Saturday, January 24, 2015

Space Navy Naming

Here is a problem I have with the current science fiction that we have: the names for these new things that are created tend not to be very good.  I'm not talking about any proper noun usage.  Those are very author specific on how good they are.  What I'm talking about are the generic nouns.  Any word like spaceship, space station, or space marine; these are not very well built.  Unfortunately, I don't have many good answers for good names, but that's the purpose of this writing.  I'm looking to see if anyone else has any ideas, good or bad, for how you'd name some of these things.  Good or bad, any ideas would be great to have.

Here's the characteristics I'd consider for a good name:
  1. No use of the word "space".  Ideally, I'd think the usage of "space" would be kept to a minimum, so as to keep it from being repetitive.  The prefix "astro-" should be treated similarly.
  2. The name should be fairly unique.  If I'm ever wanting to use it in normal conversation, I should be able to use it without specifying what type it is.  This leads from the first, as I can shorten the word "space marine" down to "marine" but it's not descriptive enough. I still need to first establish which type I'm using beforehand before using the short form.  Even more ideal, is the short form also being unique.  For example, both airplane and plane are unique enough that I can guess what you're saying without context.
  3. If possible, I should be able to know approximately what the thing is by its name, without knowing the word itself.  I could replace "space marine" with Gobblegork, but no one will know what I'm talking about unless they're familiar with the new name.  (If Gobblegork makes sense to you, please see a doctor)
  4. It should be pronounceable in English, by native English speakers.  Over on Atomic Rocket, (reading this was also some inspiration for this post) "Espatier" is suggested as a replacement for "space marine", but I personally never liked it. I'd have no idea how it's pronounced, and it seems too long for a proper military word.  (My guess without reading the pronounciation for it would be "es spa tee er" or "spay ter" if I'm going quickly.
  5. Not a proper noun. Probably not terribly relevant to this discussion, but it pops up a lot in fiction as a good solution, so I wanted to head it off, as it's often shortened to look like a generic name.  The Galactic Armada would be a good name for the space navy in a certain setting, but shortening it to the armada does not mean that armada would be a good name for a generic space navy.
I think that's all of them.  If you think of more, also leave that as a suggestion!  Though note as well that the idea I have here is that space is treated similarly to an ocean, rather than closer to an airforce model, so please keep that in mind.  (So, for example, ships will be expected to be in space for extended periods of time in general)

Here are some general words that I'd like to have words for, but don't. (Beyond the generic space-nouns)

Space Navy: I'd imagine this to be a military branch similar to the modern military branches of the US armed forces, but dealing with all the space ships and stuff necessary to be an independent force.  

Space Sailors: The people that crew the space ships for the space navy.  The crew is not a bad name for these people, but ideally something a bit more specific.  Ideally too, nothing relating to nautical terms like sailing.

Space Marines: I'd think that a space navy would have a sub-branch of fighting soldiers that are trained and suited to fight in personal combat, rather than employing vehicles.  The ideal use of force for capturing space stations or other key locations or fighting off intruders.  Also likely to have some form of special suit.

Space Station: I think this one mostly fits, given that we've used it for so long and the objects are fairly generic and plenty of other synonyms can exist for it (like outpost).  But it's there and a good word would be great.

Spaceship: The things that fly around in space.  It always annoys me that I have a large inclination to shorten this to just "ship", but that often isn't doable without providing context.

Space: The vast emptiness between planets.  I think most people are used to using this word, but if anyone has a good suggestion for what to replace this with, I'd be most appreciative.

Those are the main words I can think of.  And for those that read this, please respond and share.  I'd love to hear your ideas and get this spread out a bit more.  Even if it's something you think is stupid, it may turn out to be actually great, or perhaps spur someone else to think of something good.  Thank you!

PS: if you've got good proper names for leaders, ships, etc, feel free to share those as well!

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