Thursday, September 2, 2010

THE TRICK TOP HAT, a "science fiction novel"

I have been re-reading the second book in the "Cat" series, THE TRICK TOP HAT, which to me seems particularly radical among the three books (or, if you prefer, particularly self-indulgent.) (I am reading the original Pocket Books Edition.) There are so many sex scenes it almost seems aimed at the "adult books" market. (One wonders if the cover illustration and the references to sex on the back cover are meant as marketing -- buy this book! it has lots of sex! -- or a truth-in-labelling warning -- don't buy this book! It has lots of sex!. The latter would make sense if the purpose was to forestall outraged letters from the parents of 14-year-olds.) It contains an interview with the author in the middle of the text. It is a book which seems to consist almost entire of arcane digressions, with little semblance of a plot. And so on.

Of course, I love every word, but it still seems amazing to me that it was published as a science fiction paperback. On one side of the back page is an advertisement for fantasy novels from Pocket Books, with endorsements from the likes of Andre Norton and Marion Zimmer Bradley. The other side of that page is a listing of then-current Pocket SF books by the likes of George R.R. Martin, Ben Bova, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and so on. Yup, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ben Bova and Robert Anton Wilson ...

3 comments:

supergee said...

A lot of it was originally published in Wilson's admitted-porn novel, The Sex Magicians.

Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

Bob loved the review physicist John Gribbon gave _Schroedinger's Cat_, calling it the most scientific of science fiction novels. I think _The Trick Top Hat_ coheres as a novel and as a science fiction novel. All the digressions relate to the concepts in quantum mechanics embedded in the text.

Also, I love this novel because of how Wilson confronts his pain in it. I think he had a lot of raw misery in his life while writing it after the death of his daughter Luna. The book has soaring optimism as well as real awareness of life's pitfalls. "Chinatown" and the Hammerklavier Sonata of Beethoven provide two maps to this remarkable novel.

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