Even so, I like redheads

Jessa Crispin says:

It turns out that my list of reasons I will give up on a book now includes “making the psychic girl a redhead.” Not that the book was that great to begin with, but the writing was okay and I thought maybe the author could pull it together eventually. But trot out one of the more tired cliches in fantasy writing, and you leave me no choice.

When did this become a cliche? Did Jean Grey manage it all on her lonesome, or am I being dense and forgetting the true antecedents?

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8 Responses to “Even so, I like redheads”

  1. Iain Clark Says:

    Lyta Alexander in B5? I’m not coming up with any others, although it may be related to the cliche of wild celtic temperament and red hair.

  2. Niall Says:

    I suspect that for the purposes of this discussion Willow would count (she does use telepathy in later seasons, after all). Good point about celtic heritage, though.

  3. Farah Says:

    Oddly, I’m currently reading a book my mother sent me called The Roots of Desire, which is precisely about redheads and history.

    Apparently, red hair and evil goes back several thousand years, and Lilith was typically depicted as a redhead. Red hair and mystical powers is there in the depiction of gods about five thousand years ago in various cultures, and by the sixteenth century it was linked with satanism. Then there’s a split: red hair on men is associated with Jewishness (the link to Judas), temper, and for some reason the fat of a red haired man is considered to be poison. For women it becomes intensly sexualised into harlotry, but the link to witchcraft remains to the present day.

  4. Farah Says:

    ps. Do you realise I am intensely intolerant to the ingredients of this blog?

  5. Graham Says:

    The cheese and giant wheat thin are only metaphorical ingredients. Unless you’re allergic to people quoting from The West Wing?

  6. Martin Says:

    I think she meant linux jokes and awful puns.

  7. Andrew Wheeler Says:

    What you’re forgetting is Darkover, where you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a redhead with Vast Mental Powers.

    I think McCaffrey has some notable redheads as well.

  8. Liz Says:

    From what I remember, most of McCaffrey’s telepaths had the weird Rogue-style hair where they inherited a white streak from their mother, which of course only added to their beauty. Although I think Rhyssa in Pegasus in Flight was Welsh and possibly a redhead.


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