by Bokerah Brumley
There is power in social media platforms. Authors spend hours studying the enigma that is “going viral,” working to harness this super potential. When writers have the charisma Candace Payne (the Chewbacca mask mom) used to turn doldrums-relieved into an Internet sensation, the stars are the limit.
Recently, researching possible names for a long-term space travel vehicle, I toyed with the idea of Serenity Station as a nod toward a favorite science fiction show. During NASA research, I discovered an interesting anecdote related to the name Serenity.
In 2009, NASA posted a poll online, giving users the opportunity to vote on the name of node three of the International Space Station. They offered Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity, and Venture as options for the new module. A fifth option allowed voters to give their own recommendations.
And then television and social media took over.
On March 3, 2009, Stephen Colbert asked viewers of The Colbert Report to write in his name as the fifth option and inundate NASA with votes for Colbert. Of the NASA suggestions, Serenity won with 70% of the vote. However, as a write-in, Colbert surpassed Serenity with forty thousand additional votes.
NASA, citing its discretion to select an appropriate name for node three, chose Tranquility as the name instead, in honor of the first lunar landing in the Sea of Tranquility.
But in an effort to appease Stephen Colbert and his fans, NASA made an appearance on The Colbert Report and offered to name a treadmill C.O.L.B.E.R.T. (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill). Stephen Colbert agreed and the treadmill was installed in the Tranquility nodule in August 2009.
While I did not ultimately choose to name my own fictional space ship Serenity, this is a fantastic example of how media can sometimes trigger a reaction that launches an author from obscurity to unexpected fame.
About the author:
Circular Horizon by Bokerah Brumley
A near-future inspirational, science fiction romance short
Available for FREE in
Where the Light May Lead