Robert Shea

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Robert Joseph Shea (1933 - March 10, 1994) was the co-author (with Robert Anton Wilson) of The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

Robert Shea met Robert Anton Wilson in the late 1960s, when both were working in the editorial department of Playboy. Before long, they decided to collaborate on a novel that would combine sex, drugs, alternative religions, anarchism, and conspiracy theory, which became Illuminatus!. While they remained close friends for life, they had philosophical and political disagreements, and these enriched the book, helping to make it a dialogic novel in which no single point of view is privileged.

On his own, Shea went on to write historical novels, including Shike (1981), All Things Are Lights (1986), and what probably is his most underrated work--The Saracen, a book published in two parts in 1989 depicting the struggle between a blond Muslim warrior called Daoud Ibn Abdullah and his French crusader adversary Simon De Gobignon. It's a book of love, intrigue, and suspense during the time of the Crusades. It is a book that avoids racial and religious stereotyping and is at times very sensual. His last book was the Native American tale Shaman (1991).

The books were straightforward beginning-middle-end tales, but included a few sly hints about the subjects and organizations of Illuminatus! Clipped from the Robert J. Shea Tribute page:

Robert Joseph Shea attended Manhattan Prep, Manhattan College and Rutgers University and worked as a magazine editor in New York and Los Angeles. In the 60's he edited the Playboy Forum where he met Robert Anton Wilson, with whom he collaborated on Illuminatus! After publishing Illuminatus!, Bob left Playboy to become a full time novelist. His novels include: Shike, set in medieval Japan. All Things Are Lights, a story that entwines the fate of Cathars of southern France with the occult traditions of Courtly Love and the troubadours. The Saracen, describing the intricate politics of medieval Italy through the eyes of an Islamic warrior. Shaman, tracing the fate of the survivors of the Black Hawk War in 19th century Illinois. Lady Yang , a tragic story of an idealistic empress of medieval China.

Robert Shea is survived by his son, Michael E. Shea.

published work


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