It took a little more than three months for Dave Itzkoff to write his second science fiction column (or perhaps the more accurate answer here is that it took that long for Sam Tanenhaus to figure out that the field was a little more substantial than geeks writing stories). This column is slightly better, if only for its mention of the underrated writer Ellen Klages, whose work is often published in the underrated The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (where I first encountered her). But I must inform Mr. Itzkoff of the following realities:
1. Sorry, Dave, but Christopher Rowe is already taken. The marriage, as I understand it, is a healthy one. But what a way to suck up! You even quoted Matt Cheney! So hipster points and a crash course bonus for you! Now if only we can get you lusting after someone who isn’t attached or, better yet, convince you to engage in a dialogue with those who do know something about the subject but who don’t need to flaunt their knowledge like a smug Department of Defense official in the Johnson administration who thinks he knows more about Vietnam than those who are actually there. Who knows, Davie boy? Your column might be worth something more than a man declaring how much he cares about the reactions.
2. Dave, baby, you’re going to have to think outside the pop cultural box. These “intimations of juvenilia” that you think speculative fiction is all about are among the major reasons why we criticized you in the first place. Not only has the genre moved well beyond “juvenilia,” but a “cookie monster” isn’t always what it seems.
3. “Rosenbaum’s imagery will surely embed itself in the invisible architecture of your own memory banks for days after you’ve read it. But when you approach it for the first time, just try to forget that you’ve already been told how it ends.” So this is how Tanenhaus wants you to cover speculative fiction, Dave? Look, I’m nowhere nearly as schooled as my peers, but even I know something about the subject and wouldn’t dare to propose the silly and dismissive phrase “invisible architecture of your own memory banks.” Why, I’d be remiss and downright philistine if I actually declared myself a cultural arbiter on such flimsy pretext. So you read a Nebula anthology and you’re an expert now? Well golly! I mean, can I pin a boutinaire to your lapel, declare myself as your godfather, and send you a gift certificate to Tony Roma’s? There’s some good eatings there, I do declare!