Saturday, June 23, 2007

Everybody (Itzkoff's Back)

So my favorite SF/F reviewer in The New York Times has resurfaced, with a full-page look at the new Library of America book of Philip K. Dick's work, Four Novels of the 1960s, in the June 24th issue of the Book Review. Itzkoff clearly knows Dick's work well, and thus, this time, he's actually doing what he was hired to do -- being an expert on this esoteric "science fiction" stuff and explaining it to the general readership of the NYTBR in a way that they can take seriously.

I do find it interesting that the line-up of Four Novels of the 1960s is nearly identical to that of a book I edited for a Special Fabulous Book Club some years back -- Counterfeit Unrealities -- with the replacement of my A Scanner Darkly with The Man in the High Castle (Since the aforementioned publishing operation already had High Castle in print at that point in another edition.) Amusingly, Itzkoff doesn't like Ubik in this book, and wishes it was replaced with Scanner Darkly, even though that is a novel from the 1970s and would ruin the title.

I'm not complaining about Itzkoff's content this time; he doesn't say anything I strongly disagree with. Spending an entire page on an expensive, mostly library-aimed LoA volume, on the other hand, is not the way I wish he was spending his time. Since this month alone sees the publication of Liz Williams's Precious Dragon, Jay Lake's Mainspring, Tobias S. Buckell's Ragamuffin, and Dozois & Strahan's The New Space Opera (among many other things), I have to see the focus on Dick as a preference for safely dead (and even more safely canonical) SF writers rather than the quirky live ones about whom he would have to have an original opinion. And I really don't see the purpose to having a SF columnist who reviews one book every other month at best; it's almost better to be completely ignored than that.

1 comment:

Jim Stewart said...

I couldn't agree more. When my wife told me that there was a scifi book in the NYTBR my guess was either Stross' Glasshouse or McDonald's Brasyl.

Instead we get what is practically a ML reissue of an existing anthology (and Itzkoff's right; Scanner is better than Castle).

I wrote a longer post on this here

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