"The Bomber"

by wjw on January 18, 2007

My post on Roman nicknames (“Chickpea,” below) led me to think about colorful nicknames and who uses them, and who doesn’t but should.

Right now, the only people who use nicknames are gangsters, boxers, and mixed martial artists. For the latter, it seems to be a requirement. Everyone on the Ultimate Fighting Championship seems to require a nickname so that Ultimate Ring Announcer Bruce Buffer can drag out his name during the introductions: “Randeeeeeee ‘the Naaaaaatural’ Coutuuuuuuuuuuure.”

Back at WFC 2005 (that’s not World Fighting Championship but World Fantasy Convention), new writer Diana Rowland was lamenting the fact that there were already several Diana Rowlands who were more famous than she was.

I suggested that she add a boxer-type nickname, and become Diana “the Bomber” Rowland. I called her “Bomber” for the whole convention. I have to say that she took it well (but there’s no mention of “the Bomber” on her web site).

It’s clear that writers need some damn edge when it comes to clawing their way through the marketplace, and colorful nicknames are at least low-cost.

Would I be more famous if I were Walter “the Whirlwind” Williams? Would Heinlein have achieved greater fame if he were Robert “Squarehead Bob” Heinlein? Would “Honest Dan’l” Abraham make an impact on the marketplace?

Or do you think it wouldn’t work without Bruce Buffer to make the introductions?

InsightStraight January 18, 2007 at 10:59 pm

Don’t forget fighter pilots. You can’t get into the cockpit using your real name, against the rules. The problem is, you typically don’t get to choose your own moniker but it is bestowed upon you by your instructors. This can have unfortunate echos into the future.

An old friend of mine was a naval aviator, a “backseater”. Someone happened to see a photo of him from his college days, which showed his luxuriant growth of hair. His resulting nickname? “The Hippie”.

Nicknames are fine if you can choose them yourself, with the fine touch of a seasoned press agent. Chosen for you, the results may have the force and linger of a stench you would rather forget. I picked up the nickname “Horse” once (don’t ask) and during my brief foray in the SCA became known as “Boris the Convenient” (really, don’t ask).

Personally, I like the sound of “Walter Tiberius”. Oh, wait – Kirk has first dibs. How about “Walter of Gaul”?

SpeakerToManagers January 19, 2007 at 12:57 am

Heinlein did have a nickname, or at least an initialization: RAH. This worked well for Kennedy too (and he had two brothers to be confused with). So you could be WJW; if you call dibs, you would be the only one who could use it 🙂

But insightstraight is right; you need to be proactive or risk losing out to someone else. Look at what the Pres has to put up with: is he George W, or Shrub, or 43, (or mud)?

InsightStraight January 19, 2007 at 4:26 am

The more I think on it, the more I like the ring of:

“Wwaaalllltterr ‘The VOICE of the WHIRRRRLLLLLwwiinnddddd’ Williammss!”

Familiarly known as ‘The Voice’.

InsightStraight January 19, 2007 at 4:30 am

Considering Heinlein’s predilection for having Lazarus Long lust after his own mother, maybe RAH should have been known as ‘Lazarus the MoFo’. And considering his predilection for having many of his male protaganists lust after their underage female relatives, maybe ‘Bobby the Chickenhawk’ would work for him in the park.

Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 5:23 am

Harlan “The Groper” Ellison.

Lester “The Hack” Dent.

George RR “What Deadline?” Martin.

SpeakerToManagers January 19, 2007 at 7:16 am

In certain circles, that’s Harlan “What Last Dangerous Visions?” Ellison.

Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Was Edward Elmer Smith’s career helped by being E. E. “Doc” Smith?

– Captain Button

Glen January 19, 2007 at 2:42 pm

For some reason, I recall that we used to call you Walter “The Mountain Man” Jon Williams (or was it just “Mountain”?) back when the Nova Express gang actually all attended ArmadilloCon.

Kathleen January 19, 2007 at 5:17 pm

What about computer geeks? The nerdier you are, the cooler name you have to have.

HaloJonesFan January 19, 2007 at 8:51 pm

speakertomanagers: Well, it has to be pronounceable as a word or phrase; “rah” works okay, but the doubled aspirant “rah heinlein” is difficult to say.

And I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with the Kennedys…”jiffik”?

I also think that authors should just be “nicknamed” their most famous book, to make things easier. “Hardwired Williams”, for example, or possibly “Dianetics Hubbard”.

qtera31 January 19, 2007 at 10:37 pm

Hey what about- Walter “Master of Meat”? We know what a good cook you are. I really like “Hardwired Williams” though.

Johnny Pez January 19, 2007 at 11:01 pm

Isaac “The Candy Man” Asimov
Arthur C. “Rocketman” Clarke
Gordon R. “Buck Canuck” Dickson
Poul “Battleaxe” Anderson
Larry “Ring Boy” Niven
Samuel R. “Chip” Delany
Vernor “Mister Singularity” Vinge


dubjay January 19, 2007 at 11:12 pm

“Chip” will never work as a nickname for a science fiction writer. No way.

InsightStraight January 20, 2007 at 5:36 am

Hmmm. Authors nicknamed for their most famous works:

“2001 Clarke”

“With Folded Hands Williamson” (Master of the ‘Folded Hands’ school of martial writing)

“Dune Herbert”

“Berserker Saberhagen” (great ring name)

“Stranger In A Strange Land Heinlein”

“Thing from Another World Campbell”

“City Simak”

“Robot Asimov”

“War of the Worlds Wells”

and, further asea:

“Moby Dick Melville”

“Christmas Carol Dickens”

“Remembrances of Things Proust”

“Importance of Being Wilde”

“Ravin’ Poe”

“Inferno Dante” (very popular south of the border)

“Don Quixote Cervantes” (sometimes mistaken for a tequila)

“Ulysses Joyce”
(due to fight for the title with:
“Ulysses Homer”

“Cold Blood Capote”

“Howl Ginsberg”

and how about not just writers but artists? —

“Scream Munsch”

“Starry Van Gogh”

“Soup Can Warhol”

“Thinker Rodin”

“Mona Lisa da Vinci”

Erin O'Brien January 20, 2007 at 3:42 pm

But Walter Jon Williams is someone with whom I’d like very much to share a pot of cheese fondue. And maybe a good cold bottle of Chardonnay.

SpeakerToManagers January 20, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Add a loaf of bread and call him “Omar”.

Anonymous January 22, 2007 at 5:28 am

Not only do I want a nickname, I want an announcer to follow me around and bellow it. I mean, on special occasions.

Rachel B.

PS. “Shadow Divers” was a great recommendation, thanks.

dubjay January 22, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Hmm. Erin “Cheese Fondue” O’Brien?

What the hell. I’ll bring the bread.

Rachel, you’re welcome for “Shadow Divers.” There’s nothing like a well-written piece of nonfiction to creep you out.

The Bomber January 23, 2007 at 2:30 pm

You’re absolutely right, Walter. I have changed my website accordingly.

dubjay January 23, 2007 at 8:51 pm

Ohmygod, Diana, you actually did it!

Bomber it is!

dubjay January 24, 2007 at 10:21 pm

I should like to mark an Occasion. Not only has this topic confirmed Diana Rowland’s new nickname, it’s achieved all of 20 comments. I don’t think any topic of mine has generated 20 comments before, at least once you discount the spam.

Be unafraid, America! Talk on!

InsightStraight January 25, 2007 at 4:36 am

Now that Diana has formalized her nickname, time to start brainstorming on the proper nose art…

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