how writers envisioned tomorrow’s world

2017_45_books_leadJohn Gray at The New Statesman:

The future has not changed a great deal over the past hundred years. In the late 1920s a book called The Conquest of Life by Dr Serge Voronoff, a Russian émigré based in Paris, became a worldwide success with the claim that the author had found “a remedy for old age” with the aid of which “life can be prolonged, sex intensified, and death delayed”. The New York Times featured Voronoff’s work under the headline “Science promises an amazing future”, and his supposed advances were publicised in the Scientific American.

Voronoff’s techniques included transplanting testicular material obtained from apes, which he believed could rejuvenate human males and cure cancer. In The Conquest of Life, he promoted his transplant methods as a means of enhancing the abilities of children, asking “Why not try creating a race of super-men, endowed with physical and mental attributes very superior to ours?”

Others around the same time were promoting different methods to achieve similar goals. Eugen Steinach (1861-1944), a Viennese physician and endocrinologist, developed a type of vasectomy that aimed to divert seminal fluid into the body, where it would have sexually energising effects. The procedure was eulogised by WB Yeats, who after being “Steinached” in 1934 claimed to have been experienced “a second puberty”.

more here.