Food and Drink in Science Fiction

Shepard: Why are you so interested in fish from the Presidium?
Kargesh: It’s so decadent! Eating fish from the Presidium would be like screwing Sha’ira.
Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Guinan: Gentlemen, something new from Forcas Three.
LaForge: What?
Data: I believe this beverage has provoked an emotional response. [...]
Guinan: It looks like he hates it.
Data: Yes. That is it. I hate this. […] It is revolting!
Guinan: More?
Data: Please.
Star Trek Generations (1994)

What is the secret of Soylent Green? […] Soylent Green is made out of people.
Soylent Green (1973)

In her contribution to Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film (2004), Laurel Forster remarks that "food appears as an important element in a surprising number of […] science fiction films" and helps "illuminat[e] social, national, and even global structures, agencies, and order." Thus, the interrelationships between food and science fiction offer "a valuable means of understanding the link between the individual and controlling powers around her/him." While many science fiction texts employ food and drink in uncritical ways and/or as "simple" (if such exists) props supporting the narrative action, the genre also often foregrounds food and drink (and the attendant activities of eating and drinking) as means for generating affect and/or producing meaning. For example, in David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986), half-mutated Seth vomits digestive juices onto his morning donut to prepare it for consumption, noting, "Oh, that is disgusting," thereby mirroring the viewer's response to the on-screen action. Similarly, when first the aliens and then "undercover" Frank consume the green, vomit-like goo in Peter Jackson's Bad Taste (1987), this moment might evoke laughter or, more likely, induce anastaltic reflexes. Likewise, disgust and revulsion were likely the first reactions Star Trek: Discovery (2017–) viewers had to Terran Empress Georgiou dining on the ganglia of a Kelpian—a sentient species kept as slaves and livestock. What do these corporeal responses to food images mean? What meanings do food and drink, more generally, communicate in science fiction texts?

This volume will discuss food and drink in science fiction across media—movies, television shows, literature, video games, comics, etc. Of course, as forms of sustenance, food and drink are among the essential elements of life. But this is also precisely why representations of food and drink are always ripe with meaning. As this book will show, science fiction uses food and drink to explore pertinent issues ranging from the homogenization of food in a globalized economy to the exploitation of our natural resources and the attendant phenomena of water, air, and soil pollution, deforestation, and the scarcification of food.