More jetpack envy?

From Daniel Handler’s review of Patrick deWitt’s lat­est nov­el, Under­ma­jor­do­mo Minor, which I am cur­rent­ly read­ing and enjoy­ing:

It is said, for instance, that Mar­garet Atwood does a take on sci­ence fic­tion and there­fore is a lit­er­ary writer instead of a sci­ence fic­tion writer, and then we won­der why there are so few sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers who write as well as Mar­garet Atwood, while the sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers glare at us and order anoth­er round. This is bad. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is sci­ence fic­tion and should not be dis­qual­i­fied as such on the grounds that it has good sen­tences and makes you think, as does the work of Patrick deWitt. There­fore, “Under­ma­jor­do­mo Minor” is a ter­rif­ic piece of genre writ­ing, and that’s that.

I’m a lit­tle irritated—perhaps unjust­ly so—at the sug­ges­tion that sci­ence fic­tion (and oth­er gen­res) can nev­er con­tain “good sen­tences” or “[make] you think”. I just can’t quite decide if Han­dler shares my irri­ta­tion; I’d like to think that he does. In either case, I’d point those that may hold that opin­ion at works like Michael Swanwick’s Sta­tions of the Tide or Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, to name two exam­ples.

PS: If you haven’t read any­thing by deWitt, I high­ly rec­om­mend The Sis­ters Broth­ers and (even though I’m not yet done read­ing it) Under­ma­jor­do­mo Minor.