Picador has signed a new immersive investigative non-fiction title by journalist Jenny Kleeman entitled Sex Robots & Vegan Meat.
Kris Doyle, senior commissioning editor at Picador, pre-empted world rights to Sex Robots & Vegan Meat: The People Changing Birth, Food, Sex & Death For Ever from Zoe Ross at United Agents.
Sex Robots & Vegan Meat is a book about modern life, the direction in which we are going, and the people determined to take us there. It is not about what might happen one day – it’s about what is happening right now, and who is making it happen. Many of the people Kleeman has met say they are finding solutions to problems that have always defined and constricted us, but their drive to innovate is motivated by profit as much as by passion and principle – and if they succeed, their products will have many unintended consequences.
What kind of person, Kleeman asks, devotes their life to building a death machine? What kind of customer is desperate to buy an artificially intelligent sex doll – and why? Who is campaigning against these advances, and how are they trying to stop them? Her encounters with these offbeat characters will allow a larger narrative to emerge: the story of how our technology is pushing the boundaries that make us what we are.
Doyle said: "Birth, food, sex and death are the pillars of human experience; they have been more or less unchanged throughout our existence, but now technology is opening up radical new possibilities – some of which have the terrifying power to fundamentally alter what it means to be human. I genuinely cannot think of a more timely, exciting, globally-relevant or fascinating book to be publishing.
"At Picador I edit Jon Ronson, Ben Judah and Will Storr, and I’ve been looking for a woman who could write a similar sort of immersive, investigative non-fiction about the contemporary world, so I’m delighted to have found Jenny Kleeman – she’s got a bright future ahead of her and I think this book is going to be a hit."
Kleeman said: "I’ll leave it to other authors to make big theoretical predictions about the future; my book will be about encounters with the people who are changing the trajectory of humankind, and the consequences of their actions – for instance, will relieving women of the burden of bearing children actually rob them of their bodily autonomy, will providing us with artificial companions make us less able to form relationships? I’m delighted to have found a home at Picador and I can’t wait to share these extraordinary stories with readers."
Kleeman is a journalist, broadcaster and documentary film maker. She writes regularly for the Guardian, the Sunday Times, The Times, and Vice. She has reported for BBC One’s "Panorama" and Channel 4’s 'Dispatches' and 'Unreported World'. Her article on sex robots was one of the most widely read articles ever published in the Guardian’s Long Read section, and the accompanying 16-minute documentary is one of the most successful films Guardian Multimedia has commissioned, with 1.2 million views on YouTube alone, according to the publisher.
Picador will publish Sex Robots & Vegan Meat in 2020.