We, as a nation, have suffered. Wounded and confused, we wonder whether life will ever be the same again. But for all our pain, we can heal, if each one of us pitches in. We all have a part to play, whether donating blood, contributing to relief charities, or writing high-quality fan fiction to help a grieving nation forget its troubles for just a little while.
Such is the burden I have assumed.
Since 1997, through good times and bad, I have been there, creating rousing tales of events that did not actually take place in the official Back To The Future universe but could have. And now, in this time of crisis, I humbly offer these tales to the American people to help soothe their jangled nerves.
Certainly, I am neither the most prolific nor the most acclaimed of America's many Back To The Future fanfic authors. But I like to think that my work is among the most heartfelt, the most human. Take my recently self-published fanfic novella Think, McFly, in which Marty briefly becomes trapped in 1975 Hill Valley.
Let's not dwell on, for the purposes of this brief discussion, my historically accurate portrayal of the era, right down to the TV blaring All In The Family (a sly allusion to the whole theme of the film series). My depiction of Marty as he discovers yet another layer of the intertwined histories of his hometown and family surely approaches the depth of Robert Zemeckis' own work. In one scene, I have Marty encounter his 7-year-old self and, along with the reader, discover why being called a "chicken" has become such a personal curse. Who else in the online fanfic-writing community has taken such a bold leap of imagination while remaining completely true to the spirit of the film series? Can you name even one? I thought not.
But I am not here to cast aspersions on other BTTF fanfic authors. (Not even the wildly overrated Marion Gehl.) Now is the time for Americans to stand tall and united in the face of an ultimate evil, not to nitpick about who obviously doesn't understand what the films are even about. And it certainly isn't the time to actually dare to claim that Claudia Wells was a better Jennifer than Elisabeth Shue. But, then, it never is. (She didn't do anything!)
But I digress. Back To The Future is a timeless story of universal human experiences, like the quest for self-knowledge, overcoming adversity, and going to the school dance with your mother. It is this spirit I seek to honor and uplift through my works.
Consider my upcoming 1920s adventure, tentatively titled Density. In it, Marty and Doc find themselves in the year 1925, only to meet Marty's grandfather, Cyrus McFly, operating a "speakeasy" out of a familiar-looking beverage hall in downtown Hill Valley. The naïve young Marty romances a pretty young flapper who turns out to be his own grandmother. As if that weren't enough, to ensure the proper flow of time, he must mix things up with the Hill Valley crime syndicate, led by Bart Tannen, the eventual father of Biff! Particularly deft is my passing mention of a congenital heart defect in Bart, which helps foreshadow why Biff is raised by his grandmother in the '50s.
Still hurting? The weary and dispirited among us can turn to Biffco, a recently completed novella that reveals more tantalizing details about the powerful alternate version of Biff that appears in the middle of BTTF2. I don't want to give away the ending, but let's just say that the age-old conundrum of how the elderly Biff encountered his younger self without creating a time paradox will finally be answered.
These are merely one man's meager efforts, to be sure. Such fanciful tales are far less than is needed to salve the wounds of Sept. 11. But, hopefully, they're enough to assure America that better days lie ahead. Better days and even better Back To The Future fanfic. Specifically, my nearly completed masterwork: It's an ambitious, never-before-attempted Back To The Future–Star Trek crossover titled Trek To The Future.
Operating on the premise that Hill Valley is a suburb of San Francisco, my magnum opus takes the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and throws Marty, Doc, and Jennifer into the mix. While Kirk and crew stumble around the year 1986, attempting to save two humpback whales before returning to the 23rd century, Doc and Marty hover about the fringes, "helping" where necessary and borrowing Starfleet technology in myriad ingenious ways. It may well be my finest hour as a fanfic writer when Doc modifies a phaser to generate the necessary 1.21 gigawatts (I refuse to use the unscientific and meaningless "jigowatts") of power for the DeLorean.
Trek To The Future's coda, in which Bryce McFly, the 24th-century descendant of Marty, is a skittish Starfleet Academy cadet menaced by half-Klingon Ba'Qa Tannen, will surely represent a high-water mark of American fan fiction. And the throwaway gag about Picard being descended from Principal Strickland will be masterfully rendered.
No, these humble offerings don't match the healing power of, say, an all-frills DVD box set of the trilogy (we're still waiting, Universal!), but it's important that each of us does what he or she can.
Sadly, the flux-capacitor technology masterminded by Dr. Emmet Brown remains a fantasy. As such, we cannot go back in time and change the terrible events of Sept. 11. But we can draw strength by drawing close to one another and holding fast to the faith that tomorrow will be a brighter day. And also by reading my Back To The Future fan fiction. My next story should be up on the site as soon as my renewal money order to Dreamhost clears.
Larry Groznic is a noted fan-community luminary and sought-after expert on the topics of British television, spy-fi memorabilia, cosplay, RPG adventuring, and limited-edition collectible maquettes. He lives in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is single.