I love ship names. I don’t know why, but I get a real kick out of it when writers name their fictional ships. My favorite example is in Robert W. Chambers’s The Repairer of Reputations, when the characters all go out for a walk and see the ships in the harbor of fictional future New York, and Louis rattles off the names of the vessels. I loved that.
I think the reason I’m so fascinated is that every ship name has a story behind it. You see a ship name, and you automatically wonder why it was given that particular name. It’s an implied story all in itself.
This goes for spaceships in science fiction too, by the way. In fact, I might even enjoy those more, because there’s more room for unusual names. I’m working on a story now that has a spaceship in it, and I’ve been struggling to come up with just the right name. It’s an important consideration–the story that the name suggests to the reader will color their perception of the characters who fly it.
Some fictional ship names I like:
- Alert–from H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu
- Nostromo–Ripley’s ship in Alien
- Invisible Hand–General Grievous’s flagship in Star Wars: Episode III
- Tempest–Pathfinder Ryder’s ship in Mass Effect Andromeda
- PRCS Wall Cloud–a ship carrying a virus in Deus Ex
- Pillar of Autumn–one of the first ships in Halo
Wikipedia has a list of more fictional ships. Frankly, from skimming it, I think writers aren’t being bold enough with names. The U.S. Navy names ships after famous battles–we need more of that in fiction. Also, more named after obscure historical figures, please.