Interview with Thwendlulla Tlatnet-Tholfth

First, tell me how to pronounce your name.
J. Timothy Bagwell.
Wait, I thought you were . . . I can't even say it.
Thwendlulla Tlatnet-Tholfth?
That's amazing. It sounds a little like a steam locomotive coming into the station.
(laughing) That's a good analogy.
So why am I not talking to him?
Nothing personal, but Thwen doesn't really want to be interviewed. He signed
off on my use of his nickname, by the way. He knows no one can pronounce
the full version.
Except you. So why are you the person I'm interviewing?
Thwen and I are good friends. He asked me to stand in for him.
How does one become friends with an alien?
One starts by not calling the man an alien. He's as human as you are.
Actually, he's more human than either one of us, but going into that seems a
little premature. Anyway, Thwen is an extra-terrestrial human, if you have to
have a term for it. Though that's a little like the people of Togo referring to
President Obama as an extra-Togoan.
What term would you use?
I probably wouldn't. But if I couldn't live without one, I'd call him an exogenous
So how does someone become good friends with an exogenous human?
Thwen had been here for a while, about five years or so...
By "here" you mean Earth.
Of course. He had been here for about five years when I met him. One of the
things I write is science fiction. About a year ago, I finished the first draft of a
science-fiction novel and started showing it around, you know, to a couple of
writing groups and a few select friends and family members. The groups were
all on the Internet. Turned out that Thwen had been lurking on these websites
practically from the moment he arrived, that is, after he got over the worst
case of jet lag you can possibly imagine. Okay if I skip the graphic details?
I'm more than cool with that.
Great. Anyway, it turned out that my novel was so uncannily close to the
actual state of affairs on Earth that Thwen got in touch. He asked if we could
meet to talk about the book.
And he told you your novel was really nonfiction?
Oh, no. We didn't get to the point of discussing that until almost half a year
had gone by. It was three months before I figured out that he wasn't from
around here. Anyway, my book is a novel, so it's fiction. The revelation was
that it was more like historical fiction than science fiction.
Historical fiction? About what period in history?
This one.
You mean like near-future science fiction?
No, I mean like the present day. Right now. This very moment. Plenty of
tables, no waiting.
You wrote a science fiction novel about the present? Has anyone ever done that before?
I don't know. It's not common, that's for sure. I mean people write stories about
fantastic events that take place in the present, you know, alien invasions,
asteroids colliding with Earth, the Cubs winning the World Series.
Was that a little Chicago joke?
Yeah, sorry. But these stories aren't really ABOUT the present. They're more
like alternative presents. My book is about the present as it actually is.
So why did Thwen contact you? To get you to hush it up?
No, it was another agency that got in touch for that purpose. I prefer not to go
into it if you don't mind.
That's fine.
Maybe later. No, Thwen contacted me because he thought I would like to
know and because he knew I would get into trouble if I kept showing the
manuscript around. And he needed my help.
I hope this doesn't offend you . . .
Me too.
. . . but why would the alien, I mean the exogamous ambassador of . . .
Exogenous. Exogamous would, I believe, mean sleeping only with people
you're not in a relationship with.
Whatever. Why would the man who, if what you say is true, is perhaps the most important person on the planet, seek you out of all people? And all I mean by that is that you're an ordinary, normal bloke.
I'm neither normal nor ordinary, though I am a bloke. But I asked Thwen the
same question. He told me that the fact that I had made something up that
corresponded to the reality of the situation meant that I could understand him
and his reason for being here better than most people.
And what is his reason for being here?
Well, there's a simple answer to that question and there's a more complicated answer to that question.
What's the simple answer?
To help the people of Earth. To represent the Consortium of Human Worlds on this planet.
And the more complicated one?
You really need to let him explain the details, but the more complicated answer is to help Earth meet a deadline.
A deadline? For what?
That's the question, isn't it? For the end of Earth's total diplomatic quarantine.
What does that even mean?
Let me put it like this. The aliens have landed, and there's good news and bad news.
The good news is . . .
They're human.
And the bad news?
They aren't completely sure we are human. What do you call a newly-discovered island without any human inhabitants?
I give up.
Published 2014-05-13.
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Books by This Author

Earth is Upside Down (and 12 Other Things You Would Know About This Planet If You Didn't Live On It)
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,100. Language: English. Published: May 26, 2014 by Harp Seal Press. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Cosmos
An alien diplomat reveals thirteen astonishing facts about Earth and its place in the greater human community, including why Earth is upside down, why time doesn't exist, why you can travel faster than light but probably shouldn't, how men and women came to be a single species, what will happen if Earth does not clean up its act, and answers to other things you never suspected were questions.