Friday, 2 May 2014

Sci-fi city names

Great place to live. That or Jockstrapberg.

A while ago I had a discussion with another writer: he was looking for ideas for fictional city names and had run out of magical inspiration glitter. It's an interesting query. Often it makes sense to use real locations, as I have done with my novels so far, but sometimes it is nice to be able to start afresh. This applies particularly to sci-fi novels. In some of those cases you will want something exotic and completely new, but in others you want names that could be real world cities.

Coming up with that kind of name is fun. I like to use serendipity: open a dictionary at random then try the words in combination, or with suffixes such as -don/den, -berg, -ville, -ester and so on, or with a prefix such as San or New. Or pick words from the dictionary that have some positive connotation or sound. Silverdon, Angelberg, Glowville, San Aqua, Worthester, New Canville and so on. You’ll probably get 60 options within the hour to pick from, at least one should work (probably something more subtle than those above).

I also have letter dice, originally used to come up with fantasy names for roleplaying games, but they could work here too. Just throw, shuffle, see what comes up, modify it if necessary.

Here we go: what fictional city will you live in?


  1. That's a great idea, Karl, and fun. But you have to be careful with 'concocted' names. I once set a story in the improbably named Little Gubblecote, which I thought was my own creation. I then found that the wretched place exists. (And no doubt its villainous squire would not have been happy to see himself immortalized in my story.)

  2. Truth is stranger than fiction, John!

  3. Hippypeaceville