Finnish scientists are working on an innovative protein source. (In case you don’t want to click the link: they make protein flour from scientists Co.2other common elements, electricity [which could come from solar]and bacteria) This process, if successful and scalable, promises some degree of protection against agricultural degradation due to climate change—
I hope this or something like it can eventually replace much of modern agriculture, because to my math, I think our primary need right now is Food, so it’s no surprise that science fiction writers have basic plot lines. about new diets. Want to guess how many examples followed this?
Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth by H. G. Wells (1904)
The visionary chemist, Mr. Bensington, in concert with the equally visionary Professor Redwood, presents a long-suffering world with heracleophorbia IV, a chemical additive that greatly enhances animal growth. The couple had very specific applications in mind for their creation – English children will be like gods, towering above their elders! – but thanks to clumsy containment procedures, the benefits of Heracleophorbia IV spread up and down their entire food chain. Welcome to the brave new world of behemoth chickens and foot-long hornets.
Unwanted vermin issues aside, Wells has an oddly pessimistic view of the gap between great vision and real practice. A society of young giants sounds like forty-foot-tall humans, but in a society designed for six-foot-tall humans, it will be accommodating, challenging to say the least.
Space Traders (1953) by Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth
While Pohl and Kornbluth’s satire focuses primarily on a world where euphoric ad-driven capitalism has freed itself from any prudence or logic, food production stands out in an unforgettable sequence. While hiding, runaway star-class copywriter Mitch Courtenay finds himself dealing with Chicken Little, “a grey-brown, rubbery hemisphere (of chicken meat) about fifteen yards in diameter.” Chicken Little is a vital protein source for “people from Baffinland to Little America.” Huzzah for progress!
Chicken Little, Dr. The heart in question was inspired by Alexis Carrol’s famous chicken heart experiment, which he had kept in a bottle of his own design for over two decades. Or at least he said he did. No one has been able to replicate his experiment. Sad news for all of us who want a slice of a VW Beetle-sized piece of chicken tumor.
“Food of the Gods” by Arthur C. Clarke (1964)
Synthetic food has freed people from dependence on agriculture. Scientists have even been able to copy traditional foods to invent tasty new ones. But if there are moral reasons not to eat certain foods (take foie gras as an example), is it ethical to eat synthetic foie gras? Are there foods that are even more taboo? Should there be laws against synthetic taboo foods? (I’m doing my best not to give spoilers.)
Clarke’s claim on synthetic food may not sound convincing at first glance, but unlike the math, Bensington and Redwood’s invention (and indeed, unlike many SFs where the correct reaction to any innovation is to scream), synthesizers work exactly as intended: The only glitch in this particular app is a simple marketing issue.
Delicious in the Dungeon by Ryoko Kui (2014)
While exploring one of the labyrinthine dungeons that adorns his world, Laios and his friends are attacked by a red dragon. They are rescued by Falin, Laios’ sister. Even as she was consumed, Falin teleported her brother and friends to safety. Falin can still be saved… if the group can track down the dragon, kill it, and resurrect it before Falin is completely digested. The point of contention is the food that the group has very little of. Or maybe if they can accept the dungeon’s monsters as food, they’re surrounded by plenty of food.
No matter how disastrous the events in each volume of this ongoing manga are, the author always finds time to detail how he cooked the party’s latest meals. Reading this fantasy adventure manga means getting hungry all the time.
No food by Sarah Tolmie (2015)
Total Gastric Bypass freed the rich from the demands of their digestive systems. They are fed in alternative ways and no longer need to consume real food. Is this the end of luxury restaurants? Not if you believe the visionaries behind the specialty restaurant known as NoFood.
This collection of satirical pieces explores a world where the rich get what they want, even if it’s not a good idea. Isn’t that the world we all have to work on?
I’m sure there are other studies that talk about alternative nutrition. If you know of any notable examples, please mention them in the comments… they are below as always.
In the words of fanfiction writer Musty181four-time Hugo finalist, prolific book critic and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll “looks like a default mii with glasses.” Her work has been published on their own websites, as well as Interzone, Publishers Weekly, and Romantic Times. James Nicoll’s Comments (here sponsored by editor Karen Lofstrom and web persona Adrienne L. Travis) and 2021 and 2022 Aurora Award finalist Teens Reading Old SFF (here sponsored by webperson Adrienne L. Travis). Patreon can be found here.