Provocative and often shocking, Sex in the Future examines how advances in reproductive technology will change human behavior. In-vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood could mean the end not only of infertility but also of the need for men and women to form relationships or for women to interrupt careers for pregnancy. Sperm and egg storage mean people can literally shop for genes, while cloning, egg-egg fertilization, and other techniques will lead to fertility on demand in a Reproduction Restaurant. What will all our choices be, and how far down this road do we want to travel?
"The demise of the nuclear family is an inevitable step in social evolution," argues Baker (Sperm Wars; Baby Wars) in this analysis of the possible effects of new reproductive technologies. Baker, a former reader in zoology at the University of Manchester, sees in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, cloning and other procedures as logical and practical ways for human beings to maximize reproductive success. Such technologies, Baker writes, can certify paternity, making it impossible for men to reject responsibility for the children they father. With legal mechanisms in place to require fair child support from men and women regardless of marital status, individuals will naturally gravitate toward single-parent families--which are already on the increase and, in Baker's view, a completely satisfactory system for raising children. Reproductive innovations can also end male and female infertility. The possibilities seem outlandish at first, but even a procedure as shocking as the transplantation of human testes into rats as a potential treatment for male infertility appears more reasonable as the analysis proceeds. Baker explains the science behind the new techniques with clarity and precision, and constructs fictional scenarios that serve as entertaining, if not wholly plausible, illustrations of possible post-reproductive revolution behavior: a typical sketch involves a middle-aged man lusting after a daughter cloned from his wife (it's not really incest, Baker points out, since the young woman is not genetically related to her "father"--as if DNA were all there is to parenthood). Baker tends to see utopia ahead; many readers may see his future as a dystopia to be avoided.