‘A test of independence … I passed reasonably well’
Astrid Anderson Bear
By Jean Sherrard
Just 10, Astrid Anderson was a stranger in a strange land.
Flying on her own from San Francisco to Copenhagen, with a refueling in Iceland, she watched other passengers deboard the plane. The flight attendant assigned to escort her was nowhere to be found. So Astrid pulled down her small carry-on bag and headed for the exit.
In June 1965, Copenhagen’s international airport was one of Europe’s busiest and largest, so Astrid was relieved to pass through customs and immigration and meet, for the first time, the Danish relatives with whom she spent the summer.
Her father, science-fiction author Poul Anderson, would attend Loncon II, an international sci-fi convention in London in late August. So he and his wife Karen, after sending Astrid to Denmark, enjoyed their own vacation, starting with a slow boat to Greece.
Astrid’s experience was formative: “It was a transitional time, a test of independence, which I think I passed reasonably well.”
Denmark’s long history impressed her. “In Copenhagen, you walk streets that have been there for more than 500 years. In the States, you’re hard-pressed to find anything more than 100 years old.”
Now Astrid Bear (since marrying science-fiction writer Greg Bear in 1983), she paid regular visits, pre-pandemic, to Copenhagen and her extended Danish family.
She’s found the city largely unchanged. The 17th century Round Tower, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, still offers unobstructed harbor views.
“The only additions are the offshore wind turbines, part of a green network that fulfills nearly half of Denmark’s electrical needs.”
Here is a video interview of Astrid Anderson Bear.