When I finally finished writing Jude, after seven years of work, one of the first people I wanted to send it to was Robert Anton Wilson, because he had helped create the mind that wrote it. When I was a teenager, the three novels he co-authored with Robert Shea (The Illuminatus Trilogy) had changed my idea of what the novel was capable of. Later, his non-fiction books, especially Cosmic Trigger: Book 1, and Prometheus Rising, had changed my idea of what I was capable of.
I was about to send him a typescript of Jude when my friend and agent, Charlie Campbell, discovered that Wilson was terminally ill. I decided not to send it. A man busy dying does not need five hundred loose leaves of someone else's book sliding off his knees and across the room.
But I wish now I'd sent him a short note instead. I wish I’d said hello. And thank you. And goodbye.
He died on January 11th 2007.
It doesn't make sense to mourn him: his life was long, and filled with achievement on every level. His books changed lives (often for the better). He had a tremendous marriage, to Arlen (who died, I think, in 1999.) He seemed to get on great with his three surviving children. (The fourth, his wonderful daughter Luna, was murdered in the 1970s). He had a heck of a lot of friends. He was loved.
I’ll write more, on another day, about Robert Anton Wilson, and his work. There’s much, much more to be said. For today, all I want to say is something like…
Hello Robert. Thank you. Goodbye.