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"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson

Syrup Sac  
  A device used to provide an efficient source of nutrition to Meks, servants of the aristocrats of Earth.  

In this marvelous novel by Jack Vance, the Meks are brought to Earth to serve the needs of the last aristocrats - expatriots who had returned to the deserted Earth in the far future.

The Mek, standing as if a specimen in a museum case, was a manlike creature, native, in his original version, to a planet of Etamin. His tough rusty-bronze hide glistened metallically as if oiled or waxed; the spines thrusting back from scalp and neck shone like gold, and indeed were coated with a conductive copper-chrome film. His sense organs were gathered in clusters at the site of a man's ears; his visage ... was corrugated muscle, not dissimilar to the look of an uncovered human brain.

His maw, a vertical irregular cleft at the base of this "face" was an obsolete organ by inclusion of the syrup sac which had been introduced under the skin of the shoulders; the digestive organs, originally used to extract nurition from decayed swamp vegetation and coelenterates, had atrophied... his superb brain also functioned as a radio tranceiver.

From The Last Castle, by Jack Vance.
Published by Del Rey in 1967
Additional resources -

The syrup sac is an ingenious device, which supplied all of the nutritional needs of the Meks without the need to grow crops, catch food, and spend time eating. Despite these advantages, the gentlefolk of the last castle on Earth did not see fit to make use of syrup sacs themselves.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Last Castle
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Last Castle
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

Syrup Sac-related news articles:
  - DARPA Seeks Metabolic Dominance
  - The KEN Diet - Eat Nothing And Love It!

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