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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

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  71 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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Apr 06, 2009 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
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 16, 2016 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 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 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
Bill Telfer
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Okay, here it is in a nutshell: fascinating subject in the hands of someone who didn't know how to write, let alone write a decent biography. I know there is at least one other biography of the ill-fated Jack Parsons, but, quite frankly, after struggling through this mess, I am sick of the whole subject. And that's a shame because I let myself wait over a decade to read this. The two stars I give this book (which is also nightmarishly edited) is based on the subject matter alone, otherwise I wou ...more
Richard Biddle
Apr 21, 2014 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.
Dec 13, 2008 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
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great bio of Jack. Enjoyed enormously. Also read "Wormwood Star" for Marjorie Cameron's life after Jack.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
When I heard about this book I was very excited because I like the stories of peoples lives. Who they are and what makes them tick, and while this was an informative book it was missing that human touch that binds a story together. This was more like reading the facts of a case, something that would be prepared for a court session. The emotion of Jack Parsons was missing. Did I like it no, did I find it interesting yes.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Surprisingly dry text, though it's always entertaining to hear L. Ron Hubbard called a confidence man.
Patrick Santana
Jan 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
A painful, unpleasant, difficult read. The writing is haphazard and a structural mess. More like a sloppy first draft doctoral thesis than an edited biography. What could be such interesting material is, instead, just a string of esoteric bits giving the reader NO INSIGHT into Parsons, as a person. This book also suffers from the plague of “fandom.” That is: authors so enamored of their subject that they just fawn and gush, piling laudatory inferences on top of themselves. None of it written in ...more
Niall O'Conghaile
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A reasonably entertaining read, this book acts less as a thorough biography of Parson's life (there seemed to be gaps in the chronology) but actually serves as a solid introduction to the concept of Enochian magick, which seems to have been Parson's favoured form of magick to practice (which he did alongside some guy called L Ron something). To paraphrase Crowley, and this appears somewhere near the end of the book, Parsons was actually a mediocre magician and a much more successful with his eng ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mer by: Austin Chronicle Book Review
Fascinating biography of a person who was on the forefront of rocket science; a founding member of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Reminds me of Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend, the biography of Keith Moon of The Who, in how the subject is part of a close group and as life moves on and changes, the subject slowly separates/is separated from the group.
Peter J.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jack Parson's role in the forming of modern occult history is often under-stated but in Sex and Rockets, author John Carter sets the record straight with a fascinating examination of a man who lived life on the very edge.

This is a very well written and thoroughly engaging book which all occultists will enjoy.
I started this book but could not finish it. Maybe 10 paragraphs into it I lost all interest in the subject. It's not written well enough to give Jack Parsons a decent biography. Subject is very interesting so I'll go look to see if someone else wrote about him.
Mark Bates
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Weird book about the life of Jack Parsons, now a CBS show. One strange dude....
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Eh, the guy is interesting but this bio is only pretty successful.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Technically a DNF. I just didn't like the way this guy writes.
In desperate need of an editor. But, really the best option for Parson and his dualities.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting topic, boring writing.
Adrian Nicholls
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really strange character that I can across through Mark Frosts first Twin Peaks book. Looking forward to the TV adaption of another Parsons biog.
John Robinson
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the life and times of Jack Parsons, the genius behind JPL and a big chunk of modern rocketry.

Highly recommend to anyone interested in the history science (and of the OTO) in America.

Plus, the introduction is by the late, great Robert Anton Wilson.
Paul McAtee
Oct 24, 2015 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
Dec 24, 2012 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 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
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Kindle edition: lots of typos, some formatting problems that probably work fine in a print edition.

It's the story of Jack Parsons who was a genius in rocketry who spent far too much of his short time on earth in an asinine "magick", sex, and drugs cult. The lengthy descriptions herein of his "magick" practices will make you sad for Parsons. What a waste of a great mind.

Strange Angel by George Pendle covers the same ground without the tedious focus on Parson's lengthy, idiotic "magick" rituals.

Aug 24, 2011 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.
Jan 24, 2013 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
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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.)” 17 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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