World-Building Notes

Naming Aliens, Uplifted Species, Etc.

One of my problems with space opera, at least traditional-esque space opera, has been the tendency to name aliens, uplifted species, etc. in ways that are either unpronounceable or in ways that are just plain weird.

Naming Aliens, Uplifted Species, Etc.

One of my problems with space opera, at least traditional-esque space opera, has been the tendency to name aliens, uplifted species, etc. in ways that are either unpronounceable or in ways that are just plain weird.

One author I appreciate when it comes to naming aliens, uplifted species, etc. is Alastair Reynolds. Instead of offering unpronounceable names for aliens, he uses names given to the aliens by humans. After all, we're going to call them a particular name, as our languages aren't going to match up with the alien languages. Moreover, his names seem to be based off the first impressions humans have of their alien counterparts, which is a fun way of dealing with aliens. Instead of calling them the Xheelanun, he calls them "Grubs" or "Wolves" or "Rattlers" or "Crawlies." These names seem more realistic to me, and, more importantly, far less ridiculous than some made up name that is too damned hard to say.

When it comes to uplifted species, Reynolds does it best. We have "Hyperpigs" instead of some weird name that is far too hard to pronounce let alone take seriously. Moreover, the name, "Hyperpig," makes scientific sense as well. It is cold, calculated, and detached, something that often happens when naming a species or even an alien race.

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