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Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons
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Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  729 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
This remarkable true story about the co-founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory. By day, Parsons’ unorthodox genius created a solid rocket fuel that helped the Allies win World War II. By night, Parsons called himself The Antichrist. “One of the best books of the year.”—The Anomalist
Paperback, 239 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Feral House (first published October 31st 1999)
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This is a somewhat workmanlike biography of Parsons, but it is a good look at one of the stranger characters I've heard of. Carter tries to make a case that Parsons' contributions to the two worlds he inabited - rocket science and occult magic - have been wrongly assessed. Rather than being a brilliant magician who made minor contributions to science, Parsons was actually a scientific (or at least technical) pioneer but a failed magician. It's hard to see how the latter could be otherwise, at le ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok
A fine and easily read biography of Jack Parsons (1914-1952). The author progresses in a workmanlike fashion with little flair or style, merely trotting out fact after fact, usually chronologically but sometimes in a more confusing fashion, with diversions which could have been cleaned up. After the brilliant introduction by the late Robert Anton Wilson (and the lamentation in realizing that there is a finite amount of R.A.W.'s writing which I have not yet read, which can never increase), Carter ...more
May 05, 2016 Lanie rated it liked it

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. This is probably true in the age of Jack Parsons. If you made it up, no one would believe it.

Rocket scientist and ceremonial magician, Parsons is a nexus through which all connections flow.

If you wish to find a link between Crowley, Scientology, communism, NASA, the dark side of the moon, Dennis Hopper, Science Fiction fandom, and a myriad of other things; Parsons is the conduit.

However, the book was dull. Even with an intro by Robert Anton Wilson
Paige Ellen Stone
May 26, 2014 Paige Ellen Stone rated it did not like it
Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (Paperback)
The inviting retro 50's sci-fi look cover earns this book the one star. I know a lot about Aleister Crowley and I know a good bit of the history of NASA and JPL. This book adds NOTHING of value to that body of knowledge. It's printed on rather nice paper, so I feel bad for the trees that gave up their lives for this disaster of a book. So Jack Parsons was a genius and a tad whacked.... this matters why????????? Author John Carter needs
Mar 18, 2012 Scot rated it liked it
I have become fascinated with this character, Jack "Marvel" Parsons rocketeer, magician and proto-libertarian. His life story is fascinating and worth the effort. I came at this when I discovered the connection between Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard. The vision of these post war individuals and particularly Jack as they push the envelope into space inner and outer. It was written with the pseudonym of John Carter, who is obviously a magician that wishes to be anonymous. It is clear that the ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it
This was a good read but I get the feeling that the full story of Parsons will never be known. Parsons was a rocket scientist who was one of the pioneers in the field. He was heavily into the occult, a protege of Aleister Crowley as well as L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard later went on to swindle Parsons out of a large sum of money but not before he and Parsons conducted the infamous "Babylon Working" ceremonial magic rituals. Parsons died by blowing himself up at his home labratory which was ruled an a ...more
May 27, 2016 Jönathan rated it it was amazing
A great bio of Jack. Enjoyed enormously. Also read "Wormwood Star" for Marjorie Cameron's life after Jack.
Nov 23, 2016 Richard rated it it was ok
The most interesting parts of this book are available on Wikipedia. The sections about Parsons career in rockets by far outweighs, in terms of interest, the sections on the occult. On top of that when the book does get to the occult the authors own intense interest takes over and leads to lots of dull and confusing explanations of Magick. It almost feels as if the book has two separate authors for each aspect of Parsons life. Midway through the books the author introduces more and more parenthes ...more
Paul McAtee
Oct 24, 2015 Paul McAtee rated it liked it
I really liked this book and before everyone jumps on me and says I have to read the other Parsons biography I'm telling you now I HAVE NOT read the other one and won't anytime soon. I probably will some day but it's not at the top of my list.

This makes for good reading during the Dog Days of Summer. What I did like about reading this book is it highlighted all the entrepreneurial aspects of Parson's life and career, and his straight-up unapologetic Libertarian outlook he outlined in his own boo
Sir Michael Röhm
Jack Parsons was clearly a fascinating man. A chemical wunderkind, Parsons never attained a college degree, but his work with chemicals helped the United States to - pardon the pun - get off the ground in the world of rocket science, as well as win the later space race. Unless you believe the moon landing was all shot in a studio in Arizona, I suppose.

Parsons also had a far less scientific side to his life. He was greatly enamored of Aleister Crowley's doctrine of Thelema (Greek for "Will") and
Shea Mastison
Oct 28, 2014 Shea Mastison rated it it was ok
This book, which I expected to fascinate me immensely; was dreadfully boring instead. Throughout the entire time I limped through this relatively short biographical analysis of Jack Parsons, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that this book began as a reluctant school assignment written by a student who wasn't all that interested in the material.

The author spits facts out; dropping them out like so many feces falling from the ass of a rat. There's hardly any time for reflection, and when the
Trevor Jones
Jun 12, 2008 Trevor Jones rated it it was ok
After reading this book, whenever the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California comes up in conversations at dinner parties I can't help but think about "wonderkid" Jack Parsons having sex with his own mother and blowing himself up in his own backyard after L. Ron Hubbard stole his girlfriend. Maybe its just me.
Whereas there is plenty of ammunition here for delighting dinner party guests with tales of Thelema and SoCal scientists building bombs for America during the day and worshipping
Aug 24, 2011 Nick rated it liked it
A very interesting book, but oddly flawed. The author repeatedly got bogged down in narrating the details of the occult ceremonies Parsons researched or attempted, well past what the casual reader would want to know. Had he done the same thing in the sections on rocket research, the book would have been hundreds of pages longer, and deadly dull.
Other than that, it was an interesting insight into the live of a very eccentric man. Still, it never quite got inside his head in a way that made sense.
Mar 30, 2013 Jordan rated it it was ok
Sooo... I totally loved the subject matter - Jack Parsons is endlessly fascinating - and this book did an amazing job of taking you though his crazy life. That said, the author was so pretentious and arrogant. He would make disparaging comments about other books, topics and authors and everything he said was overly frilly. I think a vast vocabulary is sexy as hell, but sometimes it is okay just to say things in the more pedestrian way. I think I have a rather large vocabulary, but I don't feel t ...more
Apr 03, 2009 DLanie rated it it was amazing
Great book on Marvel Whiteside Parsons - a.k.a. Jack Parsons - a.k.a. John Parsons - occultist, luminary, reckless rocketeer. A fascinating life of a man who was willing to dance on the edge of science fiction in the name of space exploration - and whose vision is largely responsible for space exploration's methods today at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and the Aerojet Corporation. This is a mysterious book, exploring myth and cosmic connection, the occult, Parsons' involveme ...more
Kate Woods Walker
Jul 19, 2012 Kate Woods Walker rated it liked it
To a layman, ploddingly dull in the opening chapters, (perhaps as some sort of winnowing gimmick to slough off the unworthly reader), Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons delivers detailed information about black majick rituals to those seeking it, a few prurient episodes for those craving vicarious thrills, and sick, sad humor for the rest of us. Read this to see just how far a certain type of man will go to prove he's Big and Bad. I couldn't help feeling most sorry for the family ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Barb rated it really liked it
Science and the occult in one incredible man. One of the original "rocket scientists," Parsons was key in the development of the weapons that won WWII for the allies. But he had another side, aside from his calculations and experiments, that had nothing to do with the hard reality of his work. His belief in the dark side of power and life beyond what can be seen and touched was every bit as fascinating as his mathematical genius.

An amazing account of the life of a multi-layered man, and a very i
Reg Franklin
Jun 12, 2012 Reg Franklin rated it it was amazing
An in-depth look at one of the fathers of modern rocketry, Sex and Rockets does not shy away from some of the more controversial subject matter surrounding Jack Parsons, including his relationships with Aleister Crowley and none other than Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Descriptions of the latter actually give the reader some insight into some of the formative ideas that probably inspired Hubbard when he was developing dianetics.
Sep 24, 2012 Nathaniel rated it really liked it
Awesome bio of the inventor of solid rocket fuel and founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; who was an occult Crowleyite who referred to himself as the Antichrist; attempted to conceive the Moonchild; befriended and was conned by L Ron Hubbard; and ultimately blew himself to smithereens while experimenting with rocket fuels in his garage.

The foreword by Robert Anton Wilson is also enlightening.
Wesley Elliott
Jan 28, 2008 Wesley Elliott rated it really liked it
Wow! Jack Parsons lived a life full of heavy, cool, fucked up stuff! He was quite honestly a self-taught/made genius. Were it not for some of his efforts we wouldn't have the Jet Propulsion Lab or NASA. And his off-court life was even better. Occult, sci-fi, L. Ron, massive orgies, animal sacrifice, Aleister Crowley.....good, fun read.
Mar 10, 2009 Amasa rated it liked it
An extra star for the intrinsic interest of the subject in an otherwise disappointing, poorly written, lackluster biography. The author does not inspire confidence in the factual character of his narrative, and his... ahem... "inspired" translations of the various Latin mottos found in OTO literature should lead the reader to question the perspicacity of the author's research.
Seth Madej
Jul 05, 2016 Seth Madej rated it it was ok
A peek at one of America's more notable wackos, related with the flair and sense of story of a congressional subcommittee report. Unless you have an abiding interest in the picayune intricacies of both rocket fuel composition and sex magick invocations, you'll get more out of a few minutes of googling than from this artless blob.
Sep 09, 2007 A. rated it really liked it
Jack Parsons, a dashing autodidact, was one of the key inventors of solid rocket fuel. He also fawned over Crowley, ascended the ranks of the OTO, and lived the post-WWII/pre-'60s California crazy life. One wonderful detail: Jack advertised his apartment's availability by saying tenants "MUST NOT BELIEVE IN GOD." L. Ron Hubbard moved in, pre-scino, and stole Jack's girlfriend. Whoa.
Apr 19, 2007 Pierce rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Together with Strange Angel, this is one of the two necessary biographies of Jack Parsons. It concentrates on his occult activities, and while a pseudonymous work, appears to have been written by an OTO insider. This damages the book's perspective on key issue, particularly the role of the women in Jack's life. It's still very interesting and illuminating.
Jul 04, 2009 Katy rated it it was amazing
An interesting biography with a lot not said. Jack Parsons was a self-taught scientist and occult practitioner. Without him, the American space program never would have happened. He was a womanizer with a raging Oedipus complex, a brilliant developer of rocket fuel, a true believer in magick and one of the first to be rooked out of money by L. Ron Hubbard.
Brandon Commiskey
Feb 18, 2013 Brandon Commiskey rated it it was amazing
What does L.Ron.Hubbard, Jack Parsons, NASA and the occult have in common? Everything! This book will shed light on the history of NASA, their obsession with the dark arts & the people who helped shape the Agency we know today with clear writing and thorough research. If your interested in the weird and bizarre but true history of all things science, then this book will not dissapoint.
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
Jan 19, 2010 Miss Karen Jean Martinson rated it liked it
Shelves: research
For the play.

Good overview, good sourcing, huge leaps of faith at some points, but more or less objective. I especially liked the in-depth treatment of the rituals/workings - I felt like I was given a glimpse into a very strange world.
Apr 03, 2013 Grglstr rated it liked it
This is a fascinating look into the weird personal life of rocketry pioneer Jack Parsons. A great diversion for folks interested in mid-20th century space history, filled with a ton of interesting characters, like Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard. To be taken with a grain of salt.
Richard Biddle
Aug 22, 2015 Richard Biddle rated it did not like it
Overall the story of Jack Parsons is an interesting one. However this book is simply dreadful. It is poorly edited, full of errors and the author's style is dull to say the least. I didn't read this book so much as trudge through it.
Jan 04, 2008 Varmint rated it liked it
Rocket scientist, satanist, L. Ron Hubbard's landlord, Jack Parsons is the whispered legend hanging around the edges of The Right Stuff.

He also sort of deserves a better biography than this thin book.
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“In every state of the Union, Fundamentalists still fight to ban all the science they dislike and prosecute all who teach it. To them, 'traditional family values' denotes their right to keep their children as ignorant as their grandparents (and to hate the same folks grand-dad hated.)” 13 likes
“In contradistinction to the underestimation in the field of rocket science and the aerospace industry, Parsons' accomplishments in the arcane sciences have been highly overrated and grossly exaggerated. As a magician he was essentially a failure. As a Thelemite he learned the hard way what was required. He loved Crowley's 'Law' but couldn't adhere to it—though he tried harder than most. He violated the rules, undertook unauthorized and unorthodox magical operations, and claimed the grade of Magister Templi without first completing all the grades below it. He couldn't handle working under authority—his ego was too big. His record of failure is valuable in that regard. He was a great promulgator of thelemic ideals in his essays, but as an idealist his elitism ruined his work. Indeed, some would say he was guilt of hubris, which the gods always punish.” 4 likes
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