Thursday, 26 June 2008

From The Archives

It's now two on a Thursday morning, leaving me with four more days to finish the novel I sort of wrote back in November and wanted to actually end properly. Unfortunately writer's block has hit pretty hard (and if anyone has a cool name for a hideously be-weaponed battle cruiser, I'm open to ideas), so I'm basically just up drinking. Thus, in order to justify the damage to my liver, I choose to indulge in one of the activities I'd always assumed the internet was built for: relating stories about my insane friend Mad Richard.

Mad Richard is, at the very least, a statistical anomaly. In fact, he is a statistical anomaly on two fronts. Firstly, the very weirdest of weird shit constantly happens to him; Richard is liable to say "I had to hitch-hike home on a tractor" in much the same way you or I might say "I had to go inside because it started raining."

Secondly, none of the crazy events that seem to follow him around like probability-defying flies has ever managed to kill him. They totalled his bike once, and it's a miracle his liver survived celebrating R's nineteenth birthday (he told me once he'd only been drinking so hard because he'd misheard his biology teacher in school and thought he had two livers; the revelation that he had only the one was something he likened to discovering that Santa Claus was entirely fictitious).

In honour of Mad Richard, then, I present the conversation that occurred between us on the day R introduced us.

Mad R: Hey!

R: Hey Richard. This is my mate Squid.

SS: Wotcha.

R: How are things.

Mad R: Pretty awesome actually. I got a job!

This is clearly news of some surprise.

R: Really?

Mad R: Really. Of course, I had to lie a bit on the entrance form.

This is apparently news of considerably less surprise.

R: Christ, Richard, what did you do this time?

Mad R: I pretended to have eighteen years of fighter pilot experience.

R: You're only eighteen years old!

Mad R: Well obviously I had to lie about my date of birth, too.

R: Fine. Let's skip a number of steps and get straight to you telling us what this job actually is.

Mad R: You know what a black hole is?

R: Yeeeeeeees.

Mad R: And you know how anything fired into a black hole will be instantly crushed by the horrific gravitational forces such celestial phenomena generate?

R: I'm not sure I can cope with what's coming next.

SS: I find myself oddly curious from a scientific perspective.

R: You said that about "Pets Win Prizes".

Mad R: Anyway, the very instant NASA develop a vessel that can survive the pummelling already described, they're going to fire me into a black hole inside of it. You would not believe how much they're offering as payment.

There is silence for several seconds.

SS: I think we need to review.

Mad R: What do you mean?

SS: I mean that even if NASA are so blind they can't tell the difference between a man who's been flying for eighteen years and a teenager who's been breathing for eighteen years, and even if we skip over the somewhat inconvenient truth [1] that we're talking about singularities here, and "survive the pummelling already described" isn't really a question of bolting on an extra layer of steel or anything, and the equally problematical fact that we have no idea where to find black holes, much less how to get you there, then current scientific thinking about this stuff suggests you're gonna get tossed into another universe, or into the past, or something. You'll never return to collect your salary.

Mad R: Well, if I'm going to get thrown into the past, I hope it'll be to yesterday; I completely fucked up that assessed chemistry practical.

R: Is it time to get drunk yet?


Right, that hasn't helped at all. I'm going to bed.

PS: I promised not to drone on about politics unless I came up with some angle I hadn't seen anywhere else, so I'll keep this brief, but I did want to mention that the White House has started dealing with irksome environmental reports that condemn them by no longer opening the e-mails they are contained in. This, by the way, is an excuse that has been tried by our undergraduates and failed miserably, so it's interesting that the "Leader of the Free World" is looking to get in on the action.

[1] I fucking copyrighted that! Damn Al Gore. DAMN HIM!


Senior Spielbergo said...

Hideously Weaponed Battle Cruiser hey? Well without knowing more about the ship and its role in the story it is difficult to be specific but here are some thoughts on the matter:

1. Mythological Monsters

This is always a fairly traditional naming convention for fictional warships and there are quite a range of options to choose from, such as

Argus - Giant with a hundred eyes – Quite a good spy ship name
Basilisk – King of Serpents – Able to kill with a single glance – Good ship with super weapon name
Cerberus – 3 Headed hound – Could potentially fit
Chimera – Tends to be a bit over used
Griffin – Traditionally a Guard so if it’s a ship guarding something
Hydra – Multi headed beast – Again could fit depending on what you want
Kraken – Although its Pirates of The Caribbean Appearance may be a bit off putting
Phoenix – Only really useful if your wanting to hint at resurrection or something similar
Typhon – Evil God – Hideous to look at many headed

Plenty of others about. Typically used in other works for a “Bad Guys” ship, plenty of opportunity to use it to reference stuff.

2. Mythical Heroes

Normally used for a good guys ship.


Basically this approach just requires having a name where the characters back-story suits the purpose.

You also get characters like Pandora and other figures in Greek Mythology who can be used for specific effect.

3. Military Naming Conventions

If your ship is a Military ship from earth then it is fairly common in Sci-Fi to use modern day ship naming conventions (and even modern day names) to name ships as it provides a connection readers can link to. Reusing existing names is quite acceptable as that is the tradition of the Navy (it keeps their battle honours travelling through history) or you can use the same kind of naming convention to create a new name.

Examples of today’s ships:

Ships Named After Presidents

USS Abraham Lincoln
USS George Washington
USS Dwight D Eisenhower
USS Theodore Rossevelt
USS Harry S. Trumen
USS George H. W. Bush

Etc –All big Aircraft carriers (Nimitz Class) – Can pick an existing name or go with a new Presidential Name – E.g. USS Arnold Schwarzenegger or USS Barrack Obbama

Ships Named After Battles

HMS Trafalgar
USS Iwo Jima

You get the idea… Pick any battle

Ships Named After Places

The US names Ships after states e.g Ohio and Virginia. Also Cities like Los Angeles
Britain does similar naming after cities such as Sheffield and Coventry

Pick a place any place.

Other Military Names

You also get things like:

HMS Arc Royal
HMS Invincible
HMS Intrepid
HMS Illustrious
HMS Fearless
HMS Dauntless
HMS Astute
HMS Audacious
HMS Swiftsure
HMS Triumph
HMS Tireless
HMS Victory
HMS Vanguard
USS Enterprise (for god sake no!)
USS Seawolf

Using one of these adds a lot of history to the ship at any rate.

4. Other Naming Ideas

Several other ways ships tend to get named

After People – Names are always good, especially German ones like “The Von Braun” or “The Rickenbacker”
The ***** and ***** convention: Things like the “Truth and Life” the “Wind and Mist”
The (Colour) (Object) convention – Pick a colour then an object. So you get “White Star”, “Black Hammer”, “Red Spear”, “Black Pearl”, “Blue Crown”
A similar one to the above is (Person)’s (Object) – So “King’s Sword”, “Bishop’s Hammer” etc.
For class of ship names – Brids of pray always good (raptor, eagle, hawk, vulture)

5. Final things

As a final thing. Friendly ships are typically associated as being female. The crew and allies will typically refer to it as “her”, or “she”. Enemy ships are usually referred to as “it”. Depending on if this is a good ship or a bad ship this is something maybe worth considering

Oh and you could always name it “The O’Neill” :)

Pause said...

Yay, Mad Richard stories.

As for the ship, if it's not only hideously bedecked but totally gung-ho in nature with an incredibly insensitive command/military, you could always call it the Little Boy.

Personally I like Culture-type understated names, but obviously there's the danger of coming too close to Banks.

If you pick a traditional name, going with SS' suggestions up above, in honour of your recent exam passing you should pick something Japanese (-sounding). If that isn't too strange a thought in light of my first suggestion above.

Kim said...

'The Bastard'
I also like the names you get from the word verification thingimy.They sound very exotic.

SpaceSquid said...

I'm trying to avoid mythological names since B5 pretty much did that to death. I also hate American ship names because they tend to be boring. Places and people, yawn. Having said that, I am considering the Scapa Flow, just because I like the sound of it and because the place name idea doesn't bother me so much if the place in question a) isn't in America and b) has genuine naval tradition behind it. I've always thought that our naval vessels had much more bitching names than US ships tend to manage. The battle idea is an interesting one, though. Certainly the ship names can't be too esoteric, since all of this isn't too far into the future, and I want to keep things close to home as much as possible.

I'm not naming it the O'Neill, although since it gets thoroughly massacred approximately ten seconds after it arrives, there might be some fun to be had there.

The Japanese idea has some merit, Pause. Perhaps some battle from their war with the Russians? I shall have a look.

What does 'Streitkräfte' mean, Kim? I like 'The Bastard', although I might suggest the slight alternative of 'Professor Bastard', so that everybody knows she excels at bastardry, and isn't just dabbling in it during her gap year.

Kim said...

It means 'armed forces'. One German equivalent of 'bastard' is 'MistKerl'.

True one doesn't want to name a ship of awesome destruction with a semi-skimmed name. However Professor Bastard, sounds distinctly like an aging theoretical bastard, rather than the active abusive, blaggardly, cad one expects.

There are some great sounding battle names from the Boer war.

SpaceSquid said...

I take your point, Kim. What about 'Lord Bastard'?