These are described in Leviathan Wakes as "focus drugs". They apparently give the user the ability to accurately assess the mental state of those that they're observing through their micro-expressions.
Lopez reached into his pocket, took out a small packet of white
lozenges, and popped one into his mouth. He didn’t offer one to
Holden. Lopez’s pupils ...
I tentatively answer that the story you are looking for is March Hare Mission by Ford McCormack which appeared in the January 1951 issue of Worlds Beyond magazine and subsequently in an anthology called Towards Infinity or Toward Infinity edited by Damon Knight. The fact that it appears with two very slightly different titles probably reflects British vs ...
In real world biology, serum is the clear yellowish fluid left over from blood when you separate out the blood cells, normally by spinning in a centrifuge. It can still contain antibodies among other things, but no red cells.
In recent decades the word has also been misappropriated by elements of the cosmetics industry for use in describing some of their ...
The pill in question is called a lozenge, which is a very non-descriptive name. It's almost a synonym to "candy".
Lozenge is focus drug, and, as you can guess, it improves your ability to focus.
Lozenges is inserted orally and the user must suck on it for its
effect to persist. One pill only lasts a few minutes.
The user is granted greater ...
Could it be the Hugo- and Nebula-award winning 1978 novel entitled Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre?
The novel follows a healer on her quest to replace her "dreamsnake", a small snake whose venom is capable of inducing torpor and hallucinations in humans, akin to those produced by drugs such as LSD or heroin.
It was based on an earlier novellete, "Of Mist,...
In addition to the other two answers, serum could also be a blind idiot or false friend translation. In German, serum has mutated in common use from the scientific definition via antiserum to become medication in a more general sense.
Compare the use of truth serum in English.
In the absence of canonical evidence, we can only speculate.
Out-of-universe, however, the ban on Romulan Ale was very probably inspired by the real-life ban on Cuban cigars so it seems likely that the penalties are similar. So long as you're buying for personal use, it would appear that typically means a modest fine or, in the context of Star Trek, a non-...
Stoned Counsel by H. H. Hollis.
Not for the first time, the lawyer muttered to himself, "There must be an easier way to earn a living." With a grimace, he felt the grief case in his inside jacket pocket, then in an excess of caution pulled it out and flipped it open to be sure it was packed with a full range of hallucinogens. Two weeks before, he had come ...
It does sound a bit like Now wait for last year by P.K. Dick- main character is an organ transplant donor that after taking a drug (apparently originally developed as a chemical weapon) is able to travel back in time and see alternate historylines
Could this be Timemaster as per Looking for a sci-fi movie about people who have to play a game to obtain a life-prolonging drug?
Timemaster opens in a desolate looking Yellowstone Park in the year 2007. The world has been destroyed by some sort of disaster, and the few remaining survivors are living in a “Mad Max” type of world, where they camp out in ...
Apart from being part of the blood, "Serum" might also mean medicine that is made from blood.
E.g. Merriam-Webster names as a possible meaning:
medical : serum from an animal's blood that can be added to a person's
blood to prevent or cure disease
From there it's speculation, but it is easy to imagine how this would come to be used as a synonym for ...
"The Coming of Vertumnus", by Ian Watson
Featured one of Gardner Dozois' Year's Best anthologies
Correct, the tenth annual edition.
Was I the Jill Donaldson who had written Aesthetic Concupiscence?
Set in near future
Although a year isn't mentioned, the exorbitant prices of London real estate and the technology level are consistent ...