The Big Idea: Ciel Pierlot
Posted on February 9, 2022 Posted by John Scalzi 4 Comments
What’s in a name? For Ciel Pierlot, quite a bit. In this Big Idea, find out how names matter, in worldbuilding and in Pierlot’s novel Bluebird.
One of the earliest concepts I had for Bluebird was ‘stories in space’. I knew from day one that I wanted to write Rig as someone who’s deeply tied to mythos. Someone who emulates folk heroes and legendary figures in her attempt to define herself on her terms, to make herself into someone she actually likes being. And the more I began digging into her own internal reformation, the more I found my own personal experience with identity coming up until I finally gave in and made it a central aspect of the book. Rig, I decided, changed her name.
Growing up, I never liked the name I was born with. It had nothing to do with gender identity or an unfortunate nickname, I simply didn’t vibe with it. So, when I was in my senior year of high school, I legally changed the entire affair – first, middle, and last. It was part of a larger need to literally make myself, to turn what people saw into what I knew was inside me. At the start of Rig’s journey, she has that same need. To become anyone other than who she currently is, to figure out who she wants to be and take whatever steps she can to get there.
The more I thought about my own experience with names in relation to Rig’s, the more I realized how prevalent I wanted that theme to be in Bluebird. I ended up writing that struggle into two other characters’ arcs as well. Crane, who’s stubbornly clung to the name he had when he was a child even after years of being referred to only by rank. And Ginka, who was never given a name at all and realizes that she has to invent one for herself whole cloth.
Each character defines themselves in direct opposition to the will of their factions, and each is a different way of fighting back against who they’re being told they are. With Rig, she renames herself as part of her journey, throwing off the shackles of her former life, naming herself after the ship that takes her away from her faction. And so the act of creating her own identity is part of her rebellion. It’s a defiance, and everyone from her former faction spends the rest of the book refusing to use her proper name.
It’s also a promise. A promise of who she wants to be, who she’s going to make herself into, helping her stylize the broken parts of her identity into a person that resembles the heroes of her culture’s mythos. It’s never quite that easy to create your own identity, but figuring out what you’re going to call that future version of yourself is a crucial first step.
With writing, it’s all about character creation. That’s where it starts. I created my own character and my own name, and in turn, Rig looked back upon the folklore that inspired her and created her own character too.
Bluebird: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s
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So, any science in this fiction?
Hank, the first sentence says “stories in space”, so I’m guessing science is involved.
The first link at the bottom says Amazon but goes to Barnes & Noble.
Also says “deeply tied to mythos…. emulates folk heroes and legendary figures” so I had to wonder. I’m hoping that would tie to maybe Tesla, the Curies, and so on.
It’s gotten hard to find new hard science fiction these days in my experience. So I’m hopeful.