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Strange Angel
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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.

Reviews

Pendle vividly tells the story of a mysterious and forgotten man who embodied the contradictions of his time. Throughout the 1930s, John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952) was a pioneer of rocket science, a fixture at Caltech with an uncanny ability to understand and control the dynamics of explosions, though he'd never completed an undergraduate degree. At the same time, Parsons was a key figure in the Los Angeles occult scene, presiding over a world of incantations, black magic and orgiastic excess. Science journalist Pendle (Times of London, Financial Times) follows Parsons on his journey through both science and the occult as he explored the connections between the two at a time when science fiction crashed into science fact (and when the practitioners of one often dabbled in the other. The book tells the story of the research that formed the basis for both missile defense and space flight, but Parsons himself was a tragic figure, left behind by both the science he helped to found and the women he loved. Marshaling a cast of characters ranging from Robert Millikan to L. Ron Hubbard, Pendle offers a fascinating glimpse into a world long past, a story that would make a compelling work of fiction if it weren't so astonishingly true. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Jill Grinberg. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

A rocket scientist who also tried to summon up spirits of the dead? That's John Parsons, who died in a spooky basement explosion in 1952 and is here resurrected by science writer Pendle. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

A fascinating glimpse, a story that would make a compelling work of fiction if it weren't so astonishingly true.
-- "Publishers Weekly"
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"
Pendle weaves a fascinating yarn. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it.
-- "Seattle Times"
Strange Angel could be a hybrid sired by Gravity's Rainbow out of Foucault's Pendulum. Explosively fascinating.
-- "Globe and Mail"
This amazing book is set in a more brightly coloured universe than most scientific lives are.
-- "Daily Telegraph"
This is your book if you want to start reading up on the space age. Highly recommended.
-- "Ray Bradbury"
[A] rambunctiously funny, deliriously weird, and incredibly true story of a space-science pioneer turned lustful witch.
--author of CITY OF QUARTZ "Mike Davis"
A riveting tale of rocketry, the occult, and boom-and-bust 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles.
--starred review "Booklist"
A spellbinding story of a man with eccentricities that went well beyond a fascination with rocketry.
-- "American Scientist"
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

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