Saturday, September 23, 2006

Only Itzkoff Could Go To Dune

Dave Itzkoff's latest "Across the Universe" column (apparently not up on the Times site yet, since it's dated tomorrow -- link to be added when it is) is a factually and critically reasonable but bland look at Frank Herbert's Dune-o-verse, on the occasion of the publication of Herbert Jr. & Anderson's Hunters of Dune.

If it hadn't already put me to sleep, I might have ranted about taking an entire page to say something (gosh, the later Dune books aren't as good as the original, are they?) that SF readers already know and more general NY Times Book Review readers won't care about is stupid and wasteful. But, sadly, I am already asleep.

I am now forced to admit that I preferred Itzkoff in his earlier, full-on causing-trouble mode than in his current, NYTBR-standard Pompous Old Fart Explaining Everything style. Dave, if you're reading this, use your next column to claim that Charlie Stross's popularity proves that we're all morons. Or that all of the Hugo nominees this year were singularly horrible books. Or something. Come on, mix it up a little. I'm dying here.

Edit, Sunday 24 September at 20:20 EDT: The link, in all of its glory, is now there.


Anonymous said...

Is Charlie that popular?

One could easily bring up the plundering of the Dune universe as an example of sharecropping and the general conservatism of SF and Fantasy publishers. That would make a halfway decent rant. The fans of the "future" and speculation are actually just as interested in safe, escapist fare as the usual mystery or thriller fan.
Heck, such a rant could have lots of the self-important arrogance one expects from the Times reviewers.

Andrew Wheeler said...

I hardly think the New York Times Book Review is against conservatism; it's been The Establishment in the book world so long that it pretends anything it doesn't notice doesn't exist. So I wouldn't expect Itzkoff, or anybody at the NYTBR, to rise up against it.

And I see nothing wrong personally with escapism or even sharecropping -- as C.S. Lewis once said, the people most adamant about stopping "escape" are always jailers.

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