Back in 1981 author Vonda N McIntyre wrote the first original Star Trek novel for Pocket Books, "The Entropy Effect", and then went on to write a number of other Trek books and movie adaptations. Today McIntyre has a guest blog at io9 discussing the genesis of her work on Star Trek, including how she came up with Sulu’s first name
Sulu gets a name
In a guest blog post at io9, Vonda McIntyre writes about writing one of the first Star Trek novels "The Entropy Effect" (1981), which was the second Star Trek novel published by Pocket Books (the first being the book adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Her blog contains a passage on how she gave Sulu a first name:
The only potential glitch in the Star Trek books came about because I couldn’t figure out how to write a love scene where the protagonists called each other by their surnames. So I gave Mr. Sulu a first name, "Hikaru," which is from The Tale of Genji. I was blissfully unaware of the glitch till long after the fact; someone at Paramount objected to the idea of the character’s having a given name, for reasons unclear to me. David had the good idea of asking Gene Roddenberry and George Takei their opinion, and both of them said "Go for it" or words to that effect. And so Mr. Sulu has a first name.
Sulu’s first name Hikaru eventually made it into official canon in the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This is not the only time that material from (non-canon) Star Trek books made its way into official Star Trek canon. For example, in the 2009 Star Trek movie, Uhura’s first name Nyota, and Kirk’s mother’s name Winona were both derived from previous non-canon Star Trek books.
Hikaru, Winona, and Nyota got their names from the books
There is more to McIntyre’s blog, so read the rest at io9.
Original 1981 cover for "The Entropy Effect"