Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wilson's influence on SF writers

Although he cannot be narrowly categorized as a science fiction writer, Robert Anton Wilson liked science fiction and has been popular with science fiction readers and fans. He also is explicitly acknowledged in books by at least two genre SF writers.

L. Neil Smith, a libertarian science fiction writer, won the Prometheus Award in 2001 for THE FORGE OF THE ELDERS, an omnibus of three novels that is really, like ILLUMINATUS!, meant to be read as a single work. Most of the plot takes place on 5023 Eris, an asteroid whose name alludes to the goddess featured in ILLUMINATUS! ("Hail Eris!") and to the numerology in the book concerning the number 23 and the Law of Fives. Mister Thoggosh, part of an ancient race, is reminiscent of the shuggoths that feature in ILLUMINATUS, although Mister Thoggosh is a much nicer entity.

When I read PROPHETS, a space opera published in 2009 by author S. Andrew Swann, I noticed that some of the chapter headings featured quotations from Robert Celine (1923-1996), identified in the appendix as an "American lawyer and anarchist." When I could not find any references to the mysterious Mr. Celine on the Internet, I wrote an e-mail to Mr. Swann, asking if his name is a reference to Hagbard Celine. Swann kindly wrote back, "You made a good catch w/ Celine, he is actually a subtle shout out to the Illuminatus! trilogy."

2 comments:

michael said...

Along these lines, also see Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy: A Novel (1997). It's been awhile since I read it, but IIRC there's a discussion between characters comparing RAW's ideas with Umberto Eco's.

However, I doubt most people would consider Ruff as SF; along these lines - "not SF" - RAW appears as one of Tom Robbins' faculty members at "Timbuktu U."

Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

I read Tom Robbins' first five novels, but I haven't read his more recent books.