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Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy (Schrödinger's Cat #1-3)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  4,166 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
The Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy is a series of novels by Robert Anton Wilson, each illustrating a different interpretation of quantum physics. Coauthor of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Schrödinger's Cat is a sequel of sorts, reusing several of the same characters & carrying on many of the themes.
The 1-volume edition in print is significantly shorter than the original 3-volu
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 26th 1990 by Orbit (first published 1981)
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Jim Razinha
Aug 04, 2011 Jim Razinha rated it did not like it
Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. I can say this with reasonable certainty because any other books that might have qualified for that distinction (anything Hemingway, Joyce's Ulysses come to mind) I would never have finished. I've reached a point in my life where my time is too valuable to waste on stupid things. If I've gotten all I can out of a book, or all I expect I can get, then there is no point reading further.

With Wilson, I had to finish for several reasons:

1) I needed to s
Sep 22, 2009 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread, scifi, non-linear
I read this before I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and though it only took me one time through that and one and half times through this, I enjoyed this so much better.

For one, it's much sillier.

For another, it's more scifi.

For another, it made much more sense.

Not that I didn't like Illuminatus!, just that Schrödinger's was much more digestible. Less conspiracy theory, less Christian-related mythology. More scifi, in other words. But still crazy and out there.

I got stuck the first time in the mi
Amelia S
Jun 09, 2007 Amelia S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: smart people.
This book might sting if you're not careful. My favorite thing about this book is that I keep loaning it to people, and not only does it never come back, but most of them actually get at least half of the obscure references to out-of-print pagan theologies, tenets of physics and aging Lovecraft novels. Says something about my circle of friends.
Like most of Wilson's work, this book pushes you a little outside of your comfort zone. More than just a fascinating read, it will really affect the way
Jul 27, 2011 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books, in essence a sequel to the brilliant Illuminatus! Trillogy (The book that invented the Illuminati), start of quite dated and generally absurd, with some fairly typical set-pieces you'd expect from a bunch of pot-addled, coke-snorting alcoholic genius quantum nerds but then it really does start to get very interesting. The second book in the series recasts many of the original characters in different roles, genders, races and so on but keeps a general theme of 'quantum those says all ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you've read Wilson before, then you should know exactly what to expect from this book. I wouldn't call him a one-trick pony, but he certainly has his themes and he sticks with them. This book is more about its ideas than its writing: a mash-up of Timothy Leary, Joyce, a mostly-correct understanding of quantum mechanics, sex, drugs, conspiracies, politics, mysticism and the absurd.

The title draws upon quantum mechanics, and Wilson seems to be attempting an illustration of Everett & Wheeler
Sep 27, 2007 Virginia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Necessary for everyday survival.

Also, as a total bonus, totally messes with your head.

I have two different editions of this book (first edition and the edition listed above) and they're substantially different. Heh.
Will Gardner
After reading the Illuminatus Trilogy, I was really anticipating this novel. Robert Anton Wilson's high mind style of writing is enjoyable, if a bit fractured. I really had high hopes.

This book fell kind of flat however, as Mr. Wilson attempts to visualize the concept of the multiverse my creating different versions of each of his characters, many of whom first appeared in the Illuminatus. However what the author does not do is adhere to any kind of real plot, and just when you think you might h
Mar 28, 2015 Tine! rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars for sheer commitment to a universe that it inspires you to write a parallel universe TRILOGY. The story dips, ducks, and dives in and out of readability, and seems at times to be too rib-jabbingly inside jokey, peppered with too many inspirations barely fictionalized, and sometimes preachy; but the fact remains, no one had attempted writing these ideas into a comedic drama like this, and RAW's pen often leaves a crowing Phoenix trail of majestic, world-saving ink across the page that d ...more
Aug 25, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I figured I'd like this one given how much I liked "The Illuminatus! Trilogy," and I wasn't wrong. I think Illuminatus was a little more enjoyable as a work of fiction, but this book is definitely more sophisticated on a conceptual level. Metafiction, reality selection, quantum physics, there is an awful lot going on in this book. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I'd picked up on more, but I understood enough to think a great deal of it.
Linda Nagle
May 22, 2015 Linda Nagle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have both finished and not finished this volume, a book I simultaneously loved and detested. Please get thee hence (or not) to your local bookstore and either pick one up, or don't. You will not be privy to the outcome of the purchase (or non-purchase) until such time as the store closes, thus letting you out through the door for your state to be revealed.
One of the most influential books I've read in the past few years. If the plot has a focus--which I do not mean to assert--it is likely that we as humans do not fully recognize or comprehend our primate lineage and ancestry and the social and societal implications of this are enormous. Mind changing book. [Dated here at second reading:]
Jun 05, 2017 Empty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't read this book.

I want to help others that may fall into this trap. This book is strange and enigmatic, and is very alluring early on. It will entice you with genuinely interesting ideas and writing, with the subtle promise it's all going to be justified in some quantum/parallel-universe sense by the end.

It never reaches that justification. It's an endless, pointless, spinning mess. I felt sick picking it up again and again. It doesn't reward your careful attention. It doesn't have a story
Elliott Bignell
Aug 06, 2016 Elliott Bignell rated it really liked it
This had been lying around on my shelves for years. probably a pass-on from a friend in a long-ago hostel. Like a prize clown, I realised once I had got started that the Illuminatus Trilogy, which I also have here, precedes it. So we're working backwards.

This was a riot, regardless, partly hilarious, partly very clever and partly way too complicated. The author draws himself, the book (recursively) and his over-complexity into the plot. despite it being essentially fiction, and touches on race r
Mar 21, 2013 Bruce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big RAW fan. This didn't do it for me, though. I found it: dated in a tawdry 70s sort of way; too much like Ulysses; too surreal; too disjointed. Maybe those last 3 are redundant.

It is well soaked in RAW's 8-circuit model of human behaviour, but it's better to read about that model in his non fiction books like Quantum Psychology or Prometheus Rising.

On this re-read, after reading it maybe 15 years ago with no clear memory of it, I read about 60 pages of book 1, then skimmed a bit of book
J Connery
Mar 10, 2007 J Connery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the sciency
Truly more than a trilogy, more like 7 books, but I don't know if there is a -logy for 7.
Its a colorful book that anyone who understands String Theory, or Super Gravity, or the 11 dimension model would truly dig.
Heavy on 60s ish drug culture, it follows the detached penis of a former man through many dimensions of space and time. How fun does that sound?
Dec 22, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Shaggy shoggoth story indeed.
May 15, 2016 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The strangest book I've read.
Jun 01, 2017 Mick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well......the story is mental, the dialogue at times is utter nonsense, but the characters are excellent and when its good its mindblowing, totally confusing and brilliant in equal measures.
Leo Knight
I like sombunall (some, but not all) of Robert Anton Wilson's work. At his best, he seems enlightening and playful. At his worst, he seems random and sophomoric. I rate this book, alas, among the latter.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around multiple universes, each playing out with similar but distinct characters, enacting similar but distinct scenarios. Think of the movie "Groundhog Day" without a central character. As the smaller variations pile up, bigger results accrue. Some worlds might
I was high as hell when I discovered this book at Barnes & Noble. I was pretty into quantum mechanics (QM) at the time so I recognized the famous thought experiment referenced in the title. I picked up the book, read the first chapter, and my mind was immediately blown. I credit this book to changing my total perspective on life; it gave me the viewpoint of being able to step back and look at humanity through the eyes of an "alien anthropologist": seeing all of our actions as easily explaine ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essentials
How to sum up a book that started an entire branch of thinking? Simply, this book was my introduction to RAW. It set the bar high for me, which alongside the parallel mindset of the time meant a deep reprogramming would take place. Much of the suspicions that echoed from multiple other influences found resonance in this book, and many of the insights had at the same time synchrogimmickly manifested themselves in a game of peek-a-boo with the man behind the curtain. Enough caffeine and THC will s ...more
Nov 18, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of chaotic, comedic serial fiction with more than a touch of the nerdliness
I was crazy about these books when I read them in high school (thanks, Matthew!). In my opinion they were way better and funnier than the Illuminati series, and were probably one of the dorkier things I've ever read. I thought Infinite Jest seemed kind of indebted to some devices here -- e.g., in alternate universes, genitalia is referred to by names of Supreme Court justices, i.e., "He had an enormous, throbbing Rehnquist" (this obviously stayed with me) -- though probably that sort of thing is ...more
Mar 21, 2015 writegeist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Anton Wilson's (RAW as he is known) work constitutes one of my greatest guilty pleasures. His fiction is liberally seasoned with blatantly provocative situations, but the foundation is his attempt to pull me out of my complacency and see that life, the universe, and everything are all much bigger places than my puny little mind can comprehend. The three books making up RAW's Schrodinger's Cat trilogy are much easier to access than his more famous collaboration with Robert Shea, the master ...more
May 21, 2011 RJ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is really unfortunate. Basically Wilson tries to redo Illuminatus! but doesn't have Shea there to temper his stupider libertarian cyber-worshipping tendencies. The books basically amount to "everyone who criticizes technology or the inevitability that neoliberal capitalism will save us all in the end is a crazy hateful robot, and everyone who agrees with Robert Anton Wilson about everything is a genius." Ralph Nader as the BAD GUY?? Really? Stupid speech about how black pride is racism and ...more
Jason Mcelroy
This book had been sitting my shelf for over a decade, unexamined. Desperately needing a book last week for my commute to New York, I grabbed it on my way out the door.

Knowing little about it other than the proclivities of the friend that gave it to me, I expected a little more geek/engineering/physics and a little less satire and social commentary. But don't confuse this for disappointment!

And don't bother looking too hard for plot or trying too hard to connect the dots. Just read it and laugh.
Mar 31, 2012 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wide ranging would be a good term to use here. Kinky sex, quantum physics, social revolution, space aliens, art, politics and nearly everything else come into play in this 70s trilogy of alternate worlds. The writing gets way way out there at times and ultimately there isn't really a chronological narrative to follow, which makes sense given the focus on the quantum mechanical view of reality. The characters exist in multiple, parallel universes, changing careers, names, sexes, etc. along the wa ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and prescient, this satire on modern life, written in 1979, is just as incisive today. Wilson is an equal opportunity satirist, but this description of the purpose of the NRA is particularly apropos:

"to encourage the wide use of guns of all sorts, and to battle any attempt to control guns as 'unconstitutional.' Thus, they always guaranteed that the murder rate in Unistat would always be the highest in the world. This kept the citizens in perpetual anxiety both on the streets and in the
Jul 26, 2011 Essi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I had no choice about writing this book, Dell Books had no choice about publishing it, and you had no choice about reading it..."

"Hong Kong at that time, like most of the Orient, was haunted by the specter of the "boat people", refugees from Unistat who had crossed the Pacific in hopes of a better life. There was no nation in the East willing to accept more than a handful of these pitiful people, and most of them just drifted from harbor to harbor, slowly starving, and hoping for acceptance som
Aug 11, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: I am reading this for the 2nd time as part of a Maybe Logic Academy course Schrödinger's Cat: A Chronotransduction
From the course/reading group at the Maybe Logic Academy:
"This class will use the one volume 1988 revision of the novel. The eight weeks of the course will examine the text in light of the eight circuit model of the nervous system. The text gives many practical suggestions for reimprinting these circuits throughout the text."

A Layman's Guide to the 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness
Mar 01, 2009 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is like a less serious Kurt Vonnegut with a higher common denominator of reader in mind. At first, I wasn't really interested. But, I stuck with it and it gets pretty hilarious and all the characters become like kind of like those wacky miserable friends who can never seem to get life right, but are all much more interesting for being that way.

I don't know if you should necessarily try to learn anything from this. Most of it is lies, and what isn't lies is more confusing than it should be.
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Any body reading this? 1 4 Mar 02, 2014 04:18PM  
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Robert Anton Wilson became, at various times, an American novelist, essayist, philosopher, polymath, psychonaut, futurist, libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos, Pope, and Saint of Discordianism by Discordians who care to label him as such, Wilson helped publicize the group/religion/melee through his writings, interviews, and strolls.

He described his work as an
More about Robert Anton Wilson...

Other Books in the Series

Schrödinger's Cat (3 books)
  • Schrödinger's Cat 1: The Universe Next Door
  • Schrödinger's Cat 2: The Trick Top Hat
  • Schrödinger's Cat 3: The Homing Pigeons

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“Then the Communists set up a front organization, the National Rifle Association, to encourage the wide usage of guns of all sorts, and to battle any attempt to control guns as “unconstitutional.” Thus, they guaranteed that the murder rate in Unistat would always be the highest in the world. This kept the citizens in perpetual anxiety about their safety both on the streets and in their homes. The citizens then tolerated the rapid growth of the Police State, which controlled almost everything, except the sale of guns, the chief cause of crime.” 12 likes
“A chicken is the egg’s way of making more eggs.” 12 likes
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