I have no idea why I haven’t thought of this before. Since it is award nomination season, I can do a showcase post!
As usual, the Hugo category that is most pertinent to me is the “Best Fan Writer”, which in my case would be in recognition of writing 250+ pieces of microfiction over the year and regularly bringing my readers (I hope) joy, food for thought, or a dose of silliness. If you like that sort of thing, and are qualified to nominate, please consider me for this category.
Unusually, I did not write any short stories that are publically available (there are a couple which I wrote as a little bonus for my patrons on Patreon and Ko-Fi), and no new Advent tale. 2020 was hard for productivity.
Here is a Twitter search for my stories over the year, though it only seems to bring back 60 or so – there is probably a cap on how many tweets they want to return. You can play with dates and number of faves to see what it yields.
And as a quick showcase, the most engaged-with tweet for every month, with some commentary:
"I wish to return this time machine."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) January 5, 2020
"It is not accurate!"
"The circuits are calibrated to-"
"I mean what it shows is not accurate!"
"Women warriors wielding swords!"
"Yes? Documented in-"
"Black people in Europe!"
"Yes, there has always-"
This one came about after seeing yet another whine about it being “historically incorrect” to have black people or women warriors in period dramas or games. Given that there have been documented examples of both in at least Western and Central Europe for the last couple of millennia, it is just tiresome to see.
This story caused a lot of debate, which is always a bit scary to see. I am grateful that my readers tend to be reasonably polite and respectful to others.
"The pen is mightier than the sword."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) February 27, 2020
"I am not saying you are wrong," the sword master said, "but what is your reasoning?"
"You can't write a love poem with a sword."
"This is true," the sword master conceded. "You need two swords for that, so you meet as equals."
I miss sword fighting practice. Not for flirting reasons, but simply because it’s a lot of fun. And I miss seeing my fighting friends.
"Okay, here's the scenario. You are a crew member on a starship."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) March 21, 2020
"Space travel is slow, you'll be stuck with your crewmates a long time."
"So we must get along."
"Yes. Communicate, listen, share limited resources."
"I can do that. What's the starship called?"
All fiction, but especially genre fiction, builds on and plays with ideas and concepts conceived by earlier writers, used and told in new ways. “Spaceship Earth” was a concept first (I think) invented by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s, and is by now a quite well-known trope, often used in pop-science TV programs.
A lot of my stories use genre tropes, because that saves space. So if you think you recognise an idea in a story from somewhere else, you’re probably right (or both riff off an older story).
Having said that, it is important to recognise that an idea does not make a story, and that how a story is told is generally more important than the idea(s) expressed by it, in terms of the impact the story has on the reader/listener.
"To pass," the Sphinx said, "you must answer my question."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) April 6, 2020
"I understand. Please ask."
"How are you?"
"How are you doing?"
"Is that the riddle?"
"No. I care. What with… You can have a riddle if you prefer?"
"No, I'm… I'm okay. Thanks."
"Good to hear. You may pass."
Written after two weeks of the first UK Covid-19 lockdown.
The student bowed.— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) May 4, 2020
"Master, I am sorry."
"Why were you absent yesterday?" the sword master asked.
"I don't know. I… simply could not get out of bed."
"If this happens again…"
"Allow yourself to stay in bed."
"A blunt sword can be honed. A broken one can not."
Yeah. Some days it’s harder than others to get up and get going. Try to be kind to yourself.
"So, do you think one day robots will have human rights?"— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) June 1, 2020
"Perhaps," the robot said, "but first I want to see all humans have human rights."
"What do you mean? All humans do have human rights. It's in the name."
"Then I first want to see all humans considered human."
Black Lives Matter.
"Excuse me, I am a time traveler but my machine malfunctioned, so I'm not sure when I am."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) July 18, 2020
"Which year of 2020?"
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, so this must be the first year of 2020."
By this time it felt like 2020 had been going for a couple of years. Now that it’s over, I haven’t changed my mind.
People, young and old, came to the witch for directions.— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) August 21, 2020
"I seek adventure."
"I seek wisdom."
"I need a place to feel at home."
"I feel like I need to cry, but I can't."
The witch listened, and told all where to find what they sought.
And the local library thrived.
Don’t really have much to add to this one. I like public libraries. I think they’re one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
"As a knight," the king said, "it is your duty to kill dragons."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) September 3, 2020
"Very well, my liege," the knight said. "Um. May I ask why?"
"Because they hoard wealth without sharing, and people live in fear of their capricious moods."
"Very well, my liege," the knight said and drew his sword.
"Why isn't there more footage of monsters?"— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) October 16, 2020
"What do you mean?"
"People always talked about seeing monsters, but couldn't prove it. Now that everyone carries a camera, we should see lots of films of them."
"It's just not the monsters some of us were expecting."
Black Lives still Matter.
"Wait, wait," the knight said.— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) November 2, 2020
He studied the maiden in front of him. "You're a dragon?"
"I'm a shapeshifter." They shrugged, and took the shape of a dragon.
"But, what were you born to be?"
"What a strange question. I was born to be me. No more, no less."
Everyone doesn’t always fit into neat little well-defined boxes. I made a comment about a story I wrote for Bi Visibility Day in September which also applies here:
Reading all the comments on this I can only conclude that “genre” is fluid, and a social construct.
"Put it on my account."— Micro SF/F stories (@MicroSFF) December 20, 2020
"We don't-" the junior bookseller said.
"We do," the senior cut in. "Of course."
The customer took the books – SF and vampire novels – and left.
"We stopped creating new accounts 1879," the senior said, "but we only close old ones at the customer's death."
Partially inspired by the Sotherans rare book shop, partially by Aziraphale’s shop in Good Omens, partially by some favourite book shops I haven’t been able to visit for far too long.