An apocalyptic love letter to Uppsala
A young, blonde woman is bent over her sketchbook outside a cafe with a view of Fyris river. Though I haven’t even seen a picture of her, I’ve got no difficulties recognizing Ergo’s short story competition winner Veronica Simon, at least not after a sneak peek on her sketches, drawn in the same style as those adorning her short story. ”The Tourist’s Guide to Uppsala” stands out among other contributions not only by being illustrated, but also by a composition more similar to a guidebook than a classic short story.
– I got the email sitting on the train and at first I actually thought you sent it to the wrong person, says Veronica with a laugh, admitting that she never expected to win.
– I didn’t even expect my short story to qualify for the competition. Is it even a short story?
Veronica, who usually goes by Rudi, basically regards herself as a graphic designer rather than a writer, but says that there’s a story in every picture. Thus, she let her graphics guide her through the writing.
– First, I tried to write a traditional short story, but it didn’t work. My take on post-apocalyptic Uppsala turned out to be a visitor’s guide.
Probably anyone who has read Douglas Adams’ ”The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy” can see its influence on Veronica’s short story. She also mentions Terry Pratchett as a source of inspiration.
– I like that sardonic sort of humour.
The satirical tone in ”The Tourist’s Guide to Uppsala” is not supposed to be understood as a critique against the city or Swedish society though.
– It’s my love letter to Uppsala, says Veronica, who is currently doing a master’s degree in sustainable development at Uppsala University.
Her ending up here is not a coincidence. Veronica sees Sweden as a leading country in sustainable development. She mentions our recycling system and the fact that the government recognizes climate change and the importance of making society more sustainable.
– I thought, what would Uppsala look like after a cataclysm? Not that bad, you can still be a tourist! I’m sick of apocalyptic stories where the survivors end up fighting and killing. I couldn’t picture post-apocalyptic Uppsala without a community of people helping each other, says Veronica.
In her short story she makes several hints to local phenomena, such as the flooding of the Central Station in 2018 and the famous Flogsta scream, which Flogsta-resident Veronica appreciates a lot herself.
– Everybody should scream! It’s a great way to get bad energy out, especially when thousands of students are screaming with you. Then you feel that we’re all together in our misery and pain.
Very much like in her short story.