Blinded by the nerd!

Dave Itzkoff starts off his review of David Marusek’s Counting Heads by lamenting the second-tier status that geeky sci-fi holds in the fiction world. It’s a common complaint, sure, and I generally agree with his sentiment. Two-thirds into the review Itzkoff criticizes the novel for lacking some important affective element (Marusek’s previous short stories “We Were Out of Our Minds With Joy” and “Wedding Album” really are extraordinary, and as Itzkoff notes were both intimate and moving). This is very much a seemingly reasonable criticism. But it’s the way he says it:

What is missing from Counting Heads that Marusek’s earlier stories had in abundance is what you humans call emotion ...

Bzzt. Reviewer, writing in the persona of Doctor Spock, wonders why contemporary sci-fi doesn’t get any respect? Talk about derailing a column. It hardly matters what comes next (or that Itzkoff’s next few paragrahs are rather good), because the uncommitted readers all bailed out right there.