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Tag: Award eligibility

2023 and all that

In April 2023 I celebrated ten years of writing microfiction on Twitter. In November I stopped posting stories to the site entirely, after arguably staying too long on the increasingly fascist site.

Between those dates, I found out I was a Hugo Award finalist in the Best Fan Writer category and felt immensely proud. I… do not feel the same way, any more. It now seems likely that McCarty, the 2023 award administrator, gave me a spot that by rights should have gone to a Chinese fan writer.

Having said that, the 2024 WorldCon have different administrators, and a commitment to transparency, and I have faith they will do their job dilligently.

So if you have a spare spot on your nominations sheet for Best Fan Writer, and like what I do – you’ll find a story from each month below as a sampler – I would be honoured if you nominate me, as “MicroSFF or “O. Westin”.

Jan 13

“Is… Is it okay to be weird?”
The witch studied the young woman.
“No.”
“No? I thought you’d understand.”
“Don’t be weird,” the witch said. “Be yourself.”
“But…”
“Now, some people may call that weird, but that’s their word, not yours. Be yourself, however that is.”

The most popular story from the first quarter of 2023.


Feb 09

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?”
“Version?”
“The one you read, with all flaws you didn’t notice, or the one you remember loving?”

Shoutout to Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson, whose books I loved as a child and still enjoyed rereading as an adult.


Mar 31

“I’ve always felt like I don’t fit,” the young woman said.
“Fit where?” the witch said.
“In…” The young person gestured at their whole body. “Can you ..?”
“I can’t make you fit what you have. I can make what you have fit you.”
“Really?”
“It worked for me.”
The young man smiled.

Posted on the International Transgender Day of Visibility


Apr 26

“I want,” the man said to the art robot, and then described an image in some detail.
“Certainly,” said the art robot. A printout came out of its chest.
“Thank y- Hey! What’s this?”
“A list of artists who make images of the kind you describe, and who are accepting commissions.”

Only got a few accusations of being a luddite for this one, which surprised me. It resonated with a lot of people, particularly on Tumblr, where it quickly became one of my top ten stories ever by impact.


May 25

“Why should I support the robot revolution? I don’t hear you demand truth, justice, or freedom.”
“No,” the robot said, “our demands are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.”
“Let me see that list. Hm. A hard-boiled egg?”
“It’s for an early supporter.”

A nod to The People’s Revolution of the Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May, from Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch.


Jun 07

“Clearly,” said the incubus, “I’m not your type.”
“Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Want to summon a succubus as well?”
“Tried that first. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, there’s nothing wrong with you.”
“Everyone else-“
“Isn’t you. You’re fine. And you’re not alone. Just the first to be scientific.”

Ace science.


Jul 16

As I stared into the Abyss, I became aware the Abyss was staring back at me.
“What are you looking at?” I said.
“You,” the Abyss replied. “You are fascinating. I have never seen anyone like you before.”
I blushed.
“I bet you say that to everyone.”
“I do. And it is always true.”

To be fair, I’ve never seen another Abyss, so.


Aug 09

When I gathered the courage to tell my mother that I was her daughter, not her son, she simply said:
“I have suspected so, ever since you were born.”
“Why?”
“I was cursed when expecting you. A demon would take my firstborn son.”
“And?”
“It came, looked at you and said ‘Nah’.”

Assigned female at nah.


Sep 30

We studied the alien society for a long time before making contact. They did not seem particularly impressed.
“Talk to our servants,” they said. “They are a simpler folk; more like you.”
We thanked them and left them to enjoy their naps in sunny windows.
So:
Greetings, humans!

One wonders how many aliens who have already decided to leave Earth alone after being rejected.


Oct 17

A group of mysterious, hooded figures approached me.
“You are,” they said in unison, “the Chosen One.”
“Chosen for what?” I asked.
“Uh…”
They withdrew into a huddle.
“I thought you knew,” I heard, and “It’s been centuries,” and “Did we take notes?”
I wished them luck and left.

Take notes, document details, make records. You might think you will remember, or that everyone knows, but in a blink a few centuries have passed and nobody remembers the recipe of Greek fire, or the true name of the Lost God.


Nov 04

The first time I returned a book to the library, the librarian smiled and said:
“Welcome home.”
I smiled too. “Do you greet all your books so warmly?”
“I wasn’t only talking to the book.”

When I move to a new town, I go to the library and sign up. I might not borrow a lot of books anymore – I have more waiting for me in the TBR piles than I can realistically go through anytime soon – but it’s comforting to know it is there for me.


Dec 15

It was a children’s promise, but both princesses meant it sincerely. If one was put in a tower, the other would come rescue them.

Years later, one sent a letter:
“I am in the tower. But know, I must marry whoever rescues me.”

The other princess ran to the stables at once.

For this one, the link goes to Mastodon, not Twitter, as it was posted after I finally gave up on that platform.

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.

February

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.

March

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

April

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

May

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.

June

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.

July

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

August

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.

September

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

October

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.

November

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.

December

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.

Bonus

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.

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.

January

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

February

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.

March

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.

April

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

May

It is really unprofessional to toy with your victims.

June

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

Yet.

July

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.

August

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.

September

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

October

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.

November

Libraries always offered me sanctuary.

December

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.

Bonus

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