Tuckerisms

Tagged: Theme

Item of fan Terminology usually denoting the Recursive-SF naming of fictional characters for members of the sf and fan community. The term derives from Wilson Tucker, who frequently "tuckerized" friends and whose Wild Talent (1954; exp 1955; vt The Man from Tomorrow 1955) is a classic – though far from the first – instance. Character surnames in this novel include Bixby, Carnell, Conklin and Palmer, while the full name of Walter Willis is given to the arch-Villain. Here only names are echoed, not personalities or physical descriptions. Other authors went beyond mere naming. Anthony Boucher's detective story Rocket to the Morgue (1942) slightly disguises its sf characters: John W Campbell Jr, for example, is alluded to as Don Stuart (his pseudonym), editor of Surprising Stories and The Worlds Beyond (Astounding Science-Fiction and Unknown).

Earlier examples from H P Lovecraft's circle are Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars" (September 1935 Weird Tales) and Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark" (December 1936 Weird Tales). The Bloch story's unnamed, doomed protagonist is a weird-fiction author closely resembling Lovecraft; in genial retaliation, Lovecraft's tale introduces and kills off the Bloch-like "Robert Blake". Both stories' paraphernalia were incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos.

Multiple sf authors are "tuckerized" under more or less transparent disguises in Michael Moorcock's Barsoomian Barbarians of Mars (1965 as by Edward P Bradbury; vt Masters of the Pit 1971), featuring such reversed spellings as S'sidla, Drallab, Nosirrah and even K'cocroom; as the gods of primitive Aliens in Larry Niven's and David Gerrold's The Flying Sorcerers (1971); as many names of places and Weapons systems in Robert Holdstock's themed sf art compilation Space Wars: Worlds and Weapons (graph 1979) as by Steven Eisler; as a think tank of sf authors in Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's Footfall (1985); and as vowel-starved Aliens such as "Sc'smv" in Earthdoom! (1987) by David Langford and John Grant.

Traditional tuckerisms were merely playful; nowadays the opportunity to bestow one's name on a character in some favourite author's book can often be bought in sf fundraising initiatives and charity auctions. It was in this way that Ken Follett gave his surname to the head of the Discworld Assassins' Guild in Night Watch (2002) by Terry Pratchett. [DRL]

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