Permanence is Karl's second novel, and it's brilliant -- at its core is a massive, hard-sf conceit: that because tool-use expends more energy than adaptation (i.e., when confronted with a marsh, it's easier to be a marsh-bird than to figure out how to drain it), that over time, all the races of the universe will use genetic engineering to adapt themselves to their habitats and so become nonsentient. Layered on top of that are braided adventure stories, religious cults, and a kind of intellectual property imperialism driven by smart dust and twisted by lightspeed lags. This is the kind of book that changes you, and he deserved the hell out of this award.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.