Strange Angel

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780753820650

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 6th April 2006

Genre: Mathematics & Science

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‘Forget geek stereotypes. Parsons’ life seems straight out of a Hollywood thriller … Pendle’s book leaves us with a taste of genius’s energy and fragility’ Los Angeles Magazine

‘You couldn’t make it up’ Physics World

‘As a history of space travel, STRANGE ANGEL is a cornerstone … Highly recommended’ Ray Bradbury

BRILLIANT ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN EXPLOSION screamed the front-page headline of the Los Angeles Times on 18 June 1952. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer whose work had helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plotline into a reality, was at first mourned as a tragically young victim of mishandled chemicals. But as reporters dug deeper a shocking story emerged. Parsons had been performing occult rites and summoning spirits as a follower of Alesteir Crowley.

George Pendle tells Parsons’ extraordinary life story for the first time. Fuelled from childhood by dreams of space flight, Parsons was a crucial innovator during rocketry’s birth. But his visionary imagination also led him into the occult community thriving in 1930s Los Angeles, and when fantasy’s pull became stronger than reality, he lost both his work and his wife. Parsons was just emerging from his personal underworld when he died – aged thirty-seven. In Strange Angel, Pendle recovers a fascinating life and explores the unruly consequences of genius.

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Reviews

Pendle's superbly detailed and addictively readable book makes the reader fall in love with these young men's energy and enthusiasm, and the blazing trail that Parsons left behind him as he finally fell to earth
DAILY TELEGRAPH
Readable and engrossing
Bryan Appleyard, LITERARY REVIEW
Elegantly written ... Pendle with his graceful, measured prose... skilfully steers us through the quagmire of Parson's personal life to place him on the pedestal that he deserves, so that we may admire his remarkable legacy to modern rocket science
OBSERVER
You couldn't make it up
PHYSICS WORLD
A case of truth being stranger than fiction in all its glory. The whole mix is fascinating. Parsons' struggle to achieve a working rocket would make a good story in its own right, but add in the science fiction, add in the strange religion and characters like Hubbard - and finally, throw into the mix Parsons' horrendous death in an apparently accidental explosion at home ... It's a cracker, that rarest of things a popular science book that's a page turner too
POPULARSCIENCE.CO.UK
Fascinating ... we are introduced to a surreal 1930s world where dreams of space flight were inspired by popular science fiction
FOCUS
Entertaining... intriguing
CHEMISTRY WORLD
As a history of space travel, STRANGE ANGEL is a cornerstone ... Highly recommended
Ray Bradbury
Forget geek stereotypes. Parsons' life seems straight out of a Hollywood thriller ... Pendle's book leaves us with a taste of genius's energy and fragility
LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE
Fascinating ... 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
SEATTLE TIMES
A riveting tale of rocketry, the occult, and boom-and-bust 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles
BOOKLIST
An engaging treatment of a time when the modern world moved at the same speed as crazed mania
THE ONION
Offers glimpses not only of the history of a lab, a science and a group of extraordinary people but also of America's rapidly changing political and cultural assumptions ... Parsons' story is an intriguing one, full of contradictions that seem quintessentially of their time
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Spellbinding ... STRANGE ANGEL has a strong narrative drive and reads like a novel - except that novels need to be plausible, whereas the life of Jack Parsons, poet, magician and rocket pioneer, had no such constraint
AMERICAN SCIENTIST
STRANGE ANGEL could be a hybrid sired by GRAVITY'S RAINBOW out of FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM. Explosively fascinating
GLOBE & MAIL