Saturday, March 10, 2007

Itkzoff on SETI, Part Two

Following up this morning's post...

Now that I've had a chance to read the whole thing through, I have to admit that it's a decent, if superficial, article on the SETI Institute. (The connection to science fiction, or any literature, is still extremely tenuous -- he calls Robyn Asimov for a quote about her father and mentions that the head of the SETI Institute published one SF story eight years ago.) I still have no idea why this is in the Book Review, or how this counts as a column reviewing SF books.

I should point out that Michael Crichton is in no way part of "the science fiction community," mostly by his own choice. (paragraph 3)

Actually, poking through the article again, it really doesn't tell us anything about the SETI project -- how it operates, what it's done in the past and is planning to do in the future, its methodology, or anything having to do with the science -- Itzkoff just throws out some comparisons with books he's read and a few quick quotes about unimportant subjects from whoever would take his calls. The article takes a vaguely pro-SETI stance, but on the basis that a belief in intelligent aliens is needed to keep reading SF, which is bizarre at best and a possible symptom of organic brain damage at worst.

I'm at a loss. I don't know why this thing was written, and I don't know why the Times Book Review published it. It's certainly not reviewing any book, and, once again, I have to ask why they're devoting this much space to mediocre, uninformed ramblings. As I think I've said several times by now, I didn't always agree with Gerald Jonas's reviews, but he at least knew how to read a SF book and say coherent things about it afterward. Itzkoff has had trouble with the latter from the beginning, and now seems to be bobbling even the former.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What an incredible waste.

With a monthly review column and his tendency - so far - to review just one book, well, this is unfortunate.

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