Thursday, May 23, 2019

Cosmic Trigger 2 memes

New from Rasa. Restatements of the eight circuit model.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New RAW book is now out

The new book I wrote about last month, Robert Anton Wilson: Beyond Conspiracy Theory, has been released into the wild by RE/Search Publications. My copy arrived in the mail yesterday, and Joshua Hallenbeck mentioned in a note that he has received and read his copy (and "quite enjoyed it.") So if you pre-ordered it, too, you should be getting your copy any day now, if it hasn't arrived already (they are being shipped via media mail.)

Give me a couple of days to finish my copy and I will post a review here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Don't miss the comments


The participation in the ongoing online reading group has not been quite what I had hoped for, but the quality of the comments have been good. Rarebit Fiend has a great catch in last week's entry, where he gives the origin of the character Hans Zoesser. Oz Fritz is consistently interesting, and his discussion of Platonism in this week's comments, obviously just getting started, is quite good. And we welcome back Eric Wagner, who has given a barrage of comments. My thanks to everyone who has weighed in since the reading group began.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week 13

Jonathan Swift

This week, please read part six, "The Hanged Man," from the quotation from William Blake's "Milton," ("I will not cease from Mental Fight," page 247, to page 264, "Someday. Somehow."

This was one of my favorite chapters, tying together Robert Anton Wilson's interest in personal liberty with his interest in Irish literature. Sir Edward Babcock explains that Jonathan Swift served "intellectual liberty" and "not just political liberty" (page 251) and the rest of the chapter illustrates how personal liberty is important, and not just the liberty to debate "political issues." The chapter is about sexual repression, although Wilson was interested in other personal freedoms such as  freedom to read or freedom to control what foods and drugs you choose to put into your body.

I liked the references to the works of James Joyce on pages 249-250 and the discussion of Jonathan Swift. I probably haven't read enough Swift, as I haven't gotten much further than Gulliver's Travels and "A Modest Proposal."

Years ago, I belonged to a book discussion group in Lawton, Oklahoma, and we would take turns suggesting works to read. I once suggested reading Gulliver's Travels and the others agreed, although when we had the meeting, I was mortified to find out that almost nobody in the book club had bothered to read it.

The capacity to feel a "fierce indignation" and to want to write about it is a characteristic of many investigative reporters.

The William Blake verse excerpted at the beginning of the chapter is from a poem often known as "Jerusalem" and also known as "And did those feet in ancient time." It was set to music and apparently is a popular patriotic song in Britain; many Americans who are my age likely would know it from the cover version by Emerson, Lake and Palmer on Brain Salad Surgery, an album that was popular among my friends when I was in high school. It would also be difficult for even an American to miss the connection to the movie Chariots of Fire. The Blake poem also is referenced in Alan Moore's novel Jerusalem. William Blake is a great favorite of many RAW fans, although I confess that when I studied the English Romantics in my English lit survey course, I wound up going all in for Percy Bysshe Shelley. (Perhaps you should be able to tell something about a reader by asking him/her/they to name a favorite Romantic poet, just as supposedly you can tell about a person by asking which Beatle is the person's favorite. I'm not sure how the latter would work for me, as George originally was my favorite, then John, and finally Paul.)

The section of the chapter in which John Babcock is considering his options -- whether to confess or keep silent, and how that decision will affect both him and Geoffrey Wildeblood -- sounds a lot like the "Prisoner's Dilemma," perhaps reflecting RAW's interest in game theory.  Prisoner's Dilemma also is a novel by one of my favorite writers, Richard Powers.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Jeff Bezos' space colony dream

"If the sci-fi space cities of Bezos’s Blue Origin look familiar, it’s because they’re derived from the work of his college professor, the late physicist Gerard O’Neill."

Of course, O'Neill also influenced Robert Anton Wilson's thoughts on space colonies. I don't like the sneering tone of the article, but I suppose that's probably the price for getting such an article in print at many publications. There are people who do things, and people who are ready to explain why everything is a bad idea, and in 2019 it's the latter who dominate. (The author is a architecture professor, and he objects to the design, although he apparently has other gripes, too.) Hat tip, Jesse Walker for pointing to this on Twitter.

Here is a more contrarian take on Amazon.  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Barbara Marx Hubbard has died

Barbara Marx Hubbard speaks as a vice presidential candidate at the 1984 Democratic National Convention (just over 10 minutes).

Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, 89, has died. She and Robert Anton Wilson were mutual admirers. About RAW, she said, "“Robert Anton Wilson is one of the leading thinkers of the modern age.” She appears as a character in Schroedinger's Cat.

If you take a few minutes to watch her speech before the 1984 Democratic National Convention, above, you can hear her mention the eye in the pyramid on the dollar bill as she calls for a peaceful foreign policy and a commitment to space exploration.

The New York Times published an obit.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gregory Arnott reviews Fly's 'Tale of the Tribe'

By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger

I was a latecomer to Maybe Logic Academy -- I was there for its final hurrah in a semester that saw one of the classes I enrolled in cancelled and another with only two active students and an absentee teacher. I can’t even remember how I found out about it -- something to do with how one can wander over the Internet while working a boring office job. Anyways, that was where I first heard about The Tale of the Tribe.

Later, after I had read more about the Tribe and had read TSOG where the most complete piece of information on the book was in print at the time, I was talking about it to my friend as we stood outside looking at the stars on a hot West Virginia night; Robert Anton Wilson was basically going to explain communication, the Internet, and what was going on. My friend laughed --  “finally!” he exclaimed. Robert Anton Wilson had been dead at least five years.

To say that Wilson’s unfinished Tale felt like a loss is an understatement. In one issue of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong the perfect man finds his heart’s desire as an illusion conjured up by a malignant alien intelligence; a copy of Joyce’s sequel to Finnegans Wake, Finn Wakes Agen. In Steven Moore’s Somnium the protagonist in the protagonist’s novel finds himself in a library of unwritten novels. There’s something sublime about an unpublished work or some valuable manuscript lost to time; it has been easy for me to remain tantalized by the lost promise of the Tribe.

This is all a rather lengthy way to say I was excited when I saw the release of Steven "Fly" Pratt’s Fly On The Tale of the Tribe. Pratt’s book is slim but dense with information -- it’s playful and thought provoking. Fly deals with the Current Situation and how Wilson’s ideas have endured into our young century; appropriately for one of the torchbearers of model agnosticism, the book is full of promise and puzzles. Like Higgs at the end of Stranger Than We Can Imagine, Pratt seems to bank on agnosticism as a solution to the increasingly chaotic information climate: but that’s beside the point as I believe Pratt is more interested in inspiration than pontification.

Much of the book is invitational -- Pratt repeats throughout that it is critical to create one’s own “tale of the tribe.” One excellent example is given earlier in the book when Pratt points out that his and RAW’s cast of characters are all male -- Pratt gives an example of a female “tribe” beginning with Ada Lovelace. Later in the book Fly lays out the schemes for two later tale of the tribe courses that could be reconstructed by the intrepid student. Pratt also gives a healthily circumspect view of Ezra Pound and his complicated life; at one point Pratt seems to decide upon using Ernest Fenollosa as the primary touchstone for Pound’s contribution to the tale of the tribe, ideogrammic language,  as a deft sidestep when the fascist taint becomes too much with Pound. Of course Pratt makes sure to mention that Pound’s antisemitism was a phase that the poet regretted in later life. Everyone’s happy.

The most interesting ideas, for this reader, were the discussions of the hologrammic prose exemplified by Finnegans Wake and, this part really hooked me, Alan Moore’s Jerusalem. Fly is one of the few commentators I’ve seen who have given Moore his due: Jerusalem is a monumental masterpiece that will rank high among our race’s literary achievements if Providence is kind enough to ensure some sort of posterity. Fly is able to explicate how breathtaking the scope of the work is, as it encompasses art, magic, and the facets of our reality, and we seem to have similar tastes, go figure, since we both consider the chapter “Round the Bend” as the crowning achievement of the novel. (He even shares my love of Moore’s The Black Dossier!) In many ways “Round the Bend” serves as a magnificent realization of Tom Strong’s lost novel -- it is a sequel or a continuation of Finnegans Wake. The whole of Jerusalem could be seen as something similar or as an essential commentary on Joyce’s goals but that would belie the empirical majesty of Moore’s work.

While talking about the epic Cosmic Trigger play produced and directed by Daisy Eris Campbell Fly waxes rhapsodical: "Co-create a Universe, a theatre of the mind where each and everyone of us can work on many levels of synchrony, consider set and setting, speech and place. Make the invisible visible." Marching orders to make one's head turn.

Pratt’s little book will give the reader a lot to think about and chew on -- it is a text that is meant to send you into the hinterlands of language to find the foundations of our reality. I’ve brushed over a lot of Fly’s work in the book, partly for the sake of length and partly because I am still figuring out my thoughts and plans for the ideas he brings to the table. Suffice to say that this is an indispensable piece of scholarship for the RAW fan and an all around Important Book. RAW’s original book may have not been able to come to life but Fly proves that the tale of the tribe is still being told and is ready to be explored at any moment. Personally, I’m just grateful Fly made sure to include Moore in RAW’s canon. The book's cover art is by, the Tenniel to RAW's Carroll, Bobby Campbell whose illustrations implicitly make a connection between Fly and the green-skinned Mescalito. Pay attention.

As a postscript to the Maybe Logic story -- it was through Maybe Logic that I found Tom’s blog so even when the initial attraction is in bits and pieces it can lead to something satisfying. The tale of the tribe isn’t over until the last monkey stops squawking.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hilaritas releases Cosmic Trigger 3

Hilaritas Press, the publishing imprint of the Robert Anton Wilson Trust, has announced the publication of its edition of Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death, completing its reissue of the Trigger trilogy. The paperback is $15.23 and the ebook is $9.99. Another fine cover by Scott McPherson.

As in other Hilaritas publications, an important element in the production is the willingness of volunteers to contribute their time and effort to help the RAW Trust, and in the latest announcement, Rasa praises the efforts of Gary Acord, my Texas friend, and Joshua Hallenbeck, my Colorado friend:

"Many thanks to Gary Acord and Josh Hallenbeck for their over the top help in editing and proofing! Gary and Josh also took on the insanely tedious job of fixing the page numbers in the book's index. The page numbers in this newly designed edition differ from the previous edition, and checking each entry to realign the listing was a monumental task. We are extremely grateful!"

More details and other Hilaritas Press news here. 

The Hilaritas Press website has been nicely revamped by Rasa; check it out. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New Philip K. Dick Tarot cards

Philip K. Dick scholar Ted Hand and tarot artist Christopher Wilkey are wrapping up work on a new 80-card PKD Tarot deck.

Some details:

Unlock the Fool’s Journey and its relationship to the novels, characters, short fiction and other writings by Philip K. Dick. PKD scholar Ted Hand and tarot artist Christopher Wilkey have brought together a new vision of tarot and the great works of Philip K. Dick. It is an original concept of tarot that looks into both the past and the future at the same time.

Ideal for advanced students of tarot as well as novices to the I Ching (or Book of Changes), this 80 card tarot deck takes the seeker through an initiation into the life and writings of one of the greatest writers of recent times. Explore alternate realities and the nature of what it is to be human.

Taking cues from Aleister Crowley and other Golden Dawn inspired traditions, this deck puts forward some of the possible relations between tarot and the hexagrams of the I Ching, including two card games designed to help introduce readers to the symbols of which access that ancient volume.

Much more information here, including a link to preorder for $40. It's supposed to be available by August.

Ted also has begun offering three-card Tarot readings for $10, payable through venmo or PayPal, sent to Ted.Hand (at)

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week 12

Monument to La Barre in Abbeville, France. (Creative Commons photo)

This week, please read Page 229 (Tomorrow we take the coach southward, back toward Napoli") to Page 245 ("The lights of the city came closer.")

This is an interesting section. One reads about the worst of humanity in the horrible execution of the French nobleman, and the best, in the selfless efforts to rescue the young man who threw himself into the Bay of Naples.

I had assumed the execution of François-Jean Lefebvre de la Barre was something Wilson had just made up to dramatize the cruelty of the old regime, but in fact the account is based on a real execution of a nobleman of that name on July 1, 1766. Wilson's account apparently is largely correct although the real la Barre was only 20 when he died. According to the Wikipedia article, the prosecution was secular (albeit for impiety) and the church hierarchy tried to obtain a pardon for la Barre.

Saudi Arabia recently carried out a mass execution of 37 by beheading. Nearly all were members of the Shia religious minority and the "evidence" was largely obtained by torture.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Oz Fritz on 'Gravity's Rainbow, Timothy Leary and the Occult'

Oz Fritz has began a new series at his blog, with Part One posted as "Gravity's Rainbow, Timothy Leary and the Occult."

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon has been called the premier book of postmodern literature.  It communicates multiple visions on multiple levels not the least of which coincides with Dr. Timothy Leary's vision for the next step for humanity - space colonies; expanding terrestrial life into outer space.  On another, not mutually exclusive level, GR presents a manual and course of study for the aspirant, the initiate, the bardo explorer and the working mystic.  We present a preliminary exploration into the occult side of this novel as well as Timothy Leary's role in it.

Oz points out references to Leary in the text and also possible references to Aleister Crowley. Quite an interesting essay, and Oz mentions the ongoing The Earth Will Shake reading group.

Here is an intriguing sentence:

There is another aspect related to the 1960s that probably caught Leary's attention which recurs frequently throughout the book and will remain occult in this essay.

Guess I have to read the book and see if I can spot it!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Peace news

Robert Anton Wilson used different political labels for himself over his life (sometimes, but not always, "libertarian,") but he always stood up for civil liberties and peace. In honor of that, a couple of brief news items:

1., a consistent voice against war, is having a fund drive and as I write this is able to match donations dollar to dollar. I've just made a donation.

2. Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute has been a consistent voice for sanity in American foreign policy. His new book, Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy, is available as a free ebook.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Denver decriminalizes 'magic mushrooms'

In a rather startling libertarian victory, Denver has voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. I admit that I had assumed it would fail, but last minute ballot counting pushed it over the top.

On Twitter, Michael Tracey comments, "Wow, this is genuinely amazing. Great for humanity. I'm not kidding in the slightest.

"I really think so many psychological maladies could be mitigated (or cured) if more people consumed psilocybin mushrooms -- ideally in a controlled environment with proper supervision if necessary. It's always been a disgrace that the Govt. criminalizes the use of this substance.

"Some journalist should ask Colorado presidential candidates John Hickenlooper (former mayor of Denver) and Michael Bennet how they feel about this groundbreaking referendum, including whether they voted for it. Also ask if they themselves would be willing to consume mushrooms!

"The scientific evidence demonstrating the multifold benefits of psilocybin mushrooms is now indisputable, and thankfully the citizenry is finally acting through the political process. I actually did a great interview with Rick Doblin about this in 2017."

(N.B. In case the point is unclear, I think the freedom to control what you put in your body cuts both ways; I think the folks who pressure other people to drink are assholes. Late last year I transitioned from "light drinker" to "teetotaler.")

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Sounding like RAW?

A couple of things I read on the Internet reminded me of some of Robert Anton Wilson's writings, so I thought I would pass them on.

Via last week's issue of Recomendo, an email newsletter I subscribe to that features Boing Boing founder (and RAW fan) Mark Frauenfelder, I read the article "88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life" at Raptitude, a "blog about getting better at being human" written by David Cain. I liked the piece and agreed with most of his observations, but some of them also reminded me of Wilson, e.g.

13. If you never doubt your beliefs, then you’re wrong a lot.

15. Nobody has it all figured out.

17. Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.

85. When you’re sick of your own life, that’s a good time to pick up a book.

The "Experiments" at the site look interesting.

Meanwhile, here is a quotation from Tyler Cowen:

My most absurd belief, perhaps, is the extent to which I think people should be truly uncertain about almost all of their beliefs. And it doesn't sound absurd when you say it, but I don't on the other hand know anyone who agrees with it. Take whatever your political beliefs happen to be; obviously, the view you hold you think is most likely to be true, but I think you should give that something like 60:40. Whereas in reality most people will give it 95:5, or 99:1, in terms of probability that it's correct.

The context. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Report on the pilgrimage

This is a picture of 67 Pilgrims. The 68th Pilgrim Cassandra Sutton took the photo. And the 69 Pilgrim - Peter & Heiko our two Bus Drivers - were asleep. It was taken at @Damanhur who were the most gracious and open-hearted of hosts. (Caption from Jonathan Harris, @jonone100)

On Twitter, Jonathan Harris offers an account of the pilgrimage to CERN led by Daisy Eris Campbell. "It really was something beyond special. All of us feel lucky to have participated in such a transformative event."

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week 11

Mozart in 1763 as a small child. 

This week: Please read from page 209 ("One week later that letter was posted to Napoli ... ") to page 229 ("Their music isn't as good as ours, either.")

I loved all of the discussion of English political ideas in this section, and the Turk's Head Tavern was a real place. But my favorite bits were the discussion of classical composers such as Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Christian Bach.

The description of Mozart sounds rather as if RAW was influence by the movie Amadeus, although in fact the movie came after the book; did Wilson see a production of the play it was based on?

I have a big online library of Mozart's music. The depiction in The Earth Will Shake of Mozart's precociousness and talent is hardly an exaggeration. My favorite fact about Mozart is simply that he was only 35 when he died. His production in his brief life is astounding. Even allowing for the fact that many of his early works are little performed today, it's painful to think about what he could have written if he had lived another ten years; many of his most famous pieces were written in the last few years of his life. By comparison, Beethoven made it to 56, and J.S. Bach to 65.

Some of my favorite Mozart works: The Marriage of Figaro (I still haven't heard many of the operas, but then again he wrote 22!), symphonies 39, 40 and 41, piano concertos 20, 21 and 24, piano sonatas 11 and 14, the Rondo in A minor for piano, the piano quartet in G minor, K. 478. The latter is not famous, and in fact there is a large body of not famous Mozart pieces that are also very good. You can buy a huge amount of Mozart for almost nothing if you search for "Bach Guild" at Amazon's online music store.

Johann Christian Bach, the "English Bach," tutored Mozart and is buried in London. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The news from table 23

Yesterday my wife and I were at an Associated Press news awards lunch in Columbus, Ohio, where I won a first place "best news writer" award, apparently for stories about the opioid crisis such as this one. 

I probably wouldn't have mentioned that here, except that I was quite amused when we showed up and I discovered that my newspaper (The Sandusky Register) was assigned to table number 23. (Ted Hand commented on Twitter, "Synchronicity is endless). Then again, Sandusky's original street design was laid out by a freemason to reproduce the masonic compass and square design, so perhaps it was appropriate I was assigned the Illuminatus! table.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

RAW on Psychedelic Salon podcast

The Psychedelic Salon podcast features RAW in an episode here (and on the usual podcasting apps.)

The episode is named "RAW Theology" and it's a lecture that dates from 1987. The first part is a discussion of religion and collects many of Wilson's thoughts on the subject, on Discordianism, Catholicism, the Church of the Subgenius, and so on. It's very funny. The rest is a wide ranging question and answer session.

About one hour and 45 minutes.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Letter to Timothy Leary about Illuminatus!

Above is a letter from Robert Anton Wilson to Timothy Leary, dated May Day, 1974. (If you can't read it on your computer screen, downloading the image and blowing it up).

Included in the letter is the announcement that Dell is going to publish Illuminatus! next year. "The full title, by the way, is Illuminatus! or Laughing Buddha Jesus Phallus Productions Presents or Swift-Kick Inc. or Telemachus Sneezed or The Untidy Ape: A Head Test."

Via Martin Wagner.

Also from Martin: "How to Wage Nonviolent Revolution" (likely by RAW) and "Death Universe: A Review of Mondo Cane." 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Beyond Chaos and Beyond now in paperback [UPDATED]

Beyond Chaos and Beyond, the new RAW book edited by Scott Apel, is now out in paperback, for $19.95. You can still get the Kindle version for $4.95.

I recently reviewed and recommended it, and I notice that Rasa gave it five stars in an Amazon review. You can read my review by clicking on the link; Rasa wrote, "Scott Apel was an old friend of Robert Anton Wilson and the two of them worked together on his Trajectories magazine, offering a wonderful series of writings from this iconic author. Scott has assembled Volume Two of these gems, but the unexpected bonus in this book are the essays Scott wrote himself, describing the process of putting together the magazine but also his personal experiences with Bob. A wonderful read!"

UPDATE: Scott reports that if you buy the paperback, you can get the ebook for $1.99.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

John Higgs about to release new book

One of my favorite writers, John Higgs, is about to publish his latest book, The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the Twenty-First Century. It's out May 16 in Britain; there are no plans yet to release it in the U.S., so I guess I have to buy it from Book Depository, like I did his last book. Details from John's latest newsletter:

I’m launching it with a special, one-off, not to missed night in the Brighton Fringe, along with a group of mighty guests perfectly curated to demonstrate the argument of the book. If you can make it, it will be well worth your time. 

Follow the link to buy tickets.

If you can't make it to Brighton, John is launching a book tour that takes him to London and Liverpool and elsewhere; details here.

John is also coming out other books this year; read the newsletter for details of his frantic life, but there's no actual information on the books available yet. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

'Finnegans Wake-End' interview

PQ interviews Derek Pyle (the "Waywords and Meansigns" organizer) and Gavan Kennedy about "Finnegans Wake-End," a series of events for the birthday of Finnegans Wake, which is May 4.

I know people find about about Joyce's book in a variety of ways, but I would not have guessed that for Pyle, it was Marilyn Manson.

Derek also has a new podcast in the works. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Ten

Frankenstein Castle, near Darmstadt, Germany. Creative Commons photo by Pascal Rehfeldt. 

This week, please read from page 189 (the quotations from Patrick Henry and Jean Jacques Rousseau) to page 209 (the end of the March 31 letter from Sigismundo to Uncle Pietro).

There's something thrilling and also quaint about the idea of a book being so "dangerous" that you could get into trouble for  having it. l assume that in Sigismundo's day, there must have been many countries where that was the case (and few countries, such as England, where owning a book was relatively safe.) After reading the passages about The Key of Solomon, I tried to think of countries where having certain books in your possession could get you into trouble. Maybe North Korea and Saudi Arabia?

Frankenstein Castle is a real place and Wilson correctly explains the name. Read the Wikipedia article for the various colorful nonsense associated with the castle's history. You can also read about the alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel, who may have inspired some of the Frankenstein story.

Robert Anton Wilson had many different interests, and this particular section of the book shows how he wrote for students for magick, for libertarians and for readers interested in literature.

For students of magick: "Magick is just the art of changing the focus of consciousness at will." (Page 200).

For libertarians: Page 209: "I already begin to understand your ideas about free thought and free markets. By comparison with the general condition of Spain, our own Napoli seems rich beyond measure; what I thought was the abyss of abject poverty at home is the norm in Spain. And, correspondingly, the Inquisition is stronger and intolerance more entrenched."

For literary folk: Aunt Violetta's discussion of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. The Wikipedia entry says it is generally recognized as the first Gothic novel, and that the first edition claimed to be the translation based on an old manuscript from Naples.

I am intrigued Wilson took the time to mention the book; I might read the Project Gutenberg edition, or listen to the free Librivox recording. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Good interview from 1987

Sy Safransky, editor and founder of The Sun Magazine. 

Thanks to a tip from our Austrian bureau chief, Martin Wagner, I've read "Dreams Without End: An Interview With Robert Anton Wilson" by Sy Safransky, published in 1987 in The Sun Magazine, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., (and the boss, Mr. Safransky, is still there.)

Safransky doesn't agree with all of Wilson's ideas, but the pushback at times make the interview more interesting. (Wilson, although generally more or less "left," doesn't embrace all current wisdom. Some things never change.) Here is one good bit:

SUN: Many people — not just so-called new age types — have been critical of space colonies. Lewis Mumford said, “Space colonies are technological disguises for infantile fantasies.”

WILSON: Mumford talks about infantile fantasies; I think he’s being childish. It’s not an infantile fantasy to think of getting solar energy from outer space to solve the energy problems of this planet. It may or may not be the best solution. That can be argued on a level of practical things — how much do you get with the dollars you put into it, how long will it take to get the return, is it better than solar power collectors on the planet? Those are practical things about which we can disagree. But the idea of getting a lot of solar energy on a planet which is running out of fossil fuels is not an infantile fantasy. Mumford just hasn’t thought about the idea. He’s had a conditioned reaction. It’s outside his reality, so he wants to banish it, like a Marxist says “bourgeois” when he wants to banish a thought, and a fundamentalist says “satanic.” There’s nothing infantile about the idea of a new frontier. The opening of the Americas to Europe, whatever tragedy it was for the native Americans, unleashed tremendous creative energies which had a feedback effect in Europe. They probably never would have had democracy in France and England if the New World hadn’t opened up and the U.S. hadn’t created an arena in which new, utopian social ideas could be tried out. It’s how we got the Bill of Rights and everything that’s good about this country. And that fed back to Europe. And I think space colonization will feed back radical ideas to the earth in the same way. I don’t think that’s an infantile fantasy.

SUN: Ken Kesey said, “A lot of people want to get into space who never got into the earth.”

WILSON: That’s probably true. A lot of people do things for the wrong reasons. But how far do you have to get into the earth to satisfy Kesey? I was a farmer for two years in Ohio and one year in northern California. Does Kesey say I’ve got to go back and do three more years of farming before I have the right to support space colonies? Fuck you, Kesey! I don’t tell him what he should do. He can stay on his bloody farm in Oregon. I’m not trying to drag him into space.

Blogger's note: On the subject of "infantile fantasies," Dr. Geoffrey Landis, a NASA scientist and science fiction writer who lives in Berea, Ohio, where I live, has proposed a scheme for obtaining solar power from outer space. Landis was part of the team responsible for the Mars rovers, holds nine patents mostly in solar cells, etc.

Friday, April 26, 2019

New book has unpublished RAW interview

RE/Search Publications ("your one stop shop for GENUINELY alternative media") has announced the impending publication of Robert Anton Wilson: Beyond Conspiracy Theory, available for $20 for pre-order, here are the relevant details:

The core of the book is a lengthy 1985 interview, where common and pernicious errors in language are examined in detail, along with a discussion of Wilson’s favorite writers (such as William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick) and a critique of occultist Aleister Crowley. He humorously illuminates how to use your brain “better,” and how to be agnostic about all ideas.

Included is a list of fifty book recommendations from his library, letters, a list of lecture topics (funny!) and more. RE/Search finally presents this lost interview—and its publication couldn’t be more timely. With the election of Donald Trump, conspiracy theory and “fake news” has become mainstream—and Robert Anton Wilson seemed to have prophesied it all.

This special edition includes a photo print of Robert Anton Wilson, signed by photographer V. Vale.

We expect copies to ship in May 2019.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

T.C. Boyle novel about Timothy Leary

Here is some literature news I'd missed until now: The new novel by T.C. Boyle (a well-known American writer whom I admit I've never read), Outside Looking In, is about Timothy Leary's early days as an LSD advocate.

The review in the  New York Times, written by another novelist I haven't read, Chris Bachelder, (so many books, so little time, sorry Chris Bachelder), offers kind of a mixed verdict: "Stylistically, Boyle has always moved down the page in a skier’s crouch. He is a spirited downhill writer, capable of creating energy by virtue of his own pace and verve, and that is certainly the case here. This is not the best T. C. Boyle novel, but it’s without question a T. C. Boyle novel — kinetic, conceptual and keen." Doesn't sound bad.

Amazon's usual "search inside the book" doesn't seem to be working for the paper edition, so I couldn't run a search to see if Robert Anton Wilson is a character in the novel.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Review: Beyond Chaos and Beyond

Back in the day, when what is now called “classic rock” was just “rock,” I bought an album by The Who called Odds and Sods.

It was not a new studio album, or a live album, but a patched-together collection of Who songs that, for one reason or another, had been left off of previous albums.

I don’t think anyone considers Odds and Sods the equal of Who albums such as Tommy and Who’s Next.

But here’s the thing. Odds and Sods is a pretty darn good Who album. I like it better than some of the official studio releases, such as Face Dances.

Beyond Chaos and Beyond, the new Robert Anton Wilson book issued earlier this year by D. Scott Apel, takes a similar place in the RAW canon. You won’t put it ahead of books such as Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, but it’s a good collection of RAW material. I like it better than TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution and Chaos and Beyond.

Like Chaos and Beyond, to which Beyond Chaos and Beyond serves as a kind of sequel, the new book is drawn largely from material originally published by Trajectories, the newsletter Wilson and Apel put out for RAW fans.

Beyond Chaos and Beyond begins with a good interview with Wilson, conducted by Apel and his friend Kevin Briggs, reprinted from Apel’s Science Fiction: An Oral History.

The book also includes Apel’s essay on the history of Trajectories, articles reprinted from Trajectories, transcripts of Wilson videos and audio recordings sent to Trajectories subscribers, a collection of Wilson’s writings on movies, another collection of Wilson’s writings on Philip K. Dick, a few other short pieces, and a long biographical essay by Apel, “BOB AND ME: A Record of a 30 Year Friendship.”

There are some real gems in the book, comparable in quality to what you’ll find in Email to the Universe and other compilations. I particularly liked “Fearful Symmetries: Reflections on The Silence of the Lambs.” And while some of the transcriptions seem a bit flabby, not as concise and well expressed as Wilson’s writings or discussing something covered better elsewhere, the transcription of his talk, “12 Eggs in a Box: Myth, Ritual and the Jury System” is as good as any of his essays.

I was never bored. And I appreciated having “Mandatory Movies” and “Brain Books” collected in the book so that I could refer to Wilson’s book and movie recommendations.

“Bob and Me,” the memoir, is quite candid and interesting and will be a big resource for Wilson’s biographers. Apel offers an extended look at what Wilson was like in person and offers many fascinating anecdotes, such as the time when Apel was booted out of a Wilson-Timothy Leary seminar that his girlfriend was allowed to attend. You also learn what Wilson liked to eat (a section apparently inspired by a question from me), TV shows he liked, how he dealt with people who contradicted him and more about his bitter feelings toward publishers and editors. I was only sorry the discussion of Wilson’s taste in classical music wasn’t a bit more detailed.

You can’t help noticing how hard Apel worked to help Wilson, particularly in Wilson’s later years when Wilson needed it. There’s a much more complete portrait of Arlen Wilson than you’ll find anywhere else. And I was interested in the fact that Apel’s partner read The Egyptian Book of the Dead to both Arlen and Bob as they were dying.

The book is mostly text, but some photographs are included.

“Beyond Chaos and Beyond” currently is available as a $4.99 Kindle ebook, but a paper edition will be issued soon. When the paperback is released, I’ll note the news in this blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

On the road with Daisy and company

Working on the Eris dress. See links. 

This is an interesting time to follow Daisy Campbell on  Twitter.  She's using the account to chronicle the pilgrimage to Switzerland. See for example these Tweets.  And you can listen on Pilgrim Radio. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Nine


"Dante and Beatrice", by Henry Holiday. Beatrice is the young woman in the center. 

This week, please read page 169 ("Sigismundo did not sleep the rest of that night. He prayed, or tried to pray") to page 186 ("And Maria knew that, whomever Papa married her off to, whatever else happened in her life, her days would not be those of an ordinary Neapolitan contessa."

I thought that Part Four, "The Priestess," was particularly good.

I loved the blunt description of "crushes": "His obsession is annoying because you are intelligent enough to know that it is more or less accidental: if it wasn't you, he would have some other girl to be obsessed with." (Page 177.)

Notice that a famous obsession is referenced in the text: Page 183 mentions "the Portanari girl from Firenze" and on page 184, "Beatrice" is told to run to Via Dante and get the doctor.

Beatrice Portinari is the woman who enthralled Dante and is mentioned in Dante's works. She lived to only age 25 in Florence (e.g., "Firenze.") She is arguably the ancestor of the "Miss Portinari" in Illuminatus!

I have remarked elsewhere on how Wilson's female characters are strong in The Earth Will Shake, and I think the real women referenced on page 179 shows Wilson's explicitly feminist intent: Women such as Maria Gaetana Agnesi,  Anara Morandi Mazzolini and Laura Bassi. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Times publishes Gene Wolfe obituary

Gene Wolfe. 

The New York Times obituary for Gene Wolfe has finally run. The paper did a good job.

Everyone who likes to read should try The Book of the New Sun.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Why was Historical Illuminatus supposed to end in 1824?

The Theater am Kärntnertor in 1830. It's in Vienna, and it's where the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven was first performed in 1824. 

We are currently reading The Earth Will Shake, the first of the three Robert Anton Wilson "Historical Illuminatus" books, the others being The Widow's Son and Nature's God.

But in fact RAW had been planning to write four such books; The World Turned Upside Down was announced but never appeared.

I've wondered what was planned to end the series and recently reached out to RAW expert Michael Johnson,  who kindly shared his insights.

Michael notes that in a 1988 interview with David Banton, RAW discussed his plans:

RAW: The Earth Will Shake, and The Widow’s Son.

DAB: Aren’t those two books part of a trilogy, too?

RAW: No, that’s part of a pentology.

DAB: A pentology?

RAW: Yes, that’s a series of five books.

DAB: And so far two of them have come out.

RAW: That’s right. I’m working on the third, which is called Nature’s God.

DAB: And what is the basic concept behind that series of books?

RAW: Well, that series deals with European, and to some extent, American history, between 1764 and 1824. That was a period in which all the rules changed, everything, the whole Western world went through a total change. We went from feudal, agricultural monarchy to capitalist democracy and industrialism. Everything changed, the style of music changed, we went from Baroque to Romantic, everything changed. Philosophy changed, it was in that period that David Hume’s books appeared, knocking the bottom out of all previous philosophy. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations appeared there, the Declaration of Independence, of course. I’m taking that as a model to show how revolutions work. They work on many levels besides violent revolutions, there are non-violent revolutions, but they’re all tied together. We’re going through a period like that right now, and what got my started writing those novels was to give an example of a previous period that was as revolutionary as the period we’re living through; to show some of the general laws of what happens when society goes through rapid transition. We’re going through a dozen revolutions at once right now, too.

Michael also noted that plans for The World Turned Upside Down were briefly discussed in this interview. 

So why 1824? I don't know.

But one fact jumps out at me: That was the year when Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was completed and first performed. Considering the role music plays in the other books, Beethoven's ties to the Illuminati, etc., that is a speculation that make sense to me -- although, as I said, I don't know.

Friday, April 19, 2019

C.J. Stone takes on Discordianism

C. J. Stone

British writer C. J. Stone (Fierce Dancing, The Trials of Arthur etc. and numerous newspaper columns) takes on Discordianism and the British Discordian scene (including last year's Catch 23 festival) in a new article, "Christopher J Stone discovers that the crazy world of discordian philosophy contains some useful and enlightening truths, as long as you don’t take it too seriously."

He's more influenced by British figures such as John Higgs than by Americans such as, say, Adam Gorightly, which obviously makes sense in terms of proximity, and quotes some of my favorite bits from Higgs' novel, The Brandy of the Damned.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Kerry Thornley's 'How to Live Your Life'

The Discordian documents which fall into Adam Gorightly's possession seem to be in good hands. 

Self-help books and advice from others on how you should live remains an important part of the culture, as witness the success of figures ranging from Jordan Peterson to Douglas Rushkoff, so why not listen to what Kerry Thornley has to say?

Adam Gorightly has posted a newly-uncovered document, "How to Live Your Life," by "Jesse Sump," one of Kerry Thornley's pen names. The document, written before Thornley's sad decline, can be approximately dated to the late 1980s, says Adam, whose opinion matters more than most, since he has written two biographies of Thornley, both of them worth reading.

Most of Thornley's advice seems pretty good to me. Relating to entry No. 1: I can't seem to figure out how to search LiveJournal, so I can't give you a link, but I loved Supergee's observation that his grandfather said he could stay busy minding his own business 24 hours a day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

On the road with Daisy

Daisy Campbell is hitting the road in a few days with her pilgrimage to CERN in Switzerland, and you can tune in starting April 19:

"...we journey to the very centre of the CERN collider (above ground!), which is the site of a ruined Appollonian temple and is - of course - guarded by The Chaos Killers Bikers Club (who we're still trying to make contact with - if you have any leads?)

Then at 2.23pm (CERN time) on April 23rd we Immanentise the Eschaton. Please help by going to your local sacred site and vibrating. 

And if you want to know what all this means (like we have a Scooby-Doo), then you'd better tune in to Pilgrim Radio...

More here. 

All of this will be broadcast live on Pilgrim Radio, starting at 19th April Bicycle Day 18:23 BST / 19:23 CEST.

Daisy says listeners can expect a  "mind-bending mix of music, pre-recorded gems & live Pilgrim News and interviews."

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday links

Julian Assange's cat.

Philosopher Agnes Callard on "51 Tips For a Successful Life." I emailed and asked if the censored sex tips are available privately and she said no.

Gene Wolfe has died. You can read my 2015 interview. 

Special edition of Erik Davis' upcoming High Weirdness.

Free course on Dante's Divine Comedy.   Thinking of reading the translation the professor recommends and listening to this as a podcast.

David Brion Davis was an important scholar on conspiracy theories. Says Jesse Walker.

Wikileaks confirms safety of Julian Assange's cat.

Ilhan Omar and the "outrage exhibitionists."

51 Tips For a Successful Life

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Earth Will Shake online reading group, Week Eight

Casanova. "An astonishing reputation as magician, spy, musician, seducer, alchemist, novelist, cardsharp, and master of conspiracies" (page 157.)

This week, please read from page 146 ("The crisp but sun-bright season of winter in Napoli was now upon them") to page 168 ("I will always hear that voice, my true father's voice, telling me to kill every aristocrat in Europe.") This for me is the most shocking passage in the book, and I did not look forward to returning to it.

Robert Anton Wilson shows off his knowledge of history, and not just in the passages about Casanova. (Beyond Chaos and Beyond has these sentences: "In later years what drove RAW to distraction was young editors who had no clue about the numerous historical references peppered throughout his books, particularly the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. 'I don't have time to be their history tutor,' he growled in exasperation on more than one occasion.")

"the self-lacerating sincerity of St. Kevin..." (page 147.) An Irish saint, referenced in Finnegans Wake. 

"blue-eyed Normans," page 152. The Normans are famous for conquering England in 1066, but they also conquered southern Italy and Sicily, ending the Muslim Arab conquest of Sicily.

The Chapel Perilous of Cosmic Trigger returns (page 167-168). "It is very lonely, and very frightening."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

RAW letter to 'Hustler' magazine

A letter to the editor to "Hustler" magazine might seen like an unpromising way to find wisdom. Unless the letter writer is Robert Anton Wilson. Via Martin Wagner. (Larry Flynt was shot on March 6, 1978.)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Welcome in the spring with Nick Herbert

It's spring, and "hippie physicist" and friend of RAW Nick Herbert (mentioned in Cosmic Trigger I and elsewhere) has responded with haiku:


Rexroth, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti
Without these
Frisco's just spaghetti.


Fresh morning coffee
Birds singing in the trees
Taste of sperm on my lips.


Nick's whole life has been
One long out-of-body experience.
Now this.

More here. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

A good 'new' RAW interview

Martin Wagner recently published a Dean Gengle interview with RAW, "The Future Created:
An Interview with Robert Anton Wilson," and it's quite good, not the same old things you've seen Wilson say elsewhere. Here is one moment:

Do you think of yourself as a “successful writer”?
Robert Anton Wilson: I have to. After all, if I don’t, who will? I have discovered that if one’s opinions of one’s powers and talents is too low, nobody will bother to correct it. They will say. “Oh. he’s one of the toads,” and walk all over you. On the other hand, if your opinion of yourself is too high, the universe will eventually hammer you down to a more reasonable estimate. So I never accept any limits until they are forced upon me and then I only accept them for today. I expect to be smarter tomorrow. Those who miss this point, or deny it, are by definition toads.
What is a toad, again?
Robert Anton Wilson: A toad is somebody who thinks somebody else is in charge. In other words, a toad says “I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” I always define myself and my friends as the Power Elite and assume we can make it all the way to Watership Down, or Big Rock Candy Mountain, or the Heavenly City, or whatever you want to call the next step in evolution.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Quote I liked

All great art has about it an element of infinity and lives on in one's memory like a personal wound or a personal triumph.

-- Robert Anton Wilson
from "Fearful Symmetry: Reflections on The Silence of the Lambs," reprinted in Beyond Chaos and Beyond. 

Also, some news. And some comments from Glenn Greenwald. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Wednesday links

Ralph Metzner (Creative Commons photo by Jon R. Hanna).

The New York Times has now published a nice obituary of Ralph Metzner.   Not sure if its accessible for non-subscribers, but the Robert Anton Wilson obit from 2007 also is available.

Best Fan Writer nominee for the Hugo Award James Davis Nicoll on the Prometheus Award.

Radical cleric issues fatwa supporting assassination of foreign leader.

New catalogue of illustrated Finnegans Wake pages. 

Peanuts on the Law of Fives. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Oz Fritz reviews the new Crowley book

Aleister Crowley

At his blog, Oz Fritz reviews 93 The Aleister Crowley Primer by J. Edward and Erica M. Cornelius, and recommends it. Excerpt:

The 93 Primer has something for anyone with an interest in Thelema.  It can become an invaluable aid to those with little or no prior exposure to Thelemic philosophy.   It can do the same for anyone with experience ranging from moderate to extensive.  The potential for unlocking new keys, for pursuing new avenues of research in Thelemic study and practice seems just as unlimited and vast as unlocking new keys and gaining new insights to the human mind and nervous system.  This book rewards repeated rereading.

The book apparently is not currently available on Amazon, but here is a page for ordering. 

After I saw Oz' post, I wrote to him, noting that there's a fair amount of material about Crowley in Beyond Chaos and Beyond, the new RAW book. For example, there's a passage where RAW compares Crowley to Philip K. Dick as mystical writers, remarking, "they both fascinate me because they don't settle on any one explanation." Scott Apel then remarks, in a note, that Lawrence Sutin, who wrote an important Dick biography, Divine Invasions, also wrote a biography of Crowley, Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley. A search on Oz' blog for Sutin's name didn't turn up any mention, so I wondered if Oz had read it.

Oz wrote back, "I greatly enjoyed both of Sutin's bios.  The Crowley one was the first real comprehensive one that wasn't biased against him.  I recommend it highly.  Since then, two other excellent Crowley bios have been published by Richard Kaczynsky and Tobias Churton.  Sutin isn't mentioned in my blog because I read both his bios awhile before I began the blog and the books I do write about tend to be from my current reading."

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Earth Will Shake online reading group, Week Seven

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the French mathematician and theologian known for Pascal's Wager. 

This week, please read from page 127 ("The next week Frankenstein came to Napoli") to page 146 ("Well, I am Sigismundo Balsamo of Napoli, not the man in the moon.")

As with other sections of the book, I love the ironic statements, made with a straight face, made by characters who expect Sigismundo to read between the lines, i.e., Father Ratti saying, "We are most fortunate. The good Dominicans -- the ornament and glory of Mother Church and the model toward which all other, and hence lesser, orders can only aspire ... " (Page 131).

This sort of solemn sarcasm recurs in the book, as when Uncle Pietro says (Page 32), "The Dominicans act directly under the infallible command of our Holy Father the Pope, who is the divine representative of God on Earth. I meant no sarcasm. We are the luckiest people in Europe: where others flounder about in endless confusion and perpetual questioning, we have these good, holy men to tell us when we are thinking correctly and to correct us, with proper firmness, when we stray into error."

Surely people living in countries such as North Korea must know certain phrases that they have to repeat to demonstrate that they are loyal.

Pietro always expresses himself well, as on the next page (page 33) when he tells Sigismundo, "Leave murder to the professionals."

As I read the rant of the Dominican monk, going on for page after page, it seemed to be that Robert Anton Wilson had put together a long speech of everything that Wilson disagrees with. And so much of it sounds like what I heard from believers growing up in Oklahoma.

Sigismundo thinks about Pascal's Wager before deciding to reject what the monk says. Wikipedia says that Voltaire, one of Wilson's heroes, "rejected the idea that the wager was 'proof of God' as 'indecent and childish,' adding, 'the interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists'."

All of this seems very personal for Wilson, who had his own rebellion from the Catholic church, and perhaps also explains why Wilson related so closely to James Joyce.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Prometheus Award finalists announced

[The folks to give out the Prometheus Awards have announced the finalist shortlist this year; I'm one of the judges that serves on the nominating committee. Some pretty good reading; I've mentioned some of these books in the blog. Here's the official press release. The Management].

The Libertarian Futurist Society, a nonprofit all-volunteer international organization of freedom-loving science fiction fans, has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 39th annual Prometheus Awards.

The Best Novel winner will receive a plaque with a one-ounce gold coin. Plans are under way, as in past years, to present the 2019 awards at the 77th Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention): “Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon,” set for Aug. 15-19, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland.

Here are the five Best Novel finalists, listed in alphabetical order by author:

Causes of Separation, by Travis Corcoran (Morlock Publishing) – In this sequel to The Powers of the Earth, the 2018 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, the renegade lunar colonists of Aristillus fight for independence and a free economy against an Earth-based invasion that seeks to impose authoritarian rule and expropriate their wealth, while the colonists struggle to maintain the fight without relying on taxation or emergency war powers. The panoramic narrative encompasses artificial intelligence, uplifted dogs, combat robots, sleeper cells and open-source software while depicting the complex struggle on the declining Earth and besieged Moon from many perspectives.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Helen Dale (Ligature Pty Limited) including Order: Book One and Rules: Book Two – The author, a legal scholar, creates a world inspired by comparative law, rather as Middle-Earth was inspired by comparative linguistics. In an alternative Roman Empire, an early scientific revolution and expanding free markets led to industrialization, the abolition of slavery, increasing wealth, and modernity - and to clashes with more traditional societies. In one such clash, a Jewish preacher, Yeshua ben Yusuf, is arrested and tried on charges of terrorism in a narrative that makes ingenious use of the Gospels to reach an unexpected outcome.

State Tectonics, by Malka Older (TOR Books) – This story explores questions of governance and legitimacy in a future world shaped by technology-driven “infomocracy” and subdivided into centenals - separate micro-democracies, each an electoral district with a  population of 100,000 or less. A multitude of political parties vie for control of each centenal, as well as global supermajority status in a problematic system where access to approved news is ensured by Information, which also oversees elections. In this third novel in Older's Centenal Cycle, various parties struggle not only over election outcomes, but also whether Information's monopoly will and should continue.

The Fractal Man, by J. Neil Schulman, (Steve Heller Publishing) – The Prometheus-winning author (The Rainbow Cadenza, Alongside Night) offers a fanciful and semi-autobiographical adventure comedy about the “lives he never lived,” set in multiple alternate realities where people and cats can fly but dogs can’t, which in one world casts him as a battlefield general in a war between totalitarians and anarchists. The space-opera-redefined-as-timelines-opera romp, full of anarcho-capitalist scenarios, also celebrates the early history of the libertarian movement and some of its early pioneers, such as Samuel Edward Konkin III.

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells (TOR Books) (including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy) – The tightly linked series of four fast-paced novellas charts the emergence of humanity, empathy, self-awareness and free will in an android, whose origins are partly biological and partly cybernetic. The android, who guiltily dubs himself “Murderbot” because of his past acts of violence while enslaved, fights for his independence but also is motivated to save lives by growing awareness of the value of human life and human rights in an interstellar future of social cooperation through free markets driven by contracts, insurance-bond penalties, and competing corporations.

(Note: Under a recently adopted LFS award-eligibility rule, two or more books can be nominated together as one novel if the judges determine that the stories are so tightly linked and plotted, with continuing characters and unifying conflicts/themes, that they can best be read and considered as one work. Applied this year, that rule combined the two Kingdom of the Wicked volumes into one nomination and the four sequential novellas in The Murderbot Diaries into one nomination.)

All LFS members have the right to nominate eligible works for the Prometheus Awards. LFS members also nominated these 2018 works for this year’s Best Novel category: Exile’s Escape, by W. Clark Boutwell (Indigo River Publishing); Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway (Alfred Knopf); Mission to Methone, by Les Johnson (Baen Books); Anger is a Gift, by Mark Oshiro (TOR); and Crescendo of Fire and Rhapsody for the Tempest, by Marc Stiegler (LMBPN Publishing.)

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established and first presented in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf.

For four decades, the Prometheus Awards have recognized outstanding works of science fiction and fantasy that dramatize the perennial conflict between Liberty and Power, favor voluntary cooperation over institutionalized coercion, expose the abuses and excesses of coercive government, critique or satirize authoritarian ideas, or champion individual rights and freedoms as the ethically proper and only practical foundation for peace, prosperity, progress, justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and civilization itself.

The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are selected by a 10-person judging committee. Following the selection of finalists, all LFS full members have the right to read and vote on the Best Novel finalist slate to choose the annual winner.

For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in all categories, visit For reviews and commentary on these and other works of interest to the LFS, visit the Prometheus blog

Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an appreciation of the value of liberty.