Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons (Paperback)
Now a CBS All Access series created by Mark Heyman with executive producer Ridley Scott.
ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN PASADENA EXPLOSIONscreamed the headline of the Los Angeles Times. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer who helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plot line into a reality, was at first mourned as a scientific prodigy. But reporters soon uncovered a more shocking story: Parsons had been a devotee of black magic.
George Pendle re-creates the world of John Parsons in this dazzling portrait of prewar superstition, cold war paranoia, and futuristic possibility. Fueled by childhood dreams of space flight, Parsons was a leader of the motley band of enthusiastic young men who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a cornerstone of the American space program. But Parsons's wild imagination also led him into the occult- for if he could make rocketry a reality, why not magic?
With a cast of characters including Howard Hughes, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert Heinlein, Strange Angel explores the unruly consequences of genius.
About the Author
GEORGE PENDLE writes about science, art, and culture for the Times (London), the Sunday Times, and the Financial Times, among other publications. He lives in New York City.
PRAISE FOR STRANGE ANGEL
“Pendle weaves a fascinating yarn . . . he deftly and seemingly effortlessly leads his readers through the technical aspects of Parsons' work. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it.” —The Seattle Times
“Pasadena's famous Craftsman mansions disgorge their ghosts in this rambunctiously funny, deliriously weird, and incredibly true story of a space-science pioneer turned lustful witch.”
—Mike Davis, author of City of Quatrz
“As a history of space travel, Strange Angel is a cornerstone. This is your book if you want to start reading up on the space age. Highly recommended.” —Ray Bradbury
"A spellbinding story of a man with eccentricities that went well beyond a fascination with rocketry."
— American Scientist
"A riveting tale of rocketry, the occult, and boom-and-bust 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles."
— starred review
This amazing book is set in a more brightly coloured universe than most scientific lives are.
— Daily Telegraph
"[A] rambunctiously funny, deliriously weird, and incredibly true story of a space-science pioneer turned lustful witch."
— author of CITY OF QUARTZ
"A fascinating glimpse, a story that would make a compelling work of fiction if it weren't so astonishingly true."
— Publishers Weekly
"This is your book if you want to start reading up on the space age. Highly recommended."
— Ray Bradbury
"Pendle weaves a fascinating yarn. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it."
— Seattle Times
"An engaging treatment of a time when the modern world moved at the same speed as crazed mania."
— The Onion
"Elegantly written. Pendle, with his graceful, measured prose, skilfully steers us through the quagmire of Parson's personal life."
— Observer - UK
"Strange Angel could be a hybrid sired by Gravity's Rainbow out of Foucault's Pendulum. Explosively fascinating."
— Globe and Mail