Book Bites with Elizabeth Bear and Ancestral Night

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite.

Welcome back to Book Bites!  Today, cooking the books veteran guest interviewer joins us for a very new and delicious bite! Everyone say hello to Elizabeth Bear and her new book Ancestral Night! Over to you, Bear!


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Ancestral Night takes place entirely in space—far-future space, galaxy-spanning space—so the food in the book is the food of people who have never set foot on a planet and have no intention of ever doing so. That said, it’s a pretty advanced spacefaring culture, and they’ve gotten pretty good at food. Some is printed from component molecules; some is farmed on habitations. It’s expensive to lift food out of a gravity well!

There’s a strong cultural component to what people eat, even when a human diaspora has carried them out among the stars. A running joke in this series is that most of the non-human sentient races cannot stand the smell of coffee. It’s considered a horrible human habit, distasteful in the extreme—which can be a considerable hardship for human coffee-lovers the universe over.

Some food is also significant by its absence, also. Most notably, there’s a sequence in the book where the heroine, Haimey, is playing cat-and-mouse through an abandoned vessel with a murderous enemy. Her available food is the algae in the tanks for producing oxygen.

She’s pretty happy to get it, too.


 

Recipe: Haimey’s Algae Space Shrimp Crackers.

  • 500 grams of edible algae (Porphyra will do on Earth.)
  • 50 grams of dried mollusks, such as dried shrimp (available at Asian groceries)
  • Enough water to make a paste
  • Salt to taste
  1. Process in a food processor or blender until about the consistency of pesto.
  2. Spread on greased parchment or silicon baking sheets about 1 millimeter thick.
  3. Bake at your oven’s lowest setting until dried and crackly.

 

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the Hugo, Sturgeon, Locus, and Campbell Award winning author of 30 novels and over a hundred short stories, and her hobbies of rock climbing, archery, kayaking, and horseback riding have led more than one person to accuse her of prepping for a portal fantasy adventure.
She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, writer Scott Lynch. You can find her on twitter and instagram, her newsletter, patreon, and at elizabethbear.com.

2 comments

  1. “A running joke in this series is that most of the non-human sentient races cannot stand the smell of coffee.”
    They’re probably brewing it wrong. Don’t mind the spice, the BEANS must flow!

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