My Rendezvous With Rama or What’s in a name?

I just finished reading Arthur C. Clarke’s hard sci fi classic, Rendezvous With Rama. I found it for a buck twenty at half price books.

That’s $1.20 American.

That’s cheap.


If you haven’t read it, it’s fascinating. You should check it out.

What stood out to me was Clarke’s use of names. He created a world with colonies all around the solar system, which of course means a bigger cultural melting pot. He had all sorts of nationality and ethnicity represented in his tale.

Which of course got me thinking about the names I use in my stories.

Some are amalgamations of people I know, others I just dream up. But if you really want to know the secret of finding unique names from all sorts of backgrounds…



There are 30 Major League teams.

Each has a 25 man roster.

That’s 750 names. That’s an overflow on my calculator for name combinations. Not to mention a whole bunch of nationalities to choose from.

My man crush, yes I have a man crush, is a really good one. Iranian father, Japanese mother. 6 foot 5 inches. 97mph fastball.

Yu Darvish.

Now of course Yu is a superstar. You can’t use Yu’s name if you want to be successful with your deception.

(See what I did with that sentence?)

But if I have a guy whose last name is Darvish, it probably works. Sure a few of your readers are baseball fans and may pick it up, but not as many as if your character’s name is Yu Darvish.

Here’s an example:

There is a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (yes that is their official name) whose name is Jared Weaver. On the division rival, and all around better team in my opinion, Texas Rangers there is a pitcher named Matt Harrison. Here we go:

Jared Harrison.

Matt Weaver.

Voila, new people and no one’s the wiser.

Or let’s get even better:

From the New York Yankees: Robinson Cano,

From the division rival Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones.

Throw the into the mixer:

Robinson Jones (a really cool name)

and Adam Cano (a useable, however not as cool as its counterpart name)

Now let’s do some different nationalities:

Chicago Cubs: Kyuji Fujikawa

Texas Rangers (and former Chicago Cub): Geovany Soto

Kyuji Soto

Geovany Fujikawa (also a cool name)


Obviously this is an exercise in experimentation. I don’t expect this trend to catch on or even get considered seriously. I don’t even do it very often. What it does bring to the table is a way to stretch your brain muscles. Nobody wants to read a story about Jim Johnson. But if you can think up a memorable name, that keeps bringing people back.

Indiana Jones, Danny Ocean, and James Bond all have that pizzazz.

Perhaps exposing yourself to tons of unknown baseball players will allow you to formulate that next awe inspiring, magical, lightening in a bottle name for your character.

2 thoughts on “My Rendezvous With Rama or What’s in a name?

  1. I personally find J.K. Rowling to be the modern Queen of character names. The names she gives to her characters immediately bring thoughts and memories to your mind that flavor your image of the character, yet she does so without giving away the plot. based on her example, I try to pay attention to the way names sound and how it feels to see them and read them when naming characters. My 2 cents.

    Keep up the good work!

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