Seth's Reviews > The Illuminatus! Trilogy

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea
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's review
Apr 18, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: modernfantasy, books-that-built-me, masterpieces, humor, spirituality-and-woo-woo, sf-f-h
Recommended for: Teenagers, fuddy-duddy geeks, SF fans
Read in January, 1988

I gave this book 5 stars.
- As science fiction it would get 2
- As philosophy it would get 1 (the world-view it argues for is much better discussed in other books--some of them even by RAW)
- As humor it would get 3. Maybe 4 on a good day
- As conspiracy theory it would get 4
- As research it doesn't even rate 1
- As a good guide to things to research for yourself, it's a solid 4 (great game: open to a random page and pick 5 things to look up in a library)

But it crosses the line on two things:
* Cultural references that make points and explain things in the SF/geek/outcase/introvert subcultures. The Roberts nailed the experience of believing you're different and believing that what you want or experience is different and wanting to share it with the world. The terms and phrases that come out of this (fnord, illuminati, AUM, "You'll like it inside the apple," All Hail Discordia, Law of Fives, Aneristic Illusion, Paratheoanametamystichood, etc.) may not all be original, but they have built a part of a culture. Much like it's worth seeing Monty Python even if you don't "get" the humor to understand the "code."

It inspired two (excellent) card games and a wide variety of "bits" of other games, books, comics, and so forth.

* This book is one of the best tools for an adolescent or young adult (not YA--young adult) colonostickectomy. A young person hiding their creativity and trying to be "serious" so they can make it through life will get a huge amount of value from this book. You have to forgive them for believing the viewpoint for a few years and then you have to forgive them for rejecting it for a few. In the end, they'll probably come to a happy medium, but they'll always be gratefull for getting that damned uncomfortable thing out of their butt.

Oh yeah... the first 100 pages suck. Really. They're bad. But they're never referenced again (well, until the last 100 pages, which you really just skim looking for jokes), so skim them or skip them. You really don't need to start reading until the words "Egyptian Mouth-Breeder" appear on the page.

Actually, that might be the simplest and best review of all:
You really don't need to start reading until the words "Egyptian Mouth-Breeder" appear on the page.
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05/13/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Seth I saw RAW speak at a random gig hosted by a UniUni church in San Francisco in 1996/1997ish. He had just come back from spending a few days with Timothy Leary, who was in the final stages of dying (and RAW had taken Leary's spot on Politically Incorrect because Leary wasn't up to it), so he was very down and unprepared to talk.

He said that since he hadn't planned anything and wasn't up to thinking, he'd answer questions. The first was from a man who stood up in the back and asked, "What is the connection between the Merovignian Dynasty in France and alien abductions?"

RAW instantly said, "To understand that, you have to know about Orson Wells and art forgeries...." and went on for the next two hours of nonstop brilliance.

message 2: by A. (new)

A. Very nice review, Seth. Happy to know that if I have problems with the beginning... it gets better :)

Armchairedux (Fifth comment.) I'd say you captured exactly what is so great about these books. Oh, to be the right kind of gullible again!

message 4: by James (new) - added it

James Stevens This is one of the best instructional reviews I've read. I have started the book several times and I think this review captures that feeling of the first few pages. I also decided to skim and found much more interesting things found this way. Such as the first term my finger literally fell upon while shuffling the pages. Bang! "Statutory Ape!". Funniest term that ever came to me by accident and the surrounding paragraphs only further touched on an idea I was struggling with before I even opened the book. I think this is just going to be a bit of fun. Much like everything else by RAW I've come across so far... thanks... I don't feel like such a dipshit....

message 5: by David (new) - added it

David Great review... I love reading this and seeing utterly convoluted claptrap like... (Beethoven's opening to the fifth symphony pays purposeful homage to the illuminati by being Morse code for the number 5)... GOOD GOD!... and knowing that a good number of "educated" and VOTING Americans BELIEVE this garbage. Highly entertaining stuff. Like Pynchon for recreational readers, if that makes any sense.

message 6: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Egyptian Mouth-Breeder first appears on page 12.

message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan Zivcec Reading this book ... about to put it down forever unfinished unless someone gives me a good reason not to...

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