The Names of Things

No-one puts westernised names in fantasy stories or sci-fi ones set in other universes or planets. Well, alright, almost no-one. I read somewhere that this started as a device to provide the reader with a visual separation between our world and the SF/F one. I’m one of ’em for that very reason, that and its a whole lotta fun making up names.

My question really is this though. Where do the names come from?

I have a file on my computer called, oddly enough, ‘Names’, and every time I make a typo, usually a transposition of letters or hitting the ‘W’ instead of the ‘E’ for instance and it looks or sounds interesting I stick it in that file and forget about it. There are some doosies in there I tell you, that will never see the light of day, but I keep ‘em just the same. Maybe I will find a use for them. Perhaps not just as people names, places and things need names too.

And sometimes I just pull them out of thin air.

Think about it. How on earth did Douglas Adams ever create the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster?

Well, perhaps not out of thin air.

If we believe in the concept that there’s nothing new under the sun, which I occasionally have doubts about because it’s based on a purely homo- (sapiens not sexual) -centric Point Of View (A bit like the old ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no-one hears, did it ever happen?’ Well of course it did. The other trees heard, all manner of forest critters of fur and scales and feathers certainly heard) … however, If we board that train of thought for a moment then those names had to come from somewhere … else.

This is why being a Science Fiction and Fantasy writer is so exciting … ‘elsewhere’ is just beyond the edge of my fingertips.


“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it” – Thoughts from Ancient Wisdom.

4 comments on “The Names of Things

  1. I’m thinking that Adams was looking at himself in the bathroom mirror as he was making faces at himself gargling and a vision of something huge appeared behind him.


  2. clarbojahn says:

    Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is one amazing story. There are so many others who’s names come from the imagination. I’d like to read that book on the best seller list about a child whose whole world is his Mothers cell. Also did you read about the boys in prison of war camp that were given puppies to raise and their imaginations were so stunted they were named Ladle and Dish?


    • Widdershins says:

      I discovered ‘Hitch Hikers’ and all the subsequent books at an impressionable age… never been the same since.. I haven’t heard of the others.


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