Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Space Opera

The Sunless Countries

Book Four of Virga

by (author) Karl Schroeder

Initial publish date
May 2012
Space Opera
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2009
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2012
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The Sunless Countries is the fourth novel in the Virga series of hard science fiction space opera adventures
In an ocean of weightless air where sunlight has never been seen, only the running lights of the city of Pacquaea glitter in the dark. One woman, Leal Hieronyma Maspeth, lives and dreams of love among the gaslit streets and cafés. And somewhere in the abyss of wind and twisted cloud through which Pacquaea eternally falls, a great voice has begun speaking.
As its cold words reach from space to the city walls—and as outlying towns and travelers' ships start to mysteriously disappear—only Leal has the courage to try to understand the message thundering from the distance. Even the city's most famous and exotic visitor, the sun lighter and hero named Hayden Griffin, refuses to turn aside from his commission to build a new sun for a foreign nation. He will not become the hero that Leal knows the city needs; so it is up to her to listen, and ultimately reply, to the voice of the worldwasp—because an astonishing disaster threatens Virga.

About the author

Karl Schroeder was born in 1962 and was raised in Brandon, Manitoba. He has had fiction published in three of the Tesseracts anthologies, as well as On Spec magazine, Figment and the Barnes and Noble anthology A Horror A Day. Karl was president of SF Canada in 1996-97, and has twice been nominated for the Aurora Award (winning with David Nickle for “The Toy Mill? in 1993).

Karl Schroeder's profile page


  • Nominated, Locus Awards - Nominee

Editorial Reviews

“Inventive and solidly enjoyable… Schroeder paints his unique world with deft touches while keeping the story moving briskly.” —Publishers Weekly, on The Sunless Countries
“I loved it. It never slowed down. The background is fascinating and the characters held my attention. It reminded me a little of The Integral Trees, with technology a little more advanced.” —Larry Niven on Sun of Suns
“ proving to be one of our most ingenious devisers of exotic, fantastic settings as well as a spinner of ripping yarns....Schroeder's world-building, storytelling, and character-drawing chops seem strong enough to give even Known Space a run for its money.” —Locus on Queen of Candesce
“[The] world-building continues to be impeccable, and the story's timing is a fantastic tour de force of his creation. The politics and structure of Virga continue to be a fine backdrop to some of the most entertaining space opera out there.” —Booklist on Pirate Sun
“Ashes of Candesce brings the Virga saga to an operatic, crashing finale; a splendid climax to the hard SF saga of the decade!” —Charles Stross on Ashes of Candesce
“A delight, a source of seemingly endless invention….” —Locus on Pirate Sun
“With Queen of Candesce, Karl Schroeder's Virga saga establishes itself as an SF saga of the same order as LeGuin's Earthsea series, Asimov's Robot stories, and Niven's Ringworld stories.” —SFRevu
“A fantastically alchemical tale set in a strange yet utterly real world. Hayden is a complex and well-developed protagonist and Schroeder is a amazingly detailed writer whose world-building is superb.” —RT Reviews on Sun of Suns

Other titles by Karl Schroeder

Related lists