Home for Hogswatch! Home with family (wonderful), a glazing of snow (wonderful from inside), and a throat full of phlegm tinted with myeloperoxidase heme (wonderfully painful but immunologically fascinating).
As for that work-in-progress: this is the fourth draft of the third incarnation of an idea that’s been kicking around in my head ever since I asked a fellow student to start a company with me to make in vitro meat (company slogan: It’s Mostly Cow). The story was originally set in a Seattle wallowing in recession; by the second incarnation, it had moved to a twenty-second century Calcutta surging ahead of a world devastated by prion-contaminated meat. The main character’s changed from a socially isolated scientist to a, um, socially isolated scientist…with a cat. Speaking of which:
The cat wanted none of the freshly-decanted burger, even though Rubaiyat waited alone in the damp quiet of her employer’s kitchen courtyard. High brick walls muted the sound of Calcutta waking up around her: the distant ululating call to dawn prayer; the coughing start of compost digesters; the cracked recording, in Bengali and English and Hindi, cautioning all good desis to avoid animal-grown meats and report any tingling toes, forgetfulness, or sudden death.
“Tch, tch, come here, little billī,” Rubaiyat said in a sing-song voice. She ignored the call to prayer. If God was as rapacious as her dead brother’s debtors–something she had suspected since the deaths of her parents, and dear little Bagheera–then a few words and some washed feet wouldn’t placate Him. Slowly, she held out the scrap of raw burger. “Just harvested last night. I saved some for you…bet you’re tired of alley rats.”