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The 400-Million-Year Itch: 04/13/08
The April issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ends on a time travel story that focuses on the universal search for happiness. The story is called "The 400-Million-Year Itch" and is another of Steven Utley's "Silurian Tales."
In "The 400-Million-Year Itch", a scientist known only by her first name, Amy, recounts her work with a more famous scientist, Cutsinger. The interviewer wants to know about the exotic locations and creatures she encountered while working on and around Gondwana. What she recounts instead is how mundane even the exotic can be because people are people after all and a job is a job.
The trip that Amy recounts was one shared with a Navy chaplin, a science fiction writer, a volcanologist, Cutsinger and of course the crew. Throughout the trip Amy feels as if she is seen only as an extension of Cutsinger, nothing more than a glorified assistant.
Amy's professional relationship with Cutsinger is my one quibble with an otherwise enjoyable story. If she were a graduate student during the trip then things make sense. The end of the story where she claims to have written most of Cutsinger's autobiography though brings this thesis into question. If she has her own career in whatever her field is, it's unlikely that she would have remained Cutsinger's "assistant" for all these years.
This concludes the reviews from the April issue. Here are all the stories reviewed from this issue: