Friday, April 27, 2012

Food of The Future: Shmeat

Shmeat (short for sheet of lab-grown meat) is a lab-created meat product; essentially, animal tissue which has been cloned for the purpose of consumption without killing live, fully formed animals. This technology has been around since the late 20th century, but did not see wide public use until the late 2020s. After years of testing and refinement, a wide range of different meat products became available to a hungry populace. It is now an ever expanding market, especially in drought-affected regions, starships and the colonies.
Such in-vitro meat has a number of advantages. Being just a lump of cultivated cells, it is produced without harm or cruelty to animals. It is unusually pure and healthy whilst retaining the original flavour, texture and appearance of traditional meat. Perhaps most importantly, it requires far less water and energy to produce, greatly lessening the impact on the environment.
Shmeat products can be found throughout settled space. The most well-known meat types are "beef" "chicken" and "pork" but vaguely unrecognizable but familiar types are also very common. Most pre-packaged foods that include meat of some kind in-fact use shmeat. Some of the most widespread shmeat products are:
Burrito: A favorite amongst UCNP, miners and college students, burritos are widely sold and consumed. Each burrito is a spicy alternative to a tube of food paste found in the survival pack detailed on page 10 under Adventuring Gear.
Chili: A spicy favorite, sold in a self-heating canister, this soupy mixture included "beef" shmeat and beans in a red-brown sauce. Though supplying the benefits of a full meal, this canned chili is salty, and consumers will need to drink alongside this meal.
Meat Pie: A small pastry filled with shmeat (any type, or a mix), and a brown gravy. This greasy treat is loved by laborers beat cops, sec police and assorted night workers.
Not-Dog Hot-Dog: Any kind of shmeat can be made into sausages of all kinds, but none are as popular as the hot dog. Shmeat hot dogs are normally of the caseless kind, but natural casings are sometimes used.
Soylent Meat Spread: Made from in-vitro meat derived from unspecified proteins mixed with Manna algae. This nutritious, salty treat (spread on soy crackers) was originally developed on the formerly lost Betelgeuse mining expedition, but has since become quite popular.
SPORK: A ham and pok shmeat product that comes in a can. This sweet and salty product is greatly loved by those who lead an active life, and who need a jolt of fat and sugar. One can can serve as a days rations, but is usually used as part of a meal (such as fried alongside eggs or in a sandwich).

Note: This, along with Manna, is very real, and will be seen in stores in the near future. Shmeat is slowly being brought up to viability as a widely distributed food product, and may already have some "tester" products showing up in discount food stores and fast food restaurants. 
I am not necessarily against shmeat, but I am very wary. As with all new products, the earlier versions of shmeat are almost guaranteed to be fraught with their own pitfalls. I also lack any real trust for the corporations involved to not take disgusting shortcuts along the way. Thing pink slime is gross? Just wait! The future is bright with salty-tasting grossness...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sexy Space-Suits At Last!

Lets face it, many of us who grew up on a diet of sceince fiction have often envisioned assorted space babes (or space hunks) dressed in close fitting space suits. However, in the real world, sexy is the last thing that is thought of when looking to protect astronauts from the many forms of horrible death that space travel entails.

Still, it looks like truth may be once again catching up with (science) fiction, as new types of space getup's are being developed. Perhaps the sweaty teenaged dreams of Colonel Wilma Deering in her skin-tight outfits may not be far off from the truth. Rawr!

Researchers at MIT are working on a prototype for a skintight bodysuit that will help astronauts mitigate bone loss while outside earth’s orbit. Made of elastic mesh, the suit applies pressure on the bones, much like what gravity does to landlubbers down here. But although the Gravity-loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS) is helping keeping astronauts’ bodies healthy, it’s also giving them a glammed-down Ziggy Stardust vibe—completely apropos considering that manned missions to Mars are on the horizon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food of The Future: Manna

"Nothing wrong with dog's milk. Full of goodness, full of vitamins, full of marrowbone jelly. Lasts longer than any other type of milk, dog's milk." -Holly, Red Dwarf

Food is an important part of life, and can help bridge the gap between the real world and the imagined. Storytelling of most kinds can benefit from food, allowing us to better envision an imagined world via our association with food. In science fiction, we can easily ignore the fact that people need to eat. What food may or may-not be available in the future is a subject of debate. But it is likely that as living space dwindles here on Earth, and the hunger of the worlds populations grows, that we will need to pursue a wider range of foodstuffs.
In my X-Plorers setting, "Terry Go Home!", there are ccertain food staples found throughout the setting. Player characters will encounter these foods, and will be well acquainted with them. Below is one of them.

Manna is a catchall term for several species of blue-green algae such as chlorella and spirulina (as well as modified strains) that are highly useful as a renewable food source. Manna is high in protein and other essential nutrients, and has become a staple amongst colonists, spacers and the poor. As manna reguires only water, warmth and light to grow, it is very easy to maintain a steady supply.
Most spaceships (class 2 and up) come equipped with "Manna Farms" which grow a small amount of this foodstuff, processing it into several forms determined by the farms design. Manna is itself mostly tasteless (remeniscent of green tea) but holds introduced flavors with "chocolate," vanilla, peanut butter, and "fruit" flavors being the most common. The most notable forms of Manna are:
Manna Bar: Protein bars with a chewy consistency, typically chocolate, peanut butter, fruit or assorted mixes of all of the above. This is a common ration when exploring a planet and amongst the poor of Terra.
Manna Shake: This is a "milkshake" like substance (similar to ensure) that combines all of the nutritional value of a full meal, as well as quenching thirst. Commonly flavored in chocolate or vanilla.
Food Paste: This is the same substance found in the survival pack detailed on page 10 under Adventuring Gear. It is normally flavored.
Spacers Gruel: The simplest form of Manna, this food product is a soupy substance with a consistency optimistically compared to cream of wheat. As well as supplying the benefits of a full meal, spacers gruel also aids in the absorption of water (somewhat like Gatorade) and delivers stimulants needed to start the day. Spacers gruel is not normally flavored, it is just food.
Other Variants: Manna is sometimes made into a wide range of other substances, though these are used primarily on established colonies or on the larger ships. These variants include a protein spread (similar to Vegemite), ice cream, puff snacks and breakfast cereals.

New Equipment

Manna Farm, Basic ( 100cr): This is a small unit designed to maintain and cultivate a small amount of Manna for an unlimited period of time as long as it is supplied with power and filtered water. Each farm can produce enough food paste for two grown men, or enough spacers gruel for one every day. This is normally unflavored. All spaceships have this version of a Manna Farm on board.
Manna Farm, Advanced (200cr): This is a more complex version of the Manna Farm, capable of producing Manna bars, shakes, paste and gruel. Furthermore, the food produced may be flavored as desired.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music To Game By

Now that we are past the recent Holiday Season I will be able to get back into the cosmic swing and post some articles in the coming days and weeks.

Music To Game By
I like a little mood music running in the background while running a game, especially if there is a chance of distracting background noise. So here are a few videos/music samples that I feel enhance the feel that I like for Science Fiction games:

Ambient space music - Super Fata
Excellent for setting the feel of space travel, deep space or exploration of (seemingly) lifeless alien worlds.

No Quarter By Led Zeppelin
Mellow, moody and haunting, this song evokes all of the feelings I like in science fiction. Particularly useful when exploring funky alien worlds or traversing weird space anomalies. Yeah...

Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Endings
Birdy Nam Nam is a trip to watch and listen to! This song has all of the elements for a great chase of combat scene as well as revelations of greater threats for players. The video is pretty tasty too.

Through The Ergosphere - Simon Wilkinson
Excellent for background music for science fiction of all kinds.

X-Plorers at The Library!
I will be running a monthly X-Plorers game over at my Local Library for their Unplug and Play event. So if you are in the area, and looking for a game of X-Plorers, drop me an e-mail. This group will have a limited number of players (5 tops).