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Shea, Robert

(1933-1994) US author and senior editor of Playboy magazine who began publishing work of genre interest with The Helpful Robots (September 1957 Fantastic Universe; 2009 ebook). He is best known for collaborating with Robert Anton Wilson on the Illuminatus! trilogy – The Eye in the Pyramid (1975), The Golden Apple (1975) and Leviathan (1975), all assembled as The Illuminatus Trilogy (omni 1984) – in which detective, Fantasy and sf components combine in the extremely complex tale of a vast conspiracy on the part of the Illuminati, historically a late-eighteenth-century German association of freethinkers but here rendered into the gods of H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos (among other incarnations). The Illuminati plan, more or less, to destroy the world in their search for power; almost everything of meaning in the contemporary world turns out somehow to signify their malign omnipresence. The influence of Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) is evident; though where the Paranoia of that novel was presented with haunting conviction, the Illuminatus! books, simultaneously deadpan and hysterical, treat conspiracy in narrow ludic fiction (see Johan Huizinga) terms, as a self-enclosed game. Shea subsequently wrote solo contributions (see Wilson's entry for his own continuations): The Saracen: Land of the Infidel (1989) and The Saracen: The Holy War (1989) provide background to the main enterprise. Time of the Dragons (1981) and Last of the Zinja (1981), both assembled as Shike (omni 1992), are historical novels with fantasy elements. Shaman (1991) is a fantasy. [JC]

see also: Cavalier; Humour; Libertarian SF; SF Music; Theatre.

Robert Joseph Shea

born New York: 14 February 1933

died Glencoe, Illinois: 10 March 1994





individual titles


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 08:52 am on 29 June 2022.