Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

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.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Two synchronicities

In one of his comments in the latest episode of the book discussion group, Oz Fritz points to a few sentences on Page 124 that talk abut coincidences. Abraham Orfali tells Sigismundo to pay attention to them and tells the youth, "they are a link between all individual minds." Sigismundo doesn't understand Orfali but begins paying attention to coincidences.

I don't understand coincidences (or "synchronicities") very well, either, but I enjoy them. Here are two I ran into recently:

1. I subscribe to a science fiction/fannish newsletter from David Langford, the British fan and author, called "Ansible," available here.  It's a great resource if you want to keep up with the SF world but are pressed for time and lots of time to fandom.

In the latest issue, Langford writes, "Francis T. Laney’s infamous 1948 fan memoir and polemic Ah! Sweet Idiocy! is the latest addition to the free ebooks list at the TAFF site: see for details and other material included." (There are lots of free ebooks of famous fannish writers there; Mr. Langford hopes you'll make a donation to the Trans Atlantic Fan Fund.)

I followed the link and downloaded a copy of the Laney book; I intend to read it soon. I've run across mentions of Laney's diatribe over the years, but I'm sure I haven't seen anything about it for years.

About a day after I downloaded the ebook, I got an email from an old friend, Richard Newsome, talking about fandom. "Maybe every generation of fans thinks its fandom is the last dregs; Towner Laney certainly thought so in the late 1940s. Have you ever read Ah! Sweet Idiocy! ?" Richard wanted to know.

2.  I recently bought a copy of D. Scott Apel's movie movie guide, Killer B's: The Hive: The 487 Best Movies* On Demand You've (Probably) Never Seen *(and a few TV Shows). 

As soon as I bought it, I went through it. As promised, most were movies that I've never seen, but I was reassured to see that it recommended a few movies that I had seen and liked, such as Dead Again, Zardoz, 2010 and Zelig. I actually saw Zardoz when I was in high school. I'm not sure I've seen it since then, or even thought about it much.

After I finished looking at Apel's movie book, I resumed reading the new Robert Anton Wilson book, Beyond Chaos and Beyond, and I came to the part where Apel talks about watching movies with RAW, in the "Introduction" to the "At the Movies with Robert Anton Wilson" section: "I experienced some notable failed attempts to introduce Bob to some of my own favorite films .... [RAW didn't like, for example, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery] And let's not even mention Zardoz, writer/director John Boorman's brilliant 1974 sci-fi satire."

OK, Apel likes the film so it's not too surprising he talks about it in different places, but what are the chances that RAW hated a movie I probably haven't seen since the 1970s?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Martin Wagner added to 'RAWnet'

Martin Wagner and his daughter. 

The Hilaritas Press website maintained by Rasa has a section called RAWnet which is fun to browse. It has minibios of various people who are "Friends of the Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson." If you read this blog, you likely know many of them.

Martin Wagner, who has done fine work uncovering "lost" RAW articles, has now been added to the section. I've noted many of Martin's discoveries here. The new entry links to Martin's websites and Twitter account.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

RAW interviews Doris Lessing

Robert Anton Wilson interviewed famed British novelist Doris Lessing for the December 1983 issue of New Age Journal. Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. You can read the interview here.  (Update: The PDF has two different dates; January 1984 may be correct.)

Wilson writes, "When I left, I felt as I have very few times in my life -- when interviewing Bucky Fuller or certain physicists -- that I had encountered not just high intelligence but real genius."

Like RAW, Lessing was interested in the Sirius mystery, so the interview includes conversation about that.

There's a certain asymmetry to the conversation -- Wilson has read many of Lessing's books and admires her writing a great deal; Lessing shows no signs that she realizes Wilson himself is the author of dozens of books. Wilson was not really a famous writer whose name would automatically be known to Lessing, but still ....

The interview was acquired by Adam Ormes, who gave me permission to make it available here. Thanks also to Ted Hand for connecting me to Adam.

Adam Ormes explains,

"Having read Valis, The Cosmic Trigger, and Lessing's Canopus in Argus, I was intrigued by Bob's reference to his interview with Lessing in the introduction to The Cosmic Trigger. Having determined that it was nowhere to be found online, I then set about trying to work out which 'New Age magazine' he had meant. After deducing that he must have meant 'New Age Journal', as my searches had revealed the only 'New Age Magazine' in publication at that time to be a strictly masonic publication, I managed to track down its onetime editor, Peggy Taylor, who told me that the back issues were stored in her 'very full garage' and that at some point she would have a look for me. This was at the end of 2010. Alas the matter was complicated by it being a long snowy winter, Peggy's busy work schedule and frequent travels away from home, and my complete ignorance of when it'd been published. Then in late summer of 2018 I came upon a reference to the piece in an online biography of Lessing with the all-important issue number. This evidently made the prospect of looking for it far less daunting for Peggy, who then managed to find the relevant issue, graciously scanned the pages for me and sent them over."

Thanks, Adam!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Illuminatus! play performances

I've been reading Beyond Chaos and Beyond, and I've just finished a question and answer session in the "An Evening with Robert Anton Wilson" chapter. In one of the chapters, Wilson is asked about the possibility of an Illuminatus! movie, and he remarks the stage production has been done in Liverpool, London, Cambridge University, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Jerusalem and Seattle. Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Jerusalem were news to me.

RAW also remarks, "It should be done as a TV miniseries, and it's a little bit too hairy for television at this present stage of civilization in the United States."  All sorts of things are being adapted for miniseries these days; maybe the time for Illuminatus! will finally come.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Earth Will Shake reading group, Week Six

The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618.

This week, please read from page 105, the William Blake quotation (Cruelty has a Human Heart" to page 126 ("And then, Sigismundo throught grimly, the others will be ready to receive me as his successor." This is corrected from the earlier post, which inadvertently skipped Part Two. Thanks to Oz Fritz for pointing out my mistake in the comments. 

It seems to me that this novel is about Sigismundo dealing with Chapel Perilous. He is trying to figure out what kind of person he is going to be.

"The tyranny of the suffering," page 110. Isn't this where the Left goes wrong? Instead of ending suffering, the project of the Left often seems to be to impose a new tyranny.

Robert Anton Wilson on everyone's various hate trips:

"The drunks who came down here and burned and looted and beat up old men thought they had a good reason to hate the Jews, he reflected. My perfect devil of a father thinks he has most excellent reasons to hate the nobles. The Dominicans has intricate and theologically orthodox reasons to hate anybody who reads the wrong books. The Jacobins hate the king of England, and he hates them back. Everybody has someone to hate: it just proves that God's Creation is above all perfectly balanced and orderly." (page 119.)