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The future of sex by the man behind the pill

World Scientific


IMAGE: This is the cover for Carl Djerassi In Retrospect: From the Pill to the Pen. view more

Credit: World Scientific, 2014

Carl Djerassi, the renowned scientist behind the contraceptive pill, has published his latest book with Imperial College Press.

The book assumes a retrospective perspective of the nonagenarian polymath who shifted from his career in the hard sciences as a chemist into the soft sciences as a novelist, playwright, poet and memoirist.

With creative prose, Djerassi recalls the lectures and talks on advances in female contraception and the recurring question that he has always faced, "Why is there no Pill for men instead of the Pill for Women?", which he understood to imply that since the relevant scientific and clinical work was done by men, who had "no compunction in experimenting on women but are reluctant to experiment with any aspect of their own sexual apparatus".

After switching gears to become a playwright, Djerassi continued his pursuit of the issue of the contentious topic sex into a theatrical form by encapsulating his thoughts into an artistic display, bringing to light issues that he felt would address "fundamental issues facing humanity". For example, the sub-title of his first play was "Sex in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction", which was chosen because he considered the "de facto separation of sex (in bed) and fertilization (under the microscope) in Europe and Japan as key issues in the coming century. He opines that the society often forgets "the product of all the technological skills we utilise, namely the resulting child".

Sharply self-critical and yet humorous, Djerassi's autobiography also addresses other contentious topics within his book including that of homosexuality, religion, and gender selection in conception, amongst others.

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society, said, "Carl Djerassi is a great scientist who has rare skill as a creative writer as well as a deep interest in the arts, in education and in global issues. This wide-ranging book, written reflectively and with great eloquence would fascinate scientists and non-scientists alike and deserves a very broad readership."


The book retails at all major bookstores at US$29 (paperback) and US$69 (hardcover). More information about the book can be found at

About World Scientific Publishing:

World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. The company publishes about 500 books annually and more than 120 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation, US National Academies Press, as well as its subsidiary, the Imperial College Press, amongst others, to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit

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