Champions of Shymeria

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When I watched the new She-Ra series, I realized that “Aetheria” was basically the same as “Etheria,” Eternia’s sister planet. A Google also turned up a video game that appears to be current that uses “Aetheria” with the “Ae” spelling. So I decided to change the name, which was a terrible thing because I agonize over names. I can never be happy with just stringing some random syllables together into something that sounds good. There’s always got to be some kind of meaning or joke or reference hidden in the name, it’s got to evoke the right vibe, and sometimes it even has to include certain letters for some reason I don’t understand and couldn’t explain (I just know it’s true).

So I started trying to come up with another name. I started with looking up words like “eternal” and “immortal” in the thesaurus, hoping to a synonym or near-synonym that would be reminiscent of “Eternia.” All the options were either stupid. taken, ¬†incredibly hacky-sounding, or just didn’t sound like I wanted them to. So I moved farther afield, looking up “magical-sounding” words. Still no luck, so I shifted over to trying to work on the game rules. I got some basics blocked in, but realized that it would be easier to actually write the thing (especially examples) if I had more of the setting worked out.

I thought maybe I would just start writing using placeholder names from an online generator or something and replace them later, but then the right neurons fired and I realized I hadn’t really explored the “reference” possibility. At first I thought about trying to work MOTU (Masters of the Universe) into the name, but something like “Moturia” didn’t sound good to me. MOTU would have to be something like “Motuvia,” but that’s the kind of vaguely Eastern European-sounding name that would work better for horror than high fantasy. Eventually this train of thought led me to the idea of checking the names of some of the MOTU creators to see if any of those could work.

[Side Note: Before I got around to looking up the names, I realized that using artist’s names as inspiration for other place names might also work. Now I’m trying to decide whether Franzettia is the place where Bloodgrave the Demon King lives, a barbaric modern land, or one of the ancient Scarred Lands kingdoms. Also, whether it needs to be “Frankzettia” so it’s got a hard k to make it sound more brutal (“Franzettia” almost sounds like it could be the name of a flower).]

The guy who wrote the series Bible for He-Man was Michael Halperin. “Halperia” works for a fantasy kingdom–it kind of reminds me of words like “Hyperion” and “Hyborian”–and might work for a kingdom name. The whole “Planet and Kingdom have the same name” aspect of He-Man bugs me, so I’m considering making them different. It just doesn’t really work for the name of the world/title of the game.

When I looked up “Lou with an S” and saw his last name was Scheimer, I initially thought that was a dead end, but when I confirmed via random Youtube video that it was pronounced with a long “I” sound, things clicked into place. “Shymeria” is strong enough to use in the name of a book. It’s fairly close to “chimera,” which is nice and fantastical, but keeping the “S” keeps the actual reference clear to the people who know who Lou Scheimer is (which I’m guessing is a lot of He-Man fans) and makes it more obvious that it should be pronounced with “sh” instead of a hard “ch”. Replacing “ei” with “y” makes the long-I more apparent. ¬†(I Hope. I never realized that leaving out the “U” in QAGS would cause people to call it “KAGS,” so I could be way off here.)

The other nice thing about “Shymeria” is that one definition of “chimerical” is “hoped for but illusory or impossible to achieve.” In an email I sent to Leighton and Jeff last week when I was trying to brainstorm names, I mentioned that ideally I would like a name with a hint of darkness that makes the name better when things get grimdark in later installments, so the chimera connection is perfect. The Happy, Shiny Cartoon Land of the first book is just a pipe dream that can’t last. As soon as the protective magic runs out, it’s back to blood and darkness.

[Edit: I also just realized that “Shymeria” nearly rhymes with “Cimmeria,” so it also works as a nod to Conan, which was an inspiration for the original MOTU action figure line.]

The switch from “Guardians” to “Champions” is just because “Champions” sounds more heroic and contrasts better with “Warriors of Shymeria” (The second book, where things start going to hell).

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