FEATURED EXCERPT
The Count
The Count

The meeting was not going well. “I appreciate you taking the time, Sergeant Barnes,” the businessman, Travers, said kindly as he leaned forward in his chair and linked his hands on the table before him. It was the sort of earnest gesture that was undoubtedly meant to seem warm. “We have reviewed your plan most carefully, and because we will adopt some of the recommendations you’ve suggested, I will insist that we pay you a fee for your help.” As much as he wouldn’t admit it, those words actually took some of the sting out of what Edwin Barnes knew was coming next. “But for the mission itself, we have decided to go with a different provider of security.” There it was. As he heard the familiar words, the ex-Sergeant – who still wore his khaki, perhaps in defiance of some … Continue reading

The Champions of 1940
Defense Command Turns Ten
Defense Command Turns Ten

Fast-paced, irreverent, and sometimes heart-wrenching, the Defense Command series by Kenneth Tam made its debut in 2006 at Toronto Trek –– then Canada’s largest fan-run science fiction convention. In 2016, this adventurous military science fiction series officially turns ten, and Iceberg Publishing will mark this milestone in a number of exciting ways.

The anniversary celebration started on the very first day of the year, when all 20 ebooks in the series were updated with brand new cover art by graphic artist and writer, Wes Prewer. As the artist responsible for all of Defense Command’s past covers, Wes developed and refined a unique style over the past decade –– but circumstances had never allowed his Defense Command art to be used to its full potential. That changes in the anniversary year.

“Defense Command’s look and feel was set in the pre-ebook days, and when the ebook format came along in 2011, it didn’t make sense to change everything,” Kenneth Tam recalls. “Fortunately, this anniversary gives us a chance to make good use of all the lessons we learned over the years, so now these new anniversary covers are easily on par with our newer series –– His Majesty’s New World and Champions especially.”

DC16-Story4The new artwork will be shared throughout the year in different formats, and additional enhanced visuals may be available in the future.

“Trailers, downloads, and other sharable media are all possible,” Kenneth says. “Remember, when The Rogue Commodore launched in 2006, Twitter was barely four months old. I barely understood Facebook. Now we have access to amazing social media platforms, and we can use them to show people what the Defense Command universe really looks like.”

Readers have been hungry for that sort of view into the Defense Command universe since the very beginning.

In 2006, the books were promoted primarily in Canada. The move to ebooks in 2011 led to the series being featured in Apple’s iBookstore, welcoming in a wave of new international readers, all of whom keenly followed the ramblings of the self-depreciating, charismatic narrator, Ken Barron.

Thanks to strong real-world connections –– books from the series have been donated to the at-sea libraries of all ships in the Royal Canadian Navy, and support continues for HMCS Sackville –– Defense Command has enjoyed a very active retirement since its conclusion in 2012. Its diverse characters, ships, and unique storytelling style have ensured it remains one of Iceberg’s leading series.

And in 2016, there’s more to come.

The second major offering of the tenth anniversary year will be a brand-new Defense Command novel, Sins of Mars, which is scheduled for release in February 2016 and will be available exclusively in ebook format –– for free.

2016-SOM-Cover“Last year we released The Count, a novella in the His Majesty’s New World universe, available at no cost. We wanted to create a similar opportunity for Defense Command readers, and give them one last adventure in this universe, on us,” explains Jacqui Tam, Iceberg’s Senior Partner and Editor-in-Chief.

Set in 2240, five years after the end of the original 20 novels, Sins of Mars details Ken Barron’s involvement in the Epsilon Incident, and also features DCNS Sackville –– the veteran corvette making her final active-service cruise before being turned into a living museum. As a spoiler-free standalone story, the book may provide a fresh point of entry for new readers, but most importantly, it gives loyalists one last chance to revisit the Defense Command universe, while setting the table for the follow-on series, Black Sun.

“It’s been a lot of fun for us to visit Ken Barron’s world one last time,” Jacqui Tam concludes. “Defense Command has played a key role in Iceberg’s success over the past decade, and we know the legacy of the series will be even more great stories. We’re excited to spend 2016 celebrating these adventures, and getting ready for the next chapter.”

The ebook editions of the original 20 Defense Command novels are now available at a specially-reduced price of $5.99 (£3.49 in the UK). Most existing readers who want to upgrade their ebooks with these new covers will be able to do so at no charge, using the update method specific to their ereader or app.

For more information on this anniversary, stay tuned to this website, and to www.defensecommand.net.

 
 
LATEST AUTHOR NOTES
Kenneth Tam: Platform For Dreams
Kenneth Tam: Platform For Dreams
Less than three weeks ago, I was clinging to my seat aboard a Beechcraft 1900D as we approached the runway in Deer Lake. After a seven hour wait in St. John’s, I’d managed to get aboard a plane that would take me across Newfoundland, but it was going to be an eventful flight. St. John’s had been warm and windy — 10 degrees but with winds gusting up to 130 km/h. Deer Lake was wrapped up in a blizzard that had shut down schools. Fortunately, our pilot was excellent; despite the winds and the snow, he got us onto the runway without so much as a bump. We taxied to the terminal and deplaned into a snow squall. We collected our bags outside the aircraft, then hurried through a whiteout to the arrivals gate. That’s where my friend Ken Thomas was waiting. He had Mars bars for both of us — figuring correctly that, after seven hours in St. John’s Airport, I could use a bit of a boost. After just a few minutes we’d set off for Woody Point -- normally a forty-five minute drive from the airport, but more than an hour as we picked our way carefully through the storm. The slow-going didn’t bother me, of course — there’s no need to rush to paradise, especially when you’re making the trip with a great friend. Few could be greater than Ken. I’d first met Ken and Darlene Thomas in 2011. After years of wanting to see Gros Morne National Park, Jacqui, Peter and I had finally carved time out of our schedules, and online research suggested there was no better place to stay than Seaside Suites. The internet was uncommonly correct. Seaside Suites was perfect –– so perfect that we kept coming back to the same place for five straight summers, each time adding another day or two to the trip. Part of the reason for this loyalty was Gros Morne itself; from the Tablelands and Trout River to Western Brook Pond, the Arches, and Western Bay Sands… even Bonne Bay itself… there is nowhere else that feels quite so right. Even the whales would agree — occasionally they’d stop by the deck at the Suites for a visit. Also present would be porpoises, gulls, eagles, and more. Gros Morne is a magical crossroads, and it’s always a pleasure to be there. But as wonderful as the place is, the people are just as important, and in Gros Morne we made true friends. Ken and Darlene built, owned and operated Seaside Suites, and they had much to be proud of. From the time of our first visit, they added new suites, then bought and completely transformed a past-prime local motel into the Bonne Bay Inn. I’ve never stayed in better accommodations anywhere, and I can’t understate the importance they hold for me — or for Iceberg. Much of Champions comes from Gros Morne: when Alex comes ashore in Whitecoat, she’s on Trout River beach; the badlands of the new world are the Tablelands; we were at the Suites while the Dundee Diehards were shooting the cover for The Count. Numerous other connections will be revealed in the years ahead, none of which might have been possible if we hadn’t visited Woody Point. And we might not have visited Woody Point, if not for Seaside Suites. Though operating and expanding a five-star oasis in the middle of paradise might have been enough for some, Ken and Darlene did even more: Ken was the Mayor of Woody Point, while Darlene became the Director of Hospitality Newfoundland. They had a greater vision for what Bonne Bay could be, and weren’t inclined to just sit by and hope it might be realized. They were determined to make things happen, and their efforts have met with success. You count yourself lucky when you make friends like Ken and Darlene. Over five years visiting Woody Point, we graduated from guests to hosts — always setting aside an evening to have dinner with them, and as much time as possible to talk. We’d share stories, discuss ideas, learn and teach. The best kind of friendship. When they came to Edmonton to visit Ken’s son, we hosted them again, and when I knew I’d be flying to Halifax to see Sackville, and St. John’s for Sci Fi on the Rock, there was no way I could pass up the chance to stop by and see them. It was a brilliant visit. When we emerged from the storm and arrived at the Bonne Bay Inn, everything was a delight. Ken cooked some fine dinners, I offered up baked treats courtesy of our dear friend Esther Buckley, and we tested some new scotch at the Inn’s pub. When the weather settled the morning after I arrived, I slipped out for a quick drive to see Trout River and the Tablelands (spectacular in the snow), and to visit the Suites. For the most part, though, we all just sat in the Inn’s lounge, looking out over the snowy bay. I read a memoir about the Newfoundland Regiment, Ken and Darlene did some work, and we spent hours chatting about plans for the coming year. We watched curling — Ken had represented Newfoundland at the Brier four times — and even set aside an hour to watch Cold Water Cowboys. After a hectic trip, it was an ideal day of rest in paradise. The next day, when Ken gave me a lift back to Deer Lake to catch my flight, we hatched some plans. He was coming to Edmonton to visit his son, and during the trip we’d pick an evening to meet for supper, and get tickets for the Champions Cup (a Grand Slam of Curling event coming to neighboring Sherwood Park). We also planned to talk more about writing — something he and I discussed a great deal, because he had plenty of stories to tell, and was a great sounding board for ideas. Ken was due to arrive in Edmonton tomorrow. Instead, yesterday, he died. It was sudden — terrible evidence of all those things we know about life being fragile, and time being precious. It was too soon — he had so many plans, so much good work still to do. It was unfair — left without him now are his his family, his children, his best friend and wife, Darlene. No one can claim that Ken didn’t live to the utmost. Though he left some things unfinished, the amount he accomplished is immense. One of my dearest principles is that you must chase your dreams with a smile — that you’ll never regret the adventure. He did that so very well. But to speak about Ken Thomas in the past tense is a tragedy. To speak of what he did, not what he will do, is heartbreaking. All of us here — Jacqui, Peter and a myself — can only offer our condolences to his family, to our friend Darlene, and to all of Gros Morne. Selfishly: I’m glad my plane made it through the wind and the snow to reach Deer Lake. I’m grateful that I got to visit with Ken one last time — to speak of stories still to be told, dreams still to be pursued, and adventures still to be had. I’m glad we spoke of the importance of his work, and how much it meant to all of us here. I’m fortunate that I had the chance to compliment him one more time on his determination, and his achievements. Ken dedicated himself to building something spectacular in the most spectacular place on Earth. His dream created a platform upon which others could stand — could pursue their own dreams, in a place where dreams seem possible. Now he ventures beyond a bright horizon, separated from us by a divide we understand too well, and yet not at all. There are many good people with him beyond that horizon, and we wish them all well. But we miss all of them so very much. The legacy of Ken Thomas will be a great one, with meaning for many. All of our thoughts, prayers, and hopes are now with those dearest to him. We can’t be there for the final service, but we’ll see you all again — whatever new paths lead away from this tragedy, we’ll strive to earn a place amongst them. But for now, because I believe that good souls endure, my parting words are to Ken himself: Your story mattered, and it will be told. I hope the weather is fair and that there is adventure to be found, beyond that bright horizon. Take care. Have fun.
Kenneth Tam: De-Kentaminated
Kenneth Tam: De-Kentaminated
The pun was so bad. Sitting in the passenger seat of Matt LeDrew’s car as we pulled away from St. John's Airport, I was immediately reminded of just what sort of nemesis Engen’s founder really is: the kind who invents shockingly bad puns. And apparently this particular pun had been put into service at Sci-Fi on the Rock 10 before I even arrived in the province — while I was aboard Sackville, Matt was spreading the word that, thanks to my encouragement of independent genre writers in Atlantic Canada, I had kentaminated the convention. Get it? Ken-Tam-inated. Instead of contaminated. I never would have thought of that pun, but it certainly seemed to catch on. When my old friend Melanie Collins –– an organizer of the early Sci-Fi on the Rock conventions, and a fellow lover of Gros Morne National Park — became aware of my arrival at the venue, her question on Facebook was: WHERE IS THE POINT OF KENTAMINATION CURRENTLY? To answer her precisely: I was at the Engen Books booth. To answer her thoughtfully: I was discovering the extent of the contagion that breathed life into Iceberg Publishing. Matt LeDrew likes to suggest that I hate him. When he needles me with terrible puns, does spot-on impressions of my aloof idiom, and self-deprecates himself and his company, I get the distinct impression that he’s playing the part of ‘annoying little brother’. Problem is I’m an only child, and therefore don’t know what an annoying little brother is. What I do know is that he’s a writer who showed up at the first Sci-Fi on the Rock convention in 2007 with a ton of stories in mind (some already on the page), and a big dream. I’d been doing conventions and book events across Canada for a few years by that time, and I’d given out a lot of writing and publishing advice. Alone among the hundreds I’d spoken to, Matt followed up after our writing panels. Uniquely, he internalized the information provided to him, put his head down, and started building a company of his own. By Sci-Fi on the Rock 2, he’d launched Engen Books — we were neighbors at the event. We started doing writing panels together, and that continued at the third edition of the Newfoundland convention, at Polaris in Toronto, and in Halifax as well. [caption id="attachment_8478" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Matt and Ellen starting Engen's 'Most Dysfunctional Writing Panel Ever', with Steve Lake behind the console.[/caption] Ellen Curtis joined him almost immediately, and she was a revelation. A gifted writer, she clearly saw the future which Matt was trying to build, and invested her own skills and passion into its creation. Soon they were partners in more than business, and together they started creating opportunities for other young writers to get their stories into print –– first through anthologies, then in stand-alone titles. Authors like Melanie Collins and Steve Lake — the latter who’s been on a sabbatical because he was leading the team that organized Sci Fi on the Rock 10 (he refuses to accept enough credit for this accomplishment) — were able to pursue their storytelling dreams thanks to Engen. Matt and Ellen have continued to grow their company, adding editor Erin Vance, expanding their title list, and augmenting their author lineup — even while working full-time and completing Bachelor's degrees (with honors). [caption id="attachment_8486" align="alignleft" width="200"] Scott Bartlett, always on the job.[/caption] I can’t accept any implication that someone who’s demonstrated such dedication to his passion is an ‘annoying little brother’. My nemesis? Certainly. Purveyor of unfortunate puns? Obviously. But Matt LeDrew is also one of Newfoundland’s most innovative native storytellers. One of many. Scott Bartlett is a gentleman who knows how to make books good. I’ve mentioned our strange history before: in 2005, I appeared in his high school classroom and talked about writing. Thereafter, he chose to write some award-winning books, and to publish them himself. Now he stands alongside Engen on the cutting edge of storytelling in Newfoundland, and he has sound plans to continue growing. I recognize the grit and professionalism with which Scott is attacking this venture. I also recognize his parents — two people so proud of him and so supportive of his writing that they came straight to the convention after a US vacation (having come in on the red-eye, no less) to bolster his efforts. Sleeves rolled up and no detail left unattended, Scott is building a body of work that will do him proud for the rest of his life. [caption id="attachment_8477" align="alignright" width="196"] Chris Walsh, As Fierce As Steel.[/caption] No less can be said of Chris Walsh. Before the convention I’d never met him, but when I hefted the 240,000-word hardcover book that he’d spent four years crafting, I immediately recognized him too. His journey has hardly been simple — he presently spends his days working a tough job and the rest of his time chasing an enigmatic lady in orange on fantastic adventures. The steel behind his determination is obvious when you talk to him about writing — as much as I believe in Alex and Stephanie, he believes in his characters. He won’t let them down, and I understand exactly why. I’ve seen it before, and I’ve lived it. Just as I’ve lived through Sam Bauer’s experience. He’s seventeen and in print — Engen selected one of his stories for their anthology this year, giving life to his storytelling dream. Now he finds himself at the very beginning of an exciting journey, with so many books ahead of him. There are more writers — many more. These are just the few I had time to really speak with at convention… who happen to be from Newfoundland. And that ‘from Newfoundland’ part is the point. Don’t get me wrong: fine storytellers come from other places, which is why the likes of Jay and Heidi Paulin, Ariel Marsh, and Larry Gent were in attendance. [caption id="attachment_8487" align="alignleft" width="198"] Sam Bauer, entering the fray.[/caption] But getting back to Melanie’s question, and avoiding Matt’s pun: where was the site of the contamination? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: Newfoundland. The reason I can confidently state that I recognize the experiences of Matt and Ellen, Erin, Scott, Chris and Sam is because we’re all infected by the same strand of the same plague. While I appreciate that Matt and others give credit to me, Jacqui, and Iceberg Publishing for encouraging their endeavors, the truth is that our symptoms simply manifested earlier. The symptoms of being a Newfoundlander. Newfoundland teaches you that life isn’t easy, but that every day has the potential to be so very worthwhile. Newfoundland teaches you that people matter. Newfoundland teaches you that deeds are greater than wealth. Newfoundland teaches you that, though we may be few, each of us can make a difference. And as a conversation with any Newfoundlander will prove, Newfoundland teaches you that the best way to share your spirit is through the telling of a good story. Why else would there be so many young Newfoundland writers laboring tirelessly over their books? How else could we explain the willingness of their families to support such wild, narrative dreams? What else could drive writers from the Rock to spend ten-hour days at one job, just to come home and start another? Iceberg Publishing exists because Jacqui, Peter and I have worked constantly for nearly fifteen years. Because we believe in the dream we’re pursuing. Because we love to tell stories. All those things are true because we were long ago contaminated by the Rock, the waves, the sea, and the culture of our home. If ‘kentamination’ is a thing, it just means that I’m a contagious carrier of a disease that all of us on the Rock have anyway. But really, it’s not a thing. It’s just a pun from a friend who needs to learn to give himself enough credit, and who is one of many storytellers from the greatest place I’ve ever known. [caption id="attachment_8480" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Hey Melanie: here's the current point of the contamination.[/caption]
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