A small snippet of HooDoo – rough and unedited.

It’s been a long time since I posted any of this book. I let it go for weeks at a time but I’ve taken it up again. You may remember the main character attended the reading of his father’s will. He was charged will making a pilgrimage to his father’s land and heritage as a condition of a larger inheritance. He has to deal with being taking out i n the wilderness without cell phone or a truck full of camping equipment. Tough for what is basically a city boy. It is at Chapter 6 and 17k words.

Uncle drove the skewers into the ground, to suspend the meat above the fire. When it was done the fire had burnt down to coals and he briefly laid the skewer he selected across the coals to sear it a little more. That left a little wood ash on it, but David tried it himself and it was delicious. Of course he had a pretty good appetite.

David had just a few swallows of water left, and he finished it off after the rabbit. He hadn’t seen Uncle drink in a long time, but the man hadn’t cautioned him to make his water last longer. Uncle did cut a twig from a nearby bush. After peeling back a bit of thin red bark he frayed the end into an improvised brush with his thumb nail and brushed his teeth. David did the same but found it wasn’t as easy to fray the end as it looked.

Uncle dumped the rest of the wood on the fire and the rabbit bones on top. David laid down well back from it. It wasn’t as hot as in the day, but there was no chill at all. Sleep came easier than it ever did at home.

The next day they walked fairly far before David asked if they had any water ahead of them. He was still making urine, but he didn’t want to get dehydrated.

“Tomorrow,” Uncle promised. “You wouldn’t want to drink the water near here. However, I’ll show you something to help.” He stopped and broke off pieces of a prickly pear. There were less of them here but still a patch now and then.

David would have wanted heavy gloves to handle the fruit or leaf, but Uncle handled them deftly with the hem of his robe, and rendered them safe quickly with his knife. The moist insides did satisfy him, and Uncle had some too. Despite watching how Uncle handled them he still ended up with a few needles in him.

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A very small snippet of April 8.

Raw and unedited as always.

“Perhaps you should look into how oil drilling platforms work things,” Jeff suggested. “That seems closer to the model of what we’re going to do.”

“The middle administration, yeah, but the legal situation is completely different. A platform attached to the sea bed is under law of the nearest country even if outside the legal limit. We’ll be a ship under way all the time. That has to have a different command structure,” Li insisted. “You might also consider how you want the vessel renamed. I assume you do not wish to retain a Chinese name. You’ll find some are still superstitious about that, but I doubt our Australians will worry about it.”

All this is exactly why we need your help,” Jeff admitted. “Carry on and let me know when we can drop a test flight. I’m really looking forward to it.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep sending you updates,” Li promised, disconnected, and immediately made a different call over a new concern.

“Chen? Li here. I just got through speaking with Singh. He wasn’t totally explicit, but he gave me the impression he wishes to drop on the first landing with new untested equipment. This is just totally irresponsible for him to risk himself. No way do I want to confront him on it, but if that’s what he really meant we have to find some way to dissuade him.”

“I’m not sure how to do that,” Chen admitted. “I work for him, as do you.” he reminded Li.

“He’s a minor investor on this venture isn’t he? Leak the possibility to the other investors and they’ll have a fit that their golden goose is going to play test pilot,” Li suggested.

“Maybe, if I can do it and not get caught, or act like I didn’t think it would be any big deal to reveal…Yeah that’s the way to do it. He’d believe it was an innocent act easier, because that’s how he thinks. He’ll put all the blame on the other investors for not being reasonable, by his measure.”

“I knew you’d figure out how to handle it,” Li said. “Thanks.”

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A short unedited snippet of April #8

April scanned down the list of shows and articles her bots retrieved from Earth sources. She hadn’t checked them in a couple days. Over time she’d edited the bots until they did a pretty good job of discarding things like documentaries that mentioned specific dates. Fiction was also a waste of her time usually, although a lot of anti-spacer propaganda was presented as fiction. Still, it didn’t often tell her anything new.

She almost didn’t examine one story, until she saw the key word count was just off scale. Looking at the title was usually sufficient to delete a good two thirds of the bot’s other catches. On rare occasion she read the first paragraph or watched the first couple minutes of a video on fast forward before deleting it.

This wasn’t fiction, it was a public channel on health issues. British supposedly, but sent to a lot of English speaking markets including India and North America. The ‘expert’ being interviewed was dressed in a white lab coat, and a very expensive tie, which would establish his credentials with most of his viewers. They refrained from overdoing his image with an obsolete stethoscope. For the deeper thinkers they went to the trouble of saying he was a molecular biologist, but said nothing about his career history except that he was a researcher associated with a Scottish hospital.

He was seated behind an improbably neat desk, which was another authority conferring image, and the man interviewing him was seated in a shell chair that pivoted. April found it distracting that he did move it back and forth. He had on a proper suit and tie, and had his legs crossed at the knee displaying a shiny hard leather lace up shoe only an Earthie would wear. They were both turned to the camera a little so they had to turn their heads toward each other.

April glanced at the text generated from voice recognition. It had quite a few more error marks than she was used to seeing. She went back to the video at the beginning and found out why the program struggled so, the man had a strong local accent. In fact it was so thick she went back to the text, even with the odd error it was necessary to ignore. She scrolled past the first few minutes of pleasantries until they started saying something of substance as far as her interest.

“So, Dr. Carson, you were called as an expert witness for the crown because you understand the underlying basis of these so called life extension therapies?” the interviewer asked.

“Yes, I’m not a therapist, John. I deal with the numbers on a much more abstract level. I can look at a lab report and tell you much more about a fellow than staring at him all day sitting in his skivvies on an examination table. Appearances deceive and doctors sometimes fall into false conclusions just like lay people. Last century we had a hard time knocking the silly idea from doctor’s heads that a ‘glowing’ tan was a sign of health. It’s really a warning marker for skin cancer and when you see one it’s time to ask where they got it, to see if they’ve been exposed to tropical disease and all sorts of nasty things associated with impoverished third worlders like TB and parasites.”

“Mine was picked up golfing in Spain,” John said, “looking at the back of his hand a little embarrassed like he’d never seen it before.

“And I assume you have the good sense to keep up the prophylactics that suppress Melanoma,” Dr. Carson said. “The thing is, if I were looking for markers for that, or any number of problems it wouldn’t be apparent to me if you’d had life extension therapy or not. A person so modified doesn’t suddenly display an amazing spectrum of vibrant health. They are still subject to infection, injury and if they lose a finger or a hand to amputation they still have to have the same treatments to stimulate growth.”

“But they do look younger don’t they?” the newsman asked.

“Yes, which is all that matters to some vain people,” Carson said disapprovingly. “I have no idea if the treatments do damage to your mental health when applied to older persons. They may escape the sort of catastrophic side effects that the Germans saddled some of their young folks with trying to create prodigies. Many of those youngsters are now in mental hospitals as adults.”

“Yes, the ‘Wiz Kids’. John agreed. “That was pretty well documented at the time.”

“I’m not a psychologist,” Dr. Carson disclaimed, “but it must be hard to assess if an adult has an alteration in his personality from LET, since they have to be well outside the norm and a risk taker of questionable judgment, to seek this therapy as an adult.”

“Kiss my butt, Doctor,” April muttered at the screen.

“Indeed, that was the whole question of the case at law in which I consulted. If it was within the reasonable freedom of choice for our subjects to seek such therapy. Not that we’d offer it here,” he said a bit indignantly. “But people travel to Italy and the Balkans, Laos and Japan. They have different standards for medical procedures, or China even, where I’m not sure they believe in any standards except that they’ll take your money. Should we admit such people back into our county, and resume responsibility for their health in our care system, in their now altered state?”

“Well, we know the court decided no,” the newsman said. “I wonder though, doesn’t the fact they look younger reflect that they are healthier in some way?”

“Bah! It’s a scam,” Dr. Carson said. “Those terrible gene modified pets they made, the PermaPups, and the others, the kittens that never matured. Does anybody think they were healthier for looking young? They looked young right up until a couple days before they died, then…” he made a graphic flopping motion with his hand.

“The truth is we have no evidence that these so called life extensions actually extends life,” Carson insisted. “It’s all theory and supposition and you are betting your health now against a possible longer life. Nobody is going to know if there is any increased life span until we see these people reach their eighties, nineties and see how many survive, and what the tradeoffs will be. Will they have more or less dementia? Will they still look pretty good and just suddenly die one day? We don’t know. The biggest thing that people falsely think is that it’s rejuvenation. Even the advocates of it don’t say that, but if people have this false expectation we don’t see it corrected either. I think the court came to entirely the correct decision to protect the public and our limited care capacity.”

The rest of it was pretty much repetition. She cut the critical block out of the video to share with a few close friends. It was good to see how the Earth governments were suppressing the treatments. It amazed April that it worked. Nobody ever mentioned that when all the data on how her generation benefited or not from LET was gathered, one thing was certain. None of the people who didn’t try it would be alive.

The other very amusing thing was that April had seen lots people with and without Life Extension Therapy, and witnessed them making the transition. She could tell from a glance at someone’s face if they’d had the full range of genetic modifications or not. The newsman John was heavily gene mod and a flaming hypocrite.

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A very short snippet from April #8

Raw and unedited as always – I’m not spoiling major scenes…

“You have to buy it right now if you want it,” Myat told Huian

“Myat, you have dealt with all sorts of people. Not just your clients, but I assume all sorts of business people. Do you go to market or do your servants all take care of that?” Huian asked.

“No, no, I can remember when I was little going with my mother and a servant to the market. She had a servant to carry the things to the car, but she dealt with the merchants herself. Not out in the zei picking things off of ground cloths like a peasant. The sort of custom she supported received her in a cool private room and the senior merchant offered refreshment and would have his man fetch little samples of what she wanted. Especially spices. She might ask a hundred kilo bag of rice and expect the quality to remain the same as previous purchases, but spices she wanted to see a sample from the lot she was buying. She always dressed to the hilt. One of her best outfits and enough gold to stagger a horse. When she finally took me along, after much begging, she insisted I dress well and borrowed jewelry for me, even if I was only nine years old. She said the merchants treated you better the more money you appeared to have. It’s one of my earliest memories of her trying to teach me something important. I…I’m babbling. What is the point of this?” Myat asked. 

“You know how to shop and how to bargain. What do you think when somebody says you have to buy it right now, and puts the hurry-up on you?” Huian asked.

Myat laughed. “My mother would say run! Hold your purse tight and run for your life!”

“Indeed. I’ll forward this information to Jeffry Singh. I’m sure he will present it to the group he’s organized to buy a ship. But the man is young, not stupid. And most of his partners are older and even more conservative. I can already hear what he’ll say: ‘If the market has crashed so bad they have a three year old vessel for sale at near scrap prices, maybe next month they’ll have one newer on the block.’ And that might be right,” Huian decided.

“I can see why the urgency is alarming. But my broker friend usually deals in vessels that need to be scrapped as older and obsolete. There may be some other modern vessels like this come on the market if shipping doesn’t recover soon. Just not necessarily through him. This ship is decent enough that someone may buy it to reflag and put into service, instead of cut it up for scrap. As always, the official predictions say this is a seasonal lull and the economy is sound. There are always a few who are easy to convince because they believe what they want to happen. Some optimist may grab it. You can commit as much of the funds I’ve sent you as is needful, if there’s a shortfall,” Myat offered.

“You’ve mostly convinced me,” Huian said. “I will present this neutrally. I’m a bit afraid of my own enthusiasm. We’ll see what the others without emotional attachments say.”

“That’s fair,” Myat decided. “I’m attaching a file with all the ship specs and photos and a history of it’s very short life. Let me know what sort of feedback you get. “Of course,” Huian agreed. “I have it. Two Terabyte and a little. Good Bye dear.” 

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A short snippet from April #8 – rough

Kurt had to go past the clinic to a lower rent area to find a salon. Getting his hair buzzed off helmet short took  a couple minutes and was cheaper than styling. He used five of the new bits to pay and tipped the fellow an extra bit. He seemed happy with that since he’d turned down the other offered services.

The clinic wasn’t busy at all. The nurse practitioner seemed to be the receptionist too, and said she’d start doing his tests so the doctor could see him when done with his current patient. The tests seemed to be mostly remote scanning with one finger prick.

Doctor Lee came in after a couple minutes and sat reading the screen from the testing for a good ten minutes before proceeding. He asked Kurt if he’s just had a large meal, and suggested he might have some gene modes if he was going to eat like that as a habit. Otherwise he’d probably be seeing him to restore pancreatic function.

 Kurt was young and flexible, but the doc still had him test his grip and strength at extension. He did reflex and hearing tests and a vision test, checking for color perception too. The medical he’d had before when hired for Mitsubishi hadn’t been anywhere near as thorough. Kurt said as much to him. 


He had Kurt strip and dimmed the lights, examining him with a hand held scanner that illuminated a few square centimeters at a time. He was very thorough, requiring him to lift his arms to scan his arm pits and his private areas, even scanning between his toes.

“Were you looking for skin cancer doc?” Kurt wondered.

“Yes, you’ve been on Earth and in fairly tropic latitudes. You’ve had sunlight exposure now and as a child. Some of the pollution there also accelerates the process to develop skin cancer. I can detect in scan several years before it may show up to the unaided eye or a blood test. Also I’m checking for other common Earth diseases, parasites, fungal infections and unhealed injuries. You have your hair nice and short, but we once did a physical on a fellow three days out from Earth who had a tick hidden in his thick hair. He had no idea, and they are filthy things. Are you aware you had an infection of Charleston fever recently?” Doctor Lee asked.

“I have no idea what that is,” Kurt admitted.

“It’s a bacterium, similar to Lyme disease, other Borrelia, Bourbon disease, Colorado fever, Heartland virus, Spotted fever, Malaria, Yellow fever, Zika, Dengue, or West Nile in its mode of transmission. It isn’t definitively linked to ticks or mosquitoes, yet. But I personally expect it will be. The filthy things are a huge vector for both viral and bacteriological diseases.” Lee frowned. “Or protozoan parasites. That’s what Malaria is. Damned filthy bugs spread everything. Probably stuff we don’t suspect yet.

“Charleston has a very low morbidity. That’s why it took such a long time to be recognized. When people die from stuff it gets our attention faster. You probably thought you had a cold. You have a high level of the antibodies but not an active infection so you’ll be fine. You have antibodies for a lot more serious stuff. You’ve had three kinds of flu, chickenpox, and seven typed rhino viruses,” Lee revealed. “I don’t see indications you’ve ever had Mumps, TB or Diphtheria, and we’ve seen evidence of just about everything but Smallpox come through here.”

“You make me wonder how I ever survived Earth,” Kurt said.

“A lot of people don’t,” Lee agreed. “I may visit again if relations improve in the future, but you can be assured I will be very cautious where I go and what activities I enjoy.”

“Why does Mr. Singh pay for such a detailed physical?” Kurt wondered.

“You have it backward,” Lee informed him. “Mitsubishi detailed exactly what they wanted to pay for in my instructions. Jeff Singh just said use your professional discretion and do whatever you think is best and necessary.”

“You know, if he respects a beam dog’s experience with their job like he does doctors I may like working for the man,” Kurt decided.

“Well, I’m done, and you pass. There is no medical reason why you can’t work for him,” Lee said. “You are typically healthy for an active young man of your age.” That isn’t to say you wouldn’t benefit from a number of small changes in diet and habits. I can see you don’t have an unhealthy taste for alcohol, or narcotics. You are also likely shorting yourself an hour or so of sleep a night. If you want a copy of your physical and a risk assessment, ask my assistant and she’ll transfer it to your pad, send it to your com account or print it out for a bit. It will have some of those recommendations attached. Of course you would benefit from life extension therapies, but they would preclude you visiting many places on Earth again.”

“I’m starting to wonder if I care about that,” Kurt admitted, standing to leave. “Thanks Doc.”

“You’re welcome. Try to keep your helmet on straight,” Lee joked. “It makes a hell of a mess for us to fix when you guys try to breath vacuum.”

“Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind,” Kurt promised.

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A rough snippet from April #8

“Hello Diana,” April said happy at the unexpected call. She liked Di. “I haven’t talked to you in a long time. How are things in paradise?”

“Expensive,” Di said in her usual blunt fashion. “The population has bled off a bit. People who could afford it have returned to the mainland and other countries, but the price of food has gotten crazy. Just about everybody who can has a garden, and vegetable poaching is a hot topic on the news. They are concerned with over fishing too, and trying to control it.”

“I’d have thought you would be safe from poachers way out on a dead end road on a ridge,” April said.

“We are, from that direction. Fuel is scarce too, so nobody wants to climb a long winding road on foot to cause trouble. But we have had way too much activity downhill on the other side, in the nature preserve. People collecting plants and I suspect hunting. I’ve been able to curtail some of it just by flying a drone over them. I think they assume it’s the rangers if they see a drone and avoid the area.”

“So you have a garden too?” April wondered.

You have a garden neighbor,” Di told her. “And your caretaker comes over and helps with mine, for shares of course, since I have more flat area. We also put some things over the property line in the preserve that won’t go wild and become invasive exotics. For example I have a ton of garlic thriving just on other side of my stone wall. Nick even takes some to town and sells it for me. Even Adzusa plays at tending the garden when she’s in residence, but she’s mostly off working.”

“I know, I hear from her even less than you. She will drop me a text now and then, but seldom a live call. She visits some real nasty places I’d never want to go. Low bandwidth is the least of your problems those sort of places,” April said, and made a face.

“Yep, she’s entertained me with a few stories,” Di admitted. “And I’ve taught her a few tricks from my experience visiting third world holes, like brushing your teeth with beer. Nick likes it when she’s home because he feels better to go into town. Even if he carries his phone to monitor the alarms it takes him a long time to get back up the hill, and you better not count on the Sheriffs this far out.”

“I’m probably not paying Nick enough now,” April worried. “I have him go to the neighbor on the other side, the old Japanese couple, the Gotos, and he does yard work and stuff for them too.

“Not so much anymore. They informed us about six months back that they had some relative die back home in Japan and they would be gone for some time to attend to family obligations and settle legal matters. They hired a live in caretaker of their own. He seems like a nice young man and he has a garden on their property too. We trade things a little. I never could get ginger to grow for me. The damn stuff is delicate. You just look at it cross-eyed and it gets some exotic mold and dies.”

“I’m surprised they had money to hire help. I had Nick taking them food now and then because they wouldn’t take a gift chit for the store after the first time.”

“April, you can get people to take care of a place for free now, just to have a place to stay. Some who went back to the mainland have done that so their place doesn’t sit empty, or worse, get squatters. Your man Nick is out of school now and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to find a different full time job. If he found something in town he’d probably be apartment sharing with five or six other young people, and in a nasty neighborhood. He’s better off where he is, and it’s safer out here. Crime has gone up with bad economic times.”

“Are you doing OK?” April finally thought to ask.

“Oh Honey, I saw this coming a long time ago. I’ve been ready for it since about the time you were born. I’d rather not be too specific on open com, but I’m set pretty well. It’s hard to time these things, but it’s like watching a dead tree across the fence in the preserve. You can’t predict which day it’s going to fall over, but it’s dead certain that’s what is going to happen.”

“OK, but if you need help don’t be afraid to tell me,” April offered.

“There’s one small thing,” Diana admitted. “I might be gone for a few weeks. I’d like to be…more like you. You know? Can’t do that in the islands here. So I’d like to shut things down and lock the storm shutters closed. I’d link my security system to yours and have Nick monitor it, do a walk through twice a day and feed Ele-‘ele. Is that OK?”

“That’s fine, but if I get the drift is it safe to be more like me? Not just the legal problem but the…illness side of it?” April asked.

“I have friends who assure me they are almost certain it doesn’t pose a future hazard, and it isn’t going to be a legal problem much longer. At least not in the islands,” Di said mysteriously. “The only other thing is…if Nick does have some problem he can’t handle I have a security company on contract to respond. They can have four armed operatives here in five minutes, but I’d like Nick to be able to tell them to land on the aircar pad on his roof if it isn’t smart to land in my yard. That would involve you with something that might otherwise be just my problem.”

“I trust your judgment. I’m already involved with you. Do what you need to do, and I’ll share expenses if they do have to respond. Aircars burn a lot of fuel, that has to be an expensive service.”

“Yeah, I can’t get groceries delivered anymore because of the fuel cost,” Di said. “We’re too far out. I have a little electric runabout besides the Jeep. I go to the bottom of the hill and meet the guy making city deliveries now. We transfer it and I bring it back up the mountain. If the power goes down I have enough panels to recharge it too. Of course it doesn’t take any charge to get to the bottom of the hill, so it has a full charge to climb back. I bring Nick back up if he can time it right too. He goes into town a couple times a week and tries to let me bring him back. He puts his bicycle on the roof rack and it can lift both of us and my grocery boxes, but not super fast. It’s a heck of a climb to do on a pedal bike.”

“Is it hard to feed Ele-‘ele?” April worried. He was Diana’s Newfoundland, and huge. It must take a lot to feed him, April guessed.

“As I said, I saw this coming. I’ve got a three car garage with one and a half cars,” Di joked. “Starting a couple years ago I filled the other space with a pallet of rice and stuff, and damn near a ton of kibble. I’m a real islander, so I like Spam and can make a can, or other supplies, last a long time bulking it out from the garden. Out past five years I might have problems, but I think things will change a lot in five years.” Di added a delayed wink to that supposition. April really wanted to talk to her face to face with some privacy.

“What does Nick do if he’s not in school now?” April asked. “I don’t pay him that much cash money, and he seemed the ambitious sort to me when I met him. Does he have part time work too?”

Di raised an alarmed eyebrow and pursed her lips. Apparently that wasn’t an easy thing to answer.
“What you pay him is hard currency. It goes further. He meets people, friends, at a couple coffee houses,” Diana said carefully. “He’s active, and they talk a lot. Besides that he’s writing an epic Hawaiian novel. He read Michener’s “Hawaii” in school and it left him unsatisfied. He’s determined to do it with better historical accuracy, and take up where Michener left off mid-century, including what’s happening right now. In fact he figures it will be maybe five volumes and the last one will be things that happened during his life, though he claims it won’t be a history book. So he doesn’t see finishing it until he’s much older. He says the history is already set, and he just has to be honest about it. The rest that is happening he vows he’ll have the depth to write about when the time comes. It’s a remarkably honest self appraisal for a young person.”

“Is it bad for him to be associated with me?” April worried, a new thought to her.

That visibly amused Di. “I’m not sure which of you is the worse influence. You two are a lot alike despite the obvious differences.”

“OK. It sounds like things are stable for you right now. When things are going good I’ve learned not to mess with them. I have no idea when I’ll get to come enjoy my home again, but things change. I’ll just be patient and we’ll have a good visit when I can,” April promised.

“That or I may visit you if you wait too long,” Di warned. “I’ve had a hankering to see what things are like up there for a long time. Things will settle out and I’ll get a chance eventually.”

“You’re welcome to be my guest if the lift capacity ever catches up,” April offered.

“Thanks,” Di said, reaching for her disconnect key. “You’re a good kid.”

Coming from Diana April didn’t take offense at that.


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Snippet of April 8 – rough

This doesn’t give away anything you didn’t already know was happening. : 😀 

“Huhhh…” Hussein made a face to match the rough exclamation, and held the glass back up to the light. It wasn’t quite the obscene yellow it had been before. It was trending more to a buttery hue than the Slivovitz color it had in the first sample he’d tried.

“How old is it again?” he inquired of Detweiler.

“Almost a year. I didn’t mean to suggest it is mature,” he was quick to say. “Singh just gave me three hundred milliliters this time and said he had some friends who wanted to try it. Consider it more of a progress report. I personally am curious how far it will progress, and how fast of course.”

“One hopes they remain his friends,” Hussein said, “and didn’t have any unrealistic expectations.”

“It’s far from anything either of us would serve, even as cheap mix,” Detweiler admitted.

His club, The Fox and Hare, had been serving vodka based drinks from the same lunar source. They’d had a couple month advantage because their owners had a business relationship with the sovereign of central. Hussein was selling the same product from the Quiet retreat now as production increased.

“I’m thinking…just totally guessing, that it may be drinkable as mix at four years,” Hussein said.

“That sound reasonable,” Detweiler agreed. “Though the carryout trade will probably use it as a straight drink then.” They were both already selling bottles of vodka at nearly by the glass prices as take away, but to dinner guests only, not walk-ins.

“Out somewhere from eight to twelve years it may be a decent whiskey,” Hussein decided, “It’s just too early to tell.”

“One good thing is, if it does develop well, young Singh has started another batch,” Detweiler revealed. “He will keep doing that as the storage space is much cheaper on the moon, and the volume of agricultural feed stock is increasing steadily. So if it works out, we do have a decent volume of supply in process. He split this last batch in two however. Half is aging on the same schedule as this first lot, and the other half he’s keeping at seventy degrees to see if it ages more quickly.”

“Now that’s an interesting idea,” Hussein admitted. “If he were doing it in the traditional wooden barrels instead of a sealed system the evaporative losses would just kill you.”

“Undoubtedly, many traditionalists will decry the perversion of a perfected system,” Detweiler predicted. “But we’ll have to do some blind taste tests and see how it stacks up to Earth whiskey. I believe Singh already has some volunteers, but he’s aware we’ll give him a professional report. The amateurs are unlikely to say much negative since they don’t seem to be paying customers.”

“Oh they’ll pay,” Hussein said laughing. “Singh will extract all sorts of business deals and alliances over their thirst. I don’t believe he’s anywhere near the callow youth he projects when he stands up to give idealistic speeches in the Assembly.”

“The odd thing is I think he was rather disconnected, like some brilliant people seem prone to be,” Detweiler revealed, “but the Lewis girl is huge influence. She’s an owner in our club you know, and I see them come in together. She has moderated that side of him quite a bit.”

“I notice you didn’t say a bad influence. She isn’t just enchanted with all his money?”

“No, no. He needed a good grounding in social things, and he treats her as a full partner. I don’t think she’s a plaything anymore than the other one, the queen.” Detweiler said.

“Oh, the Sovereign of Central,” Hussein said. “Don’t call her Queen of the Moon to one of her subjects or you’ll get a big lecture on how she isn’t.”

“I’ll call her anything she wants as long as she sells good vodka,” Detweiler told him.


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A snippet of April #8 in progress…Updated to be easier to read. Can’t get my Word formatting to work here.

“How can you possibly grow this to have the right texture and flavor?” April asked. She took another generous bite of tenderloin. It was red in the middle and charred on the outside, but hot all the way through. The little cup of steak sauce with it was built on a butter base with mustard, thyme, garlic, salt and a dash of Cajun seasoning, but no tomato. It was an heirloom recipe from Dr. Ames’ grandmother. No surprise anyone nicknamed Jelly would come from a family of cooks and appreciative eaters. The fact April was ignoring the sauce didn’t bother him at all. He took it as a good sign the beef stood alone just fine with only a little salt and pepper. 

“I’ll tell you if you’ll agree to strict nondisclosure,” Ames offered. “I intend to keep the process secret as long as possible. Heather is agreeable to allowing me to keep the production in physical isolation with very few people knowing the entire process. She offered to start issuing patents, but I figure the Earthies wouldn’t respect that even if she does. If you’re going to invest in it I understand why you’d need more details.” 

April chewed and swallowed. She looked at the hunk of meat in wonder, and perhaps resented a little bit needing to stop eating and speak with Jelly.

“Of course,” April agreed, readily. “I’d do that much for friendship, not just business. I think you’re right, the Chinese especially, will have factories set up cranking this stuff out in a couple months if you let it be public knowledge. And you’ll never see a plastic Yuan coin for it. I just don’t understand how you can grow this without…the cow.”

“Tissue culture is nothing new. Even growing it to a certain shape is not unheard of. We can grow some complex organs easier than bulk muscle tissue. I can grow chicken chunks, nuggets, pretty easily. People will buy those. But with beef it’s hard to market it in small pieces. They don’t sell very well, even for kabobs. The shape and texture are not what people expect,” Ames lamented.

April took the opportunity to slice off another bite while he was talking.

“There are difficulties both in getting a large mass without vascularization to oxygenate it and to provide nutrients…”

“Where do you get the nutrients?” April asked around a full mouth.

“The first experiments used Bovine blood fractions, the same as a cow. Obviously that’s not cost effective,” Ames said, “even on Earth. But you can create bacteria to produce the proper nutrients by altering them genetically. So far we haven’t been able to get everything we need from less than five separate cultures.

“You process them, add electrolytes, add a few extracts we obtain from food plants, and introduce it as a nutrient bath. The culture is started on a platinum plate and grows from it along a grid of very thin tubes with microscopic orifices which release the nutrients. It’s also done at higher than normal pressure, and with additives in the mix which have no function but to increase its oxygen carrying capacity.”

“But doesn’t it have a bunch of holes through it then?” April asked, making a repeated gesture with her straight fingers. “I don’t see a grid of holes in my steak.”

“The tubes are very thin, Think of a ultra fine hypodermic needle. One of the ways they tenderize natural beef is to stab it repeatedly with fine needles,” he said, copying her gesture. “You won’t see holes from that process either. But when the culture is mature you slide it off the grid of needles and it appears a solid mass. Then you sterilize the apparatus and start a new one. It takes about two weeks to grow a quarter kilo filet. Electro-stimulation hastens that and is a factor in giving it the proper grain.”

“Just like Gunny had ‘trodes on each one, making his fingers grow faster inside the clamshell when they grew him a new hand?” April guessed.

“Very much so, but I’d avoid bringing that up when marketing the product,” Ames suggested.

“I know people are squeamish. Don’t worry. Even if I invest, I know better than to interfere with things for which I have no talent, like selling,” April promised.

Ames nodded appreciatively. For all of his professionalism he was squeamish, but he’d rather not admit it to April. Ames let her eat. The steak was selling itself better than anything he could say.

April was chewing, but thoughtfully, looking off in the air trying to visualize something.

“Why do you have to keep starting and stopping?” she finally asked. “A batch process is always less efficient than a continuous production. Just grow the meat and trim it off. As long as you keep monitoring and your nutrient bath stays clean and doesn’t spoil it could run a long time.”

“The tissue will degrade once it grows past the ends of the needles,” Ames explained. “It needs the oxygen and nutrients continuously. Just like tissue in a cow needs constant circulation.”

“Oh…” April appraised the height of the filet on her plate. “Have the needles six or seven centimeters long. When the steak has grown out near the ends have the needles retract five centimeters and slice it off. Then push them back out to full length.”

Ames looked distressed. “You’d have to anchor the remainder of the culture to the base…or hold it in place with a sort of fork temporarily, while the needles come back out. I can think of several ways to do that, actually. What made you think of that?” he asked, a little irritated.

April borrowed a phrase from her good friend Barak. “I’m not sure. It seemed obvious.” The look of consternation on Ames face didn’t make her enjoy the steak any less at all.

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New book up. “They Said it would be Easy”

It will take a few hours to show on Amazon everywhere. OK, live now at : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BCLPVSQ


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The short stories…

I went in and cleaned up both collections of short stories because I couldn’t sleep but I was too brain dead to actually write. They had a lot of formatting errors and problems from when I first started and had no idea about using styles in Word. They were horrible as far as converting to Kindle. They had tabs instead of setting indents and I didn’t know how to put blank lines in properly.
It probably wasn’t economical to do since they hardly sell, but it was bugging me. I need to do the same thing to “Paper or Plastic?” – but that will take more than one episode of insomnia.

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