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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, '10, 4:59 am
Author's Notes, or Some Important Information

The Genesis of "Another Fine Mess"

This is a story- the proto-beginnings of a novel, anyway- that I started writing for a college Advanced Creative Writing class way, way back in the fall/winter of 2004/5. I recently found the hard copy of it (with annotations!) while I was cleaning the back of my old car, along with accompanying illustrations by one of my friends, whom I haven't seen face-to-face in almost as long a time. If I get a scanner working, as well as her permission, I'll gladly scan and submit the illustrations. As to the reason why I say "hard copy" instead of "copy/pasted from the old StarOffice files" (God, has it been that long?), I don't have the StarOffice files anymore. They were on my old computer, which we got rid of once I got my current computer.

Anyone coming to read this and expecting something on the par of "Ripple Effect," "Fun in the Sun," or even "Phantasy Star Alternate" may be a little bit... disappointed, to say the least. I know I said "Holy dog crap, I actually wrote like this?!" when I saw it again.

An observation: The story fragments, as originally submitted, contained some rather copious use of what Shirren and Fuorren would describe as "colorful metaphors" (read: profanity). I have attempted to clean up what the Fringes autocensor would catch, so there probably won't be more readable than a few hells or damns.

How this managed to get an A four times is beyond me.

So, When's It Gonna Be Available, Chris?

Part 1 (Containing Chapters One and Two) will be up whenever I get a spare moment. Fringers, transcribing something you wrote five years ago when you're in the midst of moving across town, not to mention working on two other multi-chapter stories is a great terrible great STUPENDOUSLY DUMB idea.

World-Building Info, or: The Actually Important Part's From Here Down

The world of "Another Fine Mess" is in many ways, similar to our own, anime flavoring aside. One of the biggest differences, however, is there is a distinct lack of firearms- gunpowder in this world was one of those things that, fireworks aside, just Never Quite Caught On. The main bulk of combat is handled with swords and other melee weapons, while rail crossbows, bows and arrows, and boomerangs are the rulers of ranged weapons.

History happened pretty much as it has in our world- with some minor adjustments; for example, the (alleged) failure of gunpowder on the USS Maine that started the Spanish-American War is replaced by an (equally alleged) failure of a steam-powered magnetic railbow driver.

Another major difference: As the world is rather anime-ish, naturally there would come the use of mystical arts. These mystical techniques tend to be more devastating than weapons to raw human, but with one significant drawback: You can't use them ad infinitum until your enemy is killed off or surrenders. The Japanese of this world call this inner force ki. (This is before I got into Avatar: The Last Airbender, and long before I really got into the Phantasy Star series, so bear with me.)

Mystical Arts are divided into five distinct schools, each based on one of the Japanese elements. Further, each school is divided into two parts, the yin, or offense, and the yang, or utility (with one exception):

The School of Air is concerned with using ki to defend and protect, varying from either an area to a person or group. As there exist Mystical Arts of Air that can cut objects into pieces, some would say that the best defense is a strong offense. As these simple gusts of wind require very little ki to manipulate, many people both use Air Arts and adapt to defend against them.

The School of Water is mostly a healing-related school. While recovery of wounds, from light to critical, is the most popular purpose of these Arts, the earliest shugenja have created Water Arts that allow humans to breathe and walk underwater. The yin purpose of these Arts is predominantly crowd-control- ninety-degree arcs of water that knock opponents away, as opposed to Earth Arts' radius of attack, or Air Arts' simple single targeting. Most doctors are capable of using these Arts.

The School of Fire, while mostly known for its yin, long lines and rays of fire, has a less commonly-known yang: Improvement of mind and body, from simple physical strength to (alleged) resistance to other Arts. One common Fire Art is passive thermal control, allowing one to ignore the effects of extreme heat and cold. Most militaries train their soldiers in the use of Fire Arts.

The School of Earth is all about the principles of rock and dirt. As stated before, the yin of Earth Arts is primarily a radial burst around its user, its range dependent on both its manifester's ki and skill. The yang of Earth Arts, conversely, is manipulating living things to take on some of the properties of stone: Hardness, durability, and freedom of movement.

The School of Void is the one standout in that there is neither a yin nor a yang to it- after all, Void is both a lack of the four base elements, as well as the foundation upon which they are built upon. Void Arts are, consequently, both basic (sensing Mystic Arts and ki in potential Art users, enhancing senses) and independent (replenishing one's ki by sapping another's, silent explosions, parlor tricks and legerdemain).

This story takes place in Tokyo, Japan, in the year 20XX. With the United States, Russia, and China leading the way in accelero-magnetic space shuttles, Japan has naturally decided to follow suit. Within four weeks, the Meiji will launch from Tanegashima Space Center, and along with it, the first four Japanese hoshinauts will join the esteemed ranks of Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin, Gagarin, Komarov, Leonov, and Liwei. In the meantime, the rest of the world is recovering from the bizarre acts of Canadian activists (spraypainting maple leaves on the Eiffel Tower, among other structures; the Toronto Maple Syrup Party, of which none of the Royal Mounted Police will discuss, and a self-proclaimed war against "the entire world" which lasted two weeks).

It is a prosperous world, though things may soon change. One man seeks to control the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and through this, build the power to conquer the world...

The Dramatis Personae
Note: This is more-or-less as-lifted verbatim from the notes that I typed up with the submitted stories. Some changes have been made, as 25-year-old Chris has some better ideas than 20-year-old Chris did. Also, the meanings of the characters' names depend on which kanji are used to write them- I never wrote them down five years ago, so I can't produce them here. Just take my word for it that I'm using the most meaningful definitions =p

Also, for convenience's sake, everyone's personal names are fist, followed by the family name (as opposed to the other way around.)

Shinji Aino (Stability of Love)
Age: 19
Hair: Yellow-green, tied back into a ponytail
Eyes: Green
Carried Weapon: Katana bestowed upon him by his girlfriend
Predominant Mystical Arts: Air, Void
Shinji is a young man who had the misfortune of spending some of his childhood distant from his father. Despite this seeming setback, he has turned out to be a chivalrous, cunning young man with a streak of optimism. He works at a bookstore with his beloved girlfriend and her father. Though always polite and courteous, these sides of his personality tend to be masked when his best friend concocts a scheme.

Shido Gurio (Meaning of name unknown, possibly Japanized. I couldn't find it.)
Age: 19
Hair: Brown, short
Eyes: Brown
Carried Weapon: Nodachi
Predominant Mystical Arts: Fire, Earth
Shido is Shinji's best friend, having met and survived their three years of high school together. He serves as a sort of foil to Shinji- he exhibits some jerkass tendencies, and is verbally perverse to women, particularly the Mizuno sisters. These tendencies highlight another trait of his: Even without Earth Arts, he is practically immune to harm, self-proclaiming himself to be "more durable than a Russian toilet" and capable of "taking the hits like a champ!" He has a rather sketchy history of employment, having been fired from nearly every single job he has held. Shido's current employer, a privately-run courier service, seems to have no qualms about this.

Mariko Mizuno (True Reality of Water)
Age: 24
Hair: Green, shoulder-length
Eyes: Blue
Carried Weapon: Martial Arts
Predominant Mystical Arts: Water
A woman with sharp detail for memory and a stoic calmness, Mariko is a close friend of Shinji's. She works as a programmer at Matsushima Technologies, one of the developers of the Amaterasu-type spacecraft destined to launch in four weeks' time. Whenever she's not working, she spends time with her younger sister, fending off Shido's amorous advances (with her fists), or practicing her self-developed martial arts style. Though she would rather kill herself than admit to it, Mariko has a slight spark of admiration and respect for Shido.

Rumiko Mizuno (Beautiful Child of Water)
Age: 18
Hair: Purple, long and flowing
Eyes: Blue
Carried Weapon: Family katana, see below
Predominant Mystical Arts: Water, Air
Rumiko is Mariko's younger sister, and ever since "The Sakura-Garden Oath," she has been Shinji's girlfriend. Highly adept at niten fighting, Rumiko hides quite a few weapons away in her personal hammerspace: Besides the katana and wakizashi she openly carries, Rumiko hides a nodachi, a tanto, thirty shuriken, twelve kunai, a massive paper fan, three large fireworks, a wooden mallet, and six black pepper grenades within her clothing. (Just don't ask where.) Currently a third-year student at Yasogami High School, Rumiko is an extremely talented artist and wishes to become a manga-ka in the future.

"Big Boss"
Age: 36
Hair: Black, short
Eyes: Purple (remaining eye)
Carried Weapon: Mechanical hand
Predominant Mystical Arts: (Classified)
The mysterious figure known as "Big Boss" crops up from time to time among the people of Tokyo- some say he is a mysterious benefactor, while others believe he has ties to the Yakuza. One thing is known about him: His right arm was hacked off at the elbow twenty years ago, and he invested plenty of yen into obtaining an advanced prosthetic replacement. Similar to a Swiss army knife, the mechanical hand has several functions, including his pride- a cheese slicer and server. Nobody knows how Big Boss earned his massive fortune, or his aims for it, but one thing is certain: Tokyo will never be the same again.

Those Held Responsible: Author's Acknowledgements
First and foremost, the two college professors without whose guidance I probably might not have written this: Eugene Snyder, for the myriad English courses; and Yoshiko Hurley, for the extremely hilarious and awesome Japanese courses that I somehow managed to pass. Ebi-taxi forever!

Another wagging-of-the-finger goes to Naoko Takeuchi, for the creation of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, which kinda got me into the whole anime game back in 1996. I'd also put Gene Roddenberry here for the Star Trek metaseries as a whole, but this isn't hard scifi, so no dice.

Special thanks and "hey-hos" to all my Dungeons and Dragons group, friends, and my coworkers (good luck figuring out who's in what group! =p): Anthony/Precious, Blue, Booke, Bry-an!!, Chrissy, Corey, Damien, Dawn, Don, Jen, Jill, Kris, Mbeth, Pat, Mike, Raye, Samantha, Steve, the other Steve, Vito, Walt, Weber, aaaaand Ziggy.

Okay, you can applaud now! =D

Last edited by Snorb on Mon Sep 27, '10, 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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