“Then how the fuck even do they do take-out?”
Probably not the best first line to shout over the phone to your husband of nine years, but we didn’t get this far with him thinking I’m a gentle, kind soul with a proper tongue and a mind for manners.
For his part, he laughed.
It was the second call in this series, so I don’t blame him. And maybe I was sleep-deprived. And maybe I had just hiked 11 miles with a six-year-old at Yellowstone and was bee-lining back to California. My points still stood, however.
“If sixty seconds of a conversation can ruin a bowl of food and make somebody throw it away, take-out is inconceivable. Even with some special space blanket to keep the food warm, it’s ruined by the time you get it home and dish it out. This is bullshit. I’m over these books.”
Book six of The Expanse. Babylon’s Ashes, to be specific. Audio books through all six.
They’re nothing I would have picked up on my own. I would have been all, “Space, cool, if that’s your thing” and gone on with my life. But a friend sent me the first for Christmas and I’ve listened to all six in under six months, thanks to the glory of unused Audible credits.
I’m in love. I’m in love with the women, in love with the POC, in love with Amos, and I spend a lot of time thinking about force vectors and gravity. So much time that I’m like,”I miss physics.” I shouldn’t miss physics, but here we are, and my head is full of Space Science now.
There’s not a lot about the books I don’t like. The first one, Leviathan Wakes, I almost stopped listening to. The story was good, plot was solid, and I ain’t got the time to dedicate to two dudes running around saving the universe buddy-cop style for an entire series. No thank you, count me out. But after that? The writers blew me away. All the strongest characters, the most interesting people, are women and people of color. Bobby. Chrisjen Avasarala. Naomi. Prax.
Unf. So good. All of it. Except.
Except for the food.
The science of the space food is solid. The ingredients, the combinations, the shortcomings and successes. Where it comes from, the mechanics of feeding a solar system of people. Shit, some of it even sounds tasty and I, as a rule, hate food.
It’s not the food itself. I accept the food and processes as they are, and just accept that I could never be in space because seriously fuck mushrooms and tofu. It’s…well, it’s hard to explain.
See, in book 6, there’s a lot of talk about how imperfect recyclers are. Nothing can be recaptured 100%, there is always going to be some loss in the recycling process.
Also, it’s space. Everything is scarce. Food is scarce. Water is scarce. Conservation of resources is vital. So you’d think you would only want to eat when you had to, and finish every last bite, right?
God dammit, no, nope, throw it all out the window, burn the house down around you, walk face-first into the sea and forget to swim.
Repeatedly in book six, somebody orders food. To quote the bible, and it was good. Then they talk to somebody–accept a com connection, have a heart-to-heart with a crew, discuss a serious matter. Short conversation. To the point. Let’s call it conservation of breathing air.
Conversations ends. This somebody takes another bite of the food. Inevitably it has cooled, congealed, broke down, developed a film, and/or generally turned to shit over the course of a few words. And it is ruined, the somebody totes over it, and into the recycler it goes.
That imperfect recycler, where a chunk of the previously-amazing food stuff will be lost to process, forever.
It’s all bullshit and shows a blatant disregard for the longevity of spacelife.
Are you riled up yet? I am, by god. I am h*ckin riled.
But wait, there’s more!
Sometimes, they get take out. Sometimes, they buy food, carry it back to their rooms, and enjoy it. Even after being carried through the station. Even after loitering the length of a conversation in a take-out container, cooling, congealing, breaking down and developing a film.
The length of a quick conversation can ruin a bowl of food yet here these assholes are, laughing and talking and shoveling this spacefood in their faces like they wouldn’t have chucked it in a recycler during a more emotionally intense scene.
I can’t take it. It’s all lies and bullshit.
“Is this the hill you want to die on?” my husband asks. “We have people living on asteroids, flying through space, alien molecule threats and [redacted for spoilers]. All that is fine with you, great, and your issue is…with the take-out?”
“Shut up,” I tell him. It’s like we’ve never left that love-flooded honeymoon stage of our relationship. “Food waste should bug you and take-out is bullshit.”
“So how’s the book?”
“So fucking good.”
“Enjoy the drive.”