To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize


We writers worry about unusual things. Nitpicky details that we suspect no one besides us will notice, but we worry anyway. One such detail is highly specific to science fiction and fantasy writers: do we capitalize the names of our alien or fantastic races and species?

In the Unbound series there are multiple species of sentient creatures, including humans. But see what I did there? We don’t capitalize “humans”–we capitalize political names, like American or British, but not humans. (Or cats, or dogs, or horses, for that matter.) It’s always caught my eye and yanked me out of a story when one is capitalized but the other isn’t, yet it yanks me out when humans is capitalized to be consistent with other species’ names.

In the novella, Insurrection, the two species are capitalized: Ir’drakhon and Iridelli. (Yes, I know they both start with “I”–there’s a story there, too, which I’ll probably tell someday). But in the novella, there are no humans, so it feels right, and helps keep them distinctive. And when it was first published in the Writers of the Future, the editor, the famous Algis Budrys, left it that way, so I’m leaving it that way–it feels right to keep that consistent.

But for the novels?