An Exploration Into The 21st Century Human Practice Of Fan Fiction, As Conducted By Ened, A Trade Captain From Cosmos Redshift 7.


I have decided to research and compose fan-fiction on the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan to fufill my daily creativity quotient before I leave this planet and move onto the next, mindful of the coming Great Wind Migration here, where every inhabitant’s corporeal form is set to peal away like flecks of paint and little golf-tee-like flower stems and become a great fish cloud-like simurgh travelling over the hills and skies before they return back to their settled bodies and settled forms, and — I should add — mindful of the work that had to be done planet to planet, too, work for which I am responsible.

I have not yet had the chance to visit Earth, but I have long-since appreciated the way they imagined life beyond their skies and I felt that it was only fitting and in line with the rules of galactic engagement to return the favor — to respond to the astronomer saying, “Where is everybody?” with some version of “Right here.” Friends of mine who are more conversant in Earth than myself introduced me to the concept of fan-fiction when we were trying to find out how a fish too large for Epsilon 8 had ended up on Epsilon 8, and I confessed a certain fondness for it. Other friends in the cohort — Xantog, specifically — dismissed human fan fiction as being cut from the same cloth as those who ripped off Charles Dickens and rewrote the end of “King Lear,” albeit with more procreation. I replied that I didn’t understand the value of the distinction he was trying to make. He challenged me to write one of my own. Here we are.

If you see anything from my planet make its way into the text, I can only apologize: it only strikes me as fair that my daily creativity quotient allows for some aspect of creativity.

Bob Dylan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943. He would grow up in a town where the sports-team mascot would show up for jury duty, silently cheering everyone on with emphatic, enthusiastic gestures as they deliberated their way through the pathways of justice; where a man dressed up as a popular religious figure named Jesus rode a merry-go-round and yelled at tourists; where a crab wandered the evening streets with a cigarette in its claw, slowly puffing away; and where a subway worker collected fares for said subterranean way in a brown paper bag — or, at least, people could have sworn he worked for the subway. He would draw upon all these sights and sounds in composing the songs of Philadelphia: there was something happening here worth communicating to the world at large in the form of slow, stomping blues songs that would emerge from beneath the clamour of the bells of the city, bells which implicitly rang in the same way that someone could tell that someone had left a television on in a room somewhere, where —

There was a knock on the portside entrance to the ship. I opened it. It was Xantog.

“What do you want, Xantog?”

“What are you writing?”

“A piece on 21st century human fan-fiction on the Earthbound singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.”

He looked at the page.

“Is he going to have sex with Philadelphia?”

“Please leave the ship, Xantog.”

“Is that a yes?”

“Please leave the ship, Xantog.”

He left. The door shut. I silently examined the constellation of nobs, dials, readouts, and diodes that composed the parameters of my ship. My writing equipment lay stretched across the top of that. The sun glared its way over a clearing of trees. My third eye opened, blinked for a moment to orient itself as to where it was, and then left my cranial area to gently fly itself around the ship.

The fact that humans attribute spiritual value to a third eye is something of a joke. If anything, a liberated third eye was as competent as a member of Canis lupus familiaris perpetually on the verge of entering its daily sleep cycle — and I couldn’t see out of it when it wasn’t in my cranial area, either, nor would I be able to recall what the eye had seen on its journey when it re-entered once again.

But that is neither here nor there.

Bob Dylan first began performing in The Clef Club when he was 17 years old. He wore a Fez hat and kept refererencing conversations with a “Mr. Mummer” in-between songs. These songs would cover the range of the human experience: eating, sleeping, waking up, becoming friends with dogs, farming, regularly confusing the practice of wisdom with the practice of hindsight, the reproductive cycle, how the life of a cowboy can be so much more than a rider sharing a cigarette with his horse in the confines of a stall as the rain poured down outside as the two of them slowly puffed away, and how to properly pronounce ‘Yinz.’

But was this a human? I asked, putting my writing instrument down and looking up.