Paramount says that the posters displayed at this weekend’s Mission Chicago Star Trek convention that reveal the first names of Lt. Commander Spock and Doctor M’Benga of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds have the wrong names on them.
The posters first appeared at the convention with the characters’ full names listed as Jabilo M’Benga and S’Chn T’Gai Spock. Unfortunately according to a “clarification” sent by Paramount to Trekcore.com where the news first broke, this was a mistake.
Apparently what was supposed to have happened was that there was going to be this big tease as to what their first names were, and posters more like this were intended to have been displayed:
The fans are all over this anyway. The names came from Star Trek novels. Dr. M’Benga (to be played by Babs Olusanmokun) was named in the Star Trek: Vanguard book series, with Harbinger, the first book in that series, being the original source of “Jabilo” for Strange New Worlds.
The first mention of Spock’s (Ethan Peck) first name comes from a Star Trek novel written by Barbara Hambly in the 1985 Pocket Books novel Ishmael. Hambly was over the moon with the revelation, and in a Facebook post, she commented on the surprising news:
A friend just notified me of this. Way back in 1985, I wrote a Star Trek novel Ishmael – it wasn’t called Original Trek then because in 1985, it’s the only Trek there was. In it, Spock mentions that his name is S’Chn T’Gai Spock (unpronounceable, as specified in the series). And THAT’s the name the Paramount has officially declared (in the new series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds) is Spock’s name.
“…this is not an unfamiliar name to fans of classic Star Trek novels. Barbara Hambly’s Pocket Book novel Ishmael, first released in 1985, gave S’Chn T’Gai as Spock’s name. It was established that, in a similar manner to how the Bajorans naming conventions work—where, for example, Deep Space Nine’s Major Kira Nerys’ given name is Nerys, not Kira—Vulcan names are inverted, and S’Chn T’Gai is actually Spock’s family name.
Spock had previously alluded to having a first name in the Star Trek season 1 episode “This Side of Paradise,” where he described it as “unpronounceable.” Not any more, apparently!…Now, classic Star Trek fiction is having its legacy live on in TV once more with the canonization of S’Chn T’Gai.”
And that makes me Mr. Spock’s godmother!
This delights me as much as winning a Hugo or a Nebula. Maybe more.
And then a few hours later, she had to walk it all back, because Paramount had walked it all back.
Well, fooey. My 15 minutes of fame seems to have lasted about 18 hours. Evidently – so Randy Carter informs me on a comment to my post – Paramount has now walked back on that announcement and said that the poster was in error and they haven’t yet revealed Mr. Spock’s real name.So it all remains to be seen. But it did make me smile.
Too much of a coincidence
If Paramount were going to give names to Spock and M’Benga, they could do worse than to pull them from Star Trek novels. For example, the new name of the planet Vulcan, Ni’Var, goes all the way back to 1968 and the very first issue of the first Star Trek fanzine, called Spockanalia. The word was first created by linguist Dorothy Jones, who wrote for Spockanalia and other Trek zines in the late 60’s. Even the name of Number One, played by Rebecca Romijn, got the first name “Una” in Star Trek: Discovery’s Season 2 episode “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” from Star Trek novelist Una McCormack.
The precedent of modern Star Trek drawing inspiration from the fan communitiy is established, so if S’Chn T’Gai and Jabilo come from Trek literature, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. The more important question would seem to be, “if not that, then what?” If these aren’t the names, then where would the names be pulled from? “Thin air” doesn’t seem like quite so satisfying an answer.
Paramount says that “They were displayed with names that were incorrect,” and that the posters were removed from display at Mission Chicago, but that could just mean the gobbledegook names that were SUPPOSED to go on the posters as part of a teaser campaign didn’t happen as they were supposed to.
It seems far more likely that whoever did up the posters simply got the work instructions wrong and put the actual intended names on the posters.
Don’t fiddle with it, guys, just roll with it. We forgive you.
So now what? Paramount is in an awkward position. If the names really are what were on the leaked posters, then they’ve been caught lying to the public—unless you accept the idea that “They were displayed with names that were incorrect” doesn’t mean “the wrong names”, just “not the names we planned to show you at that moment”. If the names are different, then they’ll have had to change the names because of the leak to something unsupported by Trek history or fandom and then have to answer for that instead.
Honestly their best move is to just go with it and not make the names something other than what’s on the posters, and just go with “oops, that was a leak” rather than cheese off the fans more by trying to cover up the mistake. Admitting a human error would only serve to make fans identify more with the people who make the show they love, and that can’t be a bad thing.
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