>The protagonist of Kim Stanley Robinson’s sublime Antarctica is called X. It’s a nickname actually, but I’m pretty sure his real name’s never mentioned. Chapter one puts the book’s cards on the table by saying, quite simply: “Call him X.”
Names have great power in fiction, and to reduce one’s title character to a mere symbol is pretty daring. I’m not sure I’d have the nerve. But it works beautifully, and perfectly represents one the novel’s key themes: that there are some environments so alien – even on Earth – that man will always struggle to represent himself there; against Antarctica’s uncompromising tableau of ice, rock and sky, he’s reduced to just a crude mark on the landscape.
When you think about it, “X” is the perfect everyman name. If you’re asking your readers to project themselves into the narrative, what better way than to give them a blank space into which to insert themselves? So why not take it a stage further? How about a literal blank space? Could you read a book where the hero’s name is ?