Augie is a bitter janitor who feels that he is wrongly looked down upon because he doesn't have the proper level of education. His need to be recognized for his natural ingenuity prompts him to try something everyone says can't be done.
At the facility where Augie works, Historians use a time machine to go back in time, but no one ever even tries to go forward. Augie secretly does, however, and the discovery that this does not result in his instantaneous death makes him giddy. He gradually grows bolder in his explorations of the future before finally coming across something he's sure will make him famous and respected in his own time.
This was different from Durgin's usual stuff. No animals, and kind of dark. Maybe darkly humorous?
Augie was not a sympathetic character. To me, he seemed to be the sort who grasped at “get rich quick” schemes and thought himself clever for doing so. He didn't bother to get the LitEd (reading) education that his workplace offered because he didn't feel it was necessary. Also, he resented those who were educated and didn't want to become like them – he didn't realize it, but he judged educated people just as much as he believed they judged him.
The ending was clever and tied in several things that had previously been mentioned – even the story's title served as a clue. If I had to name one complaint about the story, it would probably be that what the pills truly did was kind of...silly? That's probably not the best word for it. These pills were supposed to be future tech, but they did something that people could easily do right now if it weren't for the politics and ethical concerns. The future tech...wasn't.
Anyway, I thought Durgin did well with the short story format and wasn't left feeling that Fountane Of should have been longer.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
- To Say Nothing of the Dog (book) by Connie Willis - The whole "historians learning about the past by traveling to it" bit reminded me of this book. I'd say it's lighter in tone than Durgin's story, however. I've written about this book.
- The 10th Kingdom (live action mini-series); The 10th Kingdom (book) by Kathryn Wesley - Okay, so this doesn't have all that much in common with Durgin's story, but if you enjoyed "Augie The Unappreciated Janitor," The 10th Kingdom has a similar character. Tony is a janitor who's tired of putting up with his employers' treatment of him. When he is given a magic wishing bean, he makes some wishes that have unfortunate consequences.