Food, glorious food!  Five SF Approaches to a Balanced Diet

Food, glorious food! Five SF Approaches to a Balanced Diet

Finnish scientists are working on an innovative protein source. (In case you don’t want to click on the link: Scientists are making protein flour from Co2other common elements, electricity [which could come from solar]and bacteria) This process, if successful and scalable, promises some degree of protection against agricultural disruption due to climate change—

I’m hoping that this, or something like it, can eventually replace a lot of modern agriculture, since by my calculations I think we’re currently Food being the primary need that it is, there It’s no surprise that science fiction writers have based plots on new forms of nutrition. Want to guess how many examples follow?

The food of the gods and how it came to Earth by H. G. Wells (1904)

The visionary chemist Mr. Bensington, together with the equally visionary Professor Redwood, offers a long-suffering world herakleophorbia IV, a chemical additive that dramatically amplifies animal growth. The couple had very specific applications in mind for their creation – British children will be like gods, towering above their elders! – but thanks to neglected containment procedures, the benefits of herakleophorbia IV have spread through entire food chains. Welcome to a brave new world of giant chickens and foot-long wasps.

Unintended vermin issues aside, Wells takes a curiously pessimistic view of the gap between a glorious vision and actual implementation. A society of youthful giants looks like one but accommodating forty foot tall people in a community designed for six foot people will be difficult, to say the least.

The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl and CM Kornbluth (1953)

While Pohl and Kornbluth’s satire focuses primarily on a world in which exuberant advertising capitalism has freed itself from any kind of caution or reason, food production features in a memorable sequence. While in hiding, fugitive star-class editor Mitch Courtenay finds himself caring for Chicken Little, “a rubbery gray-brown hemisphere (of chicken meat) about fifteen meters in diameter”. Chicken Little is a vital source of protein for “people from Baffinland to Little America.” Hooray for progress!

Chicken Little was inspired by Dr. Alexis Carrol’s famous chicken heart experiment, in which Carrol maintained said heart in a flask of his own design for over twenty years. Or at least he said he did. No one has been able to replicate his experience. Sad news for all of us who crave a slice of a VW Beetle-sized hunk of chicken tumor.

“Food of the Gods” by Arthur C. Clarke (1964)

Synthetic foods have freed humans from dependence on agriculture. Scientists have been able to reproduce traditional foods, or even invent new tasty ones. But if there are moral reasons not to eat certain foods (take foie gras, for example), is it moral to eat synthetic foie gras? Are there even more taboo foods? Should there be laws against taboo synthetic foods? (I do my best not to give away spoilers.)

Clarke’s case for synthetic foods may seem unconvincing at first glance, but the math is unlike Bensington and Redwood’s invention (and really, quite a bit of SF, where the correct reaction to any innovation is to shout), the synthesizers work precisely as expected. The only problem with this particular implementation is a simple marketing issue.

Delicious in the dungeon by Ryōko Kui (2014)

While exploring one of the labyrinthine dungeons that dot his world, Laios and his friends are attacked by a red dragon. They are saved by Laios’ sister, Falin. Even as she herself was consumed, Falin teleported her brother and his friends to safety. Falin can still be saved…if the party can find the dragon, kill it, and resurrect Falin before she’s completely digested. The sticking point is the food, of which the group has little. Or maybe they’re surrounded by an abundance of food, if they can bring themselves to think of the monsters in the dungeon as food.

No matter how dire the events of each volume of this ongoing manga are, the author always finds the time to detail how precisely the party prepares its final meal. To read this fantasy adventure manga is to have a perpetual peckishness.

no food by Sarah Tolmie (2015)

Total gastric bypass freed the wealthy from the demands of their digestive systems. They are fed by alternative means and no longer need to consume real food. Is this the end of high-end restaurants? Not if you believe the visionaries behind the exclusive restaurant known as NoFood.

This collection of satirical plays explores a world in which the rich get what they want even when it’s not a good idea. Isn’t this the world we should all be working towards?


I’m sure there are other works that mention alternative nutrition. If you know of any standout examples, please mention them in the comments… which are, as always, below.

In the words of fanfiction author Musty181four-time finalist Hugo, prolific and eternal literary critic Darwin Award Nominee James Davis Nicoll “looks like a default mii with glasses”. His work has been published in Interzone, Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, Reviews of James Nicoll (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis) and the Aurora Awards 2021 and 2022 finalist Young people read the old SFF (where he is assisted by web person Adrienne L. Travis). His boss can be found here.

#Food #glorious #food #Approaches #Balanced #Diet

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