What’s in a name? Everything!

*** Do not read the following if ‘The Xifarian Conspiracy’ is on your ‘To Read’ list, the post below contains major plot spoilers.

Writing in the science fiction genre has its benefits, the best among them is the fun of naming one too many out of this world places. Often I am asked how I come up with the ideas for these outlandish places and how I name them, and whether or not I have any reason for naming them the way I do. These questions have been numerous lately, hence the urge to do this piece.

Almost all of the names I used in my stories have a reason to have been named that way. I don’t think it would have mattered to the reader if I named Maia’s village Arapha instead of Appian. But it would have mattered to me because there is a specific reason I chose that name.

Appian was inspired by the ‘Appian Way,’ one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the republic. First, Via Appia was a supply route for strategic military outposts, and thus invaluable. Also, it formed a direct route for trade between Rome and the port city of Brindisi, facilitating trade with Greece and other countries to the east.

Just like its historical namesake, Appian, being Maia’s village, serves as the first connection between the two antagonistic factions in my story-the Xifarians and the R’armimon. Since Maia is the one link that ties the two edges of my saga, it made sense to me that the place where she grows up and the place that witnesses every significant event in her life, has a meaningful name. Also, I try to weave threads in my story that highlight the association between the civilization on Tansi and the human civilization on Earth and Appian serves that purpose perfectly well.

So, there’s sound logic behind naming Appian. But, conversely, there are certain names that have no rhyme or reason for being named that way. They just sounded great and alien enough. Case in point, Arpasgula, the gateway into Xif. But, such cases are not in the majority.

Coming up next, why Maia?

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in on my books, on writing

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