Eating Authors: Karl Schroeder

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Karl Schroeder

Hi there, thanks for joining us as I visit with another author and impertinently inquire about his favorite meal. Why am I doing this? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Also, the protagonist from my own novels, the Amazing Conroy, is not only a stage hypnotist but also a foodie. So, basically, I’m hoping to steal some good scenes.

This week, my guest is Karl Schroeder, which makes me especially happy because I’m a huge fan of his work. I believe Karl is writing the new future of science fiction, and I love steering people to his work. Seriously, if you haven’t read Lady of Mazes, you need to pause right now and order a copy.

Karl has a Master’s degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, a handy area expertise for someone who’s not just a science fiction writer, but also a futurist. A few months ago, when he was Guest of Honor at SF Contario, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karl as part of the convention and getting his thoughts on augmented reality, artificial nature, and thalience (a series of video clips from that interview should be showing up elsewhere on this blog site in the very near future).

In 2000, he published Ventus, his first novel, and then promptly began giving it away online. He followed this with Permanence, and was off and running. Tomorrow will see the release of Ashes of Candesce, the fifth and final book in his Virga series (which also includes Sun of Suns, Queen of Candesce, Pirate Sun, and The Sunless Countries). Some of the best of his short fiction can be found in the collection The Engine of Recall, but as long as I’m recommending things, pick up a copy of Metatropolis, which includes his brilliant “To Hie From Far Cilenia.” That anthology also has stories by some other folks you may have heard of, like John Scalzi, Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, and Elizabeth Bear; I suspect you’ll like their stuff too, but for my money Karl owns that book.

Ashes of Candesce
Lady of Mazes
Ventus

LMS: Karl, we’ve broken bread together several times, and while I know I’ve enjoyed each meal, I’m sure you have still more interesting experiences to share. What came to mind when I asked you to recount your best meal ever?

KS: It immediately sparked a bunch of memories.

Growing up in the middle of the continent in the middle of the last century, I wasn’t exposed to much variety in food. Oh, our town had the requisite Chinese American restaurant, and we’d go there every now and then for lemon chicken, which was quite the treat—but that was it. I grew up on German Mennonite food, which seems mostly to consist of root vegetables and beef thrown in a pot and boiled until it’s all the same indistinguishable shade of gray. It wasn’t until I was eighteen or nineteen and visiting the big city (Winnipeg) that I had my first transcendent culinary experience, when my friends John and Nancy ordered east Indian food for delivery. It took an extra hour because the driver was sick so the cook himself delivered it—but when I took my first bite it was like a bomb going off in my head. There was actually food like this? I suddenly understood why the British had conquered India: in order to acquire a cuisine. Without question, that was the best meal I’ve ever had.

Of course I’ve since tried dozens of other cooking styles, each being its own revelation, but Indian remains my favourite.

Thanks, Karl, you’ve given me a whole new way to view British Imperialism, and you know? It works!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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