"Strange Angel": Tracing a short, explosive life - 2005-02-27
Science-fiction fans, and even some scientists, can have an odd attraction toward the nonscientific, the magical and the mystical. Sci-fi, that realm of the plausible and the rational, shares bookstore shelves and convention costume parties with fantasy, that realm of the magical and the intuitive.
One striking example of this left brain/right brain duality is John Whiteside Parsons (1915-1952). One of the founding fathers of Los Angeles sci-fi fandom, he was friends with such authors as Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, and he even lost a girlfriend to pulp writer and future Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. He was also a devotee of British occultist Alistair Crowley; Parsons' Pasadena mansion regularly hosted black masses and "magickal" group sex rituals.
And Parsons joined his imagination with his boyish love for blowing stuff up. In the process, he helped create modern rocket science.