East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Finding a different name


A&A new logo 230Names names names…

There’s much going on right now with my Aculeo & Amunet stories.
Both Bride of the Swamp God and Lair of the White Ape have gathered some good reviews, and there’s more stories coming, and much else.
What started as a good idea – to me, at least – and two characters I like very much, is about to get bigger, and hopefully better.

So now I’m dreaming up a name for my series.
Granted, I’ll always refer to my stories as the “Aculeo & Amunet Stories” – they are after all character-driven stories, and those are the characters driving them.
They are good characters, and I like them a lot, and I like the alliteration.
A&A – nice and smooth.
And yet…

The Swords of Lankhmar

The Swords of Lankhmar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s take for example Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series – which is also known as the Newhon Stories, sometimes as the Lankhmar Series, and also as the Swords cycle.

It’s really a matter of marketing – while my Aculeo & Amunet series is good and fine as such, it could be handy having a second label for my sword & sorcery stories, something to do with the setting, not with the characters.
After all, I might choose to use different characters in the same setting in some future stories.
Or, what about a roleplaying game deal?
While the Conan RPG is good and fine, an Aculeo & Amunet RPG does not sound as good – might work as a sub-title (“Whatever and Whatnot, the Aculeo & Amunet RPG“).
The Fafhrd & Gray Mouser game, after all, was called the Lankhmar City of Adventure RPG.

I thought about how to go about it.
Did some tests.
I picked the brains of my team.
And then I made a list – what’s in my Aculeo & Amunet stories that makes them unique, and mine.
So let’s see…

There’s Aculeo and Amunet, obviously.
As a sub-genre, the stories are sword & sorcery, or sword & sandal, or sword & tentacle, or peplum.
The series could also be labeled historical fantasy, or pseudo-historical fantasy.
There’s swords – gladius and pugio, that is – and enchantments.
The stories take place all over the map of the ancient world, both in the West and the East, both inside and outside of the Roman Empire (and other assorted empires).
There’s tentacles and monsters and weird cults lurking in the darker corners of the ancient world.
The series takes place during the Third Century Crisis.

But let’s face it – Sword & Tentacle Crisis sounds like a bad bawdy anime from the early ’90s.
Gladius & Pugio is fine with Aculeo, but leaves delightful Amunet and her dark arts – Egyptian Heka – out of the picture.
And Gladius & Heka sucks, as a title for a series.
Granted, Dark Corners of the World is a smashing title – and in fact there’s a videogame called Dark Corners of the Earth, based on the works by H.P. Lovecraft.

So I racked my mind for quite a while.

There is not a single word that I might use, nor a nice geographical/historical name, nor a smart pair of words connected by an “&”.

But there is something that runs through my stories and unifies them, and also describes quite aptly the venues of my characters’ adventures.
Aculeo and Amunet move at the margins, explore the borders, travel the offbeat tracks and the back waters of the ancient world.

So… Beyond the Black Stump?
Too flippant, too Australian.

But why not Peripheries of the Ancient World?



The Aculeo & Amunest Stories – also known as the Peripheries of the Ancient World series.

Might work, don’t you think?

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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

9 thoughts on “Finding a different name

  1. Good job! 😀
    It took you a while to come out with this title but definitely I think it will work perfectly!


  2. I was going to leave a comment about how I really didn’t like that title, but I got called away from my desk to work with a customer. The whole time, it kept sticking in my brain, and by the time I came back, I realised that there was no way I was going to say that was bad. It’s an awesome title.

    Now, if I could just think of a name for mine…


    • 😀
      That’s the idea – I realize it is a mouthful.
      But it’s sticky.
      Hopefully 😉

      As for yours…
      My suggestion, for what it’s worth, is – make a list of elements that are common to all your works, elements you think are essential and typical.
      Then talk it out with your editors, beta readers, fans, whatever… something will surface.


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