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Commande Jim Reddy and HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville is in drydock receiving her Saa upgrades (see Fray) so I visited her with Commander Jim Reddy.

So far 2018 has been a quiet year for author notes, as we’ve all been quite busy with other projects. If you want to know what I’ve been up to, click here to read my stories about the real people currently reshaping the future of energy.

I don’t usually remark on book dedications –– those pages at the front where an author assigns very special thanks to people who have been important to the creation of a story, or more broadly, to his or her entire life.

My misspent youth gave me the opportunity to dedicate books to a lot of people, and usually I just let those words speak for themselves. This week, however, I’m going to make an exception.

Battle Line –– the print omnibus for the Champions of 1944 –– goes on sale tomorrow, and there are three names under the dedication who deserve very special credit for the work they’re doing (and for tolerating me while they’re doing it).

And for once, I’m not just talking about my Iceberg partners (and parents), Jacqui and Peter.

Last year’s print edition of Fray was dedicated to HMCS Sackville and her crew. This year, Battle Line is dedicated to three of her trustees: Jim Reddy, Steve Rowland, and of course, Pat Jessup.

Pat is the reason Sackville made it into Champions at all. Back in 2013, she and I connected over Twitter (of all places) because of this author note about DCNS Sackville.

What followed was a whirlwind of adventure that I wrote about here, here, here, here and here –– one that led to Sackville joining the series in the 1942 novella Outports, serving as the hero ship in Sins of Mars, and becoming the first ship you see in the Defense Command tenth anniversary trailer:

The only way I can adequately describe Pat is as a force 12 gale of goodwill. You simply cannot resist her, but fortunately everything she does is calibrated to enhance the experiences of others. If you need any evidence of that, witness the fact that she invited a wayward hack writer into Sackville’s community –– and still hasn’t thrown me out.

And considering my misdeeds, you’d really think she would punt me.

For instance: without warning, I abducted both her husband, Sackville’s present-day commanding officer, and one of the ship’s other highly-active trustees, into a fictional alternate timeline.

This 2013 photo is still the best I have of Lieutenant Commander (retired) Pat Jessup. She just doesn’t stand still.

Those two are Commander Jim Reddy and Lieutenant Commander Steve Rowland. In real life, Jim is indeed a Commander who is quite familiar with Newfoundland’s coastal waters. He does have a beard, and as far as I’m concerned, he is the epitome of a commanding officer.

Steve served with the navy some years ago, though he wasn’t an officer. He does have a mustache, and after leaving the fleet he went on to be a Superintendent of Emergency Medical Services in a couple of different Ontario jurisdictions. He recently moved to Halifax, where he helps lead the efforts to take care of Sackville.

Of course, Champions readers know them both. Thanks to my prevailing laziness I simply stole them (still expecting a law suit) to serve our fictional Sackville. The idea was that it’d be neat for Champions readers to visit the ship and discover their heroes actually existed… which would naturally encourage those readers to become trustees.

Speaking of which, are you a trustee?

I’m a trustee.

You should be a trustee.

Click here to become a trustee.

The day I met Steve Rowland. Little did he know he was about to be abducted into an alternate universe.

However, it turned out the benefits of abducting Jim and Steve went far beyond their usefulness in subliminal(ish) recruiting; as readers of the ebook editions of Battle Line’s novellas can tell you, their characters did more to defuse Emily’s bloody insurrection than anyone else.

And naturally, they did so without firing a shot.

When I was first drafting Bedlam, I wasn’t sure how it could end. Emily had worked her followers into such a frenzy –– radicalized them to a point of such violence –– that I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which they’d stand down. Fortunately, when I imagined how the real Jim and Steve might have handled such manic opponents, the answer was a crucial revelation.

For those who have been waiting for Battle Line to read what happens, I won’t spoil the plot. Instead I’ll just say that human decency is a potent weapon –– much more powerful than the 8-inch guns of HMS Exeter, the pulse cannons of Douglas Bader’s Stormdragon Squadron, or even the mighty claws of the Saa.

I’m incredibly lucky to have many friends who remind me of the power of goodness, and every time I visit the navy in Halifax, I seem to meet more. But when it came to finishing the story of 1944, it was these three in particular who inspired the right answer, so Battle Line is dedicated to them.

Thanks Pat, Jim and Steve. Bravo Zulu.