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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

You know what?

Charlie Stross comes up with really good book titles. (And they don't even have Halting State listed yet, which is the one I was actually thinking of.


Titles should read like art deco. Lots of nice curves and lines you can run your imagination across until it gets lost.
I like 'em evocative and a bit mysterious. *g* Lyrical is good, too, if you can swing it.
And I think there's a distinction between shorts and novels. It's easier to use something "twisty" when you're dealing with the shorter forms. Novels open the door to marketing and cover real estate.

Collections straddle the line. Witness your own title. It's possible you could have selected another title from the representative shorts, or you could have come up with a new title. The one you picked seems appropriate for a collection, however, and so is appropriate.
Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell does end up having a gorgeous title. That has almost nothing to do with the book.

The book is cool, though -- a hook-handed mysterious dude who Cannot Remember His Past fighting murderous Aztec gods (that are really aliens pretending to be Aztec gods, and have their own agenda) across a lost-human-colony-world alien landscape peopled by Carribean-ish folk who talk like they fell out of a Nalo Hopkinson novel.

Also airships.

But the title is almost randomly assigned. One character does think the phrase 'crystal rain' at one singular point in the book (he means snow, as one might imagine), but it doesn't exactly have anything to do with anything, so far as I can tell.
I like Charlie's books, and titles are hard; heaven knows I don't think I'm holding myself up as someone who could do better. And keeping with a theme once you've already titled two books in a series with that theme is even harder.

Still, The Clan Corporate is not really one I'd hold up as a stellar title.
The Jennifer Morgue and Iron Sunrise pay for all
Those two are pretty darn good, yah.
Yeah, IRON SUNRISE is an appallingly good title. And the bit in the book where we get to it and it's explained just more or less took my breath away. I mean, it was a good title without the explanation; with it, it was poetry.
It's certainly not a kind title, but it does sort of fit with how Scots identify their clans, doesn't it? Don't they say ... the clan X, the clan Y. Since it's not a normal part of our language structure, it doesn't strike me or you as stellar, but from his cultural viewpoint it probably fits better than The Corporate Clan, which was one of the variations I remember being bandied about.

It's defintiely a limiting mechanism. Sometimes you can have fun with it. Bear's got some nice variations for her & titles if I recall correctly.

Look at Jim Butcher for an example of editorial constraints. His first novel was titled Semiautomagic. Roc changed it to Storm Front and then, because of their cover design, he had to title each book in his Dresden series so it was two words with the same number of letters: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty. Even though the cover design changed after Death Masks, he's stuck with the naming comvention. He's made it work for the most part, though Death Masks was a bit of reach in my opinion.
I don't think any combination of "corporate" and "clan" without anything else was going to strike me as an outstanding title, and I'm not sure that adding something would have helped, either. The order wasn't going to be the problem, is what I'm saying.

I apparently don't notice number of letters in words unless I think there's some logic puzzle/trick going on (but I'm only up to Summer Knight, so maybe I'd have noticed sooner than I think). Reading an old John D. MacDonald novel, I came up on a passage where someone called someone else "a ten-letter word," and I had to go through many of the obscenities I know before I figured out which one had ten letters. And there's an author who got really bitten in the butt by his title convention -- all the color words! A good half of those titles were really lame, but at least you know they're Travis McGee lame and not some other flavor of lame.
It's tough to say, starting out with something, whether it will turn into a bad thing or not. Starting out, everything sounds good. :-)

I'll add another bad title idea for you -- at least one that's forced now: Sue Grafton and her alphabet mysteries. Some seem to stretch the laws of probability and are just there for her to fill in a particular letter quota. Specifically L, M, N, P, R and now S.
In Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries, he makes fun of those, speculating about titles beyond Z -- AAA is for Motorists and DD is for Boobs, something like that.
he had to title each book in his Dresden series so it was two words with the same number of letters

Actually, I'm pretty sure he opted to, rather than 'had' to. I remember him talking about it being a gimmick. The sort of gimmick, granted, that almost no one notices, but a gimmick none-the-less. Taught me a lot about titles, actually, that did.
Probably around the third or fourth book. I seem to recall earlier emails to the discussion list about retitling the third one. Been ages and can't recall where the "had to" changed to "opted to" on his part. He has done a good job with it, excepting my problem with Death Masks. Though I'm sure he spent lots of time working on all of them and they're the best he could create. Not faulting his efforts, just noting the pressures you can see from the marketing side. IIRC Bear had her own brief discussions about "and" versus and "&" in the fae books that start with Blood & Iron.
It's a pity that the publisher rejected the title Festival of Fools for Singularity Sky, as I find the former much more evocative of the overall book. (Singularity Sky is evocative of the opening sequence, though.)