The RUF Dual Mode Transport System in an interesting attempt a planning for a melding of commuter trains and personal vehicles...

Keep it comin'!

Posted by Karl Schroeder at Jun 03, 2010 05:33 AM
Heh heh, love it! Let's see what other madness we can find. I'll dig around too and see what I can find.

Real/Not Real

Posted by Jim Rion at Jun 03, 2010 07:29 AM
Thanks for having this contest!


Burma's new capital is built with the specific purpose of resisting violent revolution. AKA a modern fortress.


Not Real:

The hellish dystopia of SimCity 2000:


Moving on up...

Posted by Daniel Tebo at Jun 03, 2010 10:02 AM
Whole new level to the catch phrase "nature inspired":[…]/

One step closer to Rapture:[…]/

Predictable weather:[…]/

Home Heating/triple-decker streets

Posted by Potato at Jun 03, 2010 09:21 PM
Back in radiation safety training, the instructor put up a slide of a pre-WWII advertisement about heating the home of the future with microwaves: heat the people, not the walls! (Then one of using radioactive paint to passively heat the home)

Looks like what's old is new again:

The <i>dumbest</i> examples probably come from Toronto (though that may just be familiarity speaking). For example, they decided to "calm" traffic by taking a neighbourhood with a perfectly lovely and functional grid-based street layout, where traffic was light and evenly distributed, and blocked all but two of the streets from connecting to Yonge (choosing streets that ran right in front of schools no less). Then, surprise!, those streets got really busy. So they threw down planters with dead little trees in them along the road to force the cars to swerve and zig-zag as they made their way down the road to "calm" traffic.

Another existing one that blows my mind is Chicago's double- and triple-decker streets. That just shouldn't exist in the real world. My mind couldn't handle it on my trip there (and from all the honking, it has rendered many Chicago motorists mad as well).

From superfreakonomics

Posted by Don Boothby at Jun 04, 2010 10:31 AM
Or how about the global cooling scenario discussed in the above book:[…]/ wherein they discuss shooting SO2 in the stratosphere to achieve the effect.

The Green Floating city

Posted by Trevor Longino at Jun 07, 2010 08:50 AM
Yes, someone else posted a comment about "extreme plans of cities" by Shimizu Corporation, but I'd like to elaborate on Johnathan's post because the level of creativity (and the coolness of the drawings drawings) that Shimizu Corp. demonstrated for their Green Floating cities boggles.

Here's the main link:

I wish you could embed images in posts, just so I could link to this one:[…]/gre_img013.jpg

For the record any city planning diagram that contains both "plant factory" and "city in the sky" is clearly awesome.

From their website:
A city that grows just like a lily floating on the water.
A city of the equatorial region where sunlight is plentiful and the impact of typhoons is minimal.

You gotta check it out.

The (digital) city of the future

Posted by Dan Zlotnikov at Jun 07, 2010 09:07 AM
My entry is actually a project executed in Sim City 3000, but what a project!

<a href="[…]/a>. May we never see it built.


Posted by Dan Zlotnikov at Jun 07, 2010 09:08 AM
I see html tags are not allowed. Here's the restored link, then.

Not exactly bizarre

Posted by duplicate_id at Jun 07, 2010 10:59 AM
But interesting, instructive and perhaps a bit out of the ordinary for people who don't go - a look at <a href="[…]/">zoning at Burning Man</a>.

My first year was 1996, the year described when the ravers were banished to far away. It has been fascinating and humbling to see how the layout has changed as the event grew, new concerns came up, and things generally have changed.

One interesting aspect of this, as flagged by Harley towards the end of the article, is that 20 weeks of real-time over twenty years has seen a huge amount of experimentation, feedback and change.

Vertical Seaside City

Posted by Sara Davis at Jun 07, 2010 11:35 AM
This is a vertical city in the middle of the sea. Way cool.

Farming pods on buildings

Posted by Philip Proefrock at Jun 07, 2010 11:35 AM
I just wrote about this for EcoGeek, but I think it really hits the topic:

Pods that can sit on top of existing buildings and contain hydroponic urban farms to produce local food.


Posted by Debra Ketchner at Jun 07, 2010 05:50 PM
I lived in Cleveland for two years as an undergrad; living, learning, and working there made me fall in love with city living.

So I was excited to learn of this project:[…]/index.html

Basically, the city commissioners have decided to convert an industrial section we called "the flats" into an urban village. They want to build houses, shopping centers, hotels, and parks there instead. However, they want to retain the working ports of Cleveland, and they have stated they wish the two to coexist "in harmony."

Probably not crazy enough to go on this list, but it was crazy enough for an official with the International Longshoremen's Association to say (of Cleveland) "Right now we're the laughingstock of the world."

it's all very steampunk

Posted by Jon Hansen at Jun 07, 2010 07:51 PM
A selected entry proposal by Studio Lindfors for the 2008 "What if New York City... Design Competition for Post-Disaster Provisional Housing". In the case of coastal flooding, a Cloud City would house refugees in what are effectively zeppelins floating over flooded New York. No, really.[…]/

Great work, guys!

Posted by Karl Schroeder at Jun 08, 2010 04:37 PM
Excellent set of links, kids! I'll announce a winner tomorrow, after I've had a chance to maunder and cogitate and all those other deep things an intilectshul's supposed to do. Bottom line: there's some deeply bent urban ideas here, and picking the best of the worst won't be easy. So: drum roll please...
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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."