Can I name an alien race after a real place?

by Brad
(northern CA)

Question: I've been outlining a science-fiction novel and want to name an alien race after a real place. For example, calling them Americans or Russians (not the real name, of course).

In this case, it's the name an island of about 4,000 people, and it's part of a well-known country. I don't think many people have heard of the island, though.

A friend who's a published author felt that it could cause problems if I used that name.

What are your thoughts?


Answer If I were familiar with that island, I might assume you were making a comparison between your alien race and the islanders. Depending on how you portray the aliens, someone from that country might take offense.

You might think that the island is not well-known, but there will be reviewers and other readers who will look up the name and wonder at the connection.

If you are not trying to draw a comparison between the islanders and your aliens, and the comparison does not serve the story you want to tell, then naming the alien race after the islanders will create an unnecessary distraction and I would suggest you consider changing it.

I'm sure you will have no trouble making up a name that is just as appealing.

Best of luck.

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