You probably didn’t notice, but sometime in the last few years, the New York Times restructured its annual “Notable Books” list, eliminating the genre subcategories. This was disappointing to those of us in the salt mines of category fiction; being deemed a “New York Times Notable Book” could be helpful to the paperback sales of some good SF and fantasy books that hadn’t sold well in hardcover. Mind you, the Times still occasionally includes a category book on their list, but just as we no longer have Gerald Jonas’s regular SF review column, our genre also no longer has a guaranteed five or six slots on the “Notable Books” list. Bummer.
Still, I can see arguments for the direction the Times has taken. What’s more remarkable, and harder to defend, is that—as Chad Orzel points out—the Times’s “100 Notable Books of 2007” contains not one single science book. There’s plenty of fiction, politics, public affairs, and “a memoir about waiting tables at the acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Per Se,” but not a single book about any aspect of science, not even a biography like Walter Isaacson’s widely-praised Einstein: His Life and Universe.
You can probably write your own viewing-with-alarm essay about this, complete with obligatory reference to C. P. Snow. All I can say is, what an impoverished mental landscape the people who drew up this list must inhabit.