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Why we named our son after science fiction characters} ?> “You named your son what?”
You heard right. Ender Hoban Helo Rudge. That is my, now two-week-old, son’s name.
I have always been fascinated by names. I love looking up name meanings. I love experimenting with which names go well together, and contemplating how my feelings about certain names are influenced by people I know. As a child, my dolls had to have extensive extended families just so I could name them all.
Naming children though—you know, real live babies— well, the stakes are a bit higher. Not just any name will do.
There is something beautiful about naming a child after a treasured family member or valued friend. I mean, my husband and I did that with kid number one! The problem with baby number two was that nobody had a name we liked enough to pass on. Plus we wanted something unique (not weird, unique).
So we turned to the things we love for inspiration: science fiction, fantasy, video games, books, TV shows, movies. And when our son was born on July 27, 2015, we gave him his science fiction-inspired name.
Here is why these three names made the cut:
In the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Ender spends his childhood being trained to fight an alien race called the Buggers. Despite obstacles, he manages to win by obliterating the entire alien race during what he believes to be a training exercise. I am not saying our son will grow up to save the entire human race from alien invasion (although, hello, that would be COOL). But Ender was able to defeat the enemy because he understood them and he understood them because he loved them. If he had realized the training exercise was real, he would not have been able to do what he did because he truly loved the Buggers. This compassion is what also leads him to later become the Speaker for the Dead.
Ender, as Speaker for the Dead, was also instrumental in shaping my husband’s thinking around how he sees other people and interacts with them.
Hoban “Wash” Washburne (ironically, the character who hates his first name and so goes by a nickname—our son can thank us later that we put this as a middle name) is the pilot of the ship Serenity in the TV show Firefly. Serenity’s crew takes what jobs they can find, sometimes legal, sometimes not. These folks also live in a world where right and wrong are often muddled by simple factors like wanting to survive and eat the next day. Into this, Wash speaks as the voice of reason, often questioning decisions made by the others on the ship, including the captain. While he respects the authority of those in charge, he is not afraid to speak up against it when he feels the situation warrants it.
Wash is also a character of compassion and integrity, as demonstrated when he shows compassion to the poor soul in “Bushwacked,” who witnessed a Reaver attack and went mad.
Battlestar Galactica is a show littered with a multitude of complex, dynamic characters. Most of them live within some shade of grey as they navigate ethical and moral dilemmas of epic proportions. In this world of grey, Helo shines as the moral compass of the show. His sense of right and wrong doesn’t waver and he speaks out when he senses that others are veering from what is right.
Helo shows compassion to the Cylons, and is the first human to selflessly love a known Cylon. He changes everything when he and his Cylon partner have a baby. No longer can humans look at Cylons as “Toasters.” They are living creatures, breathing, bleeding, procreating.
All three of these characters have a powerful story to tell within their mediums and have impacted me in profound ways. When the movie Serenity came out, I was stunned by the unexpected death of Wash. I literally grieved for this fictional character. The impact of these stories reminds me of another who knew the importance of stories: Jesus, who told many of his teachings as parables.
If these stories have so much power to impact and change us in the course of our lives, how much more might the story of our child, if he lives up to the integrity and compassion in his names, end up changing and shaping the world?
I expect more than I know, and I look forward to telling him about the heroes behind his name.
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