Social Science Fiction: “The Male Clock” by Marsiglio and Siler-Marsiglio

 Making Fiction from Non-Fiction

I received a notice about a new book of science fiction, with a twist. The book is called The Male Clock and it was written by a sociologist, William Marsiglio, and his writer wife Kendra Siler-Marsiglio. The book includes a foreword on the connection between Marsiglio’s research interests and the themes of the book.

Male Clock CoverHere’s what the blurb says:

As speculative fiction informed by social science and biomedical perspectives, The Male Clock propels readers into a futuristic, yet believable world transformed by SGEV – a debilitating virus that drastically compromises men’s ability to procreate. Set mostly in the years 2034-2042, Jordan Giordano, a prominent American journalist, navigates a world steeped in personal misfortune and public controversy. Jordan chronicles his intimate struggle to become a father and family man while doing investigative reporting related to the ever changing social landscape with its radically altered sexual politics, heated public debates, and new technologies. The troubled era is defined by its upswing in baby farming, pharma company transgressions, new S.W.A.T.-based and bioterrorism technologies, sperm retrieval companies, sperm ID cards, devices preventing wet dreams, a surge in lesbian relationships and male prostitution, sperm-donating priests, and more.

Because the novel explores the gendered dimensions to family, interpersonal relations, reproductive and public health, and identity issues it can serve as a provocative supplemental text for diverse courses in sociology, psychology, gender studies, sexualities, history, public health, and related fields. The plot should resonate with young people as well as persons thinking about or trying to have children. Ultimately, The Male Clock will compel people to question how individuals and groups cope with unwanted social change that challenges our identities and social conventions.

Edgy and provocative, The Male Clock is a creative blend of sci-fi and social science that takes the reader into a dystopian future where men’s fertility is threatened and societal norms of masculinities and femininities are turned on their head. Ideal for instructors looking to integrate diverse materials into their gender, sexuality, or families courses.” Dana Berkowitz, Associate Professor, Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, Louisiana State University

The Male Clock has exciting possibilities for the classroom of the 21st century: joining smart social science with speculative fiction to help students imagine a dystopian future, and hopefully also to forge positive alternative futures.” – Michael A. Messner, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, University of Southern California

The Male Clock is an intriguing twist on normative gender tropes about sex and fertility.  With thought-provoking insight into a host of social science topics and a fast-paced sci-fi storyline, The Male Clock is sure to be a useful tool for courses related to gender, sexuality, relationships, family, and health.” – Gayle Kaufman, Professor of Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies, Davidson College

Read a preview here.

A Moment of Excitement:

How exciting! A book of social science fiction. I love the idea that works of fiction can be informed by social science, and can be used in the sociology classroom to enrich learning. After all, style of writing found in journal articles leaves a lot to be desired, so this way students can read something engaging and memorable. They can form associations between fictional works and academic work about the social world, bringing the social science to life for them. This is hardly a new concept; Marsiglio did not invent the idea, and he’s not the first academic to write a novel. But this is still not a pass time that’s exactly encouraged by mainstream sociologists. And it should be!

As I read the book blurb, I immediately started thinking about my own collaborations with artists and non-academics, and how I wish I could present my full portfolio of work as a integrally connected. After all, my output is not accurately measured by my academic Curriculum Vitae (CV) alone. This book was my encouragement to consider my academic and non-academic ponderings as interrelated, and to strive to unify them.

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