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Sex in the Future: Ancient Urges Meet Future Technology Hardcover – 9 Apr 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition edition (9 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333765826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333765821
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,676,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For video interviews and a wider-ranging biography, to read both praise for and criticism of his books, and to see the controversies they have triggered, visit www.robin-baker.com.

Dr Robin Baker was born in Wiltshire, England in 1944, and grew up in the small village of Manningford Bruce in the Vale of Pewsey. The tiny 2-room school he attended had fewer than 30 pupils, with all the under 7s taught in one room and all the 7-11 year olds in the other. Between the ages of 11 and 18 he attended the nearby Marlborough Grammar School where coincidentally, 30 years earlier, the author William Golding had also been educated; all later pupils were expected to be very familiar with Golding's classic book Lord of the Flies.

After obtaining a First Class Honours degree in Zoology, then a PhD, at the University of Bristol, Robin Baker lectured in Zoology at the Universities of first Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then Manchester where, in 1981, he became Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences. In 1996 he left academic life to concentrate on his career in writing and broadcasting.

He has published over one hundred scientific papers and many books. These include the international bestseller SPERM WARS which was based on his own lab's original research on human sexuality and which has so far been translated into 23 languages. His work and ideas on the evolution of human behaviour have been featured in many television programmes around the world.

His first novel PRIMAL - described by many as an adult LORD OF THE FLIES - was published in the UK and USA in 2009. In 2010-11 it will also be published in translation in Holland, Israel, France, Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Since 2002 he has lived in the foothills of the Spanish Sierras with his partner, the writer Elizabeth Oram, and their family. He has six children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Looked at from a particular perspective, the whole of human history and large parts of our cultures are built around the need of fathers to know whose their children are. For the first time, paternity can be established more or less without a shadow of a doubt and Baker argues that this changes everything. He is a sociobiologist who believes that we are in large measure the captives of our instincts, but he sees the technology of birth as changing entirely the context in which those instincts will operate. Parenting no longer stays the prerogative of the young, the heterosexual, the able-bodied or even of the living; there will be more sorts of family and more of a commitment to ensuring that children get the best deal possible--which for Baker, if not for the Catholic church, is not necessarily a standard nuclear couple with 2.4 offspring. He sets up, not always convincingly, a series of little educational tales as a way of examining the prospects that lie ahead of us, and takes us through the social implications of cloning, surrogacy and IVF. This is a coherent account, which is not afraid of belabouring obvious points; Baker's cynical view of human motives is more bracing than depressing. --Roz Kaveney

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 5 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
The author is a biologist who believes in the cold certainties of evolution and scientific "advances". He gives the reader his prediction (virtually presented as fact) of how reproduction will change in the next one hundred years.
The book is not so much about sex as about new ways that will be available to reproduce within the next few decades and onwards. Apparently young women will "harvest" their eggs and then be sterilised so that they can have sex without the risk of conceiving children. Likewise young men will "bank" their sperm and then be sterilised.
Conceiving children will be a matter of going to a clinic and selecting IVF, surrogacy, cloning etc. Wealthy people will be able to buy eggs and/or sperm from donors they consider suitable such as athletes or musicians and then have a surrogate to carry the child to full term.
Children will no longer be the result of an act of love, or even just plain sex, but will be a commercial transaction. People will just buy a baby on-line like you would a car.
The book is quite interesting from a philosophical point of view and worth reading as a warning of what might be. But what bothers me is that the author sees nothing alarming in these predictions. In fact he has no time for people who are concerned, as he suggests that it doesn't matter if these developments are harmful or bad, as they are going to happen anyway whether we like it or not.
I consider this naive. Nothing about the future is as certain as he believes and in my view we have a right to be concerned for the welfare of future generations. To not do so would be selfish and irresponsible.
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Format: Paperback
When I saw this book I felt it would present some interesting ideas on the social impact of the rapidly developing array of infertility treatments and genetic technologies. It does but not as much as I hoped. The book is really about reproduction not sex although it supports the view that in the future the two will become completely separated because no one will bother with anything so messy and unpredictable as intercourse as a way of having the babies - it will just be fun. (I would like to see what other people think about that.)
The author is a former academic biologist so he is authoritative even if he gives no references. He is also calm in the face of all the fear and moral panic which is the dominant response to the new medical techniques. For instance he does not believe that in the long run being able to choose the sex of your baby will lead to a disastrous imbalance. But he does put too much reliance on natural selection as an explanation for social behaviour rather than culture and power structures; as a sociologist that was where I was disappointed.
A most unusual feature of the book is that each chapter is preceded by a short piece of fiction illustrating the issues. These are well done and helpful; one or two of them are quite erotic. For instance, in the chapter on cloning he has a man lusting after his daughter who has been cloned from his wife (his son has been cloned from himself). This situation of course raises the question of how we will need to redefine incest in the future.
This book is a rational contribution to the debate on genetic engineering but I look forward to further discussion of how much of what we now take for granted in social and family relationships will need to be reconfigured.
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By A Customer on 3 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
Following on from Sperm Wars and Baby Wars, Baker continues his almost pathological conclusions of his two previous books.
Sex in the Future suggests some uncomfortable, yet inevitable realities - global DNA databases, compulsive paternity testing and child taxes.
If you seek to understand how much we are, and going to be able to, control the future of our species, this is an important read.
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