I read this SF short fiction about 30 years ago. I'm pretty sure I read it in English, in a collection. I write "short fiction" because it was definitely not a novel. But much too long to really be a short story. At least a novelette, maybe a shortish novella.

It takes place in our world, in the US, about the time I read it. The only SF aspect is some kind of time machine but its inventor does not want to use this phrase, he insists on another phrase (or maybe a single complicated word ?) instead.

The machine is driven by sexual frustration of people suffering from the "forty-years-old itch". The phrase used in the story does not contain the word "itch", but the idea is about the same. Also, contrary to the movie, the "itch" is linked to the age, even for bachelors, not to length of time elapsed since the marriage (which would be close to two decades or so, rather than seven years, for the married ones).

I don't remember most of the details. An epidemics of some typically children disease, but which can also hit adults (causing a rash, so measles or chicken pox, not mumps nor whooping cough) plays a role to add to the general confusion.

It really is SF inasmuch as the machine, whatever its name, actually did something vaguely related to time travel. Not quite what the inventor had in mind, but it was not just an inert contraption.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.