WE’RE DEFENDING THE EMPIRE. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Mars was once a colony of the Earth Empire. Now they’re independent, and want to start a war. Guess it never hurts to think big.
Twenty years after the end of the Martian War, Admiral-the-Lord Ken Barron has written his memoirs –– dubbed ‘reminiscences’ by his publisher –– to set the record straight about what happened. Movies and popular histories have made Barron out to be a hero. He knows better. He was good at his job, and it wasn’t only luck that put him in command of the famed Belt Squadron at the start of the conflict. But luck had something to do with it.
Now he wants people to stop oversimplifying the war, and the crises that accompanied it. In his reminiscences, he’ll tell you exactly what he thinks about the war, about popular misconceptions of the war, about politics, and even about his publisher. In academic history, scholars don’t usually ‘talk’ directly to their readers –– there’s a ‘the fourth wall’. In these books, Ken Barron won’t shut up.
These reminiscences aren’t for everybody. If you want to believe in perfect heroes, steer clear. If you want to believe that everyone in a uniform is a villain, back away. If you can’t handle the odd tangent, best avoid.
But if you want to know what happened when Mars foolishly came for Earth in 2231, this is the place for you.
The Real Sackville
BECOME A REAL MEMBER OF THE BELT SQUADRON:
Many Defense Command characters are based on real people, because author Kenneth Tam is profoundly lazy. Popular figures like Charlie Peters, Wes Pellew, Christian Mikaelsen, and Rufus Chang are all closely based on real individuals (with their permission) –– as are Mark Gunney, Marshal Samuels, Mel Samuels, Schwartz Babcock, Keith Pine, Greg Noyce, Marlene Stoll, and John Fiora.
But the largest character Kenneth Tam has stolen from real life is rather older the rest: her name is Sackville, and she lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
While he was first prepping the Defense Command series in 2005, Kenneth Tam visited Halifax and toured HMCS Sackville, the last surviving corvette of the Second World War. With a crew consisting largely of teenagers, she escorted thousands of men and millions of tons of cargo across the North Atlantic during the war, and proved rather adept at pounding German u-boats into submission.
After the war, Sackville settled into a government job for a few decades, before retiring comfortably to Halifax harbor, where she now teaches new generations of visitors what it was like to fight a war at sea before GPS and the internet.
Kenneth Tam unashamedly appropriated Sackville for the Belt Squadron, and like the rest of the reality-based characters in the series, he was too lazy to come up with a new personality for her. The Sackville of the Martian War (and the tenth anniversary novel, Sins of Mars), is therefore very much the same ship currently anchored in Halifax… admittedly with different weapons, engines, and operational range.
So if you are a Defense Command fan, and you’d like to truly stand on the bridge of a Belt Squadron ship, all you need to do is book a flight to Halifax next summer. Sackville will be very happy to meet you.
You can also donate to support her modest upkeep, or become a member of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, which looks after her (you don’t have to be Canadian to join, and Kenneth Tam is a member, so they’ll obviously let anyone in).
Kenneth Tam has written numerous Author Notes related to HMCS Sackville:
- The Real Sackville
- Seeing A Lady In Halifax
- DCN to RCN
- Corvette Mischief
- Validation – Part 1 & Part 2
- Monitor Reborn
- The Greater Gifts
- Sackville’s Home
- Just Plain Late
- Damage Report
He spells and pronounces his last name differently than Ken Barron, the narrator of the Defense Command series.
The fact that they share the same first name is one of his great laments, because now everyone thinks he’s a bad writer with a terrible sense of humor, who happens to command a battle squadron.
In fact, he doesn’t command a battle squadron.
Kenneth is responsible for more than fifty of Iceberg Publishing’s titles, across four series, and he’s also a partner in the company… meaning he’s one of the editors Ken Barron constantly complains about.
He 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 served as a Communications Consultant on staff for Member of Parliament Peter Braid, before joining his father 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, that had no bearing on Newfoundland becoming Capital Island, the seat of power for the Earth Empire. History just worked out that way.
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.