I don't mean to brag, but I can masturbate to anything.
As far as we can determine, Itzkoff has absolutely no background in science fiction. Whatever expertise he has is in pop culture and music. This is consistent with the The New York Times Book Review's obvious attitude that science fiction is a form of pop culture, not literature. Naturally, Itzkoff will not wish to write anything that might disabuse the Times of that condescending, ignorant notion.