Superhuman abilities don’t make you ‘the chosen one’. You’re one of thousands, and you have a job to do.
It’s 1940, and the world is full of Champions. Faster and stronger than ordinary people, these young men and women are veritable celebrities; their rescue from alien labs on the new world made headlines across two planets, and now they’re held up as proof of the superiority of English-speaking societies –– the British Empire and the United States.
Every Champion is brought to a special school when their genetic enhancements manifest at puberty –– Britain’s Lady Emily Academy, or America’s Colonel Robinson Institute. They are trained and educated to become leading members of society, and to support law and order around the world. Importantly, they are required to integrate into ‘ordinary’ society.
Unwilling to risk Champions forming their own domineering upper class, the Byng Policy of 1924 requires them to work side-by-side with regular people every day, and to marry ordinary humans so that their genetic enhancements can be shared with the broader population.
With this plan come two obvious problems. First, the world beyond the British Empire and the United States fears the potential power of the Champions, which might lead states like the German Empire to war. Second, while integration sounds like a great idea to ordinary people, some Champions might not want to associate with non-enhanced people.
What happens when the first-ever Champion disappears from the Academy bearing her name, only to resurface a decade later with a completely different agenda? What happens when agents of an unknown power begin attacks on British and American targets?
Lady Alex Smith has just graduated to become the Empire’s newest Champion, and together with her best friend, Lieutenant Stephanie Shylock, and her veteran Sergeant, Mike Strong, she’s going to have to help figure that out.
This isn’t the 1940 we remember. Welcome to Champions.
LADY ALEX SMITH
The world wants to make her a legend, because one time she wrestled a moose (and won).
That happened because the moose charged at her, after she politely asked him to move. Lucky for him, she let him walk away after –– Stephanie wanted to turn him into supper.
All Champions are orphans, except for Alex. She wasn’t rescued from an alien lab; she knows her biological mom and dad, so she’s had a very different childhood than the thousands of young people who share her genetically-enhanced strength and speed.
Now that she’s graduating, and earning the title of Lady (which means she’s a real Champion), she’s following in her mother’s footsteps: helping protect two worlds from whatever threats might appear.
By her own estimation, she’s very awkward. Also, because of her high Champion metabolism, she cannot manage to gain any weight, no matter how many breakfasts she eats. Combine that with the fact she’s shorter than most of her kind, and she can occasionally feel a bit self-conscious.
But however awkward she feels, however silly she thinks she looks, and however much she eats, Alex is a remarkable young Lady. She knows that school hasn’t fully prepared her for the challenges she’ll encounter, but she thinks that’s fine; it’s her responsibility to face those hurdles, learn, and to make herself better every day. No one will stop her striving to be the best Champion she can be.
Well, except maybe the dry cleaner. Every Champion must choose a coat, which becomes his or her trademark. Alex picked a white one, and keeping it clean while trying to save the world is hard.
LIEUTENANT STEPHANIE SHYLOCK
At the age of three she met her first dragon, then immediately climbed onto its head so they could play.
She and the dragon are still good friends, and actually now serve together in Lord Devlin’s Own Special Service Regiment.
Stephanie Shylock isn’t quite an ‘all-American’ girl, but she’s close. She was born in the American territory of the new world, into a family that earned fame and fortune on that other planet’s frontier. Her dad and her uncle were part of the final assault on the Hubrin capital, and went on to own a chain of hotels across the settled territory.
She is smart, headstrong, and capable. Her godfather, the slightly-notorious gunfighter Cameron Kard, started teaching her to shoot as soon as she was as tall as her dad’s rifle. Her mother started teaching her to read and write around the same time.
When she sought a university education, she was sent to Newfoundland, to live with her family’s closest friends while completing a degree at Memorial College. Living together, she and Alex instantly clicked –– basically became sisters –– and now they’re inseparable.
After a Champion graduates, he or she usually joins the Special Service Regiment, and is assigned a detail of ordinary people to work with. Stephanie wasn’t going to let anyone else look after her best friend, so now she’s the first (human) female officer to earn a commission… and though she doesn’t fancy herself a professional soldier, she might just surprise herself with how good a leader she can be.
Stephanie and Alex get to have adventures together; neither of them could have asked for a better first job right out of school.
SERGEANT MIKE STRONG
When you find yourself in doubt, you need only ask one simple question: What Would Mike Strong Do?
No seriously, Mike Strong asks himself that all the time. Sometimes he even knows the answer.
As a young man, Mike Strong left Newfoundland in search of some adventures. Eighteen and eager, he signed on with the Newfoundland Regiment, and thus found himself first in Egypt, then Afghanistan, then on the new world.
That he survived those days will always haunt him, because so few men did.
But in surviving, Mike decided he’d live large –– laugh, drink, love and joke enough for all his fallen friends. Over twenty years, he’s therefore cultivated quite a reputation… though as is always the case, the reality of his life isn’t quite so boisterous as the legend.
Partnering a man who famously loves ladies with two of the most eligible young women on Earth might seem risky, but those who truly understand Mike know better than to worry. For all his pretense, he can’t help but see Alex and Stephanie as the daughters he never had… and maybe, the role-models he always wished for.
No one can doubt the experience Mike Strong earned on the battlefield. Alex and Stephanie appreciate his hard-won wisdom, and Mike respects their intelligence and leadership. Together, they make an impressive team.
But good grief, his sense of humor is bad.
He looks way too impressed with himself. This is all his fault.
He’s responsible for more than fifty of Iceberg Publishing’s titles, across four series, and he’s also a partner in the company. That means he has too much editorial control to blame anyone else for his own bad ideas. If you ever wondered why Alex, Stephanie and Strong are so painfully unfunny and awkward, now you know.
Kenneth studied for six years at Wilfrid Laurier University, securing both a BA and an MA in military history. During that time, he also spent a year as a Balsillie Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, there working for Canada’s former ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Paul Heinbecker.
After graduating, he spent two years as a Communications Consultant on staff for Member of Parliament Peter Braid, before joining his father as an advisor in wealth management with Sun Life Financial. He has since moved to Edmonton, Alberta, and taken up the duties of Communications Manager with the $75-million Future Energy Systems research program, at the University of Alberta.
Kenneth is a Newfoundlander. Even though he’s now lived away from the island longer than he lived there, he will never consider another place home. Of course, it’s a complete coincidence that Champions (and every other series he’s worked on) features Newfoundland-born heroes, and Newfoundland settings. Funny how that worked out.
You can find Kenneth on Twitter, but please understand that he’s terrible at it. If you have questions for him, feel free to get in touch.