ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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This poem is from the January 2015 Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] ellenmillion and [personal profile] alexseanchai.  It has been sponsored by [personal profile] chordatesrock. This poem belongs to the Astin thread of the series An Army of One.


"Dreams of Brown and Green"


In space, the trade winds are made of
gravity and plasma, not atmosphere.

Astin flies true, testing to find the fastest routes,
the safest lanes, and the best ports of exchange.

It is no small task to build a circuit.

Astin dreams of the sea, the smell of salt and life
and things rotting in the sun, dreams of brown and green
leaves scooped up and cooked to perfection.

In space, it's hard to grow food. There are the farmstations
that grow edible plants, mostly as raw ingredients like
soybeans for tofu. There are the vat factories that make
yeast, algae, seaweed, and various types of cultured flesh.

Most people eat packaged food -- readymeals
that vaguely resemble the recipes made planetside,
or simpler snacks such as algae chips and
seaweed crackers and protein bars.

It's not easy to get food in the Lacuna now.

Astin follows the dreams like a wet-sailor
guided by tides and trade winds.

In one particularly decrepit junkyard, the trader finds
a yeast-beast, smelling like sweaty bread, that only
needs a few spare parts of standard sizes, easy to find.

The rectangular case is as large as a jumbo freezer,
inside which are various containers and equipment
for growing and processing the yeast into ingredients.

Astin tucks the yeast-beast into the hold and heads
back toward the Lacuna, seeking out the Minotaur.

"It's a good model, just needs a little love. With
Supply Base Bounty 3D3N trying to start a garden,
I figure Sargasso Base could set up a vat factory,"
Astin explains. "I'll trade you this for a room
of my own; I want an anchor on both bases."

"Done!" says the Minotaur (without attempting to bargain)
and he grins enormously. "Yeasteez and Starmite all around!"

The Minotaur procures a repairman called Afshar,
who swiftly disappears inside the yeast-beast
with much banging and clanking of tools.

"I don't suppose you could you get us an algae-whiz
too?" Afshar asks. "Maybe a seavegger? As much
as I love yogurt, I'm starting to get tired of it.

"How did you even get yogurt here?" Astin replies.

"Dried it on my shirt," Afshar says with a grin.

"That's insane," Astin says.

"Worked," Afshar says. "Zymurgy
did the same thing for her hooch."

He has a point, and in the Lacuna,
weird isn't crazy if it works.

"So what do you think?" Afshar presses. "I want
to keep my algae crackers and seaweed chips."

"What will you trade for the equipment?"
Astin asks, already calculating possible sources
for an algae-whiz or a seavegger.

"My yogurt culture," Afshar says,
and the Minotaur does a double-take,
which tells Astin the worth of the offer.

"Done," says the trader, and they shake on it.

Astin already dreams of algae the color of jade,
brown and green seaweed, the yeast-smell of
the ocean waves, and kissing the sand in gratitude.

* * *

Notes:

Trade winds on Earth are consistent flows of tropical air relied upon by merchant vessels. In space, solar winds, galactic tides, and other forces may serve similar purposes depending on the style of starship. These also influence the shape of the galactic arms so important in this series.

Tofu is a bean curd product often used as a meat substitute. It's usually made from whole soybeans soaked and blended. It can be made from soy flour, as it is in the Lacuna, although some people find that this yields a grainy or mealy texture. Flour is much more concise to ship than whole beans. Variations such as Burmese tofu use a different base than soybeans. Enjoy some tofu recipes.

A yeast-beast is a machine that can grow pretty much any kind of yeast you put into it. Commercial yeast production requires special storage tanks. Yeast may be captured from fruit or other sources, including the air, and a cotton swab or cloth can carry the yeast temporarily.

Nutritional yeast is different from active dry yeast or brewer's yeast, although they are all related. Marmite is a condiment made from brewer's yeast. Nutritional yeast can be turned into various recipes. Yeasteez are a thin crunchy snack similar to these vegan parmesan flakes. Starmite is similar to homemade Marmite, although each locale's version turns out a bit different. With some brewing skill, you can raise your own nutritional yeast, or make it from active dry yeast.

Algae is billed as a superfood that may support a more sustainable future. Two popular types are spirulina and chlorella. Here are some spirulina and chlorella recipes. Technically these are microalgae.

Macroalgae have many edible species. Seaweed is a popular food source in some cultures. Some folks are exploring how to grow it at home. (If you try this, use sea salt rather than table salt for a more accurate environment.) Have some tasty seaweed recipes.

Yogurt really can be transported on cloth. It's an immigrant trick. In some Middle Eastern societies, each family has their own yogurt culture, and these things are unique in flavor and texture so they're often jealously guarded. Yogurt is usually made from fresh milk, but it can be made from powdered milk as they do in the Lacuna.

Zymurgy is brewing science.

Spirulina crackers, spirulina chips, seaweed crackers, and seaweed chips are just a few of the snack foods that can be made from these base ingredients.

Space food has a long history. The most recent development is the quest for 3D printing, already in use for such things as chocolate and pasta. In this setting, a lot of food that spacers eat is produced as needed from base ingredients, although more complex recipes can be made up by anyone who has a kitchen. Comfort food in space is quirky. People will latch onto stuff that everyone else hates. So a lot of things these characters are very fond of might not appeal to other folks. I still love freeze-dried ice cream. Like a perfect meringue, it should be light, arid, and melt in your mouth; if it's not perfectly dry then it will be sticky and gross.

Dreaming of the ocean symbolizes emotions, empowerment, and coming to terms with yourself. A trader needs both intuition and logic to succeed, whether following the trade winds of Earth or space. Astin is growing into a comfortable role in the Lacuna, which also helps with gender identity.

Promising!

Date: 2015-01-20 03:26 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I'm looking forward to the rest of this series!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-20 03:52 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Starmite is wonderful!

I expect that the only edible, land-dwelling livestock to make it to space will be chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs. (There will also be fish and cats, and probably rats and mice escaped from lab stock.)

Astin thread

Date: 2015-01-21 06:44 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" There's now an Astin THREAD. You have no idea just how much cheer that gives me.

Thank you! :-D

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