The Timekeepers’ War: Official Cover!

Final cover art for The Timekeepers' War. Look for it this summer!!
Final cover art for The Timekeepers’ War. Look for it this summer!!
It’s official! The cover art for The Timekeepers’ War has been finalized! I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great team at Bedlam Press. They have been nothing but supportive and cooperative throughout this exciting experience. I just hope there are no scary surprises when Amy gets back to me with the final edits… She’s a little later than expected, which can only mean more work for me, haha. I’ll have to mentally prepare myself for the overhaul 😉 Thank you for sticking with me during this slow time in the publishing process. It seems to come in spurts and lulls. In the mean time I’m trying to finish up some other writing projects I’ve got on the side. The less-fun, more-money journalistic kind, rather than the more-fun, (so far)less-money fictional kind! But I’m fortunate to be able to scrape together a living from writing, no matter what kind it is! Hope I’ll be back soon with an edits update!

The Edits Continue

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Editing. I think I’m actually starting to enjoy the process. Although, by the time The Timekeepers’ War is actually released, I’m going to be so sick of it that I will never actually read the final version cover to cover. Well, maybe in a few years. You guys will have to do it for me. And please don’t tell me if you find any errors at this point, because I may do something drastic!

No, I’m not at that point yet.

But I’m continually amazed at how much a manuscript can change and still come out essentially the same story. It is incredible. I barely recognize my first draft anymore. Who is this flighty, overly descriptive show off? It’s embarrassing! At least no one else will have to read that version every again. Unless I post some before and after paragraphs…

The last time I wrote about editing (read the post here) I explained how I had received a sample of the kind of revisions I will be going through with my editor. Having already gone through the process once before (read about that experience here) I expected that this would be a fairly superficial once-over to make sure there were no hidden typos or formatting errors.

Ha! That was just my conceited writer’s brain talking. I don’t know about you, but when my writer’s brain is not telling me how terrible I am and that I will never make it, it’s telling me I’m amazing and can basically sit on my behind and wait for the accolades to come pouring in. It’s a little bi-polar.

Here’s the thing. No matter how many times you edit something, there is more to fix. Always. Part of that is because everyone’s style is different; some people prefer brevity and some detail, some focus on pace and others on world-building. The important thing about working with an editor is to make sure you both have a similar vision for what the end product will look like. Because you can edit a manuscript back and forth indefinitely if you are not working towards a common goal.

Luckily, my editor and I are on the same page. And that she has a much better idea of how to achieve this end goal than I (apparently) do. Amy, my editor, will be going through my manuscript in detail–just like she did with the first three chapters. But first, she had a little project for me…

She did a search for some commonly over-used words. These culprits are (in my case) “then,” “just,” “look,” and “but.” She asked me to go through my manuscript using the Find feature in Microsoft Word, and to look at every instance in which I had used one of these words (which means going through my MS four separate times, focusing on one word at a time) and to delete them when they were unnecessary, and to rework sentences to avoid them when possible.

Not that you should never use them, but I was grossly overusing them. I used the word “then” over 1500 times in a 130,000 word novel. The word “but” was used over 900 times (this number is somewhat inflated, because the count includes words that contain the letters but, like “button” or “butter,” neither of which are words every used in my novel… so I’m not sure why those are my examples, but you get the point). “Look” in it’s various forms (including “looked” and “looking,” etc.) was used over 500 times. And “just” was used about 250 times. And I never noticed, and none of my beta-readers ever noticed. But once she pointed it out it was impossible to ignore.

The thing about these words is that they are largely unnecessary, particularly “then” and “just.” I was able to get my count of “then” down to only 66 legitimate usages. From 1500. That is ridiculous.

The other trims weren’t quite as drastic, but I cut my usage of “look” and “just” by better than half. “Look” now comes in at 216 and “just” at 126. So the fast majority of “then” and “just” I was simply able to delete and the the sentence didn’t miss them. It’s basically the difference between “Then I opened the door” and “I opened the door” or “Just wait a minute!” and “Wait a minute!” These are simplified sentences, obviously, but the idea is the same. I cut every instance of “then” where the sequence of events was not critical, and in most of the places it cropped up in conversations. “Just” usually came up in conversations as well, because we use it often when we speak. But when we are reading a conversation, it usually isn’t necessary to the context.

“Look” I did not often eliminate, but I replaced with synonyms. Look is a very bland, undescriptive word. “I looked at him” does not have the same weight as “I glared at him.” And there are a lot of different ways to “look”: you can glance, peek, peer, glower, regard, survey, scan, etc. I tried to use more appropriate synonyms, which then allowed me to delete qualifying sentences that followed the “look.” There are also the other kinds of looks: expression, mien, air, etc. which I replaced. Not all of them, because sometimes “look” is the most appropriate word. But I really went through and considered if I was saying what I wanted to say in the best way that I could.

I am infinitely more happy with the way it reads right now, and Amy has barely touched it. She’s just guided me. Now she’s got her hands on it, though, and I’m prepared for some serious fat-trimming. Interestingly, I found myself strangely unable to eliminate my usage of the word “but.” So I have left these changes in Amy’s capable hands in hopes that she will guide me further.

Every time I finish a step like this I come out feeling like a better writer. I feel like I’m learning something, and that my novel is evolving into the best writing that I am capable of. It makes me very excited to take what I’ve learned (hopefully I retain some of it) and apply it to the next novel that I write. Much of it will be directly applicable to the sequel to The Timekeepers’ War, Children of Bathora.

So there you have it. Does anyone have similar experiences with their writing? Any weird words that keep popping up without you realizing it? How do you edit? Please share!

The Timekeepers War– Final Edit Complete! (again)

Well, I’m sure some of you were starting to think it wasn’t going to happen (myself included)… but I finally completed the final edit of my novel, The Timekeepers’ War! Again.

Editing is really the hardest part of writing a book, I swear. I’d heard that before and I never believed it. But that’s because what I thought was editing was really proofreading. And the two are very, very different beasts. After I finished my behemoth of a first novel (it came in at 503 pages, and almost 147,000 words…) I gave copies to a few trusted people to read for consistency, grammar, spelling, and readability. They came back with lots of little changes. I went through TKW three or four times with suggestions from various people, making what changes I deemed necessary, and TA-DA! Final edit complete (pt. 1)

I was feeling pretty good about myself, as a first time author. I’d gotten some really great feedback from my beta readers, along with some constructive criticism that I was able to apply to make my novel the best that I could make it. I sent it out with quiet confidence to agents and publishers alike. And waited… and waited…

And then the rejections started to roll in. I did receive some interest though, which was encouraging. I had requests for the next 10 pages, the next 30 pages, the next 50 pages, and even a couple of requests for the whole novel. I must be doing something right, I thought. They want to see more! They must like it! But nothing panned out. Eventually, each of those requests for more ended in yet another rejection. I was heartbroken!

Two good things came of this process. One: I received some really great feedback from a small publisher who highlighted my strengths and went to the trouble of explaining exactly why The Timkeepers’ War wasn’t working for him. And suddenly, all those vague rejections started to make sense. I had a great story idea, I had likeable characters, I had an intriguing setting. But I needed to seriously work on my pacing if I wanted to sell this as a commercial novel. But I didn’t really know how to go about fixing that issue. I read a lot of long-winded fantasy and sci-fi, and I enjoy them. Pacing isn’t something I knew how to do, it isn’t something I look for in a book. It isn’t my style. But as a first time writer, you have to be able to market your work to a wider audience. And agents and publishers like to see action, they like pacy, they like movement, they like all these things I didn’t know how to deliver (and in many ways, felt I shouldn’t have to). But that brings us to good thing number Two:

I decided to hire a professional editor. One who specialized in SF and worked in the publishing industry. And it wasn’t cheap. But it was totally worth it. My editor echoed some of the feedback that I had already had regarding my strengths as a writer.  And he really, really drove home the point about my weaknesses. It was hard to read at times, but I had decided when I hired him that I would listen and learn from what he had to say. So I had to suck it up. And that can be very hard to do when you read “Boring! Get on with it!” and “I’m losing interest here” and “I’ve forgotten what this story is about now” and “I really want to throw this book at the wall!” written in the margins of your baby. Okay, so that last one never happened, but I that’s how I interpreted it.

But when I started going through some of the changes that he made, I got it. Slowly it dawned on me that my readers don’t need to know everything I know about my world and my characters. I’d spent so long envisioning them, and building a world to hold them, that I found my self rattling off inane details about everyone and everything in my novel. As the person building the world, these details were necessary to me. They helped me to visualize my world and my characters, and kept my environment consistent and believable. But what we need as writers is not the same as what our audience needs as readers. Lesson learned. I started cutting like a crazy person.

At first, this was difficult. But I saved all of those little scraps of imagery, unnecessary scenes and characters, and I told myself “They’ll still be here for me when I need them.” And as kept cutting, and rewriting, the process became cathartic. Sometimes less really is more, and I finally was able to see what this meant in relation to my own work. The middle of my book required extensive rewriting to deal with info dumps. I rewrote about 200 pages of text just to get the pace moving again after I had killed it dead and beaten it’s corpse like the proverbial horse.

And it didn’t always go smoothly. There were good days and bad days. Good months and bad months, really. The hardest part of editing like this is the urge to give up and move on to something new. I was so disheartened some days to be still working on the same book when I have so many ideas for my next projects. I have new projects started, waiting for me, calling out my name! I had thought The Timekeepers’ War was done, I had cut the strings and moved on. I felt stuck.

I started procrastinating. I started to fear finishing it, actually. I was afraid that I would go through all of this, only to find that my novel was still nonpunishable. That I would be a failure at the one thing I really wanted to do. That I would let down everyone who had believed in me and supported me up to this point. Even thinking about my novel started to make me feel anxious and depressed.

Luckily those people who believed in and supported me, continued to do so. I was ready to throw in the towel on more than on occasion. But after a serious kick in the ass from my partner and biggest supporter, I realized that the only way I was going to fail all of these people, and fail myself, is if I stopped trying. I was going to quit because I was afraid to fail. That didn’t make sense. That didn’t even leave me a sliver of a chance to succeed. I’m no gambler, but those are some shitty odds. So I made myself do it.

And as I plowed through I realized that it’s a better novel now than it ever was. And what I considered my best before is sorely lacking compared to my best today. I have become a better writer for this process. And every time I have to do this in the future, I’m going to come out ahead. This is what it’s all about. Blood, sweat, and tears, no lie. Lots and lots of tears. It’s no cakewalk… no wonder so few people make it in the publishing game. Will I be one of them? Only time will tell. But I’ve learned so much in the process that, if nothing else, I can say that my attempt wasn’t a failure.

So the final result? I cut over 20,000 words from original text. I’m down to 127,191 words, down over 50 pages of info dense text. And I feel like a new person with a new and better book. I’m read to start all over again.

I will be looking for beta readers for this round, if anyone is interested in helping. Please send me a message.

Thanks for reading!

Non-Fiction Book Review: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

5/5 Stars

Note: This review refers to an uncorrected and unpublished proof copy, provided by Penguin Group (Canada) through the Goodreads Giveaways program.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking is described as “a self-help book for people who hate self-help books”. I’ll admit, I’m probably the ideal reader for this kind of book. I do hate self-help books. The problem is, I hate self-help books enough that if The Antidote were to be found only in the self-help section of the book store, I would never find it. Or if I did accidentally stumble upon it, I would automatically assume that some self-help guru thought they could trick unwitting nay-sayers into buying into the ‘cult of optimism’ by appealing to their curmudgeonly position only to perform some sleight of hand mid-way through to end up at the same, tired “Be Positive” message that is pandered to us everywhere else. I sincerely hope that Penguin doesn’t choose to market The Antidote as a self-help book, because the genre doesn’t do Burkeman’s work justice.

The Antidote is both a philosophy and psychology text. It analyzes the 20th and 21st century’s obsession with happiness and not only questions the ways in which we choose to pursue the elusive emotion, but why we bother to pursue it at all. It raises interesting questions about the things we are taught to value in life and the validity of our assumptions about what makes us happy in the first place. Not surprisingly, to any of the realists and pessimists out there, pop culture gurus have it all wrong. The ‘cult of optimism’ that Burkeman deconstructs is poisoning our minds and lives, ultimately making us less happy and content. The Antidote successfully explains why the societies that most aggressively seek happiness are often the most discontent and unhappy in the world.

But The Antidote is not, in itself, a self-help book. It points the way for those who are interested in getting deeper into a study of the “negative path” to happiness. I have a virtual shopping cart full of new, interesting-looking reads on everything from Stoicism and Buddhism to Business and Marketing Strategies—and none of them are self-help titles. Burkeman’s “negative path” is not a strategy for sneaking up on happiness through negativity. It is not really about seeking happiness at all. It is a guide to ways of looking at the world that do not directly value happiness and how letting go of our obsession with the emotions (and its antitheses) might actually be the closest that we get to achieving it.

The Antidote is short and concise. It is well-written, easy to understand without being condescending. Burkeman tackles complex philosophical and psychological theories and leaves the reader with something tangible and useful to everyday life. In each chapter he discusses a different “negative path,” but he ties the paths together well and refers back to his thesis often enough that the reader is never left wondering how each philosophy relates to the next, or to the pursuit of happiness itself.

Overall, I believe The Antidote is a huge success. As a natural Stoic (I would never have known to classify myself as such before reading this book) I found my own personal world-view to be validated. Many of the personal anxieties I’ve had, stemming from being a pessimist in a world so blindly focused on optimism, have been deflated. I realize that, in the greater scheme of things, my way of seeing has been much more common historically and that this obsession with happiness for the sake of happiness is as much a contrivance of the modern era as are microwave dinners. I now have an arsenal (in my virtual shopping cart) of like-minded philosophers from which to hone my argument. It is actually a relief to be able to put the words some of the things that I have instinctively felt my entire life. I look forward to looking more deeply into some of these ideas and solidifying my own personal philosophy.

My only complaints about this book are not actually about the book at all. And really, I should call them concerns rather than complaints. I am concerned that The Antidote will be marketed as a self-help book, and that it will never reach the audience it deserves. I am also confused by the book jacket description of it as a travelogue. Of course Burkeman does travel in the course of his research, but it is not a travelogue usual sense of the word. The book is entirely about the ideas that he is pursue and never about where he goes in the course of his pursuit. Many chapters I would be hard-pressed to recall where they occurred (with the exception of a couple of more obvious references). I was a little put off by these two descriptions. I entered into a draw for the book as a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway, but likely wouldn’t have purchased this book based on the cover and blurb. I was pleasantly surprised, obviously. And having read it, I will likely purchase a few copies for people I believe will benefit from its message once it is available. Like I said, I’m concerned that The Antidote won’t reach the audience it deserves.

But all I can do is my part, and here it is. I’m spreading the word. the Antidote is a great little book that might just change your life, or at least your perceptions of it. A truly genuine 5/5 stars from this reader. I hope this is the beginning of a change in cultural perceptions, I hope the “negative path” takes off and revolutionizes the way we see ourselves and our world. But if it doesn’t, at least it give us the tools for change on a personal level.

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.

Non-Fiction Book Review: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

ImageIf you haven’t heard of Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality yet, then you can send me a nice thank you note for this post. Maybe some wheat-free brownies, if you’ve never heard of Dawkins’ or The Magic of Reality. Because you owe me, now.

The Magic of Reality is a book that I wish had been written in 1995, so that it could have fed my science-hungry little brain when it still accepted real-life instead of retreating into itself in an ostrichy homage to make-believe. It might have changed my life, literally. Although, if it had been I might, right now, be a exobiologist (it’s a thing!) instead of a struggling sci-fi writer with an unhealthy penchant for books. I’ll let you decide how great a loss that would be.

Hint: It would be earth-shattering.

Now, if you’re not already a massive Dawkins fan–well, I won’t tell you how to live your life. But we can’t be friends anymore. However, even if you don’t support his call for militant atheism you may still be able to appreciate The Magic of Reality. Because it’s not about atheism per-say. It’s about reality. Specifically, it is about how we know what’s really true–the book’s subtitle–and what is myth, legend, or just plain lies.

And what’s best about this book is that it’s for kids! The Magic of Reality is Dawkins’ attempt to make science and reality interesting for kids. Even kids who aren’t otherwise that into science, kids who like the ideas but not necessarily the equations, hypotheses, and lab-experiments that don’t involve things that go boom. Kids like me!

And, if you’re like me, you probably had a moment–possibly after you just fell asleep on your desk and drooled on your assignment sheet–where the question dawned upon you: When did Science get so boring? Like me, you probably have fond memories of your elementary school years where you learned about volcanoes and dinosaurs and outer-space. You know, back when science was fun!

Unfortunately, there comes a time in most school curricula when the fun seems to get siphoned out and replaced with pedantic memorization of terminology, formulas, and diagrams. For most of us, Science class becomes just another thing you have to force yourself through in order to pass onto the next grade.

Sure, there are a few who are intrigued by the more practical applications of these courses. Fortunately there are enough that we still have people who go on to become chemists, physicists, and biologists. But for most of us, school ruins science. Forever.

The Magic of Reality makes Science fun and interesting again. No, really. It does. Dawkins’ begins each chapter with a question about the world, or the universe, and how it works. He then discusses ways in which human beings have tried to explain these things–like rainbows, earthquakes, and miracles–without the aid of science. He tells colourful myths from all across the globe which, along with the rest of the text, are illustrated by the brilliant artist Dave McKean (you may recognize his work with Neil Gaiman on Coraline).

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After poking a little fun at ourselves for all of the silly things we have believed about the world in the past, Dawkins goes on to tell us the truth about the world. And he tells us how we know that it’s the truth through science. Although The Magic of Reality is a kids’ book it never comes off as dumbed down or patronizing. Dawkins gives his readers an admirable amount of credit which, for the 13 year old reader, will likely add a lot of credence to what he has to say. He’s also not shy about pointing out where his knowledge is limited and never tries to explain things vaguely when he doesn’t have the necessary know-how.

As an adult who, as I’m sure is true of many of you, hasn’t though much about the nitty gritty of Science–elements, atoms, sound waves, natural selection, etc.–The Magic of Reality is a wonderful refresher course. Even topics that I’m a littler more well versed in were worth a read, simply for the unique perspective that Dawkins takes. And to be honest, there’s a lot of “basic” stuff in here that I haven’t fully grasped until reading this book. Impressive, sir, impressive.

McKean’s illustrations are beautiful, often full-page, works of art. The entire text is wonderfully supported and enhanced by these images, and the effect is quite stunning. In case that isn’t enough, Dawkins includes website addresses for video demonstrations, and virtual experimentation tools to supplement the work itself. If The Magic of Reality doesn’t reach out to an internet savvy multi-tasking pre-teen brain, I’m not sure there is a print media capable of the task.

Oh. In case you’re not interested in print media version–check out the iPad app.

Really, the only beef I have with this book is Dawkins’ handling of the myths. I love that he included them, and I love that he included Judeo-Christian myths as well. I think this is important to give a little perspective on why we believe the things we believe (but I won’t go into that too much, here. I’ll either be preaching to the choir or causing a ruckus)

I think The Magic of Realitya great way to teach kids how to evaluate the information that they receive on a daily basis from all kinds of sources–church, school, parents, television, books–about what makes a fact a fact, and how to decide what is true.

What I don’t love about the inclusion of the myths is that they seem to be used merely as a tool to demonstrate our past ignorance and celebrate our intellectual development in the last couple of centuries. Since this is a book about truth and knowledge, it would have been nice if Dawkins gave a little props to his fellows in the Social Sciences and Arts who study myths and what they can teach us about the cultures from which they originate. Dawkins treats myths as silly stories, kind of fun to talk about, but ultimately discrediting them as “not true”. This is an unfortunate and potentially damaging position for Dawkins to take, and to encourage children to take, when so many cultures are losing their traditions and beliefs to modernization.

Folklore and Mythology, although not strictly “true”, still have much to teach us. We can derive cultural information from oral-histories and traditions that are not implicit in the mere study of artifacts and burial sites. Mythology helps to supplement what little information we have about many ancient religious practices, ritual objects, and cosmologies. Not to mention what it can tell us about social structures, gender roles, cultural taboos, etc. Myths should be treated as living history, and I feel Dawkins should have given them their due.

That being said, The Magic of Reality is definitely a book that I would recommend to any and everyone. Even those people who think science is boring. Because there is nothing boring about life, and that’s essentially what The Magic of Reality is all about. Dawkins does a fantastic job of showing just how spectacular the world around us is, even without magic and miracles.