Me: Pirates. Vampires. Thieves. Smugglers. Whatever.
Rick: I remember you telling me about vampires.
Me: Same thing.
Rick: How does that work? Vampires can’t be pirates. Pirates are uncouth, vampires are… well they are couth.
Me: That’s a stereotype. You don’t think I’m writing about stereotypes, do you?
Rick: I’m guessing the answer is no?
Me: When have I ever written a stereotype except to rip it apart?
Rick: Good point. So no sparkly vampires then?
Me: No sparkly vampires. Also no blood, no teeth and ‘vampire’ is a misnomer.
Yes, I am aware I have a bit of thing for giving characters inaccurate and or ridiculous labels. I get the side-eye from people about it now and then, but in this case it’s not just me being weird. I just think it makes sense. If in the future we encounter aliens, or we genetically modify people, or the human race evolves in some abruptly noticeable way I bet the first thing we’ll do is give the newcomers some goofy name so we can make the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ distinction perfectly clear.
We always have a name for the other. Like the way the Viet Cong became ‘Charlie’ during the Vietnam War. It’s a distancing mechanism. There’s a dumbass, inaccurate or totally meaningless name for practically any minority group you can think of. That’s just the way the human race rolls.
And while the future I’m writing about in Wizards is enlightened and delightful in many ways, I think that othering tendency is going to be kind of hard to shake.* So in my future ‘vampire’ is a generally accepted but derogatory term for a group of modified humans we created but that nobody wants around, and while ‘wizard’ isn’t actually a swearword it sounds like one in most people’s mouths.
* Or as one of my characters puts it: I’m not saying I don’t think we’re making any progress. But sometimes it seems like the human race is just going to go on into the future finding new and even more interesting people to not get along with.**
** I’m just going to sit over here snickering about the fact that I’m quoting myself and you guys can be over there rolling your eyes.