Tony Phillips is a veteran editorial journalist, correspondent and essayist whose first novel, The Fires of Orc, has cemented his place among American fiction authors. Tony’s work includes frequent contributions to The Huffington Post, Salon and other online media outlets, as well as stints as an op-ed writer for alternative news weeklies, mainstream newspapers and magazines. With his foray into fiction, he has emerged as one of his country’s most seasoned writers and social observers.
Tony is known for using a variety of writing styles to comment on cultural trends, themes and issues. The Fires of Orc continues that tradition. Tony refers to his craft as “fictionalizing reality,” and describes his process as “assessing the actual, observing the possible and forecasting the inevitable.” His approach to fiction reflects his background in philosophy, political theory and public policy advocacy. In a recent interview Tony observed that:
“I always look for the possible lurking behind the actual. Fiction, to me, is hypothetical reality and thus science fiction, as I approach it, is the-not-yet-real but easily hypothesized truth we can see just around the corner. The details don’t emerge in sharp definition, but the shape of things to come is evident in the shadows.”
The Fires of Orc has a primary story line set in 2032, recalled by a narrator looking back from 2082. The major events of the book center on a third-party presidential campaign and pit characters against one another in a test of idealism versus pragmatism. “More than anything,” says the author, “I wanted to explore the question of just how far one can go in using means to justify ends. It’s an important and relevant question for a democratic republic.
A loser cannot change the status quo. But does that mean a change agent should do anything necessary to win? Is there any motive so noble that it justifies using ignoble tactics?”
As the narrator recalls the events of the election, we get a clear picture of the electoral calculus, a picture of how national political campaigns actually work – not just in 2032, but today. The characters plot and plan and skew their appeal to voters to win support of pockets of America. There is no concern with reaching the people in general. The campaign focuses entirely on specific target voters in key areas.
The narrator recalls how the old world consumed itself with hubris and indifference and how the end came in a conflagration. The reader is left to wonder what the narrator, now at the end of his life, will share with the post-apocalyptic world. Is there hope for a new world, or will the past haunt the future?
The Fires of Orc is a dystopian science fiction novel written in literary fiction style. The author concedes the strong influence of sci-fi masters Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin, among others, but shows through his prose his love of authors like John Steinbeck and Thomas Wolfe, his acknowledged idols.
Reviewers have likened the book to the work of Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard. The primary plot line has been compared to Primary Colors and The Ides of March. One reviewer writes, “The prose is lyric, evocative, tight; at times it soars. Beautiful stuff.”
Tony studied philosophy at San Diego State University and California State University Long Beach. He was a faculty member at China’s Hunan First Normal University and has taught young adult and professional students at institutions in Mexico, Korea and the United States.
Tony’s literary passion is American modernism. He writes in multiple genres with a passion for crossover stories that blend the best of sub-genre themes with traditional American literary fiction tracing back to the previous century. In addition to his work as an author, Tony is a community activist and entrepreneur. He founded Kouros Phillips Development, Inc., in 2013 with the mission of providing grant writing, fundraising and related support to the nonprofit and public education sectors. To date, his firm has secured more than $50 million in contracts and awards for two-dozen client organizations, educational institutions and public agencies.