Tuesday, 2 August 2016


How can the the title of a novel convey that the book is science fiction and, if appropriate, that it is part of a series while also avoiding cliches or confusions with other titles? The British edition of James Blish's The Triumph Of Time had to be re-entitled, as A Clash Of Cymbals, to avoid confusion with Brian Aldiss' The Canopy Of Time and even then I knew someone who did confuse them.

"Time" is a frequent word in sf titles, and not necessarily in time travel fiction, e.g., Anderson's "The Horn of Time the Hunter." (And see here.) Anderson's The Corridors Of Time is appropriate and evocative and not only because there are literal corridors through time in the novel. See here. Does remembering your childhood feel like peering down a long corridor?

Andre Norton's The Crossroads Of Time evokes choices, decisions and historical turning points and implies the question: could there be a literal junction in the temporal dimension? Time is abstract but we like to compare it to a medium like water. Thus, I am currently reading Volume I of SM Stirling's time travel/alternative history trilogy:

Island In the Sea Of Time
Against The Tide Of Years
On The Oceans Of Eternity

"Against the tide of years" sounds like growing old. "On the oceans of eternity" sounds like realizing that a single life is short compared with everything before and after it.

Gregory Benford's Galactic Center Saga comprises "universe as water" titles:

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And of course there's the problem caused by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon's book KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS resembling far too much Poul Anderson's A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS. I can't help but think since PA used that title first, Lackey and Guon should have chosen a different title for their book.