Confusion with Names

Names are more than a convenient reference to a person. Names have content, meaning. I just read a Facebook thread about a made-up character name that evoked an unbelievable potpourri of reactions and wondered what the name of an alien who came to Earth would do when it resonated with some cultural reference to (some of) us. Think  L U Cipher.

I’ve had fun with character names. Ignatius Xavier Ryan was based on the names of Jesuits I knew and their family members. It turns out IX, his first initials, are the the Greek initials of Iesus Xristos, an entirely unintended consequence.

I have detectives in my one sci fi detective short whose names were fun to create. Ken Bell and Jacqueline Russell were partners. Ken has encyclopedic knowledge (ken = know) and has good ideas (the bell representing the sound of a good idea arriving). Jackie Russell is hyperactive to the extreme, full of energy and ready to react to almost anything. Sophia Weiss (wisdom knowledge) is a truly wise detective partnered with Virgil Goodenough.

In a haunted house story, Amanda Hughes (lovable spirit) is a smart real estate agent pining for her true love Ezekiel Robbins (god strengthens / fame bright). I wanted his name for the positive and negative implications, not its meaning, but he turned out to be unexpectedly strong for a geek and very bright.

An android named Jay Myriad in my story about an android with memory loss was a tribute to Eric Frank Russell, one of my favorite authors in my early days. He had a character named Jay Score, who turned out to be a robot with the designator J.20. Jay Myriad, in addition to being a member of a large class of androids, was actually J1000.

In a story about the outcome of climate change, my main character was named Brunna, from Brunhilde, the name of a Valkyrie. Brunna was the one who chose who survived from an apocalyptic battle.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a name that sounds right and also has the right meaning. A character name I find myself going back to is Jack. It’s popular, strong, terse and a slang word for man in the middle ages. Also the names of my father and my youngest grandson, both of whom are “as independent as a hog on ice.” I never knew exactly what that phrase of my father’s meant, but it surely conjures up an image of a new but determined ice skater.

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