Djerassi, Carl

Tagged: Author

(1923-2015) Austrian-born Bulgarian chemist, author and playwright, in the US from December 1939; recipient of many scientific awards and honours; best known for his work on oral contraceptives, leading to his being termed the father of the birth control pill (which if not strictly accurate has a substantial core of truth). Four of his five novels and most of his plays centre upon science and Scientists against a real-world background – a subgenre sometimes known as "Lab Lit" and called by Djerassi "science-in-fiction". Of the novels, Menachem's Seed (1997) is of some sf interest for its anachronistic deployment of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), here used by the lead female character over a decade before the technique was perfected, to impregnate herself with selected viable sperm from the 99% infertile male lead Menachem (without his knowledge). Much quirky erudition and knowledge of the international scientific conference scene are in evidence, although – as in the later Robert A Heinlein – the portrayal of female sexuality by an aging male author is not without its embarrassments. [DRL]

Carl Djerassi

born Vienna, Austria: 29 October 1923

died San Francisco, California: 30 January 2015

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