Pipsqueak Articles

Posts written by Olga Werby or Christopher Werby

Another Wave of Refugees

Refugees

“Another wave of refugees is arriving,” the TV news announcer said in a grave voice. George Tiggleson, the news anchor for XWTZ Christian Voice of Americas, has been practicing this voice — deep, resonant, with a slight lamenting quality — for almost twenty years. This voice got him this job. “Are we as a nation ready to take responsibility for thousands of new souls? Can we feed them? House them? Educate them in our ways?” He paused for dramatic effect. His viewers were 90 percent against accepting more refugees. He’s been hammering home the message of astronomical costs of dealing with them. And it’s been working. “But we can’t just turn them away, George,” said George’s News Hour guest, Dr. Varsaad Volhard. “Where will they go? It’s a death sentence–” “Hold on there, Dr. Volhard.” George didn’t let her finish. His viewers hated her “hollering”. The more he put Dr. Volhard down, the higher his ratings got. “We’ve accepted into our bosom almost twenty-five thousands souls so far. That’s more than any other country in the world. Haven’t we done our share? Why do American people have lay out their hard-earned money over and over again? Where would this end?”…

Us and Them

Warm versus Competent graph

Of Doctors, Babies, Kings, and Zombies Before starting my journey as science fiction writer, I got a few degrees under my belt — astrophysics, mathematics, cognitive science, education, etc. It took a few decades (I’ve gotten married and had a family in there somewhere), but I got my doctorate and have used and still use it to help people think through complicated problems, mostly in product design. How is this relevant to writing, you might ask? Well, in addition to witnessing and surviving some amazing situations — always a good experience for a writer — I’ve acquired a few tools on how to think about situations and people. I would like to share one such tool with you: Us versus Them, a cognitive perspective. What people (and other animals) are very good at is dividing themselves into Us’es and Them’s. It’s a useful tool when we live in a divided world — how else do we keep clear of our allegiances to countries, sports teams, and political parties? But these divisions have neurological and psychological underpinnings. Consider a four square graph that charts competency versus likability (emotional warmth and approachability): We perceive (our) doctors as warm, personable, and able. We…

There’s a word for that?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Tower of Babel

A Dictionary of Cool Words That Hide True Feelings & Meanings from Parents Many of the strange vocabulary words, that Jude and her friends, from my new novel The Far Side, use, arise from their need to create a sense of linguistic privacy from the grownups. These are real and come from hard-to-translate words from other languages, professions, or sub-cultures. Age-otori — a feeling that you look worse after the haircut. (Based on a Japanese word.) Ataraxia — a sense of stoic calm. (Based on an ancient Greek word.) Backpfeifengesicht — a face in need of a fist. (Based on a German word.) Chingada — a hellish place where all that annoy you go. (Based on a Spanish word.) Desenrascanço — to find a creative way out of a bad situation. (Based on a Portuguese word.) Dépaysement — the sense of displacement one feels when visiting a foreign country and being far from home. (Based on a French word.) Doppelgänger — a duplicate of a person. (Based on a German word.) Dustsceawung — the contemplation of the idea that everything turns to dust eventually. (Based on an Old English word.) Eudaimonia — deep fulfillment and the resulting happiness, even as…

600 Second Saga: Toy Maker

warrior queen toy

I am very happy to share a performance by Mariah Avix of one my short stories, Toy Maker. Mariah is an author and reader — her voice adds an amazing dimension to the telling of a tale. I feel like she brought my characters to life. I hope you enjoy her performance as much as I did. And please listen to her other readings of science fiction and fantasy — 10 minutes per week to listen, yet enough joy to last much much longer. *** This story is dedicated to little Ian — may you grow up strong, smart, and perceptive.

A Short Radio Story

Hitler Baby

Over the weekend, I’ve created two short audio pieces: “Baby Killers” and the first chapter of “The FATOFF Conspiracy.” While you will have to wait until Friday for the Speculative Fiction Cantina hosted by author S. Evan Townsend to hear the beginning of my dystopian novel about fat, “Baby Killers” is now available. Feel free to read the story along with the video. Enjoy!

1908 Russia — One of the Settings for My Novel: Twin Time

Sasha and Alex

“Twin Time” is a science fiction time twist story of two sisters: one autistic and one not. It plays out in two time periods: modern and just before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. My grandmother was born off this time period, and it is partly based on her stories that that part of the book is created. Born into privilege, she lost everything after the Revolution. She married a Russian officer to secure her own Russian citizenship — my grandmother’s father was an English citizen, and her last name was very English and so was her passport. The new name and citizen papers saved her life. “Twin Time” is fully illustrated. But this movie of Russian life in 1908 gives another glimpse into the life of my characters. For those interested in reading the first few chapters, here’s the link: “Twin Time”.