Scientist, poet, and self-proclaimed Antichrist, Jack Parsons was a bizarre genius whose life reads like an implausible yet irresistible science fiction novel. Sex and Rockets
looks at his short life and dual career as cofounder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and leader of the Agape Lodge of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Author John Carter scours primary documents and interviews surviving friends and contemporaries to deliver an intriguing portrait of a dreamy, driven man equally interested in rocketry and magick. From his early childhood and deep attachment to his mother (who killed herself hours after he died) through his nonacademic research and brilliant innovations in solid fuels to his mysterious 1952 demise in a garage-laboratory explosion at the age of 37, the reader gets the impression of a man whose obsession with explosives and propellants was nearly single-minded. Yet this same man found spiritual fulfillment through Crowley's Law of Thelema, conducted magickal operations with L. Ron Hubbard, and signed an oath asserting himself to be the Antichrist--clearly Parsons wasn't a boring guy in a white coat. Carter pulls off the difficult task of integrating Parsons's disparate drives into one compelling story; though there are some rough spots and awkward transitions, one gets the sense that this illuminates the man's life better than a smooth, flawless work would. Robert Anton Wilson's introduction is smart and funny as always, initiating the uninformed into the basics of Crowleyanity while placing Parsons in the context of his times. While it might not be possible to read universal themes into Parsons's life, Sex and Rockets
is an excellent study of a passionate life fully lived. --Rob Lightner
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.