Olli Toivanen's How to Count Your Cats



A showcase of writer evolution (1995–2007)

I was born in 1982, in Finland. The earliest things I wrote are probably lost; I remember doodling comics about the adventures of a humanoid duck called "Sorsa", which was both Finnish for "duck" and the surname of an at-the-time prominent politician. As I was about eight, there was no political subtext meant.

At school, there were composition classes, at first to make us understand how the Finnish language works, and then, later, to sort of kind of instruct us on how to write good. On the fifth grade or so of the six-year elementary school (1989–1995), I wrote a Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt pastiche. As I recall it, there was a submarine whose reactor was about to explode and there might have been radiation zombies; it was all over in maybe 400 words, and left the possibility of a sequel open by me forgetting all about resolving that imminent reactor explosion.

Ah well.

Home page foolishness (1996?)

After elementary school came the lower high school (1995–1998), generally speaking a place where people are old enough to be mean, but too young to easily shrug off the meanness of others.

Since I did not have a social life to occupy me, I made great many attempts to write things. Usually very derivative fantasy, Tolkien or Dragonlance with the serial numbers filed off, or straight-out fan fiction. The Dragonlance stories were about draconians and orcs on the run, because evil rocks; one Tolkien story (“Thimbalt”) was about an elf charting a ship to the Western Sea and to the island which used to be Angband. It is then revealed the elf used to be a prisoner there, millennia ago, and the captain wisely sails the heck away rather than stays around to see what might shamble out from the ruins.

Another was titled “3-2-1” because it was about the adventures of (I think) three Hobbits, two dwarves and one man of Rohan. Yet another was the chronicle of a lost Numenorean colony in the south of the world; with both there was great fun in going to the Appendices and backs-of-Silmarillion to get names, and then when time came to write the actual adventures that was suddenly more difficult than I had thought.

Well, there was derivative horror too: Lovecraft with all the monsters and deities renamed. (“No seriously, though he's called the Monster Which Sleep in the Ocean, he's totally original! And this mlllion-faced malicious god of chaos is not Nyar— I mean, total originality!”)

Sword and sorcery too — I had read Robert E. Howard's “Shadow of the Vulture” and “The Twilight of the Grey Gods”, and then scribbled a few pastiches. When Howard had written history mixed with fantasy, I wrote, well, fantasy mixed with made-up stuff that looked like history. But it felt so good to write it!

But since those all were in Finnish, I'm not going to show them. Here's rather a snippet in English from a lower-high school homepage's about page, because I've been excreting home pages about every eighteen months or so ever since 1995 or so.

(The links have been neutered and the names replaced with POOPBUTT to protect the innocent.)

This person has no business to be writing anything in English.

Olli Toivanen


Fantasy book fan (Tolkien, Dragonlance, Eddings, Shannara, Earthsea, Holdstock etc.) ( And also fan of Science Fiction, or of Asimov, Clarke, Card and so on. )
Student on POOPBUTT junior high school.( yläaste in finnish )
The Homepage of POOPBUTT Yla-aste ( for finns, POOPBUTTn Yläaste )
Soon I most probably will be student of POOPBUTT High School (lukio in finnish language)
And, yes, I am finnish. Most of you most probably know where it is, but for those few ones who do not:
Finland, small ( population about five million ) land between Russia and Sweden in Northern Europe. Cold but not arctic, lots of lakes and snow. No ice bears or igloes. For some time ally of Sweden, and under Russian rule until 1917. Independent since 1917. In World War II fought against Russia and with Germany. Current president is called Martti Ahtisaari.

Email address:POOPBUTT
And if you want to know more about me (and if you understand finnish) click here.

Finland Links:

Homepage of quite typical finnish student, POOPBUTT.
the Finnish Defence Forces
the President of the Republic of Finland
Statistics Finland

I don't know why I put the Defence Forces link there. And did I have some creepy fixation with the President or something?

In lower high school I started my first novel. I have the exact moment noted down; it was 13.6.1997 at 18.58 o'clock, in Notepad on one of a series of Windows desktops dad had gotten us boys since forever.

After a while I had to move it to MS Word because Notepad couldn't handle the length.

It was called “Puoliörkki” (The Half-Orc); it was the result of taking ZAngband, of which more below, and using that for the setting: vast underground dungeons where adventurers come to kill monsters and acquire loot — and then basically going all Tolkien-Dragonlance-Eddings all over it, ragtag-bands and save-the-worlds and divine-interventions and the like. The titular half-orc was called Gluk, which doesn't sound any more sensible in Finnish either; after some shadowy elves kill his clan he becomes an independent agent and then a member of an adventuring party, which then conveniently is yanked to the ground level and thrown every which way across the world against resurgent demon-allied orcs and demonic sea serpents and prophecies of war and disaster.

I wrote some improbable 90k words of the Half-Orc, getting maybe halfway through and not really knowing where I was going — and then one day didn't have the time — not the day after that — I was going to get back to it — I didn't.

For some reason I then went nearly a decade without even starting another novel. I suspect that in 1997 I was fifteen and just learning enough English to read Tolkien and Dragonlance and David Eddings in the original; and I got the idea in my head that it was not possible to write good fantasy in Finnish. The translations often reinforced this opinion. Since I didn't know English well enough to write even a short story, I… I dithered, and wrote other things, and occasionally jotted down maps and lists of names and titles of novels and lists of chapter-titles in English, and kicked myself for not being able to do anything more.

Well, during those days — lower high or high school — I did turn in for extra credit a sheaf of Ars Magica fan fiction for the Finnish teacher, and an album of mopey heavy metal lyrics (in English; Knives) for the English teacher. Mostly because… because it had to be right because nobody else was doing it, right? Nobody else was getting to the library fifty kilometers behind the village and loaning an Ars Magica sourcebook and reading it for fun and fan fiction, because there was nobody to play it with.

Both teachers were a lot more understanding than they had any reason to be.

(In high school, I had people to play Dungeons and Dragons with. And it was great! But that's a different cluster of anecdotes.)

“Disclaimer” (1999?)

In high school (1998–2001), for a school assignment, when we were asked to write a short story, I wrote something intolerably emo (“Valo”, Light, 1999) about the life of a man, the life being disappointment and grief mainly, and him then returning to his childhood home, seeing a sunbeam just like those which used to hover above his cradle — he grasps at them and catches one, and presumably he dies.

For the same exercise, a classmate wrote a cool story about fighting zombies. I was crazy jealous.

For our next sample, I present a disclaimer in English, from the bottom of a horribly in-jokey otherwise-in-Finnish homepage from my high school years.

I've edited it a bit because young me apparently thought <br> was a paragraph separator.

Official disclaimer and other mumbo-jumbo

For those english-speaking not capable of reading plain finnish : go and learn it!

For those finnish-speaking not capable of reading plain english ; go and learn it!

All and everyone of the facts, truths and revelations and other bits of information in this gazette have been made and have been invented and collected solely for the purposes of entertaining and recreation. The creator shall take no responsibility whatsoever should the information in this gazette be revealed to in fact be true. No animals, humans, quylthulgs or other significant forms of life were harmed during the creation of this gazette. Has not known to include ammonium chlorides or sulphur, unless we have been brutally lied to. This envelope does not include a literal form of art compressable or deflatable to the message of following sentence: quick brown fox jumped over the ugly fox, which was eating a box and claiming that the writers of this have and will not have no sense, common or other, whatever or wheresoever, or whensoever.

One of the creators and shape-givers of this gazette and ideas and facts within can be contacted by the means of electronic mail, thru the obscene and eldritch and/or oblong address POOPBUTT@hotmail.com.

These pages have been created thru the ideas of quylthulgness developed from the facts of Angband by POOPBUTT TWICE and O.T, last of which has been foolish enough to make them into this abhorrent form of electrical transformation of useless facts. This editors of this are brain-eating vacuum-accustomed horrid tentacle monsters from the outer-space planet of Zuug, or so the evening newspapers claim. The editors, named above, wish not to comment either their origins or their eating habits until they have, as said, in verbatim, 'eaten some more of our share of the cake of life', which is, not until some twenty years or the editors, or the evening newspapers, have passed.

Should some or any of the persons who have read, or to whom been read, this page, any texts herein, or seen this page, be later in life be plagued by misfortune, plague, good fortune, were-cats, amazons, tibetians, atlanteans, unicorns or quylthulgs, we (meaning, the writers and creators of this) are not to be blamed, except in the case of quylthulg-plague, of which should be immediately told to us, should it occur. Amen.

This blasphemous blasphemy shall end now. In the names of Qlzqqlzuup and Öde-Shoggog, praised be the QUYLTHULG!

Now, the next bit is about that same in-joke. When I was in high school, I had an immense need to create, and no idea what to create. My particular in-group was defined by partial intersections of computers, Magic: the Gathering, good grades, bad jokes, and sporty hobbies (not me!). One of our bad jokes got out of hand; and so one of the keywords of my high school experience was “quylthulg”. (Others were “C-PAP machine”, “brain edema”, “Aulis Gerlander the frog invasion overlord” and “Gustaf Komppa”, but that's complicated. Those words were used for aesthetics, not for medicine.)

Quylthulgs, as other people know them, are blob creatures from ZAngband, a Moria- or Nethack-like dungeon crawl computer game.

I don't know the origin of these creatures, though I suspect they were created for ZAngband or some predecessor of it and not borrowed from a real work of fantasy (the “Z” was for “Zelazny”, as in the author of the Chronicles of Amber, and the source of 20% of the beasties). This suspicion of mine comes from their like… haphazard nature. Really, teleporting, monster-summoning flesh blobs whose leader is called Qlzqqlzuup? That's less Roger Zelazny or Tolkien (30% of the creatures in the game), and more a hobby programmer with a monster niche to fill, and a cat prone to jumping on the keyboard.

That didn't stop them from becoming our mascots; and in the below text, the culmination of my personal fascination, stars in a holy book of their own. As there was nothing I could find about the creatures, I made stuff up in a weirdly myopic way, not really thinking what I was writing or why. As a result, this text is not really a joke; but it is not really serious either. It was something I wrote, just for myself, because here was finally something to write about.

Most creative urges of the high school age tend to be myopic, I think; mine were just a little stranger than the usual dark paintery and lovesick poetry.

A fond memory of mine is years later noticing there was a Wikipedia article for quylthulgs, and a link on it was to a paleolithic page-cousin of this text, now long offline. The reason probably was that outside the game documents there really is nothing about quylthulgs anywhere; not the last time I checked anyway. The link, and the article, quickly suffered just and harsh deletion; but it was nice to know my stuff has been used to improve Wikipedia, no matter how meaninglessly, temporarily and minutely. What percentage of people can “boast” the same without putting the link in themselves?

So here's chapter eleven of eighteen.

Eleventh Chapter : An-Hog and Zir-Vla

11.1 And so, after the departure of OEDE-Shoggog, the chosen folk lived and prospered.

11.2 The great city of the chosen folk, nameless after the fashion of the chosen folk, was named Vlog-Shoggog, it is of the language of the chosen folk and of the old language which was the language of OEDE-Shoggog himself, and it means, the City of the Revealer.

11.3 In Vlog-Shoggog and the surrounding lands, to the Swamp of Nisht and to the Plains of Fate, and to the farthest reaches of the Desolate Forest and to the mountains of Zin-Harg, ruled the Nameless, the Emperor.

11.4 And when time passed and the Emperor grew old many of the chosen folk went to the new lands, beyond the snow-capped mountains of Zin-Harg, or to the plains beyond the Desolate Forest, or beyond the Swamp of Nisht and the Plain of Alephais, and they were ruled by Qlzqqlzuup, the overlord of all of the chosen folk and the steward on the absence of OEDE-Shoggog.

11.5 And so it is said, that OEDE-Shoggog appeared many times to the dreams of Qlzqqlzuup and the Emperor, and guided them, and the chosen folk grew and largened, and spred wide.

11.6 Then, two hundred and seventy three years after OEDE-Shoggog left, the first Emperor died.

11.7 He had lived four hundred thirty and one years, and of that, two hundred and seventy three years been the Emperor of the chosen folk.

11.8 And the chosen folk grew sad over his death, and built him a tomb of crystal and precious stones to the peak of Kal-Hog, which lies near to the city of Vlog-Shoggog.

11.9 And the time to choose the new Emperor came, for the chosen folk was in the need of a leader.

11.10 Two candidates it was for the Emperor to be, and both of them were sired from the old Emperor, in first generation, and both great in his likeness in his youth.

11.11 First of them, the older, was named An-Hog, and he was pale like snow in the shoulders of the great mountain of Kal-Hog, and mightily wise.

11.12 Later of them and younger was Zir-Vla, fast in his deeds and doings like the bursting and eagerly flooding river of Zir, and as willing to give away his own to others.

11.13 The chosen folk knew not which one of them to choose, for in some things it was their way to favour the elder, and in some the younger, but Emperors they had had only one, and they had no precedent.

11.14 So the both went to the great tower of the palace of the Emperor, and cried OEDE-Shoggog to help and guide them.

11.15 But OEDE-Shoggog made no appearance, and so An-Hog and Zir-Vla decided to wait and to fast so OEDE-Shoggog would appear to them.

11.16 They waited in the tower of the palace for a day and a night, and for another day they waited.

11.17 During the another night a stranger climbt to the tower, seeming like a servant, and gave them vials of refreshing drink.

11.18 And An-Hog declined, refusing to drink, and claimed he would fast and stay fast, until OEDE-Shoggog would make his appearance, but Zir-Vla took the drink, and drank it, and drank the drink of An-Hog also.

11.19 Then the stranger raised himself to all his height, and they saw that it was truly OEDE-Shoggog himself in disguise.

11.20 OEDE-Shoggog threw his disguise away, and like a flaming star stood amidst them, and they were greatly afraid, and threw themselves to his feet.

11.21 And OEDE-Shoggog spake to them:

11.22 Truly! I have come to you, for you are in need of my guidance.

11.23 You two are both in choice for the place of the Emperor, but only one of you shall fulfill it.

11.24 Then An-Hog and Zir-Vla shrivelled in terror, for the feared OEDE-Shoggog would destroy the unfit one of them.

11.25 But OEDE-Shoggog said:

11.26 You, An-Hog the elder and the wiser, have I chosen for the new Emperor, for you declined of the vial of drink, and stood first while awaiting me. But you, Zir-Vla, shall I teach because of breaking your fast, and to you shall I spell a different destiny.

11.27 Then An-Hog bowed deeper still, and praise OEDE-Shoggog, but Zir-Vla cried in a great voice, for he feared death.

11.28 After saying this lifted OEDE-Shoggog his hand, and for a moment the skies were lit like in the day, and both An-Hog and Zir-Vla had to turn away.

11.29 And from the shining spake OEDE-Shoggog:

11.30 But like An-Hog is to be the Emperor over your shells and forms, shall Zir-Vla be the guide of your hearts, and as a mark of this guidance I leave him a holy remain of me.

11.31 And the shining lessened, and OEDE-Shoggog was gone.

11.32 To Zir-Vla had he left statue in his likeness, crafted to a strange metal, and it was his likeness in all his glory amidst a thundering cloud, and Zir-Vla built a shrine to this statue to the mountains of Zin-Vorg, and with many others of the master-tribe went to live there.

11.33 Zir-Vla, who had before been flighty and prodigal, was silent after seeing OEDE-Shoggog, and steady, and great in wisdom, and lived in the mountains of Zin-Vorg teaching other for three hundred and fourty nine years more, until he died.

11.34 * And he had sired no one to be after him, for after seeing OEDE-Shoggog had he lived as an eunuch and a castrate.

11.35 But An-Hog became the new Emperor, and he gave away his name so the only he kept was that of Emperor, so he should not overly grow proud and drive his folk to destruction.

11.36 After beginning from that day has the name of the Emperor been the Emperor only, and the name of the eldest of his children been the An-Hog only.

11.37 OEDE-Shoggog blessed the family of the Emperor with long age and with great wisdom, and the chosen folk adored and praised them greatly.

This thing was like most of the things I wrote in late high school — it somehow wasn't a real story, because I was afraid of trying “real” stories. I wrote Bible-form fiction like the above; I wrote song lyrics, I wrote movie scripts; things that involved putting words after each other, but weren't about style and beauty; I did not write “real” stories. As I got out of high school I just sank deeper and deeper into writing descriptions, not fiction.

Fan fiction (2003)

Then in the fall of 2001 I went to get a university education at the University of Joensuu, my father's old pretentious Latin term here. I spent the year of 2002 in the army, writing a very non-exciting diary — about ten words per day doesn't make for interesting reading — and then at the start of 2003 came back to Joensuu.

At the city library, I came across these black-and-white comics by this lady called Rumiko Takahashi. They were called Ranma 1/2, and they were the best thing ever. It was the spring before the fall that started the Finnish manga publishing boom, and I was ahead of the curve because some kind soul had caused the library to acquire a few volumes of the English translation of Ranma. (And, for some unfathomable reason, a volume of the German translation. I read that too, obviously.)

After exhausting the library's Ranma volumes — I would later acquire illegal electronic copies of the whole run, partly in fan translation, and then the complete runs in official Finnish and English — I went online and found fan fiction.

Fan fiction is basically the best thing ever. It is more of the same; and it is all those stories the original author couldn't or wouldn't write. It is written by people with varying amounts of skill, just like every other kind of literature ever; and for every nugget of poopola, there's a diamond there: humor, drama, epic adventures, angst, character studies, alternate timelines and unlikely crossovers, lemons and limes…

After losing myself in the online archives for some months, and eating up probably megabytes of raw text, an idea rose up: these are normal people who write these things. I'm a normal peop--- okay, I mean I can write these things too!

The next bit is Ranma 1/2 fan fiction, from the summer of 2003, when the semester was ending and I had a lot of free time, but it wasn't yet time to go annoy the parents for the summer. I had written a series of tables for generating Ranma-specific ideas — roll from this table twice for characters, except with 20 thrice, and from this table for the conflict.

This was one of the dozen-or-so stories I wrote.

Tale one : the Cursed Idol

Akane was very angry when she found the little statue. People usually are either very angry or outright mad when they find things like that. It is a law of the Story.

Ranma had been his usual rude self, and Akane was still simmering hours later. She had ran out of cinderblocks and, searching for some more, had ended up in the storage room of the dojo. No cinderblocks there, but plenty of ancient and strange memorabilia from the long years of Anything Goes Martial Arts. Some were amusing, such as a note that said: 'For Imperial Treasury. To be paid to the owner of this note: 1 yen, for services rendered. The Shogun.' Some were strange, such as a combination weapon of a katana and a longbow, carefully packaged with a note of 'Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, try to use. Eight-fingers Jinji, Master of Anything Goes.' Some were plain incomprehensible, such as a coagulated lump of rice soup labelled 'Dangerous! Do not wet. Do not expose to sunlight. Do not, DO NOT, eat.'

And some of the things in the storage were scary. Well, as scary as anything connected to the branch of martial arts Happosai was the strongest representative of could be. The statue was half a foot tall, red, hard-baked clay, representing a widely-grinning young man.

The label was the scary part. It read 'Cursed Idol. Do not give to anyone.' Nothing more. Cursed Idol? All kinds of strange rubbish -

And at that moment Akane heard a voice from the dojo. A female voice that spoke poor Japanese with a Chinese accent. A voice she decidedly didn't like.

'Husband! Come back!'

She also heard the sound of Ranma running for the hills.

She rushed out to confront the insolent Amazon and, on seeing her, noticed she still held the statue in her hands. Now, Akane Tendo wasn't an evil person, but she had had a very bad day so far, and she really didn't like the woman that had repeatedly tried to steal Ranma from her. Not that she cared about the jerk, of course.

'Shampoo!'

'Ak! Kitchen Destroyer!'

Silently fuming and very resolute now, she presented the statue. 'Shampoo, I'd like you to have this.'

'What is it?'

'Oh, just something I found in the storage room. I think it is Chinese, so you should have it.'

'Oh. Thank you, Kitchen Killer.'

Shampoo was guileful enough to know Akane wasn't, so she didn't expect such a sudden bout of nastiness. And besides, where could the Doom of Food get a dangerous magic item from?

Akane felt a little bad seeing Shampoo leave. A little, and even that feeling disappeared when she noticed the dish of ramen that had spilled to the floor and stank of roses and nameless, both amorous and poisonous things.

* * *

Shampoo had had her share of encounters with magic, so she could draw a connection when the third fire hydrant exploded while she was walking past.

Fire hydrants do explode now and then, but three in one hour is unusual even in Nerima.

There was really only one thing that could have cursed her, and that was the statue. Oh, the Kitchen Menace had been very crafty. Shampoo hadn't heard of such bad cursed items for a while.

As it is very well known, the Chinese Amazons usually don't let an insult go unanswered.

* * *

Soon after the Tendo doorbell rang, and Akane went to answer. Kasumi heard the following half of a conversation.

'Oh, hi, Shampoo. Ranma isn't home right now so you -'

'Oh, really? Well, thank you. You really shouldn't have. Please come inside. You look all wet and -'

'Oh. Where was she in such a hurry to? I almost feel sorry for her. I gave her that nasty idol and now she brings me a present in return. A fancy scarf it's wrapped in. I wonder what it might be -'

'Of course. The same blasted idol.'

* * *

Meanwhile, in the garden, Ryoga was rehearsing.

'Akane, would you like to come to a date with me?'

No. Too straightforward. What if she refused?

'Akane, there's this new martial arts movie playing and I thought...'

But what if she didn't want to see the movie?

'Akane, I thought I'd go to the movies tonight and I wondered if you would like to come with me?'

But what if she had other things to do? Worse still, what if she was going to the movies with Ranma?

No. Not possible. That lout would never manage to ask Akane to the movies.

'Akane, do you like movies?'

No. Absolutely not. A stupid question.

Why it had to be so difficult?

Oh! There Akane was. Quickly now, Ryoga. What do I say? Then she was here and there was no more time to think.

'Oh, hi Akane! I was w-wondering if t-today s-still m-movies l-like t-though-h - AARGH!'

Strange, he thought, usually the mental block wasn't this painful.

'Oh, Ryoga! Thank you! If you hadn't been there that could have hit me. Strange, now. How can a... a saucer? A saucer just zip out of nowhere like that? Somebody must have been washing dishes too vigorously.'

'Oh! G-glad to s-stop any s-saucers for you, Akane! Anytime!'

What was that thing Akane was holding? A statue? Was she offering it to - him?

'Ryoga, could you ...'

The world dissolved into a rosy haze.

Distantly and dimly Ryoga Hibiki heard an angelic voice say: '... could you throw this thing to a dumpster for me? Somewhere far away.'

The voice that spoke was so sweet to hear the words were almost incomprehensible. Anything! Anything for Akane!

When the mist finally dispersed, Ryoga found he was holding a rather repulsive clay statue of a grinning young man. Akane was gone.

Akane!

* * *

It took Ryoga several hours (and more than several imploding fire hydrants, violently and independently opening cold-water faucets and one insane fireman) to get convinced that something was wrong. His days weren't all that good, but they rarely were this bad. Finally he thought of the only possible explanation.

Saotome! This was all his fault!

The wretch had tricked his precious Akane into giving him a cursed idol of great, malignant power! The base knave! To stain the hands of beauteous Akane with such vile plottery!

Ryoga shook his head. He was so angry he didn't even recognise his thoughts as his own. That beast Ranma Saotome! He'd punish him for this trickery!

What could he do?

Running off to find the wretch was the first alternative. He'd go and find him and punish him for all evil he'd inflicted on him! Wait. There was a better idea. Let the plotter have a taste of his own medicine! A fitting punishment.

Ha. Now he only had to find the wretch.

* * *

Several hours later Ryoga found his way back to the Tendo house. Surely a sign of the righteousness of his cause that he should so quickly find his way over an overwhelming distance of whole three blocks!

And there was the wrongdoer, lying in the sun, apparently not caring about his evil deeds... The wretch!

'Ranma Saotome, prepare to die!'

In an instant the two were ready to fight, as usual. Ryoga didn't rush in yet, however. Time to put his ingenious plan into effect. The knave couldn't resist this.

'Ranma! Behold this!'

'Huh? What's that?'

'This is the secret Moustache Monk Idol of the Martial Arts Enhancement! With its powers, I shall defeat you!'

'Oh, really.'

Some kicks, some punches, a couple of leaps. An anvil that mysteriously fell out of the sky and barely missed Ryoga.

'Hey, Ryoga, if it really is so hot how about this: We fight, and if I win, I get to keep it. What you say?'

Excellent! He had known Saotome couldn't resist such an allure.

'Agreed, Saotome, but you shall never defeat me!'

Ryoga was surprised how little he had to hold back to lose to him. It was mostly because of the strange things that kept dropping out of the sky. Frogs? Nerima had strange weather-patterns, but showers of frogs were still unusual.

He tried to keep the smile off his face. It was rather easy because his back hurt so.

'Martial Art Enhancement, huh? Wasn't quite enough, pig boy. Well, see you again.'

There the fool went, not noticing his own cursed idol, cunningly disguised. Plastering a false moustache on the statue's face had been a stroke of genius!

Some people are just not made to be devious, but occasionally they are lucky.

* * *

'Oh, my. What happened to you, Ranma?'

'Just a bad day, Kasumi. Would you believe a water tower ruptured when I was walking by?'

'Oh.'

'And before that Kuno and Mousse ganged up on me. Do you have any dry clothes somewhere? I'm soaked.'

'What's that thing, Ranma?'

'Oh, just a stupid idol I won from Ryoga. Doesn't seem to have any power, even if he said it would enhance martial arts. Almost lost to Kuno. It's just a dumb piece of pottery.'

'It looks rather nice to me, except that terrible moustache.'

'Well, you keep it. I don't need it.'

'Thank-you, Ranma.'

And there it ends, because nothing bad can ever happen to Kasumi.

-THE END-

1 the Cursed Idol / seed 4 / 5 / 3-10-3-8-2-5

Cleaning up the dojo storage room and feeling angry, Akane finds a strange statue bearing the note: 'Cursed Idol. Do not give to anyone.' Bad time for Shampoo to walk in. Shampoo naturally manages to quickly give the idol back to the Kitcher Destroyer. Akane, in turn, has calmed down and asks Ryoga to throw the idol to the dumpster. Does Ryoga listen? Having been just given something by his precious Akane? Really. After noticing the curse, Ryoga decides to go and flaunt his 'Idol of Martial Arts Enhancement' to Ranma. 'If I win, I get the idol!' How far will the idol go? 'You keep it Kasumi if you like it. It doesn't work.'

Writing time: 70 minutes; 11.6.03 23:20 - 00:30, and 15 minutes to proof-read once.

And in what archive can you find my other stories? In no archive. I was a shy kid, and I came to the Internet as a lurker. This was at first because even when I spoke, I did so in Finnish, but was only interested in the English parts of the net. There I could just read, not talk; and that mindset took a long while to shake off. (Homepages aren't talk. They're shouting into the void, not expecting anyone to answer. There's no pressure, no comment; homepages are the necrophilia of communication.)

One story ended in a quote that, well, is all that you have to know about it: 'Hiroshi, my dear friend, my fellow in the ultimate dark horror of revelation, cry with me! Woe is us! The terrible ruin we have by our own clueless curiosity brought upon us! I dread the dark of night, knowing the secret! I cannot rest, lest that Thing creep up to me, demanding unnatural attentions and gruesome acts! Hiroshi, cry with me! It tears my soul to know that HAPPOSAI IS A WOMAN!' This is, um, funny if you like clumsy pre-feminist recontextualizations and Lovecraft.

Sigh.

Go read them all, you glutton for punishment. I'll dig around for more, later; I think there's an unfinished Ranma / Mega Man crossover somewhere, and a few scenes of a sort of a meld-together of Ranma and Lord of the Rings.

(Also, me, the Army, 2002? Apparantly I wrote the lyrics for a 12-track humor-ish music CD. Which is to say I wrote them and put them away; nobody sung or composed anything, so the result was more like bad poetry than music. Track names included “Motivaatiomänty” (The Motivation Pine Tree), “Ikuisesti veksissä” (Forever at the Doctor's Reception), “Joskus se räjähtää (joskus sitten taas ei)” (Sometimes it blows up, sometimes not) — it was about superiors, not explosives — and “Suututetaan kaikki” (Let's piss everyone off), which was a long list of insults about every specialization.)

I wrote other things in Finnish, in my early university years, after this burst of fan fiction: oodles and oodles of supposedly humorous short stories and short-shorts about university people and their problems; but I felt I just didn't know how to go on from there. It's easy to sit down for an hour or two and bash out a short story. How do you write a novel?

I spurted out fan fiction (X-men and the like); I turned old movie-scripts into short stories; I squeezed out reams of worldbuilding; but I just didn't know how to go big.

More fanfic (2007)

And now some angst! This time, Transformers fan fiction dated 6.7.2007, from an old G1 fanboy (comics, no TV), from the well-used mold of "suppose you tell of the beginnings of the war, and everybody is like different or something".

There were supposed to be bits by many other narrators, telling other parts of the story; but I only finished this one.

Optimus Prime

All sentient beings have the freedom of self-alignment. That is the first sentence of the philosopher Perceptor’s great work, the Underpinnings of Individuals in a Society. That is the maxim I have always admired, and aspired to.

Perceptor himself was killed at the end of the First Phase of our race’s interminable war. His executor said to him: ‘Align thine neck to the block, wordsmith.’ And then his head was crushed between the block and the driver, and his body liquidated.

I know, for I was that executor, then, in the foolish days of my youth.

The name I am known by is Optimus Prime. It is a throne name in the fashion of the old lord of Cybertron. Little remains of that jailor and executor of the war’s beginning, but all that I am is a result of that flick of the black switch, and the reverberations it caused in my mind.

When the Second Phase of the war ended, I was a Chief Campkeeper of the rebels, with half of the surviving nonmilitants under my lock and key.

Since I could not live with the memory of that movement and its aftermath – with my words, the flick of the switch, and the swiftly descending driver, the crunch of his head, his mind – I volunteered for the front.

Since I was Third Grade Commander – Chief Campkeepers were, that early in the war – I was given the rank of a Captain, and a lot of questioning looks. Bravery is so inbuilt in our race that no-one wondered that I wished to fight – and the thirst for death was beginning to rise already, even then – but I had been a loyal cog, an unquestioning lever, a mindless ratchet in the underpinnings of our brave new world order. Why such a sudden change of ideas?

It was not sudden. Oh, if it had been, if only.

I spent the entire Second Phase looking after the nonmilitants, herding, punishing, cajoling, commanding, executing and industrialising. Such a mindless ratchet, such a loyal cog, without any thought for himself, only for the furtherance of our grand cause. Inside, however, I burned. Those memories – words, flick, rush, crush – seeped into my thoughts and memories like acid, like some black and foul corrosive liquid, tarnishing all of my accomplishments.

It was in those days that I was first called the Old Grim. The latter part was technically correct – even with the war’s successes and the accomplishments of my factory-bound underlings, even with my advancement in the ranks and with my numerous decorations and special mentions, I was not content. I was not happy. I was apart from the world, divided from it by a cold wall of frost that distorted everything I saw, everything I remembered, everything I said. The first part of that sobriquet – so cheerfully given, and with a acquiescing sigh received – was not technically accurate. I was not old then; I was a youngling, barely built at the start of the war’s First Phase, one of the first warbound types.

Sometimes, much later, others would praise my vision of peace and harmony; little do they know that I have never known peace myself. I was built for war, doomed to be killer all my life.

In my despair I lost all hope of victory, all attachment to our rebel cause, and all confidence in our glorious leaders. The war continued, on and on, and finally I sought out the works of the philosopher Perceptor, the one I had executed with my own hands, with a careless, mocking flick of the switch.

He had been a nonmilitant, and his works had been both unofficial and highly impractical, and very critical of our ways and means. Well, he had been executed has a troublemonger, hadn’t he? Or maybe as a subversive, or an agitator, or a progress-dragger. I can’t recall, and that doesn’t really matter. I sought out his works; the only one that I found whole and uncorrupted was the Underpinnings of Individuals in a Society. The others were either lost, or had survived only as edited, abridged and distorted editions, mockeries of their original clarity and insight.

All sentient beings have the freedom of self-alignment: that is how his philosophy began, and that was the gist of it. Anyone self-aware has the right to decide his opinions and actions. I was attracted to the notion, despite its impracticality, and I fell in love with that meandering book, and remotely even with its writer, long destroyed then. I was filled with unrest and conflicting emotion, with vague longings and budding aspirations.

Such grand words. Let me say it in a different way: I was lost, and I knew not what to do, what to be.

And so, adrift, I stepped into the war front as a Captain: into the heart of the storm with a storm building in my breast.

I was a disaster. How else could it be? I had only formal war experience, and at the end of the Second Phase the war had evolved far beyond simulations and simple imperatives. I do not feel any residual anxiety or horror at the times I was nearly destroyed myself, or of the times I was humiliated by my superiors and underlings both. I do not chafe over the mistakes I made.

The sparks that won’t be extinguished are the faces of those I killed through my inexperience and arrogance. Sometimes it seemed that I killed more of my own that of the enemies. I blundered into ambushes, and escaped with barely a bodyguard intact. I ordered head-on charges against impenetrable positions. I led foredoomed sorties into the enemy’s heartlands. I charged with a brigade of volunteers towards Iacon, and I was the only one to reach its walls. All the others were dead, or captured by the enemy. I then threw down my weapons and my armor, and skulked back to our lines.

Old Grim.

Old Iaconer.

Old Death.

I was called by all of these names, though more frequently I was just Him, someone to avoid, and to pray you never came under.

I have no strength to recall all of the Phases I fought through. Slowly I learned, and slowly I improved, both in my military skills and in my grasp of the philosopher’s teachings. At times that seemed a monstrous thing – why, even as the deaths of those under me lessened, each death hurt more? Why could I not simply burnt out the parts of me that hurt, that felt guilt, and self-loathing?

Some could, but not I.

Many young ones have told me, much later, that I was their idol: that they wanted to be like me. I shudder at the thought of anyone else suffering as I did. There is no random chance in the universe perverse enough to inflict such misery on two beings of the same race.

I do not wish to recall the aeons that I fought. They are not important, and not pleasant in the slightest. Imagine perfecting the arts of killing and destroying while learning ever better to value all living and thinking things. There are no words for such blasphemy.

The war continued, us rebels against the old guard. Eventually I was inducted into the Directory, though I did not bother to keep up with its squabbles and schemes.

After the disaster of the Ninety-seventh Battle for Iacon, the Directory assembled, as complete as possible, under strict secrecy. I learned the reason from Kup, one of my few friends, soon after the proceedings began. Our great and esteemed leaders had been inspecting the siege when the enemies began their shelling. They had not been heard of since. Maybe they were dead, buried under the girders and towers of some ruined suburb of Iacon. Maybe they were captured.

The Directory was in uproar because this meant the possibility that all of our plans and designs were exposed to the enemy. Indeed, there had been worrying raids in several sectors where our defences were weak.

As a countermeasure, the Directory was gathered to decide on a new Triumvirate, and of a new,. massive offensive to either neutralise the enemy’s hypothetic strategic advantage, or the whole of the enemy itself.

Well, I was not an important figure in that meeting. I merely wondered at the backstabbing and miserliness of our leaders. In the battle, despite the thirst for death, for self and for others, that had grown among the troops, there was some comradeship, some bonding. Not so in the halls of those that had some supply of that sweet drug called power. As was with the thirst for death, the power over others seemed more valued than the power over one’s own self.

A new Triumvirate was chosen: Lockjaw, Grimlock and Thunderwing. Lockjaw died soon after.

A great attack was initiated, with no heed for saving our resources, or soldiers, with immense slaughter on both sides, and immense destructions. All of pre-war Iacon was destroyed in one of Thunderwing’s far bombing raids; the city that stood there was built during one period of relative tranquility that followed later and has no real connection to the pre-war capital.

The enemy had, after all, not captured our previous leaders, and had no foreknowledge of our actions. They were broken under the wheels of Lockjaw and in the jaws of Grimlock; the fled and hid and died.

Thus, for a brief while, it seemed that the civil war of Cybertron might end, and that the rebellious Decepticons might achieve their reformist goals after all.

You are shocked, maybe. There are few that remember those days, and even their memories are imperfect and distorted. No-one talks of those days, but I remember.

So the old guard fled and hid, and we Decepticons marched into the ruins of Iacon, declaring the war won. Our losses were horrendous, but still lesser than those of our enemies. We were victorious. True, our brave Triumvir Lockjaw had fallen in the fight, but we still had bright Thunderwing and brave Grimlock, and there was a high double throne in the rebuilt halls of Iacon.

That was when it might have ended, and that is the time when I took up the third of the burdens that I have labored under all the days of my fame. The first burden was the flick of the switch, the death of the philosopher, a gentle nonmilitant. The second burden, even heavier, were the deaths of those I led into battle, disaster and death because I longed for death or enlightenment in the war myself. And this third burden was the heaviest of all, for I, Optimus Prime, prevented the war from ending there and then.

It was I that began the Second Rebellion. It was I that wrote those papers calling for the freedom of self-alignment instead of the rule of masses, those works that so infuriated Lord Thunderwing that he outlawed them. It was I that first organised those protests and message-circles that Lord Grimlock was forced to subdue. I had internalised the philosophy of that singular nonmilitant, and become in my heart a nonmilitant myself thought I was still a skilled warrior.

It is tragic that, when it seemed that there could, finally, be peace, I began the war anew by calling for peace and harmony. Such jests do the blind and indifferent forces of chance play on us.

Well, the peace itself was not the issue, but the freedom of choice. We decepticons had rebelled against the Old Lords because of their callous autocracy and despotism. We had called for majority rule, for the right of the many to decide instead of the few.

My call for everyone to decide for himself was a jarring blow to that ideal, one that they could not understand. Who was I to ridicule that noble ideal, the rule of majorities, votes and laws? What guarantees could I give that I was not peddling anarchy and relativism, mere hedonism and selfishness dressed in a pleasant and gentle fashion?

No guarantees, of course, except that book called the Underpinnings of Individuals in a Society: a dream that we could function with everyone doing as he wanted, with those few restraints that ensured the same right to all.

Thus I became an outlaw, a heretic, and those that were foolish enough to publicly stand up for my ideals were terminated.

Sometimes I wish I had stood up myself, so I could have avoided all the agonies yet to come, but my friends – for there were surprisingly many that felt as I did, though they had not had the inspiring guidebook I had had – persuaded me that my image and voice was needed to battle for our ideals.

I tried to speak with reason and fairness, but there was bitterness in me, bitterness because I felt we had been unfairly treated. I could not grasp just how different we had became from scheming politicians like Thunderwing, or war-blunted killers like Megatron. There were some that interpreted my bitterness as a call for violence. I was appalled, but powerless to protest. A fugitive such as I was powerless to force my will on others if they disagreed.

Finally I was captured, betrayed by one of my closest followers. He had fought with me in many battles of the First War, and had been decorated many times for saving my life. I had not wondered if his penchant for staying close to the leader, and for running with him wherever we went, was loyalty or mere self-serving opportunism. Maybe he had wished to take up the reins of command if I fell. Maybe he was a brave warrior, but simply felt my new ideas were unrealistic and dangerous. I do not know, and probably he couldn’t answer either, but I was delivered into the hands of my enemies by my companion Starscream, the Hero of Thunderwing’s Iacon Raid.

It was my trial that broke the frail peace of that time: Thunderwing simply wanted me gone, and Grimlock wanted a vote on the matter, being as stodgily unimaginative as always. Thunderwing maybe feared that my opinions would carry the day, thought that was simply not possible: we were few in number, and unwilling to reveal ourselves.

So that two-person remnant of the Decepticon Triumvirate was broken, and Thunderwing’s faction rose against the faction of Grimlock, and there was unrest. Both my ideas and the original Decepticon values vied for popularity, me, the prisoner, championing one and the Lord Thunderwing the Triumvir the other. I for the individuals, he for the majorities: I for choices, he for laws. Grimlock and many others vacillated in between, unsure, unwilling to decide or unable to comprehend the difference, not willing abandoning the Decepticon way and neither ready to summarily discard my frail postulates. The way of the masses choosing their opinions being what it is, Thunderwing was soon hailing as a champion of the old rebel way. I and Grimlock the Reluctant were both branded revolutionaries. The unrest collapsed into street fights and assassinations, and soon into battles between fanatical gangs with more weapons than understanding.

When Thunderwing then, together with the remnants of the Directory, tried to force Grimlock’s hand to the switch, he refused, and the new war began. Though he had been my jailor, Grimlock eventually set me free, and in the heat of that bitter confusion our opinions were welded into one, and he found himself leading a faction mostly made up by self-determinists, or Primites as some called us. He was probably surprised – I do not know – but he was not much of a thinker, and he probably brought this fate on himself by living in the battlefields and leaving the grand schemes and ideological tracts to others. There was confusion, and slaughter, but in the end the planet was divided again, and neither side could triumph over the other.

Finally Grimlock, ever the practical warrior, threw down the crown of a Triumvir, and assumed the post of our Chief Tactician, the close-combat leader. I was powerless when they offered me his place, and though I refused the Triumvir crown, I could not avoid becoming the leader of this ideological war I had began myself.

So again I was a leader, and again the faces and names of those under me that died because of my choices and mistakes – or simply, because of me – were upon me. I was weary, but my convictions gave me no choice but to fight for what I believed in. I was unable to be so selfish as to escape into sweet oblivion, with all this carnage going on in my name.

So we fought with much slaughter against the Decepticons, we, the Autobots, though I do not know who first used that name.

I am Optimus Prime, the leader of Autobots. There can be no heavier burden.

That was 2007; but in the November of the previous year I had gotten around to actually writing a real novel: in Finnish, being all humorous, telling improbable lies of university life. As for that and the subsequent novels, see the previous page. At around the same time I started writing a blog in English; this eventually led to me getting the confidence for writing all kinds of stuff in the same.

Oh, and how did I write that first novel? NaNoWriMo — the National Novel Writing Month, where people all over the world take their November to bash out 50k words of novel-like substance. I've done one every November since: five times in Finnish, and then four times in English, to the November of 2014.

Turns out 50k words in a month is much easier in English. Mostly because Finnish runswordstogether andyour wordscountsfucked; but also because some stories are better told in English — and some in Finnish.

I'll write that big heavy huge fantasy novel some day, too.