Karl Schroeder

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Karl Schroeder
Born (1962-09-04) September 4, 1962 (age 54)
Brandon, Manitoba,
Canada Canada
Occupation author, technology consultant
Genre Science fiction
Notable works Ventus, Permanence

Karl Schroeder (born September 4, 1962) is a Canadian science fiction author. His novels present far-future speculations on topics such as nanotechnology, terraforming, augmented reality and interstellar travel, and have a deeply philosophical streak.


Schroeder was born into the Mennonite community in Brandon, Manitoba. He moved to Toronto, where he now lives with his wife and daughter, in 1986. After publishing a dozen short stories, Schroeder published his first novel, Ventus, in 2000. A prequel to Ventus, Lady of Mazes, was published in 2005. He has published seven more novels and is co-author (with Cory Doctorow) of the self-help book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Science Fiction. Schroeder currently writes, consults in the area of futures studies.[1]


In October, 2011, Karl Schroeder was awarded a Master of Design degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University in Toronto, Canada.

Relationship to the 'Speculative Realist' School of Philosophy[edit]

Two of Schroeder's novels, Ventus and Lady of Mazes, explore themes that have recently become central to the self-identified speculative realism movement in philosophy. Although speculative realism was not labeled as a movement until 2007,[2] both Ventus (2000) and Lady of Mazes (2005) ask questions that are very similar to those posed by speculative realists such as Jane Bennett, Ian Bogost, Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux and Timothy Morton. Speculative realism places ontology at the center of philosophical inquiry, and Ventus and Lady of Mazes both interrogate ontology, inventing new forms of relationship both between subjects and objects, and between objects in the absence of subjects. A primary example of this form of invention is the idea of thalience explored in Ventus.

Thalience is a concept invented by Schroeder to explore a realm of entities that are not quite subjects, but not entirely objects either. As presented in the novel, the concept sometimes refers to a form of inquiry, specifically an attempt to determine whether non-human sentient systems are truly independent minds, or whether they are merely "parrots" that give back to human researchers what the researchers expect to hear.[citation needed] The novel says that the word was deliberately chosen as an allusion to "silent Thalia", the muse of Nature. However, Ventus also more consistently refers to thalience as a state of being.[citation needed] Entities are considered "thalient" if they succeed in developing their own categories for understanding the world.[3]

Lady of Mazes contains a critique of what Quentin Meillassoux has labeled correlationism. By constructing a potentially solipsistic world of privately constructed virtual realities, Schroeder is able again to create ambiguities in the relationship of subject to object that undermine both categories[citation needed].


  • 1982. Pierian Spring Best Story award for The Great Worm.
  • 1989. Context '89 fiction contest winner for The Cold Convergence.
  • 1993. Prix Aurora Award for Best Short Work in English for The Toy Mill.
  • 2001. New York Times Notable book for Ventus.
  • 2003. Prix Aurora Award for best Canadian SF novel for Permanence.
  • 2012. Audie Award for Best Original Production for MetaTropolis: Cascadia, a shared-world audiobook anthology in which Schroeder's contribution was the short story Deodand.



The Virga series[edit]

Short stories[edit]

  • "The Great Worm". (Pierian Spring, Fall 1983.)
  • "The Pools of Air". (Tesseracts 3 anthology, Press Porcepic, 1991.) ISBN 978-0-88878-290-8
  • "Hopscotch". (On Spec magazine, summer 1992.)
  • "The Toy Mill" (with David Nickle). (Tesseracts 4 anthology, Beach Holme Press, 1992.) ISBN 978-0-88878-322-6
  • "Solitaire". (Figment magazine; Fall/Winter 1992.)
  • "The Cold Convergence". (Figment magazine, spring 1993.)
  • "Making Ghosts". (On Spec, Hard SF Issue, spring 1994.)
  • "The Engine of Recall". (Aboriginal SF, Winter 1997.)
  • "Ball of Blood". (Horrors! 365 Scary Stories anthology, Barnes and Noble, 1997). ISBN 978-0-7607-0141-6
  • "Halo". (Tesseracts 5 anthology, Tesseract Books, 1996.) ISBN 978-1-895836-26-4
  • "Dawn". (Tesseracts 7 anthology, Tesseract Books, 1999.) ISBN 978-1-895836-58-5
  • "The Dragon of Pripyat". (Tesseracts 8 anthology, Tesseract Books, 1999.) ISBN 978-1-895836-61-5
  • "Allegiances". (The Touch: Epidemic of the Millennium. iBooks, 2000.)
  • "The Engine of Recall" (collection) (Red Deer Press, 2005.) ISBN 978-0-88995-345-1
  • "Book, Theatre, and Wheel". (Solaris Book of New SF #2, Solaris, 2008.)
  • "Mitigation". (Fast Forward #2, Pyr Books, 2009.)
  • "To Hie from Far Cilenia". (Metatropolis, Tor, 2010). ISBN 978-0-7653-2710-9
  • "Laika's Ghost" [Gennady Malianov] (Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan, December 2010)[4][5][6]
  • "Jubilee" (Tor.com, 2014)
  • "Kheldyu" [Gennady Malianov] (Reach for Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan, May 2014)[7]


  • Merry Christmas, You Ungrateful Bastards. (On Spec Summer 1993.)
  • Warm Fuzziness: Quantum Mechanics and the New Age. (Transforum, August 1993.)
  • Worldbuilding (SF Canada, Spring 1999.)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Science Fiction (with Cory Doctorow). (MacMillan, 2000.) ISBN 978-0-02-863918-5
  • Traitor to Both Sides. (The New York Review of Science Fiction, April 2005.)


  1. ^ Karl Schroeder official website, accessed September, 2008.
  2. ^ http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/6/305.full
  3. ^ Thalience and the Semantic Web, January 16, 2003, accessed October, 2012.
  4. ^ Tilton, Lois (December 7, 2010). "Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, early December". Locus. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ Seel, Nigel (April 11, 2011). "Book Review: Engineering Infinity (ed) Jonathan Strahan". ScienceFiction.com. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ Waters, Robert E. (March 8, 2011). "Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan". Tangent. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ Alexander, Niall (12 June 2014). "Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan". Tor.com. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 

External links[edit]