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BOOK REVIEW: SCI-FI BABY NAMES

The Book: Sci-Fi Baby Names

The Author: Robert Schnakenberg

Publication Info: Published September, 2007, by Quirk Books, Philadelphia

Author’s Track Record: Author of several books, including The Encyclopedia Shatnerica, the world's first A-to-Z guide to the life and career of William Shatner.

What You Get:

I waited all summer for this book to be published, and I was not disappointed. It's one of the most refreshing entries into the baby names book market in recent years -- original, clever, and sure to provide some great new names for upcoming parents to mull over. Author Robert Schnakenberg, a Brooklyn native, is obviously a sci-fi buff across many genres. He knows his subject matter inside-out, pulling names from movies and books dating as far back as the 1930s (and perhaps earlier, if I missed an entry). Indeed, some of the more memorable names hail from sources that will pleasantly surprise the reader -- Kilgore, from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1953), or Helmholtz, from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), to name but two.

Naturally, the towering classics like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Planet of the Apes are well-represented throughout the book, but they don't overpower it. Schnakenberg has tapped his knowledge reservoir to create a balanced, funny, and informative work. Drawing from literature, television, comic books, and film, he breaks the book into seven chapters, starting with Traditional Sci-Fi Names (my least favorite), progressing through a wide list of masculine and feminine names, followed by Power Names, Intellectual Names, and the best of all, in my opinion, Exotic Names. This is what those new parents who are looking for unique names will salivate over! How about Akton, from the 1979 movie Starcrash? Or Amadala, from Star Wars? Then there's Buckaroo, from the Buckaroo Banzai series; Jor-El, from the 1938 Action Comics; Klaatu, from the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still; Moonpie, from 1975's Rollerball,  and many, many more. (I recall that Nicholas Cage named his son Kal-El, after Superman).

Each entry in Sci-Fi Baby Names includes the origin and source of the name (the origin of the name Worf is The Klingon Empire, and the source is Star-Trek, The Next Generation), along with a frequently fascinating anecdote about the name, and either a snippet of trivia or a quote from each character. One of my favorite quotes: "I can't change the laws of physics! I've got to have thirty minutes!" -- Scotty, Starship Enterprise.


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