A Shortfall of Gravitas?

So, Elon Musk has just tweeted me (and, to be fair, about a few billion other people at the same time), that his new SpaceX droneship will be called “A Shortfall of Gravitas”.

I think I can spot a fellow Iain M. Banks ‘Culture‘ SF books fan out there!

It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t come up with some Culture-style names for my car. At the moment, I call it Yoda the Skoda, because it’s, well, a beaten-up old Skoda.

But, to honour Iain, who was always very kind to me whenever we met up in person, maybe I could rename the car to the “Are You Sure You Want a Diesel?”, or the “Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad”, or the “Mostly Rusty”?

The car is the most obvious thing I own that I could name, not being a billionaire and not maintaining my own private space-fleet, and all. Apart from my cat, the house, and the toaster, that is.

What names could I come up with for them? Maybe, “Do I Look Like I’ve Been Fed?”, “Little Small For A Mansion”, and “I Asked For Bloody Scones And You Give Me This?”.

Anyway, a large parting thanks to my brave band of Patreon readers over at https://www.patreon.com/stephenhunt who have been spotting typos in the beta manuscript for my new science fiction novel, The Pashtun Boy’s Paradise – it should be going live soon, and you’re all getting a name-check in the credits at the start of the book.

Catch you next week.


I am an author of various fantasy, science fiction, crime and other genre books from Gollancz, Hachette and HarperCollins. Some day I hope to grow up and be an astronaut. Exploring Mars would be nice.

One thought on “A Shortfall of Gravitas?

  • May 11, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    I love that Elon Musk is busy making the science fiction of my childhood come true. Of course rocketships (that’s a proper word!) need to be shiny, to be pointy and to have fins, as Ray Bradbury would have definitely told you. Look at the the ship in the film ‘Rocketship XM’. It’s almost a dead ringer for Starship. The use of Culture-type names, as you point out, and Musk’s general disruptive approach in Actually Getting Something Done, as opposed to NASA’s ‘boldly going round and round in low Earth orbit perpetually’, give me hope that we are finally getting our act together. Time for the Galactic Federation to contact us I think.

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