New York Times: “All science fiction has some element of titillation — a strategy of taking known facts and stretching them to the limits of credulity, for the purposes of both entertaining and enlightening.”
Gee, I thought the purpose of speculative fiction was, much like many other novels, to provide a narrative that reflected the human condition: sometimes using provocative ideas or meticulous atmosphere (a la China Mieville) and, in the case of hard sf, sometimes employing rigorous scientific justification to explain the imaginative scenario (and thus pushing the narrative well past “the limits of credulity”) (a la Robert Charles Wilson’s excellent Hugo-award winning novel, Spin). That Itzkoff sees science fiction from a failed English major’s dichotomous mind set (“entertaining and enlightening,” but not challenging, humanist or literary) is a great indication that he should probably recuse himself from literary criticism. His work for the NYTBR reads like a Strom Thurmond-like politician trying to use States Rights Democratic Party rhetoric (circa 1948) to run for President in the 21st century.
[RELATED: Levi Asher points out that Tanenhaus’s team can’t even get basic Beat history right. Maybe they truly are operating as if it’s 1948 at the NYTBR.]