Oxford UK-based artist/writer Mike Philbin has been an independently published novelist and short story writer since 1989. He is the man behind the subversive keyboard entity Hertzan Chimera R.I.P. who terrorised the horror community for over ten years, prior to 2004. Chimericana Books has secured the rights to republish all Mike Philbin's novels, including “Bukkakeworld” and “Planet of the Owls” published in 2008 by Silverthought Press (NY). Chimericana Books republished the novels "Yoroppa" and "View from a Stolen Window" published in 2011 by sci-fi-cafe press. "Custodian” and “Tandem” are the 2013 pair of releases. “Liberator” and “Watcher” are the 2014 pair of releases.
Genre: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, anti-corporate
A group of Oxford University's finest minds, the eponymous Custodians, offer mankind a technological 'get out of jail free card' enabling them to slip from under the yoke of Corporate Slavery to The Industry. Radical elements within the student body engage themselves in the Patent Wars and start a TV show called Natural Lottery that broadcasts to the global Evertainment System, every night, 7-9 p.m., all channels, full spectrum dominance. You are taken through a physical relocation of your corporate arm of The Industry from Dusseldorf to Oxford. You are 'made redundant' in the most spectacular public fashion and your world starts to (literally) crumble, or pixellate, around you. But there's light at the end of the tunnel of death.
Publish date: June 15th 2013
Publisher: Chimericana Books
Excerpt from Custodian:
Asalah Al Faghori will die tonight and we shall share the moment of her passing so that she can fulfil her promise of a brand-new future so far denied the inhabitants of this cruelly commercial world.
She will die so that you the people can understand Creativity.
She will die so that you the people can translate Passion.
She will die so that you the people can share Kinship.
She's not going to die strapped to a chair receiving four hundred stab wounds from some lunatic home invader like unlucky French biochemists.
She's not going to be discovered in some GCHQ safe house, zipped into a locked pink sports bag, decomposed well beyond the few days since her demise.
She's not going to be discovered with her wrists slit in the wrong way, undigested paracetamol in her gut and no blood near her corpse in the woods.
She's going to offer her life to the whole world, the scientific world, the political world, the living world. She's going to commit the ultimate sacrifice of her flesh so that there'll be no doubting her dedication, her resolve. She believes this to be the right thing to do. She believes that her sacrifice will be judged right and proper in the great accounting table of history's more significant events. God is on her side, or so she believes.
Kasper: Hi Mike. Welcome to Kasper's Ramblings. I'm looking forward to meeting the author behind the Custodian.
Mike: Thanks Kasper. Pleasure to be here.
What made you choose this genre?
Most of my writing is visual in that it's a surrogate for a career as a figurative artist I abandoned in favour of writing back in the mid-90's. I like to paint pictures with words, the reader fills in the gaps with his experience (thus far) of life, and reading.
Cool. You have listed: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, anti-corporate as your genres, so it sounds like a wide scope for exploration.
What’s the story behind your book title?
It was originally going to be one novel, titled Free Planet and it was going to be a simple story about how a few clever boffins engineered a turn-around of the ego-based money-ruined financial system so that everyone could live 'for free' rather than being wage slaves and dogma fodder. But as soon as book one was written the opportunity to write a second book, from a Military Perspective, telling the 'real story' about the Custodian Liberation project was irresistible. The three parts of the Free Planet trilogy are called Custodian, Liberator and Reaper.
Which scene from your book do you like best and why?
An early scene which goes something like this:
They spot some kid. Some street urchin in a dark hoodie. Smoking Spanish cigarettes as he moves from shadow to shadow. He doesn't seem attached to a Corporation, there are no Ownership logos on his clothing, which is odd. Everybody has an owner, everyone has a corporate uniform. He doesn't seem old enough to be a student. But here he is, within Oxford's wall after curfew; freelancing? This was either some professor's kid out when he shouldn't be or there was a serious security breach, somewhere. It's always nice to know that security breaches exist, gives the boffins something to scratch their heads about, something to put in an invoice for.
Asalah catches a whiff of him and something primal goes off in here like a small bomb in the brain, a burning suffusing down to the grumbling pit of her stomach. She is about to swoop down to let Rotimi know that there's a Live Meal down below when she notices he's also spotted the youth. The chase is suddenly on.
Which is your favourite character and why?
Asalah Al Faghori, she's the reason why the Custodian Liberation in the book really kicks off. She's the powerhouse of the novel and the one who faces the most danger. She's the public face of what turns out to be a covert operation.
How do you develop your characters?
They develop themselves (organically) based on a few critical motivational pointers. I give my characters free reign to 'do their thaaang' without too much interference from 'their creator'.
Have you used any real people in your characters?
No … well, rarely.
I'm sensing a little hesitation here, perhaps someone inspired you and you'd rather they didn't know?
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
Yes, I base a lot of my recent novels in my home town of Oxford, that's in England. Oxford is, in many ways, the hub of the whole financial/elite Machine that runs this for-Profit Political world we live in. To set these types of novels within the walls of that non-moral i.e. intellectual, hemisphere is the right and proper approach.
I had the pleasure of visiting Oxford two years ago myself and found it an intriguing blend of ancient ways and architecture, and young and vibrant minds. It must be an interesting place to create fantasy.
What are you working on now?
At the moment, I'm working on Reaper (free planet 3) and its companion in another trilogy Kumiko (war world 3). Free Planet vs War World is a major theme occupying my mind at the moment, “Which do we really live on?” and it's fun to explore both sides of the Profit-coin. Plus, I like having a couple of writing projects on the go at the same time to keep them both fresh.
What’s your writing routine?
I'm thinking of novel material all the time, I'll take notes in a non-lined diary and transpose back into doc format when I can find the time. I have a full-time job as a bus driver.
Who are your favourite authors?
Philip K Dick, Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler, Chuck Palahniuk, Cordwainer Smith, Robert Ludlum.
Who’s your favourite indie author and why?
Jeff Noon. He's a northern lad, like me, and he's truly out there character, narrative, imagination-wise. Vurt, Pollen, Nymphomation, it's all kinds of odd.
What is your favourite quote?
Those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand -- Kurt Vonnegut.
I love this!
Do you have a blog?
I have something called the Free Planet blog, and it's where I first came up with the idea of a world where you don't have to pay and pay and pay for the basics like food, water, shelter. It was going for about five years with many posts before I started to think of writing a Devil's Advocate novel about it all.
What book clubs are you in?
Book Clubs, none, but I am a member of Writers In Oxford.
Cool. I love Oxford. It's such a melting pot of creativity. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country with beautiful Uni grounds to idyllic thatched roofed farmhouses.
Thanks so much for stopping by today to share your thoughts with us, Mike.
Folks, please scroll down and check out Mike's links and his imaginative writings.
Blog: http://mikephilbin.blogspot.com (the Free Planet blog)
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua-_TMqJS74