Got you from the title, right? In truth, it’s crazier than that.
Sex & Rockets is a book about Jack Parsons, one of the cofounders of what became NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab. He was a pioneer in early rocketry, perfecting solid-fuel rockets that grew into the space program.
Aaaaaand he was an occultist and a close follower of Aleister Crowley. He did a 12-day spell to bring about the goddess Babalon, and the spell apparently brought in a hot, crazy redhead. And his roommate for a while was L. Ron Hubbard, who stole his girlfriend. Oh, and he was influential in the budding Libertarian movement. And he blew himself up in 1952.
Author John Carter draws heavily on primary sources, such as Parsons’ spell notes, his own writings, and his extensive correspondence with Crowley. So Carter doesn’t get too much into Parsons’ head, but the primary sources are still pretty amazing.
If you’re curious about the wild and woolly early days of rocketry — or want an intro to Crowley’s scene — here you go.
I can’t stop thinking about story ideas. What if the whole rocket thing was just a way to stick a thumb in the eye of God … or prove He doesn’t exist? And JPL is where they made the Mars rovers … maybe there’s a black magic working on the red planet?
I09.com had a neat rundown of the book, or you can get it (as I did) from your local library.