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Many science fiction stories describe soldiers who perform spaceship boarding/defense or planetary invasions as "space marines." This is by analogy to modern marines who historically specialize in defending/assaulting naval vessels and amphibious combat.

Is there any term (neologism?) for this kind of soldier beyond adding "space" in front of an existing modern word?

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    $\begingroup$ Starship Troopers? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 28 '18 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ Hello Ben. I regret that "What is the best name for X?" questions are off-topic because they are entirely subjective (primarily opinion-based) in nature. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 28 '18 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ One thing for sure, we KNOW if Trump gets his space force, they are not going to be called 'marines'. One branch of the US military never uses terms from another branch, Too much rivalry, Military SciFi seems intent on modeling space fleets after navies, believing that they would have a contiguous development from naval battleships into space battleships. Yet most astronaut commander/pilots came from the air force. Methinks Trump could change all of that going forward. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Aug 29 '18 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ Referring to Naval Infantry as "Marines" is a strictly Western European notion. Russia calls them... Naval Infantry, and Imperial Japan called them Special Naval Landing Forces. Thus, names like Space Infantry, Astro-infantry and Special Astro Assault Forces (SAAFs) come to mind. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 29 '18 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ since space force is branched out of airforce, the assault troops will be inherit the "paratroopers" names. :) $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Aug 29 '18 at 18:21
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Use Portmanteaus

War Dogs by Greg Bear uses the term Skyrines, a portmanteau of "sky" and "marine". If you don't like the use of the term "sky", you could substitute it for another term like say, "cosmo", to get "Cosmorine."

Other examples may include: astroldier - combining Astro and Soldier. A bit hard on your tongues though, decreasing efficiency in a military setting.

Plasfo - PLanetary ASsault FOrce. This one is a bit more heavy on stereotypical military terminology, but gets the job done.

Look Into Linguistic Roots

The term "marine" is derived from French (French "marine", from Latin "marinus", derived from "mare"). We could do the same but with the term "space". In French, the term for space is "espace" according to Google Translate, so space marines could potentially be called "espatiers" (pronounced "espaciers" as in "spatial").

(I got the above example from http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/astromilitary.php#terminology)

But this isn't the 1800s and presumably not everyone speaks a Latin-derived language. So you could potentially play around with linguistics and lore to create your terminology. For instance, I could have a world where there is a second space race and China comes out on top, and have terminologies be based on Chinese.

But regardless of language, we need to consider what would be practical. In a military setting, communication needs to be short and precise, and easy to say, so we should decrease the number of syllables while keeping the meaning clear. If you want to stick to English and keep it linguistically reasonable, I say you should get common phrases like in the other answers and play around with them (see above section).

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  • $\begingroup$ Espatiers sounds pretty good. I like your idea. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 29 '18 at 0:04
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In the context of your world, if the vast majority of engagements are fought ship-to-ship, or ship-to-station, they could simply be "soldiers" or "troopers" without any particular need for a prefix.

Essentially these types of actions have become so commonplace that doesn't make sense to draw attention to it - it's just a part of an ordinary soldiers job.

Other ideas:

  • Voidnaut
  • Shocktrooper

@Clay Deitas mentioned referring to them like modern special forces, e.g. "Green Beret", which I think is a good idea

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Tough call.

I tend to refer to people who specialize in fighting within ships as "Boarding soldier", but that doesn't seem like what your talking about.

I guess "Exo-trooper" could work, referring to combatants who operate outside atmospheres.

Personally, I'd be tempted to refer to these guys as "Rocketeers", but that's technically already in use. Plus it might be a bit too retro-sounding.

If I was allowed to get fancy, I'd claim that Russians established the first military bases and space-specialized soldiers. The russian weapons program to arm these soilders was designated operatsiya: kosmicheskiy rytsar' (operation: space knight), so the term for any null-gravity soilder became "Raystar."

The most generic-sounding one would probably be "Spacer", which I kind of like because it sounds equal parts insulting, pessimistic, and threatening.

I think that's all I got in my arsenal at the moment, but I might edit more in later.

Wait, you could call these guys "Kents" after the secret identity of superman. Might be a fun way of poking fun at their egos, you know?

Edit: 30-secs would be a fun nickname at least. That's about how long humans can survive in a hard vacuum.

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    $\begingroup$ As much as I liked Raystars, Kents was an absolutely hilarious answer. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 29 '18 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ Combining a couple of ideas here - Astrooper? Although, I know where that'll be taken in every schoolyard on the planet... $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Aug 29 '18 at 4:44
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    $\begingroup$ Exotroopers is a pretty good neologism, and I imagine soldiers would enjoy abbreviating it ETs. $\endgroup$ – Ben Aug 29 '18 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Ben Oh dang, I wish I thought of that. Not only is a natural abbreviation, it's also on theme. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Aug 29 '18 at 20:24
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  • $\begingroup$ Downvoted because this is a list of modern or historical soldier names which have nothing to do with space or the combat role I described. $\endgroup$ – Ben Aug 29 '18 at 19:41
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I always liked the idea of space being referred to as the Abyss. You could call the more hardened soldiers "Abyssers" or something along those lines.

A more technical term would have to use "Astro" somehow, but Astrosoldiers sounds lame.

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Cosmonauts.

Astrotroopers.

Star Soldiers.

Or any feature given to the standard space soldier, like the name Green Barrett.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cosmonaut is a nautical name, so that's out. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 28 '18 at 23:50

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