When I heard of this book, I knew I had to do a review of Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons.
What happens when you mix a brilliant young man with a screwed up family and a healthy dose of mysticism and a topping of whipped Aleister Crowley? You get the brilliant, but very strange Jack Parsons a man that in a relatively short life would change the face of rocketry forever and even be the spark for the development of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Why you should read Sex and Rockets
The core attraction to me for Sex and Rockets is the illumination of how interlaced many of the characters of the era were. Most people have no clue that L Ron Hubbard got his start down the occult realm with Parsons, Crowley and his time in California. We also get some insights into many of these character’s true personalities. Hubbard in particular comes across as a con man.
In addition to this is the wild west air that surrounded rocketry at that time. Parson’s was a scientist in practical application but from what Carter and Wilson write, not so much of one in procedure and documentation.
What doesn’t work with this book
While there is plenty of interesting tid-bits in Sex and Rockets, there is almost too much minutia. Details about chemistry, associated people, street addresses and more bog this book down with information that doesn’t move the narrative along particularly well. As a lover of the paranormal, I would have liked a bit more time spent on the occult practices that Parsons and Hubbard were into in particular.
There is a long standing rumor that the two of them performed a summoning ritual that succeeded in opening a portal, but that they failed to close it. Shortly after this the UFO phenomenon took off. Coincidence? Possibly, but maybe they opened a door and work the interstellar community up.
Final review of Sex and Rockets
If you can overlook the ponderous details, this is an interesting book and worth the time to work through if you have an interest in the occult, the 1950’s or rocket science. I found that it wasn’t as riveting as I hoped, but was definitely eye-opening.