Thursday, July 17, 2014

The real woman behind 'Mama Sutra' ?

Tuesday's blog post on the Prometheus Award winners drew a response from Jesse Walker on Twitter, who noted that he was interested in the special award being given to famed science fiction filker Leslie Fish. To explain why, he posted a link to a 2005 Reason article about Mary Frohman, an American anarchist who lived in Chicago. To my surprise, Walker's piece includes a connection to Illuminatus! and to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea:

The IWW hall also hosted an anarchist discussion group. The participants included Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, two Playboy staffers who were writing the comic cult novel Illuminatus! Mary, for whatever it's worth, believed she was the basis for the book's fortune-telling character Mama Sutra. Shea, alas, isn't alive to confirm or deny that, and Wilson tells me he doesn't remember Mary; Fish doubts that the story is true. Oh, well.

Walker's piece is interesting on its own terms, but Illuminatus! fans and science fiction fans in particular (along with anarchists and libertarians) will want to read it. Here is another sentence from the piece: "The great radicalizing experience of her life was the Chicago Democratic convention of 1968, where she worked as a medic; she always insisted that eight protestors had died in the police riot and that the authorities had covered this up."

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