Most cultures tell the tale of a maiden who gives birth untouched by a man, and in the wild there are plenty of creatures turkeys, Komodo dragons , and the Jesus Christ lizard (which even walks on water) that take various approaches to making babies without having sex. Soon, humans will have that option, too.
In Like a Virgin, biologist and science writer Aarathi Prasad examines inconceivable ideas about conception, from a Renaissance recipe for creating a child (bury semen in manure for forty days) to the search for a real-life virgin mother in the 1950s. She then takes us to maverick, cutting-edge labs that are today inventing sex-less reproduction, from manufactured eggs to artificial wombs and beyond. Like a Virgin delivers an astonishing exploration of the mysteries of sex and evolution past, present, and future.
Stylist – 2012’s Hottest Debuts: Science journalist Aarathi Prasad is a leading voice in the genetics field and is fast popping up all over the media – think of her as the female equivalent of Brian Cox making science accessible for the masses. Her first book, out in August, probes into the world of reproductive science to look at the evolution of a potentially sexless future. From the creation of artificial eggs to silicone wombs for men and egg-fertilizing computer chips, Prasad asks whether a future of virgin pregnancies could be just around the corner, and if so, where will that leave men? Entertaining and provocative, it promises to change the way you think about sex.
The Bookseller: It’s thought-provoking stuff, accessibly written.
Matt Ridley, bestselling author of The Red Queen: Aarathi Prasad has travelled far into the mysterious land of human and animal conception and come back with extraordinary stories of chimaeras and parthenogens, of cannibal sharks in the womb, of pseudosperm and the prospect of birth without pregnancy. A fascinating book.
Armand Marie Leroi, author of Mutants: It’s game over for the testicle; the reign of bollocks is at an end. Prasad charts the high road to total male redundancy. In the future, girls will do it for themselves, boys those who are left will just be toys. Cheer or weep, but read this book.
Author portrait by Anjali Bhargava, www.anjalibhargava.com