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: The Wolfdogs
Kenneth Tam: The Wolfdogs
Happy New Year! It’s 2016, which means much of this year will be spent celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Defense Command series. You can also expect more from Champions — I probably owe readers some author notes after the novellas of 1943. But for my first note of the year, I have to talk about a different series — indeed, the first books I ever wrote: the Equations novels. Before the Belt Squadron, before the Saa, and before Alex, Stephanie and Strong, it was the Earthers who carried the banner for Iceberg’s fiction wing. Many of my early convention appearances were anchored by the latest Equations novel, and though the series wrapped up in 2009, its impact continues to be felt to this day. I recall the Equations now because, over the holidays, I got to meet a bunch of Earthers. Well, not strictly speaking — if I literally met Earthers, there’d probably be headlines about it (giant spaceships and all). However, I did get to meet wolfdogs at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, just outside Calgary. It was quite a place, and one I’ll gladly recommend everyone visit. Wolfdogs are born when humans encourage wolves and dogs to mate. Despite what some people think, this sort of union doesn't happen casually, and it certainly doesn't occur as often as some breeders would like you to believe. Many dogs are called (and sold as) ‘wolfdogs’ because of the way they look; real wolfdogs are a very distinct and diverse group, who don't behave at all like regular dogs. At the Yamnuska Sanctuary, they rescue and teach about wolfdogs –– and they let you meet their pack up close. As you tour their grounds, you learn very quickly about the different kinds of wolfdogs you encounter. The ‘low content’ wolfdogs (ones who exhibit greater dog traits) are generally affable and happy to socialize with you, particularly if you’re offering treats. However, they aren't too keen on guard duty, staying within fenced areas, or not eating couches. That said, they're quite a handsome bunch. [caption id="attachment_8395" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] In low content wolfdogs, you can recognize many dog-like features... and they behave rather differently than their high content cousins.[/caption] The ‘high content’ wolfdogs –– who are in many respects almost indistinguishable from pure wolves –– are a much warier crew. Even though the members of the Sanctuary's pack have been around humans all their lives, they tend to keep their distance, take their time, and never get too friendly with strangers. They'll also never stray indoors if they can help it –– possessing excellent situational awareness, they have no appetite for being trapped. When you sit in their territory, waiting with treats, they rather casually split up, and approach cautiously from all sides, almost appearing to move like a small, silent, tactical unit. Fortunately, humans aren't on the menu. [caption id="attachment_8399" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Kaida is a high content wolfdog, essentially indistinguishable from a wolf... and quite silent when appearing behind you, while you're watching his colleagues approach from the front.[/caption] Meeting these different types of wolfdogs was quite an education... and it was also a reminder of how much I miss writing for the Earthers. For those unfamiliar with the Equations series, the Earthers were the product of genetic engineering — not by humans, but by a sentient bioweapon. Omega had been created to exterminate humanity, and it did so ravenously... but it also ate too fast. When it realized it had expended its food supply, it went in search of alternative hosts, and decided its best chance was to modify existing animals. On the verge of starvation, it started manipulating the DNA of wolves, cats and bears, aiming to make them more human. [caption id="attachment_8396" align="alignright" width="300"] Out of eight Equations novels (and one spinoff), canines nabbed five covers -- though Fox Magnus obviously isn't a wolf.[/caption] The plan worked, but evidently not fast enough –– Omega was gone by the time the first generation of highly-intelligent humanoid animals started appearing. Like wolfdogs, these Earthers represented the crossing of two different worlds. Unlike wolfdogs, they picked up English (and all the other languages, and sciences, and everything) quite quickly, and rapidly exceeded humanity on all fronts. They were too good to be true... as the human survivors who later returned to reclaim the planet discovered, much to their chagrin. That's the point where the series began, with The Human Equation. The Equations was the first series were ever worked on, and being new to writing (and let's be honest: being sixteen years old when I started), I made decisions throughout the books that I would make differently now. Instead of chewing on the scenery (is that a pun, in the wolfdog context?) we plunged straight into epic space opera. Big space battles. The fate of the universe. Fortunately, the Earthers could handle all of that, because they're better than humans... But there are more ways to know Caine's people than I left myself room to explore. Which means that one day, I'll have to go back there –– tell more stories. Revisiting the Earther universe has always been –– will always be –– the writing project I'm most passionate about. Our fine friend John Fioravanti is currently writing in that universe with the Genesis Saga (the second installment, Treachery and Triumph, is now available), though his focus remains on human affairs, not the Earthers. I definitely plan to be back... but that won’t happen soon, as Champions and Black Sun are our priority for the next few years. In the meantime, I’ll keep visiting the Sanctuary, because staring contests with Nova and Kaida remind me that one day I'll return to the beginning, and spend time with characters who are better than all the rest. [caption id="attachment_8398" align="alignleft" width="700"] Nova and Kaida. At least, I think it's Kaida. I need to visit more. Also, Nova might be related to Ami Cairn and Zed Dune?[/caption] To learn more about the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, to donate in support of their pack, or to schedule a visit, check them out online.
Kenneth Tam: And We’re Back
Kenneth Tam: And We’re Back
It's been more than a year since we ended the Champions of 1942 on a rather unapologetic cliffhanger, and the only penance I can offer for that slight is that there'll be no waiting between installments of the Champions of 1943. Today, all five novellas have launched across all major ebook services. Getting here has been quite a ride. The decision to release all five books at once was made partly out of pragmatism (we moved Iceberg 3,500 km across Canada since Progeny, so maintaining the old release schedule would have been impossible), partly due to data analysis (a surprising number of readers wait until the end of each year, then grab everything for a binge-read), and most importantly due to the fact that this year's stories are very tightly-knit. Seriously, if we made you wait two months between Shades and Hades, you wouldn't like us. You think it was bad waiting to find out if Glenn was under that dumpster… So what lies ahead for Alex, Stephanie and Strong as we get into 1943? Will they be together? Will they be ambulatory? Whose side will they be on? You don't have to wait to find out, though I will editorialize just a little. Spoilers for 1941 and 1942 ahead -- govern yourself accordingly! The end of 1942 came with the discovery that the Nazis were -- somehow, almost inexplicably -- pulling the strings that had led the world to war, while developing technology that they couldn't possibly be smart enough to create. And then, of course, Emily and her cabal appeared -- including Lord Duncan, Sergeant Major Eric Turner, and a mysterious man in tan -- just in time to collect Alex during her equally-inexplicable midnight food run with Stephanie. Readers who picked up Harm's Way will know something about Eric Turner's backstory with Emily -- the special bonus chapter, exclusive to that print omnibus, tells of his involvement. But as we start 1943, there are many, many questions to be answered… and when answers come, it might be fair to wonder whether they add up. One thing is for certain: Emily and her designs will finally come to light in 1943 -- and the ideas that have founded the entire system of 'Champions' within the British Empire and the United States will be challenged. In future author notes, I'll dive into some of the emerging issues; for now, I invite Champions readers to enter a new year of intrigue, action, and danger with Shangri-La, Shades, Hades, Savages, and Scars. Print readers, take note: Scar Tissue, the 1943 omnibus, will follow early next year. Stay tuned to this site for dates and information.    

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