Future Sex
by Emily Witt
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Don’t be misled by the title. Emily Witt is not really writing about how humans will get it on in the future. Despite neologisms such as “teledildonic” (long-distance sex made possible with the use of mobile technology), everything she describes and experiences is right here, right now. The author, 30 years old when we meet her, is single, straight and looking for a long-term mutually monogamous relationship. So far, so vanilla. But she’s also curious about sexual freedom in the 21st century, so naturally traipses to San Francisco, the city America had “designated for people who still believed in free love”. Her research takes her to orgies, poly­amorous weddings and orgasmic meditation classes, where participants pay to be taught about desire and the fulfilment of desire (a US$97 one-day workshop includes a “live demonstration”). She also attends a porn shoot open to the public, who are encouraged to join in, and encounters people making ends meet by broadcasting themselves, live on webcams, engaging in sex. All of this may appear written to afford readers a vicarious thrill, except that this is a book about sex that, while fascinating, is in no way sexy.