Monday, July 24, 2006

Mini Book Review - Strange Angel

George Pendle's "Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons" is the second posthumous biography of Parsons in the last few years. It basically rehashes the same material as Feral House's "Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons" by "John Carter." Pendle, however is lighter on the details of some of the nuttier aspects of Parsons life, especially his involvement with Aliester Crowley and the OTO. He glosses over the deep hatred Parsosns had for Western culture and society, and chooses to view him as eccentric rather than sociopathic.

Pendle also downplays Parsons "Babalon Working" with L. Ron Hubbard, preferring to focus more on Hubbard's wife stealing and confidence games. In all, Parsons comes off as more buffoonish than dangerous, and that I believe is a disservice to his readers. Parsons sought nothing less than the destruction of civilization, and while that may seem more amusing than threatening through the hourglass of time, it is deserving of a serious review since Parsons, as a founder of JPL, was hardly historically insignificant.

In the end, I'd have to recommend "Sex and Rockets" over "Strange Angel." It is a deeper, more honest and critical look at a man who might have done far more damage in the world had he lived longer.


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