Like the previous reviewer, I snarfed this paperback on impulse. As a kid in 1954, I was duly mesmerized by Blacky LaGoon's film trilogy (which I am happy to see on Amazon as a pristine, if only 2-D, DVD set). And here, it seemed from the beautiful cover-art, he came *again*!
_TBL_ starts out a bit like a nautical _Stargate_: The bright young scholar gives a heretical talk about possible amphibian links to humanity and is tomatoed by his professional audience - except for one old coot who takes him aside to offer the hidden reality behind his amateur speculations. In this case it is not a Stargate at Cheyenne Mountain, but the fragmentary record of the hushed-up, scientifically-impossible appearance of the Creature in 1954 (as per the film trilogy).
Up to this point di Filippo does fine, constructing a very authentic academic/marine biological atmosphere and giving his main characters remarkably deep and interesting personalities. I was happily anticipating a departmental fricas over funding, an _Apocalypse Now_-type expedition up today's Amazon to you-know-where, of course to find at least one, but perhaps more gillpersons. Imagine the ruckus that would have caused not only on campus, but amongst creationists, animal-rights activists, et al.
Alas, it was not to be. Instead the scholar has a friend who just happens to have made a pocket time machine, to whisk him and his girlfriend back a few Earth-ages to the Devonian, where they meet nice, friendly, and conveniently telepathic gillies. Turns out that the 1954 Creature was one of their badly-devolved brethren with Terminator attitudes. Hence, after the hero & heroine have at least temporarily sated their recurring desire for Devonian swamp-sex, the rest of the story is telepathic & flipperfight good gills vs. evil gills, aided/complicated by humans with time machines. This is a bit much, particularly since the contest rages across a present-era college campus & city, apparently to only normal surprise/annoyance of the locals. Well, perhaps the town in question is Innsmouth, and this sort of thing happens around the campus every Friday night.
Thanks to di Filippo for taking on this challenge. It brought Blacky back to life after all these decades, and that was fun. But I'd still like him to rewrite the second half of the story.