While it is clear that Robert Anton Wilson will be remembered, at least in the near future, for ILLUMINATUS!, his great collaboration with Robert Shea, that leaves open the discussion about his greatest "solo" work of fiction.
Schroedinger's Cat obviously is an important work, so it is interesting to me how many people point to The Widow's Son, the second book of the "Historical Illuminatus" trilogy (which is a trilogy because Wilson never got around to the additional books he had planned.)
Wilson himself described The Widow's Son as his favorite book, according to Eric Wagner's essential tome, An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (still in print and soon to be reissued by New Falcon).
When I interviewed RAW scholar Michael Johnson what his "favorite books" by Wilson are, Johnson replied (in part), "The Widow's Son seems uber-RAW to me because he's working all (mostbunall?) of his favorite late 20th c. ideas into a novel set in the late 18th century. At the same time he's also doing his "historical novel" with a bit of Bildungsroman added in, PLUS he's got that whole other footnote-world counter-narrative, which captures the mad acidhead postmodernist-cum-surrealist Erisian Wilson. I love that book. He did too. He said when he wrote it — circa 1985 — he was "really hot." He wrote that one in Ireland."
I have just run across an interesting blog posting by horror writer Matt Cardin (whom I had never heard of before). Here is part of what he wrote concerning the Historical Illuminatus trilogy: "Their heady adventures through an 18th century American and European revolutionary-era tableau of political intrigue, secret societies, Western occultism, religious chicanery, bizarre states of consciousness, explosive philosophical insights, etc., are fairly wondrous. The second volume, The Widow's Son, may be the best thing he ever wrote: a book that actually crosses over into the realm of by-God literature and bristles with enduring value. It’s also a damned fun romp, both narratively and philosophically. And it pushes the envelope of his fact/fiction mixing 'guerilla ontology' tactic to its most exquisite extreme."
More on The Widow's Son soon.