|Have to jump in here, because Illuminatus (the original trilogy, not the Historical trilogy) is probably my favorite book ever. Some fun facts:|
1. Shea and Wilson wrote the book between 1969 and 1972, editing and altering it several times. When Gravity's Rainbow came out in '72, Wilson claims they went back in and did another edit, adding GR-type bits to the book.
2. Dell finally bought the book and then held on to it, not sure what to do with it. Finally they decided to split the massive manuscript into three volumes. Sadly, they also requested Shea and Wilson to cut 500 pages (!) from the manuscript. Wilson claims he no longer has these pages. 500 pages, lost just like that! In a 1976 interview, RAW mentioned this cut material, and said it was stuff "too weird" for Dell to publish. He also mentioned that the original manuscript featured representatives from every race and animal on the planet (?), but the book, as published after Dell cut out all those pages, only featured a squirrel and a dolphin to represent the animals.
3. The Dell paperbacks, published in late 1975, featured great covers by some guy named Carlos Victor, very '70s-ish drawings. Books 2 (The Golden Apple) and 3 (Leviathan) featured prologues specifically stating "SOME of this you already know if you read the previous book," which featured not only rundowns of events occuring in previous books, but also wholly new (albeit slight) material, some of which aided in the understanding of the book. (For example, the Golden Apple prologue reveals that Carmel's hooker died from some virus she picked up at the crazy scientist's ((Mocigenco?)) house, something which was only hinted at in Eye in the Pyramid.) These prologues were not reprinted in the trade paperback collection of the three novels.
4. Shea and Wilson remained friends until Shea's death in '94. In the early '90s they decided to do a sequel, Bride of the Illuminatus. Set 50 years after the original trilogy (2026; RAW has finally confirmed that the original trilogy takes place in 1976), it was going to feature a resuscitated Winifred (female member of the evil Illuminati-primus villains The American Medical Association, in the original trilogy) being re-introduced to the world, mostly through Virtual Reality. Shea only lived long enough to help with the outline of the trilogy, but after his death RAW repeatedly stated he was working on the book himself. Ten years later, it still hasn't surfaced. RAW no longer mentions it.
About Schrodinger's Cat:
I'm not sure why anyone could say this trilogy of RAW's is better than Illuminatus. I found it hard to get through, very slight on characters, and more of just Wilson going on and on about how smart he is. Also it gets old if you've read any of his other books, namely Cosmic Trigger and Prometheus Rising, because he keeps repeating the same information!
Interestingly, the original volumes of this trilogy, published in paperback by Pocket Books between 1979 and 1982 -- The Universe Next Door, The Trick Top Hat, and The Homing Pigeons -- also differ from the trade paperback collection published in 1988. Two hundred pages were cut from the original version (!), and Wilson extensively rewrote the book for the trade paperback edition. For example, the Pocket Books paperback edition of The Trick Top Hat, from 1981, was filled with sex, most of it material reprinted from RAW's long out of print (and impossible to find) 1972 pornographic novel "The Sex Magicians." This material is not to be found in the trade paperback edition of Schrodinger's Cat.
I haven't read the Historical Illuminatus trilogy, but plan to. Wilson considers the second volume the best book he's ever written. I still think the original Illuminatus is where it's at.