Lots of the technology we use everyday first came to life in science fiction. Stories are potent sparks of possibility that show other ways to live and other ways to be.
2001: A Space Odyssey brought us video calling; the seashell radios in Fahrenheit 451' turned into in-ear headphones; Neuromancer anticipated the World Wide Web; and Star Trek – well, Star Trek inspired everything from flip phones to Alexa.
All of these inspirational stories were written by men – and they helped to create the culture of the technology industry in 2018. Elon Musk is probably the poster child for this. His inventions, ambitions and his confidence are almost literally out of this world, and he has referred often to Iain M. Banks' Culture novels as his source material.
I run Doteveryone, the think tank that commissioned this book. We champion responsible technology for the good of everyone in society, and believe technology can only be responsible if it reflects the people who use it. While Musk materialises his male privilege by boring holes into the centre of the Earth and launching rockets to Mars, many others are left behind and excluded. We want more, different kinds of people to be given cultural confidence to invent and take risks, and we want men in technology to recognise there are other stories, and other futures, that they can help turn into reality.
Women Invent the Future brings together six stories and one poem from leading writers from around the world. The stories reimagine space travel, fertility and productivity. They show alternative realities for dating and family life. They imagine what emancipation and equality could look like, and show how we limit women with our preconceptions.
Anne Charnock's The Adoption follows a couple to a fertility clinic where babies are "grown" in artificial wombs, examining how the concept of ectogenetics will affect our view of gender, designer babies, and motherhood itself.
In Molly Flatt's A Darker Wave, a woman takes on the traditional male "Jekyll and Hyde" role of the self-experimenting scientist. It asks: in a world where sleep is a luxury commodity, is staying awake all the time the only way a woman can have it all?
Cassandra Khaw's There Are Wolves In These Woods looks at the commodification of sex, appetite, and wearable safety technology.
Walidah Imarisha's Androids Dream of Electric Freedom is a poetic reimaging of Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, (the inspiration for the Blade Runner films). It brings to life the emotional and intellectual struggles of a replicant.
Chrysalis by Becky Chambers and In The God Fields by Liz Williams explore one of the deepest questions asked in science fiction: what are we without our bodies or life on earth? Are we women? Are we human?
This autumn, we're going to send copies of the book to gatekeepers in tech – the men that run innovation teams, investment funds and M&A strategies – and ask them to think about how they could help more women to invent the future. If you'd like to nominate a man who would benefit from seeing some different futures to receive a copy, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, download your copy (20MB epub) or order a paperback*, and let us know what you think on Twitter, @doteveryoneuk.
Download your free digital copy of Women Invent The Future, or order a paperback version, from https://doteveryone.org.uk/women-invent-the-future/
*We will usually dispatch within 15 working days of receiving cleared payment. We are able to dispatch the book both within the UK and internationally. Costs cover the price post & packaging only: £3.34 (UK), £5.42 (Europe), £6.56 (US). £8.80 (rest of world).