Re-imagining the Swede

It’s fair to say that progress on rewriting the Perihelix is slow.

I was troubled by the reactions to the character of the Swede; or maybe not the character but the white anglo-saxon bit.  Eight hundred years in the future I didn’t expect to be writing today’s sensibilities, but since it seems to be a problem, it sort of stopped my flow.

Talking to a black author (black is the accepted term in the UK – I checked with her) about this and the problem of writing diversity, she gave me two comments which I treasure: she hates being compared with food (so coffee-coloured is out), and why not make the Swede black?  I laughed, because it would certainly be odd, in the way we Brits tend to do things the opposite to the obvious – as do the Aussies, where ‘Blue’ is a common nickname for a redhead. Which is why I called my blue teddy-bear ‘Blue’, because it’s a double use of the absurdity.

And not all people with black skins are African-Americans, as one US President unfortunately realised too late when talking to an African.  I don’t have Africans or Americans in 800 years time, although most people have African genes (and North American and Eurasian ones).

I understand that colour is a big issue, though.

Diversity is complicated, even more so with 800 years more genotype mixing and around 20 generations of evolution.  Everyone should be a ‘person of colour’ unless they are a throwback.

I finally hit on the answer over the holidays.  The Swede is still a blue-eyed blonde with pale skin.  So pale, that it’s obvious to most galactic citizens that he’s either from the planet Ourobouros, or from Scania (which is the centre of Scandinavian resettlement), or from the detested race of Imperium overlords.

Unless he’s from Scania, most other citizens will spit on him.  Sometimes literally.  Even in the rarified relatively safe space of the outer star systems off the galactic plane.

It’s a good thing he made friends with the safe, somewhat dwarfish, stocky and amiable Big Pete when he was at college.  Heavy gravity planets tend to develop heavy-set stunted growth.  Nobody calls Big Pete stunted.

Well, maybe the Swede does, when they’re joshing.

Back to work.

The Pete & the Swede as My Little Ponies picture was part of a fun thing a couple of years back

2 Replies to “Re-imagining the Swede”

  1. I like that answer. It does make sense that 800 years on, very few humans would be blond and blue-eyed. So that becomes a marker of something.

    1. I was very happy when it suddenly dawned on me. And then came all the thinking of – how would that affect his attitude to life, love, other people, etc. And sometimes I think I’ve already written him mostly as if that had always been the case – certainly in the second book, at any rate 😉

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