I clipped an Austrian version of this cartoon by the amazing illustrator Tom Gauld out of the Die Presse a while back (in the Austro-edition Cher has been changed to D.J. Ötzi).

My original reason for saving the cartoon was to use it in a blog about popular science bestsellers, a genre that I refer to as brain porn. I may return to that blog idea later but following up on Gauld’s illustration has sent me off on a completely new track.

Working backward from my German hardcopy, and knowing that Tom Gauld is Scottish, I entered “book title generator” into Google hoping to find the English original. When my search returned 86,000,000 hits it was clear I would need to refine my query. It was also apparent that I had stumbled into a weird corner of the Internet.

There actually are sites that generation book titles. Some, like Portent Idea Generator, require that you provide a topic before producing titles. When I entered “political legitimacy” into Portent, the software suggested: How to Stay Popular in the Political Legitimacy World. Not really what I was looking for, so I hit the new title button. How Political Legitimacy Isn’t as Bad as You Think was the next failed proposal. With idea three, Folk Remedies for Improving Your Life Using Only Political Legitimacy, I knew it was time to move on.

I really enjoyed the random results I received from the generic Title Generator site. Title Generator does not require a topic. It just spits out titles. It suggested Silken Obsession – sounds naughty. The Mage of the Voyagers – too fantasy pulp fiction. The Butterfly’s Theft – Hmmm… sounds interesting.

Could I author a book titled The Butterfly’s Theft? Would there be an actual butterfly in the book, or would the butterfly be a metaphor for someone of something? What would the butterfly steal? And, more importantly, what might be the motivations behind the theft?

What do you think The Butterfly’s Theft should be about? Leave a comment.

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