SF Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

This is the first Philip K. Dick that I have ever read, and having finished it, I’m now sure it won’t be the last. I have never seen “Blade Runner,” so let’s get that out in the open right now. And I cannot, for that matter, understand the apparent need of book reviewers to compare the book to the movie. Not just this book, but any book. The book came first, and should, therefore be judged on its own merit. On a book review site, at least.

I can understand the need to compare a movie to the book that inspired it, but really not the other way around. The movie is an evolution of the ideas in the book, where it differs or omits information is valid to our interpretation of the filmmaker’s intentions. It doesn’t work in reverse!

I just had to get that out of my system.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Is a brief and easy read with surprising depth, in my opinion. I admit that it took me a little longer than usual to jump into this novel. I actually had to take a couple of attempts at reading the second chapter; I stumbled over it and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what was going on. But I pressed on and suddenly the book took off! I was hooked.

I think what I loved most about this novel is the underlying question, in every moment of the text, as to what makes us human. The play between human and android is complex, and at various points in the novel I found myself empathizing with both parties; now that I’m finished the novel, I’m a little creeped out by that. The ability to empathize is significant in the novel, as it marks one of the only remaining differences between humans and the Nexus-6 android.

Yet, in the beginning, this trait appears superficial. SPOILERS AHEAD!!! When Deckard meets Rachel Rosen and Luba Luft, one has to seriously question the morality of his position. Rosen appears to be an innocent, and the fact that we are surprised that she is, in fact, an android goes to prove how similar the two “species” (if you can call them that) really are. In fact, she nearly passes the Voigt-Kampff empathy tests with a little explanation. Luba Luft is a brilliant performer, and her voice would have been a gift to human kind had she been allowed to live. These characters seem to beg the question, how important is empathy? Is that what really makes us human?

Certainly, J. R. Isodore’s position seems to have been improved because of his relationship with the androids. As a special—a human without the necessary IQ to emigrate to Mars—Isodore is alienated from a society whose acceptance he desperately craves. The illusion of acceptance, in the company of the androids he is harbouring, gives sudden meaning to his otherwise dreary existence.

And it is through Isodore’s eyes that we first see the shift in the androids. Isodore is a model of nearly perfect empathy, and I would argue that it is his limited intellectual intelligence that enables his advanced emotional intelligence. In comparison to Isodore, Deckard appears nearly android himself. There are moments in the book when we suspect him of being so—Deckard is never given an empathy test—and it is not until the final chapters of the novel that we are ever really assured that he is human. However, when Deckard is compared to Rachel Rosen, we can see the difference. The androids, with their nearly flawless intellectualism, are dreadfully cold. They are able to fear for their own existence, and it is this primitive urge to survive which makes them appear human. As Rachel Rosen says, she is capable of feeling empathy only for herself. The tidy analytical minds of androids are capable of anything except empathy, which cannot be rationalized. Deckard’s horror at discovering that he feels empathy for certain androids—which is connected to physical desire—is crude, but it goes to prove just how irrational the feeling of empathy can be.

When Pris cuts the legs off of Isodore’s spider—she claims to want to see why it has eight, if it can get by with only four—we understand just how dangerous such a purely intellectual mind could be. To the android, there is no difference between the spider and Isodore. He is a tool for their survival, and nothing more. When Buster Friendly and his Friendly-Friends reveal that Wilbur Mercer—the prophet of Mercerism, and a unifying figure for all human empathy on Earth—is a fraud, Isodore’s androids are amused by his shock and confusion. They believe this justifies their existence, that empathy itself is a fraud.

Yet it is the androids who will be confused, ultimately. Isodore tells them that Mercerism will not end because of this revelation, though he does not know why. Deckard, after a kind of psychological breakdown in the desert, comes to the same conclusion. This is because empathy, which Mercer embodies, is real. And it is the sense of community that empathy creates amongst humans that gives Mercerism its meaning.

I liked a lot of the ideas that Dick brings to the table with this novel. I liked the sliding scale between empathy and intelligence, and the implications of such an idea. And I liked, even if I don’t agree with it, the parallel comparison between Faith and science; at least, I felt that the idea was well-executed in this book. It is my discomfort with this idea that made me give Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep four stars instead of five.

I think that much of what Dick seems to be saying is true; humans have an ability to rationalize away our empathy, and this act makes us less human. What I didn’t like was the implication that empathy and religiosity are somehow inextricably linked, and that lack of Faith somehow makes us less human. People are just as able to rationalize based on religious reasons as scientific ones. It is the act of attempting to rationalize empathy that is the problem, no matter what a person’s individual motivations for doing so are.

Then again, maybe that wasn’t the point. Mercerism is really a kind of worship of empathy, rather than a religion in the sense of the word that we are accustomed to today. So maybe Dick is saying that, in order to remain true to ourselves, we must learn to recognize and embrace the things that make us human and not lose them in either religion or science.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to change that rating after all.

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SF Book Review: Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein

I’m sorry, but I’m going to give you yet another book review (and another Heinlein review, at that!) because I want to keep up the habit of writing every day even while there is no new on my own book just yet. Please bear with me, and feel free to skip if this is not why you visit Cat’s Liminal Space. I promise not to hold against you. Not too much, anyways…

Oh, and also, I’ve read a lot of books lately, and I made a promise to myself that I was going to review every book I read–good or bad–for GoodReads. Yes, you can find me there too, if you’re really into nerding out. And I have no friends, so I will desperately add anyone who sends me a request–even if you look like a creepy stalker and/or a homicidal maniac. But if you send me pictures of your penis, I will post them here and give you a critique that you might never get over. No, that is not an invitation; creepy stalker man, I’m looking at you.

Moving on.

Or perhaps not entirely, because we are talking about Heinlein. I haven’t really done my research; this is only the third of his books that I have read (the first two being Door into Summer and Starship Troopers). But he is often referred to as a pervert and a misogynist. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know him. I was four years old when he died, it’s not my fault. Or maybe I just tend to pic up his pervy, sexist books. I may never know. What I do know is that so far, his brand of pervy sexism doesn’t really bug me. And I’m here to tell you why.

People seem to have a love it or hate it kind of relationship with Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love. And I’ve gotta say I’m strapped firmly to the former bandwagon. I thought this book was epic in the truest sense of the word, it’s a great story that spans one man’s life from the beginning of WWI all the way to the the year 25-something-or -other. Granted, I can see why some of the Negative Nancy’s are getting their panties in a twist (okay, maybe the incest theme goes a little far, but he was using it to make a point), yet Heinlein’s weirdness just doesn’t give me the willies like some people. And I think some critics have missed the mark entirely, by focusing on the wrong stuff. Which is fully within their rights, of course, and an opinion is only an opinion. Blah blah blah. Here’s my two cents on why they’re wrong:

Time Enough for Love is set up as a series of tales told by the oldest living man in the universe, Lazarus Long. Lazarus is confined to a rejuvenation clinic, where he is being held against his will by a team of people dedicated to preserving his knowledge. You see, they’ve “rescued” Laz from attempted suicide, in order to record his life’s story and hopefully glean some of the wisdom he’s accumulated in over two-thousand years of life. And Lazarus has agreed not to try to take his own life again, until he’s told them about the most important lessons learned in his long life. Time Enough for Love is like Arabian Nights, but in reverse; Laz is telling his stories for his right to die. At least at first…

So the structure necessitates a kind of “bracketing” set up, wherein Lazarus’ tales are divided by his present experiences in the rejuvenation clinic. When you first get into the book, it’s kind of tough to wade through, and this bracketing doesn’t help the initial flow. I’ve got to admit, Lazarus’ voice is where Heinlein’s storytelling excels. I sometimes had to restrain myself from skipping forward until the next tale. Although, in the end I’m glad that I did (restrain myself, that is). Heinlein brings everything together nicely once Lazarus regains an interest in life and goes on to set up his free-lovin’ hippie commune on the planet Boondock, and all of a sudden his present becomes the next tale, “De Capo.”

I’m not going to summarize the book for you, there’s a whole bunch of that stuff floating around, and I really think that this is a must read for any SF fan. Instead, I’m going to address what I’ve perceived to be the main arguments against this text, and why they are not as bad or as relevant to Heinlein’s ability as they perhaps appear.

The number one complaint that I’ve noticed in other reviews is with Heinlein’s apparent preoccupation with incest. Love between brothers and sisters, close cousins, and once, even, a parent and child (except don’t set off those pedo-meters just yet, with everyone living for hundreds of years, and people physical ages hovering around mid-life, this was sex between consenting adults who weren’t too wrinkly. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.) are a prevailing theme. But I think that, unusual as the theme is in modern writing, it has a place in this story and is essential to Lazarus’ character. I don’t think it’s simply that Heinlein really wanted to write some soft core sibling porn and this book was his excuse (although that’s possible, in which case I’m almost more impressed that he came up with a storyline like this to justify his ulterior motives).

First of all, in the argument against Heinlein being a perv, is the fact that Lazarus Long is completely obsessed with genetic purity. And he has to be, and I think that, in a novel where people live for as long as they do, Heinlein is right to address the issue, rather than skirting by it and letting us wonder. Let’s just think of the logistics here: when everyone (or at least the majority of people, there are still some people with normal lifespans, but they’re suckers. Laz even falls in love with one, much to his sorrow.) lives for hundreds and hundreds of years A) People do not, obviously stay in a marriage for their whole lives, but rather for as long a it works for them. Sometimes that’s a couple of years, or long enough to raise a family, and sometimes it’s for decades, but it’s not “forever.” That would be a little crazy. There would be a lot more domestic violence going on if people had to stay together for five hundred years… That’s just my opinion.

Anyways, with people living so long, and being either serially monogamous, polygamous, or just generally free-lovin’ it’s a lot harder to keep track of people geneologies, especially if you consider an average lifespan many times longer than our own. As a result, everyone is very concerned with genetic compatibility, and none more so than Lazarus. As one of the first “long-lifers” on Earth, he was contractually obligated to reproduce only with other long-lifers in order to preserve the longevity they had acquired. Then, there is the fact that old Laz, being nearly three-thousand years old, is the great-to-the-nth-degree grandfather of nearly everyone in the universe, so the older he gets the harder it is for him to find partners with whom he is genetically compatible (not being related to them is virtually impossible).

Lazarus comes to view the appropriateness of sexual pairings solely through the lens of healthy reproduction—and then, only if reproduction is the goal (in the most extreme example SPOILER ALERT!!!Lazarus travels back in time and accidentally falls in love with his mother, an affair that is able to be consummated only because his mother is already pregnant and therefore won’t become pregnant by Laz END SPOILER ALERT!). And although the taboo of incest, in the traditional sense, once served a primitive purpose to people who didn’t really understand genetics—the over simplified concept is not applicable in Lazarus’ world. It sometimes seems like Lazarus is beating a dead horse with his reasoning for who is allowed to sleep with whom, but I wonder if Heinlein was worried about the reception of his book and felt the need to defend himself a little bit. Had he just breezed over the idea, perhaps the backlash would have been worse than it has been. I don’t know what his reasoning was, but in any case, I really didn’t find any of the questionable relationship in this novel to be creepy, even if I did raise an eyebrow at them initially.

Creepy incestuous relationships aside, the next biggest complaint of this novel that I’ve encountered has to do with Heinlein’s characterization. Really, everyone in the novel except for Lazarus himself, seems to fall into a stereotypical kind of mould. Every male character is interchangeable with every other male character, and the same goes for the female characters, even if they have slightly different physical characteristics. And strangely, they are all horny all the time. I imagined a cheesy ’70’s porn beat in the background for at least half of the book. I guess that’s how Heinlein imagined it would be if we lived in a world that wasn’t ashamed of human sexuality. Maybe he’s right! It was funny, for sure. But many people seem to think that this is just an example of Heinlein being a shitty writer.

Not so! I would argue that, perhaps this sameness has more to do with Lazarus’ memory than Heinlein’s skill as a writer. Heinlein is a man with a vast imagination, and he might not be the most technically skilled writer out there, but he’s not a hack. It seemed to me, that people kind of blend together for Lazarus; every character is a mixture of all of the people he has ever known, their personalities and their deeds are not necessarily attributed accurately (Lazarus is a textbook unreliable narrator, and is frequently caught in contradictions and fallacies throughout the book). The secondary characters in Lazarus’ tales are place-holders, used by Lazarus to get his point across to his audience, but not important in their individuality. They are anecdotal.

This sameness, I would also argue, serves to illustrate Heinlein’s vision of human kind. Ultimately, even thousands of years in the future, human beings can be reduced to their basic needs—the same needs that we have had since the beginning of time.  And first and foremost, is our need for love. Lazarus’ overarching lesson for humanity is that a person’s worth is measured not by the property and wealth that they accumulate, or by the fantastic deeds that they accomplish, but by the quantity and quality of the time that they spend with those they love—whether it is family, friends, or lovers.

And that’s a position that I can stand by.

But tell me what you think. Where do you stand in the Heinlein camp? Do you know some juicy secrets about his real life that might sway my opinion. C’mon, people. Dish!

SF Book Review: The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein

I picked this up at a used bookstore because I loved the cheesy ’70’s sci-fi cover art, and it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t intend to write a review for it at all, but I’ve been inspired!

It is not very often that I read a book that makes me smile the entire time I’m reading it; this is one of them. From the hilarious anachronisms of the 1950’s Futurist to the brilliant side-kick cat, Pete. (Cat lovers will appreciate this book on a completely different level than other readers). I was laughing out loud at least once every 20 pages or so.

It is only because I read some of the other reviews for this book that I felt the need to write a review myself. After seeing that a number of reviews that charge The Door into Summer (and sometimes Heinlein himself) as being both misogynistic and perverse, I felt the need to defend it (and him).

First of all, on the complaints that Heinlein’s vision of the future (from 1956, remember) is sexist, misogynistic, anti-woman, etc.:

There are not many women in this story, true enough, which may be a mark against it in and of itself. Because of this, the heinous Belle stands out as being a particularly unlikable femme-fatale. Though I would argue that, had Belle not been foiled by Dan’s foray into time travel, her plot would have succeeded and she would have made a respectable villain. She was well-equipped for it: calculating, edgy, violent, and un-emotional. But because the other women in the book (Jenny Sutton, the Girl-Scout Matron, and later Ricki) are fairly minor they do little to offset the influence of Belle and rather support the 1950’s housewife stereotype. And Dan Davis’ engineering vision of rescuing women from the drudgery of housework is a little dated, to be sure.

However, I consider these to be the faults of a novel written in the 1950’s. I always find it best to approach a book with the understanding that it is a product of the time in which it was written. If a novel breaks through the conventions of its time, great! But it would be unreasonable to expect it every time one picks up a new book. Our modern sensibilities might be offended by some archaic ideas, but out-dated notions don’t necessarily devalue an otherwise good yarn. (not to mention historically important works, which this isn’t, but the point stands)

It’s true that science fiction often pushes boundaries: of politics, religion, war, gender, sexuality, human nature, etc. But it is not necessary. And it is certainly not necessary to push all of them at once. The Door into Summer is not a book about gender roles. It reflects opinions common to the time in which it was written, but it does not address them specifically. It cannot be said to be particularly forward thinking on the subject, but at the same time it is a passive position. Heinlein is not actively or purposefully oppressing women in this novel, but he is describing a world very similar to the one in which he lived. Which, for me, is enough that I didn’t hate the novel for its faults.

Heinlein has shown in this and other novels that he is not rigid in his notions on the future of gender roles. In Starship Troopers women make the best fighter pilots because of their superior reflexes and mental dexterity. In this novel, there are suggestions that–outside of the narrative–women are fulfilling more diverse roles than we see them in. Dan Davis, when discussing the merits of his engineering robot ‘Drafting Dan’, admits that most women don’t care much for it unless they are engineers themselves! The offhand nature of this remark is indicative that it is not an alien idea to Dan. Perhaps his housekeeping robot is more liberal-minded than we initially supposed, if it has freed women from the role of housewives to pursue their dreams outside the home. Something to consider, anyways.

With that out of the way, I wanted to talk about the so-called perversion of Dan’s unconventional (temporally speaking) romance with Ricki. Many people have commented on the “disturbing” nature of the love story sub-plot. And maybe it’s because I’ve recently read Lolita, but I really didn’t feel too put out about it. I actually found Dan and Ricki’s relationship kind of cute, mostly because Dan falls in love with Ricki because she understands and appreciates his cat–which Dan feels is indicative of the kind of person she is (although she is only a child). It is important to note that there are no overtly pedophilic suggestions in this book, unless the reader supplies them (I’m sure there are those who will disagree)

When it comes down to it, Dan’s romantic feelings towards Ricki are not directed at her juvenile self but at the woman he imagines she will become. It is not unusual, I think, to idealize and idolize romantically (particularly after one has had ones heart broken). Ricki is the only female that Dan has ever felt any connection with, and he values her friendship. It is only after Belle betrays him that he begins to think “if only Ricki were older”. Not because he fantasizes about being with a child (obviously, he wouldn’t then wish she were older) but because he fantasizes about being with someone he loves and trusts.

He cannot even be said to be taking advantage of her childish crush on him. He tells Ricki to wait until she’s 20 to decide if she wants to be with him (he is, and will remain, 30). Ricki has 8 sobering years to decide if she still has feelings for Dan once she is an adult, during which he can supply no pressure. Thanks to the invention of suspended animation their love is possible without being creepy!

Ok, so that’s a longer rant than I intended. But there it is. Thanks for bearing with me if you got this far!

SF/Horror Book Review: I am Legend by Richard Matheson

I’m giving this particular edition three stars, because I’m reviewing the book as a whole—not just the iconic titular work. “I am Legend” is, hands down, the best story in this collection. And when I bought this book on Amazon (don’t shoot me) I didn’t realize that it was anything more than Matheson’s famous dystopian novella.

If I was reviewing “I am Legend” alone, this would be a 4 star review, maybe even 4.5. After all, it is the vampire novel that gave birth to zombie fiction!

Wait, what?

No, really. Although Matheson’s tale features the last man alive in a battle for survival against a host of vampires, “I am Legend” is much more akin to the zombie lit that has followed, than what we (or I should say, I) associate with modern vampire fiction. I never really jumped on the zombie bandwagon, but I have always enjoyed a good vampire tale (Anne Rice defined my angsty teenage years), and I think that Matheson succeeds in both genres. What is even more impressive is that “I am Legend” was written in 1954, and has influenced countless contemporary masters of horror and SF since.

Of course, “I am Legend” is not the first vampire novel (novella, in this case), nor is it the first dystopian or plague novel for that matter. Detractors from this work love to point this out as if not being the first somehow negates the work’s influence on popular culture. One gets the feeling that some of these people still believe in “original” art, as if there is such a thing as a completely new idea. Sorry, folks, it’s all been done before. Literature is an evolution of ideas. Just because something has been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done again, and done better. That’s the fun of writing, isn’t it? Expressing old ideas in new ways?

“I am Legend” is a moody, self-reflective tale about the end of the world. Robert Neville, the protagonist, battles fear, loneliness, anger, and despair as the last human being untouched by the plague that has turned the rest of the world into vampires. He’s perhaps not a likeable character, he spends a lot of time wallowing in self-pity and drinking himself into a stupor, but that’s not to say that he’s not a believable character. Matheson’s prose is descriptive without being flowery, the repetition of scenes and themes that many found irritating, to me served to build an idea of the necessarily mundane routine of Neville’s life. He is confined to a small area of the city, defined by how far he can go and still make it back to the safety of his house by sundown. His life consists of gathering supplies, maintaining his property, dispatching any vampires he finds and, later on, researching the plague. When something disturbs this routine, such as finding the dog or the woman, the reader is shocked—as Neville is shocked—as much by the disturbance as by how little it takes to make a profound impact on a lonely man’s existence.

The story is only about 170 pages long, so the tedium of Neville’s world doesn’t bog the reader down (or I didn’t find it did). Had it been longer, I think Matheson would have needed to add more action to maintain the pace of the story, but this would have detracted from the intensely moody landscape he’s built. It is the lack of action that is so disturbing in “I am Legend,” and that is what makes the ending so shocking, in contrast. Neville’s perspective shifts so suddenly that it is disorienting, for the reader and for him. The skill with which Matheson delivers the transition of Ben Cortman from antagonist to pitiable victim was gut-wrenching and unexpected. And Neville’s last thought in the novel, the titular phrase “I am Legend,” has chilling implications.

Some people were bothered by Matheson’s “pseudo-science,” finding that his attempts to explain the plague were ham-handed or just silly. But I think they forget that this was written in the mid-1950’s, and that what we recognize as being impossible or implausible today would not necessarily have been so then. I feel it’s an unfair criticism. Even if Matheson should have known better (I have no idea what stage the study of virus and bacteria were at in the ‘50’s) it’s a red herring argument. This is not hard science fiction, the science behind the plague wasn’t important to the story at all. What was important, was seeing a man’s desperate attempt to explain and understand his circumstances. The way that Neville was able to create a sense of normalcy for himself by pursing an answer to the age-old question of why thing happen the way they do. So Matheson’s science is a little far-fetched, I get it. But had it been more plausible, it would have had no effect on the outcome of the story. It was the act of researching that had meaning for Neville, not the answers themselves, in my opinion.

Sadly, the rest of the stories in this collection didn’t really do it for me. I won’t go into them here, as most people who pick up this book are likely only doing so for “I am Legend”, but rate them as follows:

“I am Legend” 4-4.5/5

“Buried Talents” 2/5

“The Near Departed” 1/5

“Prey” 1/5

“Witch War” 1/5

“Dance of the Dead” 3/5

“Dress of White Silk” 2/5

“Mad House” 3/5

“The Funeral” 3/5

“From Shadowed Places” 2/5

“Person to Person” 3.5/5

***A couple of complaints on the edition I bought: Nowhere on the cover, with the exception of some fine print on the back, does this mention that there are other stories than the titular one inside. When I bought it on Amazon (don’t shoot me) I had no idea that this was a collection of short stories. I accidently discovered this when reading a review of “I am Legend” and I realized that the book I was reading was far too thick to be a novella, as the reviewer described it. I guess it’s not a big deal, but I felt kind of deceived…

Worse than this misrepresentation of “I am Legend” as a three-hundred page novel, is the tacky red star on the front of the book proudly proclaiming that the tale is “Now a major motion picture starring Will Smith!”. If they have to do that, why couldn’t it be a sticker? Why print it on there, forever scarring what otherwise was some pretty cool cover art? Especially annoying because the big red star didn’t show up on Amazon’s preview image (not the book’s fault, I guess, but still annoying). Grrr!

Next Steps: When the waiting becomes unbearable!

Wow, I was away for longer than I expected. It’s so hard for me to get back into a routine once I’ve disrupted it! But I’m back, I really am.

So, to those of you who haven’t forgotten about me, thank you for your patience!

Things have kind of slowed down on my end, which is part of the reason that I haven’t been all that motivated to write a new post. But enough procrastinating, dammit! I promised to write about what it’s like to try to get a book published, and this is part of it. The long, painful wait between rejections and the little kernel of undying hope that keeps you looking forward to that next email.

I’ve received replies from most of the agents that I expected to receive replies from (some agents only respond to queries that interest them, so after four weeks or so if you haven’t heard back you can assume that’s a “thanks, but no thanks”). I sadly received a rejection from the NY agent that I had been crossing my fingers for, and even more sadly didn’t receive any feedback to go along with it. I think the sad reality is that most agents are so inundated with manuscripts that they don’t have time to provide feedback, unless it is a project they would consider representing if the author implemented the changes they suggest.

And I get the feeling, too, that many querying authors are not receptive to feedback when it is offered. I’ve heard stories from far too many agents who have offered suggestions and been lambasted for their efforts and seen websites dedicated to would-be authors’ complaints about agents rejections of their work. My feeling is that there are some bad apples out there ruining the experience for the rest of us. Probably a hundred years worth of bad apples that have turned the industry in the direction that it has grown.

So, I have made a decision. I want feedback. At this point I need to know if sending my MS out in its current state is just a waste of time. If there are major errors that I and my beta-readers have missed, I need to know. If there are some minor changes I can make to make my manuscript more saleable, I need to know. If there are major changes I need to make before the story works for a publisher, I need to know. Because I do not live in a major city, my access to writing groups and workshops is limited, which is where many writers receive feedback on their writing. So I only have one other choice:

I have decided to pay for a professional edit on my manuscript. Not just any editor, but from someone who works in the industry and has a particular interest in fantasy and science fiction (I’ll blab about who it is once the edit is done, and I have their permission to do so). And I’m really excited about it. Really excited and really nervous. But I know it will be good for me, even if I get bad news.

If I get good news, I think I’ll have to bust out the champagne!

So I will keep you posted on how this goes for me. It’s not a cheap process, and I know a lot of writers who say “Why bother, when you land an agent you get the editing for free!” and a lot of family members who say “Just be patient, it’s just a matter of finding the right agent”. But I think most writers who poo-poo professional editing have access to writer’s workshops (which also cost a lot of money) and other ways of getting some industry insight. And, while I love my family for their faith in me and my novel… patience is a slow death.

And a part of me thinks, why should an agent or publisher invest in me if I’m not willing to invest a little too. I believe in my story, and I believe that I have done as much as I can with the MS as I can without help. But that’s not to say that it can’t be better. This is a competitive industry, and in order to be noticed you have to be one of the best (in theory, don’t ask me to explain E.L. James or Stephanie Meyer)

Now, I should mention that within days of the rejection I received from my dream NY agent, I received a request for a partial from another NY agent who I had previously assumed just wasn’t interested. She is one of the first that I queried, and took over two months to get back to me. But when she did, she wanted to see more! And she had seen my entire synopsis (not just my query letter) when she asked to see the first 100 pages (which is double the size of the next largest partial I’ve sent out). So I’m feeling really good about that one. But I can’t just sit around and do nothing in the meantime, so I’m still going ahead with the edit. If she likes it, great! If not, then perhaps she’ll be interested in my more polished version. Either way, it’s not really a loss.

So what do you think? Anyone out there have good experiences with professional editors? Anyone with bad? Let me know in the comments.