FF: Emotional Commitment

Variety Rules!

My reading this week has been intruded upon by my spending more time writing, but audiobooks are coming to the rescue.

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Set in ancient Egypt with lots of period material.  Very enjoyable, although the POV character might strike some as too vague and dreamy.

In Progress:

Always Look On the Bright Side by Eric Idle.  Audiobook.  Read by the author.  Alternately funny and thoughtful, brilliantly presented.  I’m enjoying.  This one was recommended by my friend, Alan Robson, in his book review column.

Treecat Wars by David Weber and Jane Lindskold.  Not really a re-read.  I haven’t read this since it was in proofs, which is a very different experience indeed.

Also:

Although I’ve found short fiction tough to read unless in one sitting, I find magazine articles easy to read when exhausted before bed, so I’m plowing through the accumulated issues.

I wonder if it’s the fact that short non-fiction of this sort lacks the need for an emotional commitment on the part of the reader?

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12 Responses to “FF: Emotional Commitment”

  1. Beverly Martin Says:

    Right now, I am between magazine subscriptions, but 2 of my favorites are National Geographic and Smithsonian. I agree there isn’t usually emotional involvement with the articles, but they do give my brain something to chew on.

    I finished Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski. These are stories about the Witcher. I enjoyed them.

    I am reading The Sly Blue Wolves: A Novel of the Change by S.M. Stirling. This is supposed to be the end of the series. It is starting off slow, mainly due to review of past actions and scene building. I will persevere.

    I am also reading The End of All Things by John Scalzi set in the Old Man’s War universe. It is ok.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Smithsonian is a favorite since childhood. I periodically try Nat’l Geo and then drop it because it can’t show you something beautiful without telling you it’s doomed.

  2. Louis Robinson Says:

    I picked up an issue of Current Archaeology in Chapters the other day, which I can’t recall seeing before [I’m wondering if some buyer didn’t get confused and order it instead of Archaeology, which I’m _not_ seeing this month]. One of the news snippets may be of interest to you: a pair of British researchers have been examining textile samples from the Middle East and Europe, from sites covering c.4000 – 500BC, and come to a rather interesting conclusion. Despite the ubiquity of spindle whorls throughout that time, it seems that thread made from plant fibre was actually produced by splicing rather than draft spinning until well into the first millennium BC. Animal fibres aren’t discussed, other than to point out that the earliest textiles are made of plant bast fibres.

    If you’re interested, the original article referred to in CA can be accessed here: link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12520-018-0677-8

    • janelindskold Says:

      Thanks! That’s fascinating. “Splicing”? Can you explain the term to me? It understand spinning (as anyone who has ever rubbed fluff and had it turn into yarn), but I don’t understand how splicing would work with raw material.

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        I’m not sure I understand it properly myself, yet, so you might be better off looking up the Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences article, but here goes:

        If I have it right, in draft spinning fibres are pulled off the distaff with random alignments and twisted together the entire length of the thread [and to accomplish that, the plant material has to be fully retted and cleaned first]. Splicing starts with the natural bundles as the fibres are removed from the plant, and may or may not use properly cleaned fibre [usually not, from the article], so the fibres are parallel and begin and end more or less at the same points. The ends of the bundles are then joined – by twisting them together, say – in a way that you may have seen if you’ve ever watched somebody make cord from cedar bark or leather or such. This leaves the thread with little internal twist and a series of relatively weak junctions, so they were apparently always then twisted into multi-ply yarns for use.

        As I said, the article covers plant-based textiles, so I’m guessing that either draft spinning was first developed by pastoralists making their textiles from wool and hair, and later transferred to other materials, or close examination will show that earlier animal-fibre threads are worsteds, not wools. Or both, of course, since the sequence is clearly a rather long one.

      • janelindskold Says:

        Thanks, Louis. That actually was a great explanation. I think “what first” is probably deceptive. I mean, I’ve “spun” cat hair just in the process of getting it off my hands. I can’t imagine that early herders etc didn’t do this and figure out that the end result might be useful.

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        And you just explained how splicing would work with animal fibres: take that bundle and set it aside, spin a bunch more like it, line them up and twist the ends together and voila, a thread.

        However, early domesticated animals probably didn’t shed the way your cats do – and almost certainly not all over their keepers – so the path to wool textiles was likely rather more complex than that.

        Research indicated.

      • janelindskold Says:

        I cheerfully believe that any domesticated animal would shed over its keeper… Whether the fibers would be long enough or soft enough to spin is another matter.

  3. Harried Harry Says:

    I finished reading the series on “Captain Jani Killian” by Kristine Smith. I found I was very committed to reading this series since it had an interesting plot with a lot of twists & turns. Not difficult to read, except for the pronunciation of some of the names.

    The discussion by Louis Robinson is also interesting. We can all learn something each day.

  4. Harried Harry Says:

    I was thinking of how you and other authors put your stories together. Sounds a lot like splicing to me. Regardless, you and the others make for very entertaining reading and allow me and other readers to use our imaginations. This, in turn, keeps our brain cells working (at least for those of us who still have some).

  5. CBI Says:

    Hadn’t thought of it before, but I think you’re on to something with the “emotional commitment” idea. Perhaps an additional factor is that, with short fiction, there is also a commitment to mentally imagining (or “imaging” as is often said nowadays) a created environment. It might be enjoyable or unconscious mental work, but it still takes effort.

    Recently Completed:

    Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin. (audiobook) Continued the Earthsea cycle. I liked the character development, for the most part. The ending was a bit too deus ex machina for my taste, but it was both foreshadowed and fit in with the story. Le Guin’s writing remains a strong suit.

    Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. A fairly good space opera. Characters were reasonably realistic, as was the plot, but it kept seeming a bit “off” to me, and I’m not sure why.

    In Progress:

    Tales from Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. (audiobook) A collection of short stories. I’m on the first, which has been OK, but it hasn’t held together quite as well as did Tehanu or even The Farthest Shore. I think part of it is the seemingly utopian society the main character has encountered, and part may be that Le Guin is trying to pack two many themes into the one container.

    The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling. The third novel in my complete works book. It’s moving along, but I’ve come to a point where it’s beginning to drag. I’m hoping that there’s a point or development soon, because I’m almost at the “I don’t care about these people” stage.

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