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Micro SF/F Posts

New collection

I have worked with the German publisher Mikrotext to put together a collection of 369 science fiction stories, which is now available both in the original English and in a German translation by Birthe Mühlhoff. It looks rather spiffing, I think.

Cover of "Micro Science Fiction" by O. Westin
Cover of "Micro Science Fiction" by O. Westin, aus dem Englischen von Birthe Mühlhoff

Available as ebook and paperback, in English and German translation.


German, translated by Birthe Mühlhoff:

Right not to hear

I still have a green/black PrivacEar headset from the first kickstarter. Of course, I don’t use them, they are far too valuable as a collectible, but yeah, I was one of the initial supporters. Loved them from day one. I used to play music too loud, just to drown out the conversations from randos on the street, so having the headphones cancel not just noise, but unwanted speech as well, was perfect.

My husband loved them too, once I showed how easy it was to set up the list of people you wanted to hear. No more shouting to get through to me when I had them on, he could just speak normally and I’d hear him. Like every other early adopter, we had our mishaps, shocking people overhearing our conversations. It’s so easy to forget others can listen in, when you have got used to not doing it yourself. It’s funny, but once you commit to respecting the privacy of others, you assume others will be as courteous.

We make progress, as a society, but sometimes we need to be shown the way, so I was very happy when the government made PrivacEars – originals or one of the other makes, even though everyone call them PrivacEars too, no matter how much they insist on calling them Generic Device for Privacy Respect – mandatory in public. I think back to when everyone walked around and had to overhear the private conversations of others, and shudder. We were so barbaric, so disrespectful.

“Excuse me, sir.”

An unknown voice. I look to the side, and see a police officer. Of course, he is automatically authorised to speak to me while he’s on duty.

“Yes, officer?” I say.

“Please take a different route, there is a disturbance ahead.”

I look past him. A large crowd of people, some with placards, are marching towards city hall. I can see them chanting something, but thankfully I don’t have to hear them.

“Of course, officer. Thanks for warning me.”

I leave him to redirect other pedestrians, and backtrack so I can avoid the obstruction.

I had forgotten this story. I wrote it in response to, and posted it as a comment on, “Pixel Scroll 5/24/18 Filenheit 770” on File770, May 25 2018.

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.

Orum and the dragon

Orum weighed the lump of star metal in his hand.
“It can’t be smelted,” his father said. “The forge isn’t hot enough.”

“When my dad gave that to me, he said it should remind me any skill has limits,” the old smith said.
“We’ll see,” said Orum.

The next day, Orum packed tools and supplies in a sled, picked a spear, strapped on his skis, and headed for the mountains.

Years ago, men came through the village, showing gold taken from a dragon. They had snuck in and out, as the dragon slept.

The widow and the Sea

“You took my man,” the widow said.
“I did,” the Sea replied.
“He was my man, and now he’s dead.”
“He loved me, ere he died.”

“He loved us both,” the widow said.
“He did,” the Sea replied.
“I loved my man, by hearth, in bed,
I loved him by my side.”

“He kissed your lips,” the widow said,
“as if you were his bride.
So kiss me now, as if we’re wed.”
They kissed, and then Sea cried.

The woman left, with lonely pride.
The Sea, in love, then pled:
“I’ll come again, with every tide!
With all the tears you’ve shed!”

The woman moved inland instead.

Competition: MicroIllioctober

I have seen a lot of awesome InkTober drawings this year, and even a few that illustrate my stories. I can’t adequately explain how awesome it is to see what pictures my stories have put in the heads of artists, but trust me when I say it is really awesome.

So I decided to try to run a low-key competition, in the hope I’ll get to see more.


Pick a MicroSFF story you want to illustrate (single-tweet only, no short stories or multi-tweet stories), and create your illustration using whatever materials you prefer (ink, digital, pencil, watercolour, fingerpaint, oils, acrylics, pastels, markers, airbrush, pasta shapes…). Or dig out one you made earlier, as long as it was made to illustrate one of my stories.

Do not include the text of the story in your illustration.

Quote tweet that story, with an image of your illustration and the hashtag #MicroIllioctober, before midnight GMT October 31, 2018.

At the start of November I will merge your image and my story into a new image and post it to Twitter, with attribution of course, and ask my readers to vote for their favourite (if there are more than four submissions, there will have to be a multi-stage vote).

By participating, you grant me permission to merge your image and my story, and post that on Twitter and on my website ( ETA: As people have expressed concern this would be me asking for “work for exposure”, I have struck out the latter part. I need permission to merge text and image in order to facilitate a vote, but that is all it will be used for, and I will not post any of these images after voting is complete.

The artist retains all rights to their work.

First (and only) prize

I will print the winning illustration (I will ask for a high-res version, if you have one), handwrite the story it illustrates on the print, sign it, and post to the winner, anywhere in the world.

I lik the form

My naym is pome / and lo my form is fix’d
Tho peepel say / that structure is a jail
I am my best / when formats are not mix’d
Wen poits play / subversions often fail

Stik out their toung / to rebel with no cause
At ruls and norms / In ignorance they call:
My words are free / Defying lit’rate laws
To lik the forms / brings ruin on us all

A sonnet I / the noblest lit’rate verse
And ruls me bind / to paths that Shakespeare paved
Iambic fot / allusions well dispersed
On my behind / I stately sit and wave

You think me tame /
  Fenced-in and penned / bespelled
I bide my time /
  I twist the end / like hell

* “lik” should be read as “lick”, not “like”. In general, the initial section on each line should be read sort of phonetically.

Written for World Poetry Day, March 21, 2018. When I had this idea earlier today, I thought it was the worst, most faux hip pretentious idea for a shallow demonstration of empty wordsmithing skill in poetry ever. So I had to try to write it. I mean, how often do you get to fuse the iambic dimeter of bredlik – one of the newest and most exciting verse forms – with the stately iambic pentameter of the classic sonnet?

Since I have been asked what I mean by “a shallow demonstration of empty wordsmithing skill” I guess I should clarify. What’s made this poem take off on Tumblr is not, I’m guessing, the sentiment expressed (a meta-discussion on poetry is supposed to be fun and free vs sonnets must follow strict rules but can still surprise) but the wordsmithing skill on display.

I personally find it much easier to be technically clever and fulfill artificial constrictions, than to express interesting and worthwhile ideas in a way that brings them alive. This kind of wordsmithing is a lot of fun to perform, and can be fun to read, but you remember the showmanship, not the story, or whether there was a story there at all.

So in this instance, I blew the budget on special effects, and had nothing left for a decent script, good actors, and tight direction. Which is fine, sometimes that’s what you want to make, or see. But I’m not pretending it’s anything but popcorn.

The woman, and the god who loved her

Once upon a time, a god fell in love with a mortal woman.
Ah. You nod. You’ve heard this tale before? Well, many tales start that way.

So this god went to this woman’s house, and appeared before her in all his godly splendour. She greeted him kindly and invited him in.

This might have been unwise – there are many vile beings that can not enter a dwelling unbidden – but she did so, and offered him wine.

The god smelled the wine, wrinkled his beautiful nose, and waved his fingers over his cup, and hers, to make it a perfect vintage.

He smiled. “I am, as you see, a god.”
She smiled back, though not as widely, and put her cup down.
“I come to take you away,” he said.

The magic beings three

In truth, this world is only home
To beings three of magic touch:
The cats, who all the realms may roam,
Yet know that little is too much.

The goats, whose eyes can see through time,
Who laugh at life and know they’re dead. 
And readers, tracing rhythm and rhyme,
Who build whole worlds inside their head.

Teddy Dear

The Devil looked down. A small teddybear with a wooden sword was hitting his leg.
“What do you want?”
The teddy bear pointed at an old woman’s soul, toiling in the fires. “I want my friend back.”
“You’re welcome to join her.”
“You took her soul.”
The Devil shook his head. “She sold it.”
“For what?”
“Oh?” The Devil laughed. “She didn’t tell you?”