photo by Kate Connell

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Thrown out of the academy in Ingolstodt after attempting (successfully) to create animate life from the grafted body parts that my assistant Igor gathered in graveyards, I next became a historian and biographer and delved into popular culture, popular religion, and science. Topics I’ve covered include the escapologist Harry Houdini; early mesmerists and their diabolical powers; the Amazing Zancigs, mind-readers extraordinaire; Richard Shaver, the outsider artist and pulp magazine creator of “I Remember Lemuria”; Allen Funt, the madcap genius behind “Candid Camera”; and the strange amusement park rides of the early twentieth century that offered customers an imaginary burial and visit to Heaven and Hell. My books include, The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey, a 2014 Locus Award Finalist, and Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America. I also have published scholarly articles, as well as humor and fiction in the Atlantic and other magazines. A past fellow at the Smithsonian, I am currently at large in California.

Selected Works

This 2014 Locus Award Finalist is the true story of Ray Palmer, the science fiction editor who jumpstarted the flying saucer craze and early interest in the paranormal.
A critically acclaimed historical study of the overlap between performers of stage magic and purveyors of scientific wonders.
June 17, 2014 essay in Vanity Fair online.
Fall, 2014 article in Santa Barbara Seasons magazine
Before reality tv, there was "Candid Microphone," Allen Funt's postwar radio broadcasts.