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A decade of microfiction

Today marks ten years from the first Micro SF/F post. I must confess I never expected to keep going for so long, or that I would have so many stories to tell. Actually, let’s do a tally. According to my records, I have written:

  • 2714 short tweet stories (max 140 characters)
  • 1214 long tweet stories (max 280 characters)
  • 79 multi-tweet serial stories, including seven Advent tales.

That is a lot. I must admit that my pace has slowed down – the first few years I averaged more than one story per day – and there are many reasons for that, but a big one is that often, when I get an idea and I mull it over in my head, I realise I have already written it. Thankfully, after a day or three, I can still find a new idea, or a new angle on an old idea.

I started writing a retrospective, but then I realised that would require far more words than I am able to put together. Instead, let me share the most popular (measured in retweets on Twitter) story from each year so far, as well as my first one.

Apr 24, 2013

God finally stopped the planet to let people off, but hardly anyone left. We watched the sun speed away and felt very silly.

The very first story written under the MicroSFF banner.

Jun 06, 2013

I pulled, to no avail. “You try?”
She pulled it out, easily.
“They wouldn’t let me.” She shoved the sword back into the stone.

My first “hit”, the first story that escaped my circle of friends and went low-key viral, As I recall, it got over 400 retweets in a few days, and won me hundreds new followers.

Sep 23, 2014

“Adding ‘with dinosaurs’ improves anything.”
“OK, but ‘in space’ always works.”
“So what would you add?”
“‘With you’.”

I still think this story is kind of clever.

Feb 09, 2015

“Dad, there’s a monster under my bed.”
“Yes. It’s small, and alone, and afraid nobody could like it.”
“Can you?”
“I’ll try.”

Not the first story with a monster under the bed, but a foreshadowing of how I would come to view them as less adversarial.

Sep 23, 2016

“You are reading a book,” the car said. It pulled over and stopped.
“This road is paid for by adverstising boards. Look at them to proceed.”

In my darker moments I think the only reason this hasn’t happened yet is that we don’t have fully autonomous cars.

Dec 31, 2017

“You’ve been chosen,” the spirit said.
“Save the world, make it kinder, cleaner, safer.”
“We chose everyone.”

Written and posted late at night the day before New Year’s Eve, looking back and looking forward.

Dec 06, 2018

“Welcome to Magic School. Here is your schedule.”
“Thanks! But…”
“This is just ‘Ethics’ and ‘Human rights’ and things like that.”
“Correct, that’s the first year curriculum.”
“Do we have to learn all this?”
“Of course! What do you think this is, software engineering?”

A lot of software engineers got upset about this one. A lot more agreed it would be useful. And a few said their education had included ethics, which made me happy.

Apr 27, 2019

“Yeah, so I found out my new house is haunted.”
“You know who you should call? Ghostbusters!”
“Oh? Do they have an email address?”
“Just call them!”
“Ah. Can I text them?”
“No, just call them.”
“Um. Never said I minded the ghost. It’s not that bad.”

When the telephone became common, I’m sure there were people wringing their hands saying nobody would write letters any more. Well, good news!

Sep 03, 2020

“As a knight,” the king said, “it is your duty to kill dragons.”
“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.


Aug 30, 2021

“These copper ingots,” the devil said, “are of sub-par quality.”
“You accepted them as payment,” the merchant said, “the deal is done.”
“Very well. I will uphold my end of the bargain,” the devil said. “Your name will live forever.”
“That is all I ask,” said Ea-nasir.

My most popular story of the whole year. It’s still circulating on Tumblr, where I regularly get notifications about it.
If you haven’t heard of Ea-nasir, he was a Sumerian copper merchant, who was the subject of the oldest existing customer complaint letter.

Oct 15, 2022

Once I was dead, it was curiously easy to accept it.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked.
Death extended a bony finger, pointing at a tall tower in the distance.
“What is that?”
“Your unread books. Unwatched films. Unplayed games. Etcetera.”
“Oh. How much time do I have?”

I wonder how far up the tower I would get before missing the friends I would want to discuss those books, show those films, share those games, and etcetera with.

Feb 09, 2023

I enter the Library of Books You Read As A Child.
“Do you have… er. It was green, and there was a girl and a dog, and…”
The librarian nods.
“Of course. Which version do you want?”
“The one you read, with all flaws you didn’t notice, or the one you remember loving?”

Most popular from the first quarter, at least. Shoutout to Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson, whose books I loved as a child and still enjoyed rereading as an adult.

Many thanks to you all – readers past, present, and hopefully future – for reading, sharing, liking, and commenting. It’s been an amazing decade. Thank you.

That was 2022

2022 started with me still being in a creative burnout, which hit me in December 2021 after a very stressful year. I wasn’t able to start writing again until February, and I struggled to find inspiration the rest of the year. Catching Covid in late summer didn’t help, as my recovery was slow.

My final tally for the year is three poems, one short story (Broken), and 176 microstories posted to my social media accounts, free for all to read. I would like to have done more, but I am glad I managed to do that much.

As usual, I am elegible in the “Best Fan Writer” category of the Hugo Awards. I would be immensely honoured if you nominated me. Below are the most popular (on Twitter, other social media sites may have different tastes) posts for each month, with commentary, to give a flavour of my work.


I have a fair few someones I am not, anymore. Some I had for years, some, like stunt fight extra, only for a day and a very long, wet, and cold night. And some I might pick up again.


I can’t think of many better places to haunt than a library.


I don’t really have anything to add to this, except some surprise that a poem was the “best of the month”.


Just to clarify, the twist here isn’t that the hero prefers the king’s son over his daughter. The twist is that the hero’s gender is not mentioned. But I expect you had already noticed that.


Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done. But if a book is too daunting, you can try to write something shorter. Trust me, it’s a viable alternative.


The ‘Cat’s gambit’ is curious in that nobody has ever won more than eight games when using it.


What if we are the aliens sending cryptic messages from the stars to other worlds? That’s the anti-SETI-thesis, which is also a tongue twister.


I only use one prosthetic, personally, and it is so common that people generally don’t consider it to be one.


I wonder how far up the tower I would get before missing the friends I would want to discuss those books, show those films, share those games, and etcetera with.


Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s too hard. But I tell myself it gets easier the more you practice. Most things do, after all.


Written around lunchtime on New Year’s Eve. I enjoy firework displays, but not fireworks randomly set off without warning, around the clock, for days around the big firework holidays. I know too many ex-soldiers, and too many terrified pets.


A few extra personal favourites.

The “Elf on the Shelf” is an American doll that is put on a shelf in children’s rooms, and is said to report everything naughty the children do to Santa Claus.

Perhaps the true apocalypse was the truths we revealed along the way.

I live with an artist, and have done so for a long time. I have often been summoned for this exact purpose.

Numbers can go down as well as up

In the middle of October, after nine and a half years and thousands of posted stories, my follower count on Twitter reached six figures. I didn’t catch a screenshot of 100 000 as it was going up, but I held off celebrating until I had some margin – the follower count is always in flux so there was no point celebrating if it was going to dip down again.

After a week, I checked again, and it stood at 100 589. This, I felt, was sufficient margin to be safe from the normal ebb and flow – I had reached 100k! I don’t usually pay much attention to numbers, but this felt like a milestone. I was proud of that.

Then, Elon Musk bought Twitter. Lol, as the kids say, and lmao. I did get a screenshot of when my follower count had gone down to 100 000. And then to 99 999. It’s currently 99 028, and I don’t expect it to ever reach six figures again.

Ah, well. Sic transit gloria mundi, and all that. I sincerely hope Twitter survives in a usable and non-fascist fashion – it would be nice to be able to celebrate ten years there in April next year – but we shall see how it goes.

On the other hand, my follower count on Mastodon has more than doubled, so there is that. It seems almost everybody fleeing Twitter has headed for the instance I was on – – and it has struggled to keep up with moderation. So I have decided to move to instead. All my followers should be transferred over (I have done such a move with a personal account, and that worked flawlessly). I will link to this post from my profile there as proof of authenticity.

Of course, I am still on Tumblr and Facebook, and I have also started to use my Instagram.

Regardless of platform, I will continue to tell my little stories until I run out of them.

2021 Hindsight

In hindsight, arranging an international move with family and a cat during a pandemic, across a border that went from EU-internal to third country during the move, might not have been the wisest thing to do. But we did, and we are now settled in Sweden, with our old home in the UK sold, and most of the bureaucracy of it all now sorted.

Unfortunately, the stress of it almost broke me, and in the middle of December, when the sale of our UK home was finalised, all the pent-up stress hit me with a complete writer’s block. I had to abandon my traditional Advent tale, and wasn’t able to write anything again until late January this year.

But I am recovering, and I have started writing again.

Anyway, in 2021 I wrote just under 300 microstories which I posted on Twitter, Facebook, Mastodon and Tumblr.

As usual I am eligible for the “Fan Writer” category in the Hugo awards.

As a sample of my work, I’ll include the most popular (by Twitter interactions) story for each month below, with some brief commentary.


I don’t really have anything to add to this.


I imagine that the second time you have to go out and save the world is the worst. The first time is probably bad, but then it’s over, and it’s done. Having to do it again must be worse.

But once you’ve had to do it again, doing it again again must be easier.


Referencing the ship Ever Given, which was stuck in the Suez Canal, and blocked an inordinate amount of international shipping for a few days. Less than four hours after posting this story, the ship was partially freed, and after another ten hours it was underway, so I squeezed this one in just in time.

Also, note the brain fart where I wrote Suez Channel instead of Suez Canal. I beg your forgiveness – it was late, and I was likely floating between languages.


Things are rarely as simple as this or that, the one or the other. It is easy to forget that.


It is really unprofessional to toy with your victims.


I have never had a dog myself, but I have witnessed friends’ dogs fetch all kinds of interesting things. Not a sword though.



There once was, in the UK, a dial-up internet provider called Demon, where all support engineers were rumoured to be called Bob. This was written for them.


This story was most well received on Tumblr, which is the social media platform that holds on to its memes most dearly, cherishing and nurturing them for years.

Ea-nasir, a seller of sub-par quality copper ingots and the subject the world’s oldest customer complaint letter, is a firm favourite there.


Was there something in the news around then about billionaires not paying much in tax? Probably. There usually is.


I think this was inspired by some fic or story riffing off myths of ancient Greece.

You haven’t freed someone if you take custody of them yourself.


Libraries always offered me sanctuary.


It is a bit magical, that song.

This story was inspired by watching that video of the Green Day concert in Hyde Park in London, where the 65000 people in the crowd sang the whole song (including guitar solo). It’s amazing.


A story which I am very proud of since half the comments on it were “Ooof!” and half were “I don’t get it”:

2020 Showcase

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:


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.


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.


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.


Written after two weeks of the first UK Covid-19 lockdown.


Yeah. Some days it’s harder than others to get up and get going. Try to be kind to yourself.


Black Lives Matter.


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.


Don’t really have much to add to this one. I like public libraries. I think they’re one of humanity’s greatest inventions.


Hmm, yes.


Black Lives still Matter.


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.


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.

2019 and all that

This was… not a productive writing year for me. My day job was very demanding from January to July, and then again from September to December. Add to that family stress – the first half of the year saw one long-term relationship break up (not mine, but one involving a close relative), and three trips abroad I could have done without, for one deathbed visit and two funerals. Plus, you know, Trump, Brexit – which will directly impact me and my family – and general world blah. So I had limited energy for writing or projects related to my stories.

On the other hand – I had a book published! In June, my collection of 365 science fiction stories was published by the German publisher Mikrotext, in both English and German. It was well received by reviewers too. I am incredibly grateful for the work done by Nikola Richter at Mikrotext, and Birthe Mühlhoff who translated my little stories. And of course, I’m grateful to everyone who bought a copy. Thank you!

I also visited Dublin again, and attended WorldCon where I met a lot of friends I haven’t seen in ages, and went to a lot of really good panels. While I had volunteered to do panels (with the caveat that there are plenty more interesting voices than mine), I was very glad I was not asked to do any, and could treat it as a holiday.

But what have I written? Looking at the archive at I see 30 pages, with 15 posts each, from 2019. Discount individual tweets from longer stories, plugs for the book, or my Patreon and Ko-Fi, and other announcements, and I probably ended up at around 300 micro stories written and posted during the year.I also wrote two serial tweet stories:

Hugo Award eligibility

Hugo nominations have opened, so should you deem my work worthy, the two stories linked above are eligible for Best Short Story, and as usual I am eligible for Best Fan Writer for, well, everything I write.

Review roundup

This summer, the German publisher mikrotext has released a collection of 365 of my science fiction stories. Called “Micro Science Fiction”, it is available in English and German, as ebook or paperback, from all major ebook stores and some realbook stores (lists of shops here and here).

I realised that while I did post about it, I haven’t done a roundup of reviews, which I ought to, since it has received very positive reviews in German media:

“With razor-sharp wit, riddle-like playfulness and moments of poignancy, Westin tackles the big issues facing the future of civilisation […] Each microstory is Tardis-like in its depth and philosophical scope”

Sueddeutsche Zeitung
“[…] in the brevity of a tweet, compress ideas that could carry a whole novel […] in the best of his ultra-short works, Westin succeeds in allowing the reader to unfold a whole small cosmos out of two or three sentences.”
[Google Translated]

Book Gazette
“Westin’s stories are remarkable and can serve as a prime example of storytelling and building worlds with as few words as possible. […] For the sake of form alone, [they] seem even more enchanting and brilliant. ”
[Google Translated]

“Westin grabs current debates [or] sci-fi scenes [and] compact the material until the beginning, middle, and end merge. Until only a tiny, polished diamond is left.”
[Google Translated]

Camestros Felapton
[…] the shift in perspective provides emotional insight into a character or social commentary or a disturbing reveal (or all of those).
The brevity invites readers to imagine the world and setting around the story.”

2018 summary

I have not counted every story/poem I have written this year, but the final tally seems to be around 300 tweet-size pieces of microfiction or poetry. This is way below my usual tally of 500+ pieces, which I mostly attribute to the world being too distracting/distressing, and to the fact that from June onwards, a change in my role in my day job meant it became a lot more stressful and exhausting, but also very rewarding.

I also wrote some longer pieces:

The stories above are all eligible for the Short Story Hugo award. If you would like to nominate my whole body of work – the microstories, the short stories, the poems, and the AdvenTale – for a Hugo award, you can nominate me (e.g. O. Westin, writing at in the Fan Writer category.

2017 Awards Eligibility Post

As award season is coming, I thought I’d do an Awards Eligibility Post™.

As usual, I have not counted how many microstories I wrote during the year, but there are 45 pages of 15 posts each on my Tumblr, which makes 675 posts. Discount serial tweetstories, posts about translations, Patreon, WorldCon, and stuff like that, and I think the final tally is around 520 tweetstories and tweetpoems.

In addition, I have written nine serial tweetstories, one regular short story, a play, and a collaborative choose-your-own-adventure story.