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Two Weeks To Retirement

HMCS SackvilleI have very few regrets when it comes to Defense Command. One lament continues to be that I never changed Ken Barron’s first name… because forever more, people will think I’m him. I’m not. Or, at least, I don’t want you to think I am. Whatever.

The second lament is much more important: it wasn’t until the year after the series wrapped that I renewed (and vastly deepened) my relationship with my favorite lady in Halifax, HMCS Sackville. By now, you hopefully know the story — it began with one of my first author notes for this site, and continued on through Battle of the Atlantic Week in 2013. I’ve since become a member of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, and I’m a reasonably shameless cheerleader for the ship.

Real Sackville’s fictional descendant has been a part of Defense Command since the very beginning, as a member of the Belt Squadron… but because the series was done by the time I revived my real-world connection with the ship, Ken Barron wasn’t available to raise awareness for her latest endeavors. Instead that work has fallen to Alex, Stephanie and Strong, who get to know another fictional version of Sackville in the Champions of 1942.

But after a few years in retirement, the Belt Squadron is ready for one more cruise — an opportunity, at last, to put a ship called Sackville front and center. To help mark Defense Command’s tenth anniversary, we’ve released Sins of Mars, and as it climbs through the Amazon US Top 40 military sci-fi books, who do you think is on the cover?

HMCS Sackville
Sins of Mars keeping some good company in the Amazon US Top 20 military sci-fi ebooks, February 11, 2016.

Repainted to her commissioning colors (a white and blue scheme conveniently similar to the Royal Canadian Navy’s Second World War dazzle pattern), DCNS Sackville is just out of refit and on her way to Belt Two, where she’ll be turned into a museum. Of course, along the way she’s caught by the great action-movie cliche: with just two weeks to retirement, she stumbles across a genocidal plot, and must intervene. Ken Barron is also present, to steal oxygen and try to be funny while very capable Belt Squadron officers save lives.

This book is a fond farewell to Defense Command –– one last visit to the series which has given me so much, and which will soon pass the torch on to Black Sun. But just as importantly, Sins of Mars is also a last-minute Defense Command tribute to a real warship — a plucky corvette that probably escorted my grandfather across the North Atlantic once or twice during the Second World War. A ship which still possesses such a fine soul, such a bad sense of humor, such a willingness to teach, and such a fine crew.

So if you’re a Defense Command reader, go get Sins of Marsit’s free. And if you’re a true Belt Squadron loyalist, consider supporting the only ship from the squadron that’s actually real. You can join the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, even if you’re not from this country… and since they let me in, they’ll clearly take anyone.

Happy Anniversary, Defense Command; happy (sorta) retirement DCNS and HMCS Sackville. See you both soon!

HMCS Sackville