NanofictionNanofiction by Andrew Looney

One of my favorite kinds of fiction, both to create and to consume, is the very short story. A few years ago I picked up a slim volume of such stories, edited by Jerome Stern, entitled Micro Fiction, in which each story was no more than 250 words. More recently, I got another volume of super short stories that takes the challenge one step further, limiting each story to exactly 55 words. This book, entitled The World's Shortest Stories, edited by Steve Moss, sets down the rules for 55 word stories as such: each story must contain the following four elements: 1.) a setting, 2.) one or more characters, 3.) conflict, and 4.) resolution. Plus of course, the whole thing can only be 55 words long, not counting the title, which must be no more than 7 words long. (There are also some technical details about what really constitutes a word, but I won't bore you with those here.)

Inspired by the challenge of creating an entertaining short story in such a small number of words, I started writing tiny stories of my own. I've written enough of them now - and had so much fun doing it - that I've decided to try to post a new one every week. And thus was born a new featurette, which I'm calling Nanofiction, since these stories are even shorter than those in the Microfiction category. I'll be following the rules set forth by Steve Moss so that I can submit my stories for his next anthology, but I'm adding one more rule of my own: since these stories will be featured in the left hand column of the WWN webzine, and vertical space there is at a premium, all Nanofiction entries will be formatted as a single paragraph.

See also:

The Second Season:




Now Don't You Wish You'd Voted?

Against virtually impossible odds, the presidential election ended in a tie: Each major candidate won the exact same number of electoral votes. Strangely enough, due to a little known clause in the Constitution, the tie-breaker was decided by the Supreme Court, in a game of Capture the Flag held on the White House lawn.

The Relentless Follower

Two pirates shuffled down the leafy sidewalk, followed by a tall man wearing a suit. The man waited in the shadows whenever the pirates raided a house, demanding candy, but he was always nearby. "Your dad's starting to give me the creeps," Eric whispered at last. "Wait," said Pete. "I thought he was your dad."


The suspects gathered at the crime scene, scrutinizing the alleged murder weapon: a lead pipe. Suddenly the investigator himself was unmasked as the killer! Mr. Green protested, claiming amnesia. "See, that's what I hate about this game," he said. "How can you not know you're the murderer? Besides, I find poison to be more elegant."


"That Bug's Just Waitin' To Be Squished."

They met at the Cockroach Discotheque... their antennae locked at first sight. They boogied until dawn... shaking their carapaces in a jitterbug contest sponsored by Bug Lite. In the morning, he looked at the spot on his tarsal segment where he'd written her number and... it was smudged! Now he's got nothing to live for...

Paper Clips in Love

They lived happily together in the jar on Gertrude's desk until March 13th, when one clip was used to bind the Perkins report and wound up on Arthur's desk. The other clip eventually got delivered to Arthur's desk, only to find the first clip horribly mangled. "Run!" he groaned! "Arthur bends us up for fun!"

What About the Rest of the Fleet?

There were other colorful submarines: red, blue, green... My favorite was the purple submarine. Captain Jackson took his crewmates, Tina and Veronica, on an epic quest to rescue Princess Aquarius from the clutches of the aliens from Planet X-33. What a story! (Not that you learn any of it from playing the card game Aquarius...)


How Can They Even Be In Business?

The new fast food chain grew more rapidly than anyone thought possible, particularly considering their fare: deep fried crickets. Although few people were ever seen eating at one, a new Insect King appeared on every fast food strip in America within just eight months. Only after the invasion fleet arrived was their true purpose understood...

The Prime Minister is Dead

One thousand centuries ago, in the crystal city of Lyralla, the Emperor of Mars declared that whoever beat him at Icehouse would become the new Prime Minister. After 3 weeks of tournaments, the 3 best challengers each played a game with the Emperor. All 3 won. So they became a Tribunal, and the Emperor retired.

The Three
by Dan Efran

One hundred centuries ago, in glittering Lyrallai, the Emperor of Mars declared that he would pass his Scepter to the one who bested him at Icehouse. That year's Grand Tournament found three champions, who beat the Emperor in a stunning three way tie! Later, the Abdicant was often heard muttering, "The First Tribunal were Discordians!"


Trouble on the Mountainside

"Death!" Chris cried triumphantly. Flashlight beams danced together on the plastic floor as rain pattered lightly on the canvas above. "Death by Chocolate means I win!" Suddenly there were noises outside. Everyone froze. A face peered in through the flap. "Lights out was an hour ago," said the scoutmaster, "and... hey, Fluxx! Can I play?"

"Our National Security is Threatened by Zeppelins!"

The military usefulness of their Zeppelins was widely regarded as a key to the early German victories of WWII. But what if something had happened, before the war, that crippled the airship industry? The sabotage of the Hindenburg was intended to shorten one war, but to the Time Traveler's dismay, it instead triggered another: Korea.

Waiting To Become My Future Self 2

I met myself once... apparently someday I'll use Time Travel to give myself investment advice. But it doesn't work... I bought stock as instructed, and lost everything. I can only assume another chrononaut altered history in a way that bankrupted Microsoft, right after I'd invested. If I get another chance, I'll tell myself about Apple.


How Shakespeare Lived To Be 653

The Time Traveler swiped Shakespeare's still-warm corpse (replacing it with a synthetic replica) and restored his health using 23rd century medical technology. "Now write!" he commanded. "I'll produce your lost works and become rich beyond imagining!" But the Bard, bewildered by the Future, had lost his touch. "Mona and the Dragon" was a turkey.

I Was Even Named After Gagarin

Rather than tamper with our own nation's history, my first mission was to prevent the assassination of an American president, in 1981. Ironically, this caused the collapse of the Soviet Union -- and erased the Kazamastan Chronodrome from existence. So now I work for the Time Repair Agency, fixing paradoxes. (I'll get a promotion after ten...)

Waiting To Become My Future Self

I met myself once... a familiar stranger appeared at my home, looking around nostalgically. "Invest in Microsoft," he advised. Then he explained that we'd meet a time traveler someday, right here in this diner. So now I'm rich... but I can't ever leave this restaurant! What if my ride shows up, and I'm not here?

First Season Archive: Into The Unknown
"So, How Was Your Day?" My Great Great Grandparents Died at Auschwitz Interfering with History
They Said He'd Had A Stroke Radiation: Divine Creator 55 Fiction Contest Submission Cover Letter
It's Not A Watch, It's A Time-X Rich's Birthday Romance Arrives One Day Late
Before the Beginning of Time Honesty Begins at Home The Human ATM
Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 1 Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 2 Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 3
Christmas in the Ant Colony Message from a Desert Islan Fudge Warfare
The Ninth Star Trek Series Bob Who Ginger's Island
Mission Accomplished Green Submarine The Phantom Chocolate Factory
And All For a 41 Cent Tip Forgotten Heroes of the Space Race Canned Conclusion
The Agony of Defeat The Extremely Precise Crystal Ball Saving JFK
It Happened When He Played The Tower Evil Victorious The 100,000 Year Legacy
One Of Those Days Hard Act to Follow Why Didn't You Look in the Glovebox?
Love Potion #2 Whoever Gets 1000 Points Wins Whatever happened to...?
The Arrival of Morning "Can You Grab The Cart, Honey?" Toasted Alive
2:11 am, April 15th 1912 Phasers on Stun Lost Wallet

Copyright © 1999-2000 By Andrew Looney.

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