“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.
More more more…. Love this
Thanks! That was an unexpected treat! Hmmm, steak for dinner tonight sounds good…..
I was just thinking the same – I think steak’s on the menu tonight for me too.
Mackey, looks very promising. I enjoyed book 7 a lot, looking forward to the next one in whichever series is up next.
I chuckled at the last paragraph. Thanks!
Thank you. Keep up the good work.
Made me hungry.
Don;t want to jiggle your elbow… but hurry
For me this is hurrying – but you hang in there too.
Now, the end of “Secrets In The Stars” … that was a snippet!!!
Enjoyed book 7 and I was pleasantly surprised to see this snippit. Hope to see the book soon. I imagine it’s a few months out. Can’t wait but will refrain from hourly checks of amazon as that was just weird behavior I had for month of January waiting for book 7. Seriously I think your books are addictive.
Amen to the above, I am sure they are addictive. I also exhibited the abnormal behavior of checking your website at least once a day.
You’re not alone in doing that, checking once a day, even if I know that no news is likely to have appeared..
It just that I love this series.
(and some similar series like “Ell Donsaii” is one of them, and while I wait for April book 8 through 20, I’d really like some tips about more similar books !)
I agree definitely – Mackey’s books are addictive. If there was any way I could help him pour the words onto the page (or word processor) I’d do it!
Yup! More Books!
But in all honesty probably the way we can best ensure books happen as soon as possible is keep buying…. after all that is the ultimate positive feedback!
I’m going to invent a device to read Mac’s mind and put it on the page so we can get the books faster. Don’t worry Mac, I’ll test it on my dog first.
😀 Do we have a month/eta for A8? be awesome if you could release it on April 8th 🙂
Arf? – I don’t set deadlines. I’m retired and do this because I enjoy it. The money is nice but I don’t need a single cent to live on.
Please don’t insist on that date. I don’t want to wait until next year.
Didn’t mean to dictate/demand a release. Just thought it would be cool to have the eighth april released on April eighth. I may have come off pushy. Sorry about that.
Not at all. You obviously have never met my relaltives.
I think everyone has at least one of “THOSE” relatives
Let’s not bug the author for dates of release. He is kind enough to write books we like and stressing out a retired guy who does this for fun is a recipe for stress i would not want if i were as talented as he is! I am just happy he writes as well and as often as he does 🙂
I love his books and if his pace is not to your liking there are many books on kindle and other platforms that you can read while waiting. Go forth and try to find another author as good, they are not a dime a dozen but between books i discover an average of 1 or 2 authors that I would never have looked for if all of the authors I read published when i wanted. Use the time between releases to go and discover the next great author.
Patience is virtue and waiting build anticipation for the book for me. Stay positive. I say it’s bad form to ask an author for such information. It is like asking a woman her age or if she pregnant or just fat. Not trying to be rude, just trying to be realistic and give suggestions. Mr Mackey please edit this if it is offensive as I have aspergers and do not get the fine aspects of social interactions and I run my mouth of and say inappropriate things a lot.
No offense taken. Asperger’s is interesting. It manifests over such a broad spectrum. If I knew a few more people with it I’d love to write a first contact novel in which all the alien are basically Asperger in their thought processes as a norm. Spock was a shallow attempt at it but it could be done with much more depth. I don’t have enough personal experience to pull it off I’m afraid.
I just take the pleas for more books as a positive. I’m glad you folks like them and the next one will have a little more action as I’ve had requested. You can only feel folks stress you if you allow it. Like relatives with investment schemes you just politely decline. I’m also working on Family Law #4 – and I think it will take some new directions you’ll like.
I’m working on a stand alone that is going slowly because it requires more than the usual research. I’d also like to go back and clean up and re-format my fist release – “Paper or Plastic?” It was really, really rough…
I loved “Paper or Plastic”, it’s one of my regular re-reads. Do you have any plans for a follow up? I feel like it had a satisfying conclusion, but I liked the characters so much, I’d like to know more about their future.
I don’t have a story in my head for PoP. If I get a clear vision for it I’ll do it. Maybe if I re-edit it that will inspire me.
If Ames can culture beef he oought to be able to culture bone marrow as well and produce red blood cells.
I suspect that his cultured steaks would be a trifle anemic unless he adds a measure of red blood through his needles before he removes them.
Some people like their steak rare, almost leaking blood.
April’s was red in the middle and charred on the outside. Where did the red come from? Food coloring?
If he can culture blood then surgery becomes easier as there would be no trouble transfusing patients. There are all sorts of blood products used medically too.
Cultured meat has been referred to as carniculture or vat protein. What is Jelly calling his product?
I’m going with vat as common usage.
Will add – I didn’t describe it visually because I suspect it would be pale like veal.
When April said she borrowed the phrase ” It seemed obvious.” From her good friend Barak,-
I thought wow it would be a good idea to get the ” high performers” like Barak, to go deep to the place(s)
April, Jeff, and Heather will establish. So that new genius keeps cropping up, and doesn’t get suppressed by a hierarchy. And to keep the brain wealth safer from the slumball, and free to develope without the local psychic pollution.