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1. Very Hard Choices
2. The Crazy Years
3. The Stardance Trilogy omnibus
4. The Lifehouse Trilogy
5. Callahan's Lady
6. Callahan's Secret (Callahan's
7. Lady Slings the Booze
8. The Callahan Chronicals
9. User Friendly
10. Very Bad Deaths
11. Callahan's Con (Callahan's Crosstime
12. Callahan's Key
13. Time Travelers Strictly Cash
14. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
15. Night of Power
16. Callahan's Legacy
17. Mighty Spiders! (Hello Reader
18. Stardance
19. The Callahan Touch
20. Lifehouse

1. Very Hard Choices
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (2009-08-25)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439133034
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
After the shattering death of his beloved wife, aging baby-boomer Russell Walker had wanted only to hide from the world in the woods of British Columbia. Instead, an old college acquaintance called Smelly, who was a telepath, had knocked on his door and demanded his help in stopping a serial killer who made Hannibal Lector look like a boy scout. They had managed to convince Nika, a hard-headed and skeptical police officer, and the trio had stopped the killer, though nearly at the cost of their own lives, and things could go back to normal . . . they thought.

But then Russell was visited by his estranged son, Jesse, a PR exec from New York, still angry over his father’s role in his mother’s death. And, to their dismay, Nika and Russell learn that agreeing to help Zudie conceal the fact that he can read minds involves committing to help him hide from the CIA, who have been hunting him desperately ever since he escaped from the MK Ultra Project back in the ‘60s. Constable Nika must decide what being a peace officer means. Russell must decide on the fly whether or not Smelly is the kind of friend you'd die for. And Jesse, who lives in America, must decide just where his own national--and personal--loyalties lie.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun, interesting tale
A semi-autobiographical main character is thrown into a dangerous adventure
It's interesting what Spider has done with the heroes and villains.They are sort of comic book style, over the top, but made believable and realistic.
All in all, well worth a read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great, with two small issues
As always, Spider's writing takes you someplace you never expected, and never dreamed you would enjoy so much.
This sequel is great, but had just a bit too much backstory interspersed for me. If the backstory had been more of a real story running in parallel, it would have been fantastic.

I very much liked the return of the Nika and Zudie, and the way their characters were developed out. Jesse was a great entry.

The other minor irritations were way too much emphasis on pot smoking, and Spider ended the book in the same way as the first one - you really don't expect a sequel. But I sure hope he does one. :)


2-0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Novel
I love Spider Robinson.Anyone who admires the Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein as much as I do is a saint my book.Thus it pains to me to say that this novel is a disaster.

Very Hard Choices is a sequel to the pretty good novel Very Bad Deaths.There we meet Russell Walker, the aging hippie, who sets out to help his old college roommate Zudie, who happens to be a telepath, chase down a nasty killer.He has the help of Constable Nika Mandic, the rather hot female cop.All turns out, if not completely well, well enough.

Here, Nika shows up at Russell's doorstep with some news, while Russell is at home visiting with his estranged son Jesse.It turns out the CIA is still hunting for Zudie for purposes unknown, but probably not very good ones, or so everyone surmises.This sets off a chain of events where Nika, Russell, and Jesse try to protect Zudie (short for Zandor Zudenigo) from the CIA agent chasing him.Everything culminates to a final confrontation in the end, but to avoid spoilers I'll stop here with the plot summary.

Unfortunately this novel is more a political or philosophical polemic through the thoughts of Russell Walker than it is a real novel.Yes, a story is embedded here, but the story itself could have been told in a short novella.Instead the prose drags on and on with chase scenes and the musings of Russell, but not in a very smooth or compelling way.I'm not sure if Russell is supposed to be a caricature of Spider Robinson or not, but it sure seems like it.But overall the characters seem more quirky than real, which maybe is the point.But the novel is just not that entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Past Has Returned
Very Hard Choices (2008) is the second SF novel in the Russell Walker series, following Very Bad Deaths.In the previous volume, Russell Walker and his friends attracted the attention of a serial murderer for whom they were searching.The killer trapped them in Walker's house, but Zandor Zudenigo used his powers to cause the man to disbelieve in himselves.They buried the body down by the stream.

In this novel, Russell Walker is a columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail.He telecommutes from Heron Island in Vancouver Bay.The house is well-built, but rather simple.His office in the back yard is extremely comfortable, but downright rustic.Russell has lived alone in this house since the death of his wife Susan.

Jesse is Russell's son.He lives in New York and works in public relations.Jesse earns much more than his father and has all the multitudinous attractions of the City.He blamed Russell for the death of his mother and they have been estranged ever since.

Nika Mandic is a Vancouver police officer.She has recently been promoted to Detective Constable.But Nika is still driving the same old 1989 Honda Accord.

Zandor Zudenigo is an involuntary telepath.He cannot shut it off and most thoughts from other people are painful to him.He lives alone and unnoticed on Coveney Island within Vancouver Bay.

In this story, Charles Haden is a former CIA operative.He drives across the border without any problems.He doesn't even need one of his passports.A few simple questions and he is in Canada.A half hour drive and he is within Vancouver.

Haden changes license plates at the airport and discards his current identity on the Oak Street Bridge over the Fraser River.By the time he reaches the city limits, he is Thomas McKinnon.Then he abandons his car in the police impound yard.

McKinnon is looking for Nika.She had her cousin make a simple query about Zandor and now McKinnon is on her case.When he catches up with her, McKinnon fires a GPS-snitch at her car bumper and then falls back to follow her movements on his transceiver.Unfortunately, Nika notices him on her tail, seems to lose him, and then heads for Heron Island.

Russell is entertaining Jesse in his home on Heron Island.Nika interrupts their tete-a-tete and takes Russell aside to announce her bad news.Jesse counterinterrupts and learns more than he expects about his father and his friends.Then they discover the GPS-snitch.

Russell has not been able to contact Zandor since the previous events, but he tries again.He eventually takes a Zodiac over to Coveney, but loses the motor and his cellphone on the way.Luckily, Zandor is on the island and rescues him.Unluckily, Russell has a collapsed lung on his way back.

This tale faces Russell and his friends with a crisis.A man that Zandor has known and hated many years ago is coming for him.He can hide, but his friends cannot.Sooner or later the operative is going to find them.

Meanwhile, Russell and Jesse are beginning to mend their relationship.Both learn that there is more to know about the other than each has ever suspected.Then their wife/mother becomes a commonality rather than a controversy.

This story is one of the best of the author's works.It has some of the flashbacks of the prequel, but mostly concentrates on the present.The interaction between Russell and Jesse is subtle and interesting.Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Robinson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of special operations, ordinary people, and strained personal relations.

-Arthur W. Jordin

4-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't be happier
I am a new Spider Robinson fan and can't wait until I can take the time to read and enjoy this book. I am amazed at the immaculate condition of the book. I couldn't be happier with this Amazon transaction. ... Read more

2. The Crazy Years
by Spider Robinson
Paperback: 294 Pages (2004-10-11)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1932100350
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A collection of witty, irreverent essays on subjects running the gamut from the space program to airport bans on smoking are included in this anthology. Written by Spider Robinson, The Crazy Years takes its name from Robert A. Heinlein's designation of the last years of the 20th century and contains essays from Robinson's tenure as op-ed columnist for The Globe and Mail and from Galaxy Online. Environmentalists that place the survival of earth before the survival of humanity, the idiocy of computer designs, and the downsides of the Internet are among the subjects Robinson uses to take the world to task. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reflections from a sensible mind
I've always enjoyed Spider Robinson's work. Here, we have a collection of columns published over the years that reflect his sense, his humor and his mass of insights. His philosopher side shows through with great talent and strength; I refer to this one often when I'm feeling a bit off. Wisdom doesn't have to be ancient to be true:)

2-0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of old newspaper columns. 2.5 stars
I finally got around to reading (part of) this collection of some of his columns for the Toronto Globe and Mail. I used to really enjoy Spider's book reviews, and I like the capsule reviews (usually for music) that he slips into his fiction, or afterwords, or whatever. Unfortunately, this collection is basically Spider's views on politics, life and such, which I didn't find very interesting or readable. And column collections always suffer from short shelf-life -- many of the older ones here are pretty dated. YMMV, but not of much interest for me. I note that the Globe & Mail has since dropped his column.

Happy reading (something else?)--
Peter D. Tillman

4-0 out of 5 stars Spider Essays
While I don't agree with Spider Robinson on most things political, I enjoy reading him because he never wastes my time.His writing is concise, his opinions clear, his energy evident.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spider at his best!
Thhis collection of Spider's Columnns [not previously seen in the US] is a wonderful collation of his wit, predictions, and social observations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Catch and Release 22
It is a reflection of the "interesting times" in which we live that Spider's collection of common sense essays are viewed by some as controversial.

The subjects range from pro-cigarette diatribes (nicotine is addictive but harmless, while tars are harmful but not addictive), marijuana (good), politics (bad), religion, Hollywood, global warming, computers, pre-emptive wars, the natural moral superiority of Canadians...All stuff you'd expect from his novels, which touch on such everyday morality but never really come out and slap it on the counter.

Here, Spider brings the fish out from its display case.

It's a brave move, prairie-dogging in the shooting gallery*.Lesser men have lost ears, and you won't be hearing from THEM again.But Spider (despite his name) has some kind of aversion to webs of deceit ("What kind of spider understands arachnaphobia," sang Robert Wyatt) and insists on "telling it like it is" -- despite the fact that right this minute Valentine Michael Smith is probably testing the grandfather paradox with Winston Smith.

What was it Yossarian said?When everyone around you is crazy, acting sane is the best way to get put away (or something like that... ask Klinger).

* - I never metaphor I didn't like, sorry. ... Read more

3. The Stardance Trilogy omnibus of Stardance, Starseed and Starmind
by Spider Robinson, Jeanne Robinson
Hardcover: 752 Pages (2006-09-05)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$14.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416520821
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Three novels complete in one volume.

Stardance: Shara Drummond was a gifted dancer and a brilliant choreographer, but could not pursue her dream of dancing on Earth, so she went to space, creating a new art form in three dimensions. And when the aliens arrived, there was only one way to prove that the human race deserved not just to survive, but to reach the stars. The only hope was Shara, with her stardance.

Starseed: Years later, another dancer of genius faced the end of her career when her body failed her, and Rain McLeod followed Shara into space. If she joined with a symbiotic lifeform that would let her live without artificial protection in the vacuum of space, she would take a quantum leap in human evolution.

Starmind: Rand Porter has been offered the job of a lifetime, as a shaper of visual effects and music for the world's most famous zero-gravity dance company in High Orbit. But his beloved novelist wife Rhea Paixao has her roots sunk deep in the Earth, in her beloved Cape Cod. And as they wrestle with their private dilemma, bizarre things-small miracles-are beginning to occur everywhere on Earth and throughout the entire Solar System. The human race-and its evolutionary successors, the space-dwelling Stardancers-find themselves approaching the terrifying cusp of their shared destiny, an appointment made for them a million years ago, a make-or-break point beyond which nothing, anywhere, can ever be the same again. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars Boring
I thought a Spider Robinson book would be good because he did a good job editing and writing the old Heinlein novels.I got through the first 30 pages of Stardance and came to the conclusion that the author (probably Robinson's wife) was obsessed with dance and used it as a poor excuse for a science fiction novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pristine!
I haven't had the chance to sit down and enjoy this book yet, but I look forward to doing just that very soon. I couldn't be happier with the condition of the book, which is immaculate.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Marriage of Art and Science
I am a commercial artist. Most artists I know believe the same thing when it comes to the arts...it's all good. Still, some branches of the arts are harder to enjoy for some than others. I have never totally understood dance, but I have very much liked modern dance. Now, after reading Stardance by Jeanne and Spider Robinson, I can begin to actually embrace dance with an understanding of it from the inside out...from the dancer's perspective.

Spider Robinson, heir apparent to Robert Heinlein, mixes hard science fiction with Jeanne Robinson's knowledge of dance as a choreographer and dancer. They examine dance in 3 dimensions...in the zero g of low Earth orbit, and also touch upon the idea that dance communicates without words and is therefore excellent for communication with beings from another world. A current pop song by the Killers called 'Human' has a line in it's chorus that asks, "Are we Human, or are we Dancers?" I think they must have read this wonderful, Hugo winning novella, because the answer is, of course, both. Stardance is the first in the trilogy, and I now look forward to reading the next two installments, Starseed and Starmind.

3-0 out of 5 stars alien contact through dance?
seems like a strange concept buy spider robinson does it very well with his wifes help.

5-0 out of 5 stars A stellar (pardon the pun) collection
The pinnacle of Spider and Jeanne's, though not Spider's, collaboration.A wonderful tale that will appeal to the idealistic and optimistic among us. Great for adolescents and an uplifting refresher for adults. ... Read more

4. The Lifehouse Trilogy
by Spider Robinson
Hardcover: 640 Pages (2007-12-04)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$10.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416555110
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Three novels complete in one volume:

Mindkiller: Wireheads, addicted to an electric current fed into the pleasure centers of the brain, are the new junkies. Karen, a former wirehead who barely escaped death by pleasure, is determined to bring down those who sell the wireheading equipment, but she and her lover Joe instead turn up evidence of a shadowy global conspiracy—not to control the world, but to keep anyone from realizing that the masters of mind control have been controlling us all for some time now . . . .

Time Pressure: When a beautiful girl appeared in a globe of blue light in a snowbound forest and said she had come back in time, Sam thought it was the most wonderful thing that could possibly happen. But then he began to notice sinister things about her, and thought he would have to kill her to save the present. Except that there was a third possibility, and that really was the most wonderful thing that could possibly happen . . .

Lifehouse: June Bellamy had gone for a walk in a park—and came back with memories missing. She didn't know that, but her partner could tell because she'd told her answering machine about strange people in the park. Now June and Paul are on the run from insidious superhumans who can edit their memories and track them down no matter where or how well they hide. They are desperate—but not nearly as desperate as their pursuers . . .

Three suspenseful stories of people in incredible and desperate situations, all of them unknowingly involved in a secret that could mean the salvation of all humans who were alive, who would ever live, or who ever had lived . . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Spider finally manages not-so-short stories
Spider Robinson has made his mark in writing short stories, especially the Callahan series. So far I had been unconvinced by his attempts at longer stuff, though the 'Lady Mary' novels are also witty, impertinent and loaded with abominable puns ('Lady Slings the Booze'...). What is usually lacking in his long novels is pace: true son of the sixties that he is, Spider takes his time and meanders leisurily through his story. It is pleasurable, full of invention, cozy aso, but... yawns do happen in the reading.
The Lifehouse Trilogy is even more ambitious a project in length, since the threee novels in it actually share their main characters (if you can still call'em characters... but no spoiler!) and story thread, at different places in time. It partakes of Robinson's usual qualities, and for a change it gets much more catching than his other novels (I include Very Bad Deaths in the paceless kind). The second one relapses a bit in that respect, being basically an egotistical journal of a hippie in the North, but actually this is in accordance with the psyche of the narrator at this point in time, so when all is said and done it is pardonable, situated between the action-packed first and third novels. The initial idea of the last novel is so original, so incredibly delicious that I envy the reader who will discover it.
The overall plot is extremely original, with a (last?) trend of the hippy optimism and a vision of mankind eventually coming of age. (sigh) not likely, but maybe this is not fiction? Keep your fingers crossed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Counterpoint to "Callahan's"
I'm really glad that I found this omnibus version as I had read `Mindkiller' previously and was glad to find two sequels to go with it. It gives `deja-vu' a whole new meaning!

The first book (Mindkiller) jumps forwards and backwards chronologically, but stick with it - the payoff (reveal?) is worth it in the end!

The second book (Time Pressure) makes me wonder - did I really forget where I put my car keys, or did I have some help? Hmmmmm....

The third book (Lifehouse) makes me wonder about the ends justifying the means, or is it the means justifying the ends? And which came first, the chickens or the eggs?

I hope Spider finds time to re-visit this storyline as I would like to know more about some of the characters both before and after the action in these stories.

Note to parents - there is a good bit of adult / sexual themes in this.

5-0 out of 5 stars All are gripping, involving stories not to be missed.
Three interrelated stories of individuals caught up in very different worlds will provide readers with suspense and intrigue alike, creating moving and vivid stories hard to put down. MINDKILLER presents a future where 'wireheads' addicted to electric brain currents are the new junkies, with one Karen determined to bring down those who sell wireheading equipment; TIME PRESSURE tells of a lovely time traveler who presents Sam with a dilemma and possible romance, and LIFEHOUSE tells of a woman who has lost key memories of possible aliens or superhumans. All are gripping, involving stories not to be missed.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch

4-0 out of 5 stars fine omnibus reprint of three science fiction thrillers
Mindkiller.Wireheads are addicted to an electric current that feeds impulses into the brain's pleasure centers.As a reformed wirehead who no longer uses, Karen knows she is fortunate to be alive.She and her current lover Joe, who saved her life when he found her nearly dead, want to destroy the dealers who sell the gizmos.However, instead they begin to find evidence that an international cartel control the minds of most people.At the same time, assistant professor Norman hates his job and marriage, but it is the sudden disappearance of his sister that shakes him; he begins searching for her.

Time Pressure.During a blizzard in a remote part of a Nova Scotia forest, Sam, the American draft dodger, is stunned when the naked girl appeared out of nowhere inside a blue lit globe.He believes she must be from the future, but waits for her awakening.When she does, he finds himself reconsidering what to do with her, as he fears she has come to destroy the present.

Lifehouse.June and Paul are con artists who wonder what is going on when she returns from a walk in the park with her memory modified after apparently meeting some future pair.At the same time a time traveling duo meets and enlists the help of Secret Masters of Fandom married couple, Wally and Moira.Their mission is to save John Lennon.

This is a fine omnibus reprint of three Spider Robinson science fiction thrillers.Although not as deep as the Callahan tales, each asks readers to ponder fascinating ethical issues, but none of the characters are that profound.Still this is an entertaining Canadian saga that comes alive with draft dodging Americans but especially the amusing time paradoxical Lifehouse.
... Read more

5. Callahan's Lady
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2001-08-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671318314
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description


Welcome to Lady Sally's, the House that is a home -- the internationally (hell, interplanetarily) notorious bordello. At Lady Sally's House, the customer doesn't necessarily come first: even the staff are genuinely enjoying themselves.

Wife of time traveling bartender Mike Callahan, and employer of some of the most unusual and talented performing artists ever to work in the field of hedonic interface, Her Ladyship has designed her House to be an "equal opportunity enjoyer," discreetly, tastefully and joyfully catering to all erotic tastes and fantasies, however unusual. Like her famous husband, Lady Sally doesn't even insist that her customers be human...as long as they have good manners.

Small wonder, then, that she and her staff encounter beings as unique and memorable as the superhuman Colt, whose banner never, ever flags...Diana, the deadly dominatrix who cannot be disobeyed...Tony Donuts, the moronic man-monster even the Mafia doesn't want to mess with...or Charles, the werewolf with a distinct difference... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars The World's Oldest Profession - With A Twist
Spider Robinson manages rather nicely both to advocate for tolerance of sensual art and (perhaps) to romanticize an age old stereotype -- the Whore With a Heart of Gold. Somehow all of this unfolds without venturing into language that anybody but a prudish religious conservative could view with offense (of course, there are still a lot of those social dinosaurs still running around these days).

It is apparent that Robinson is well aware of the harsher social realities that many people in the sex trade face in real life. Violence and inhuman harm against sex workers are common, and to some extent secretly approved by the larger society.Even in our supposedly liberated age, western culture roundly condemns sex for money -- while conveniently ignoring the possibility that such barter arrangements are fundamental to how a lot of marriages actually work.We merely carefully avoid looking too deeply at the currency of exchange.

Was Robinson deliberately trying to strip away the blind fold?It's hard to say.He doesn't seem to have been aiming for a deep moral lesson in this piece.On balance, he has created a humorous romp through a territory that a lot of humorless people disapprove.Though not on a par with "Dangerous Beauty" or "The Honest Courtesan", the book is well worth a read. I'll make a point of sharing it with my grandson when he's old enough to appreciate some of the subtleties.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Pun-filled Romp
After reading several of the Callahan's Place books, I decided to try the Lady Sally series. Not as enjoyable or as deep, in my opinion, but still an interesting read. As in many of Callahan's books, the exposition takes forever. And just as typically, there is a huge Deus ex machina at the end. This particular one really insulted my intelligence. The wrap-up was just too easy and convenient.

If puns are not your thing, avoid all of Robinson's books!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good clean fun
... in a bawdy house. Well, they're supposed to be clean and they're supposed to be fun, right?

These are basically feel-good stories, and they work. I mean "feel-good" in the emotional sense. Despite a few harsh scenes, all who deserve it (and some who don't) live happily ever after. The entertainers and the clientele certainly feel each other well, too. That, however, is all hidden tastefully off stage or under euphemism. I wouldn't have any qualms about any kid I know reading the book.

You may find this book filed with science fiction. That's probably because of the writer's other work and not because of these stories' content. The SF-ish parts appear only briefly, once to get a story started and once to get a story ended. If you're not a SF fan, there's still plenty here for you.

It's light, fluffy, and fun. When you're done with deep meanings and grand literature for the day, give this one a try.

5-0 out of 5 stars Responding and Commenting
I read that one previous Amazon reviewer advised that one should "read this book as if it's a collection of short stories, because taken together, this book has no cohesive plot."Well, DUH, fool.Go study up on Spider Robinson.A vast majority of his Callahan stories are just that: short stories.They were written and published ONE AT A TIME.

Those of us who are dedicated fans read the "forewards" and pay attention to the history of the author.Others *merely* read.

This and other Spider Robinson books are excellent entertainment with morals and underlying lessons for the sorry times in which we live.PAY ATTENTION, as Lady Sally would say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully bawdy sci-fi romp with just enough seriousness
At the urging of my girlfriend I just read "Callahan's Lady" and "Lady Slings the Booze," even though I'd not thought much of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon." I am VERY glad I listened to her.

In addition to the wonderfully atrocious puns, Robinson has created what could be the nicest place on Earth to go to for escape: Lady Sally's House. In addition to the witty and good-taste portrayal of sexuality and eroticism, Sally's House is a place of warmth, love and comfort, where joy is shared as much as it is at Callahan's Saloon if not even more so. All the characters who populate the House are people I have, in just the space of two books in 2 weeks, come to think of as dear friends, who I now find I sorely miss since Robinson's proposed 3rd Sally book has not yet been written or released.

The chapters involving Colt are perhaps the funniest and most arousing section of the book, enhanced because of the serious treatment of his dilemma. Maureen/Sherry is a great protagonist, and I shared her pain and despair when she thought she was too late to save The Professor from a mobster. And even the very beginning of the book is enough to make me shake my head and laugh - a werebeagle. A WEREBEAGLE??? Oy vey! And may I say I think I am in love with Dr. Kate! And Lady Sally herself is the perfect combination of friend, lover, mother and madam. If only we had a lot more people like her in this world, it would be a better place.

I must count both "Callahan's Lady" and "Lady Slings the Booze" as among my most favorite books of all time. They are wonderfully bawdy fun with a sci-fi twist and enough serious elements to make one think hard and to care about the lives of the characters. It makes me wish the House was somehow real so that *I* could go there myself as a client or an artist. It comes closer to sexual and romantic utopia than anything else I have ever read.

Don't let the Lady Sally books slip by you!!! ... Read more

6. Callahan's Secret (Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Series)
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 192 Pages (2002-04-15)
list price: US$5.99
Isbn: 0812572297
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Callahan's Place is open for business, and all of the "regulars" are here--a talking dog, an alcoholic vampire, and two telepaths--enhancing their joys by drowning their sorrows. Everyone, that is, but Mickey Finn, a seven-foot tall alien in danger of enslavement at the hands of a traveller from across the galaxy...

Come inside, pull up a chair, order a drink, make a toast, and let Spider Robinson introduce you to the most unique patrons to frequent any establishment, at a bar where the most important law is "shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased." And if there's time left at the end of the night, just maybe they'll save the world...
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not, in my opinion, as good as its predecessors.
Admittedly, that's praising with faint damns, and for that reason, I still rate it at five stars; it is still delightful, but I was ever so slightly disappointed by it based on what I'd come to expect from "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" and "Time Travelers Strictly Cash". Granted, the first two stories were as good as any in the previous books, and the third was, in some ways, even better. But the last one, in addition to being a downer that I just don't expect when reading "Callahan's" stories, was just flat-out implausible. I mean, I can accept the incredibly powerful alien out to destroy the earth. I can accept the fact that he looks like a slightly oversized cockroach. I can accept the fact that he is defeated and destroyed by a bunch of wisecracking, punning barflies, two of whom happen to be telepathic and three or four of whom happen to be time travelers.

But the idea that Finn would have failed to protect Jake's guitar in the same way that he protected his clothes? Preposterous. Given that in a previous story, we'd seen how important "Lady MacBeth" was to Jake, and how traumatized he was by her apparent demise, it cannot be suggested that it never occurred to Finn to protect her. Just ridiculous. Nor is it possible that he DID protect her, that she is lying out somewhere in the woods, and neither Finn nor Mary thought to mention that little detail to Jake.

Come on, now, Spider, I challenge you to fix this oversight somehow in a future story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Spider Robinson
I love Spider Robinson's work. This story is a great part of the Callahan saga and leads to 'the next thing', with more fantastic, yet believable characters banding together to save the world. We also learn more about Callahan and why he has wanted to run his place the way he has. Depending on which version you read this story from, you may also learn a bit more about Spider and his connection with Callahan...
This might be better for older teens, at least, as there is more than one love scene and perhaps some language from time to time that they may be ready for at that age.

5-0 out of 5 stars TheLast Days of the Tavern
_Callahan's Secret_ (1986) is the third collection of stories about Callahan's crosstime saloon. In an introduction, Robinson stated that this would probably be the last of the Callahan books. It wasn't. But I think that it is fair to say that the later stories were "second cycle Callahan tales." A number of things come to and end in this collection.

There are four stories in the collection, all novelettes from _Analog_: "The Blacksmith's Tale," "Pyotyr's Story," "Involuntary Man's Laughter," and "The Mick of Time." A comparison between these tales and the stories in the first collection, _Callahan's Crosstime Salooon_ (1977), shows a marked difference. The later stories are more skillfully plotted, more smoothly written, and a bit more bawdy. Also, the jokes, tall tales, and puns are-- if you can believe it-- more clever and outrageous.

We sometimes have a tendency to underrate humorous fiction. Great fiction must be serious and solemn. Humerous fiction can be _good_, you understand. But not great. We forget that doing humor really well can be deucedly hard. In any event, I am giving top rating for these stories. They are some of the best of the Callahan's Place stories. They are great fun and great writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars hilarious.
Hilarious; but only if you have odd taste.i would suggest trying some of Robinson's other work such as Stardance if you're in the mood for true scifi.Callahan is a time traveler that runs a bar in long island. punning only allowed on days that end in -y.a little off color at timesbut never raunchy.I love it. ... Read more

7. Lady Slings the Booze
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$58.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743435788
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Mike Callahan's wife aims to please at her intergalactic house of ill repute that attracts customers from beyond the limits of the universe. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt A MUST READ!!!

Whilst reading this book, on page two, the TOP of page two, I laughed outloud so hard I sprayed milk outa my left nostral...which was kinda bad as I was in a Library at the time, but...

No kidding, it is simply THAT good! More than that though... When I read this book I was going through a lot of hard times, in fact, I was considering suicide. After reading it...

No, my problems didn't all disappear and I still needed a lot of help, but I FELT much better from all the laughing I had done and I was pleased that thanks to this author I had managed to Forget about my problems for awhile.

All I can say is if you want to have a read where you feel better after you put the book down and your problems seem to be (a little, anyway) lighter - pick this one up, you can't go wrong.

(Oh, ONE cavete' - There are a few loose ends and you might wish - As I Do - that Spider would write a direct sequel. Other than that, cool!)

3-0 out of 5 stars Beware of Puns and Lack of Structural Integrity
My wife is a huge fan of all of Spider Robinson's books, so I have been reading them to see what all the fuss is about. Robinson is a master of language and a lover of puns and word games. Many of the puns are excruciating, and some take forever to set up. In fact, the entire second half of the book is basically a setup for a Dan Rather pun near the end.

The book suffers structurally from two flaws: the exposition lasts much longer than needed, and the second half of the book bears no relation to the first half. There are essentially two entirely separate stories. Much of Robinson's work first appeared serialized in magazines, so it's possible that these two stories were cobbled together to make a book.

Robinson does have some wonderful insights on human nature, but it takes some effort to sift through everything else.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Hard-Boiled World Saver
Spider has always been known as a writer with a strong taste for slumming (sorry, I meant punning), coupled with outlandish situations and strong, personable characters that are easy to empathize with. For this book, he decided to pay homage to some of the great mystery/detective writers of yesterday, deliberately trying to emulate their styles, mannerisms, and at least for his protagonist, their characters. In doing so, he seemed to lose sight of the idea of telling a cohesive integrated story, as this book very much separates itself in to two separate plot lines that are really only marginally related to each other.

His protagonist is, naturally, a private eye, one who tries hard to imitate the role models defined by Chandler, MacDonald, Spillaine, and others. He is called on to investigate some strange goings on in the most incredible bordello ever devised, Lady Sally's Place, located just across the bridge from the UN. It's a place where the `artists' have `clients', where talking dogs and telepathic twins are considered normal, a place where everyone can satisfy their desires without guilt or fears. Our P.I. quickly accepts the impossibilities of this place, and by making consistent intuitive leaps (which will sometimes leave you gaping at the holes he jumps over), fairly quickly solves the original mystery, falls in love, and is accepted as being good enough to join the crowd at Lady Sally's. Most of this section is quite good, with puns flying, clues properly presented, and the scene well painted, although it will definitely help if you have read several other books in the Callahan series, as many of the characters introduced here are very much cameos, with their background buried in the those other stories. The concept of Lady Sally's place is one that should make you think, and might help give you completely different viewpoint on the `world's oldest profession' - but this item was covered better, with more grittiness and real-world activity, in Callahan's Lady.

But after solving the one mystery, the story takes off in a totally different direction, where the crowd of Lady Sally's is now engaged in a strong bit of world saving. The premise is good - nuclear weapons smuggled into the US and other countries by pacifists as the ultimate hammer to convince the world to abrogate war. Unfortunately, the solutions to finding these weapons and the plotters behind them is very far-fetched, from having Nichola Tesla (one of the early pioneers of electricity) whip up a super-duper circuit to pinpoint the weapon's location to the immediate acceptance by all concerned that this was really happening without any objective basis in known fact. This section is also much more serious than the first half, and the hard-boiled P.I. character that Robinson has so carefully constructed in the first half seems to get lost.

This book should probably have been published as two separate novelettes, given the disparity of plot line between the two halves. As it is, it makes for an enjoyable read, but is certainly not Spider's best, and not even one of the better Callahan series tales.

Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wow!
This added feature to Callahan's Chronicles is truly a memorable and enjoyable read.The entertwining of the characters is only a feat that Robinson can pull off.Once again, Robinson has written a book that ever so slightly hits the political nerve to lighten one's mood- and quickly.

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
I personally enjoyed Robinson's books, but then again, they appeal to my somewhat immature personality. This book seemed, granted, to have been Robinsons attempts to intergrate a more direct line of plot into his story. While odd, it was very entertaining, and shocking, for this was the first "Lady Sally" novel I had read, and I read it 3 years ago, in 7th grade. My dad bought the books because he is a monster book freak. Soon after reading the second Lady Sally book, he dropped his interest in Robinson's work, which is unfortunate for me because there are still easily $100 of books I have to buy, in addition to a replacement for this particular book.

Please buy this book. Robinson wrote a very funny piece of literature. I urge you to buy the other books as well. You won't be sorry. ... Read more

8. The Callahan Chronicals
by Spider Robinson
 Paperback: 416 Pages (1997-10-15)
list price: US$10.99 -- used & new: US$149.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812539370
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon is the neighborhood tavern to all of time and space, where the regulars are anything but: time travelers, talking dogs, alcoholic vampires, cybernetic aliens--and a group of people who really, truly care about each other. It's the rare kind of place where bad pun are as appreciated as good conversation.

Time Travelers Strictly Cash is their policy, but then again everybody pays cash at Callahan's. Lay your money on the bar, name your poison, step up to the line drawn on the barroom floor, and after drinking make a toast and throw the glass into the fireplace. It's an odd tradition (don't worry about the cost--Callahan gets the glasses at a bulk discount), but one's that's led to some interesting stories.

Callahan's Secret may be something even the regulars would never guess. then again, it may be as simple as listening to those post-toast stories. After-all, like Callahan says, shared pain is lessened and shared joy in increased--a simple concept that could, after a few drinks, lead to saving the world....

This omnibus edition contains the trio of books that introduced the world to Mike Callahan, Jake Stonebender, Doc Webster, Mickey Finn, Fast Eddie Costigan, Long-Drink McGonnigle, Ralph Won Wau Wau and the rest of the regulars of Callahan's Place in the stories that helped Spider Robinson to win both a John W. Campbell Award and a legion of fans.
Amazon.com Review
This omnibus edition collects Spider Robinson's first threebooks about the Long Island bar that attracts the weirdest clienteleand the tallest tales in the known universe. Callahan's CrosstimeSaloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan'sSecret are playful, pun-filled delights from the pen of a trulyinimitable writer, winner of the Skylark and John W. Campbell awards. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars From one Spider to another
I would have to say that Spider Robinson is my second, maybe third favorite writer. I have read Callanhan's Crosstime Saloon, before but never had the chance to read the other three. I am excited. I may stop watching movies in dialysis long enough to read this book.

A lot of strange charactors show up at the saloon for a drink. and most of them stay.

If you have read this book before may i sujest reading Calahan's Lady and :ady Slings the Booze. also very good writing by one of the best

5-0 out of 5 stars A category in itself
Fans of Callahan's bar need no introduction. Others need to get introduced. There is a unique flavor to these short stories. It is sci-fi, it is also about being a human being, about sharing pain and joy alike. Note that shared sorrow is lessened, while shared joy increases. A good reason, among others, to share the pleasure of the Callahan's addicts (especially since Spider Robinson's later production has gathered more mixed feelings).

5-0 out of 5 stars A Toast From the Chalk Line
I just read the Complete Callahan Chronicles - a collection of short stories Spider Robinson published over the years about a bar on Long Island where odd and mysterious things happen, but where all the patrons are friends and troubles are handled by a group - not by individuals.

It's the best example of a modern tribe I've seen and I wish I could go down to Callahan's Place and stand at the chalk line, drain a glass of scotch, offer up a toast, and toss my glass into the fireplace.

1-0 out of 5 stars Terrible Book
I hated this book.Spider Robinson also wrote a scathing review of Stephen King's the Stand, which I think you should go out and read instead of this garbage.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's about Feelings
To be honest, I use this book to weed out new people.If they really like the book, then they can become friends.If they dislike this book, or if it's "just okay", then I really don't want to know them.That's how good Callahan is, and how much the writing of Spider Robinson means to me.This is damned good stuff, people.Damned good stuff.If you don't like it, it's because you are not capable of feeling the human (or humane) condition.If that's true, I pity you. ... Read more

9. User Friendly
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671878646
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
With his Heinlein-influenced, solidly scientific, warmly human stories, Spider Robinson has won every major award that the science fiction field has to offer. "User Friendly" is a new solid chunk of Spider's universe that is both "reader" friendly and "sales" friendly. . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Friendly enough
I enjoyed reading this book, though a couple of the essays wouldn't have been missed had they been accidentally omitted. The stories are interesting and fun, yet they can make you think.I really enjoy the way Spider Robinson manages to slide mentions of his most famous character, Mike Callahan, into several of the stories, especially turning the bartender into a philosopher at one point.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi with people who act like real humans
Spider Robinson's characters are average guys with average problems put in extraordinary situations -- which means an average guy can really relate to the character and get into the story. [For the ladies out there, if you really want to know how your guy thinks and feels, read this book.]

"Copyright Violation" is funny and my favorite. Except for the jocks out there, almost any guy can relate to this story and revel in its hero.

"User Friendly" from which the collection gets it name is about the centrists views of humans and Americans [Spider Robinson is Canadian]. Good but disturbing sci-fi.

"My Mentors" is a great homage to sci-fi giant Robert Heinlein.

...and so on..

It's all good and a must read for the sci-fi afficionado.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pass on this one, or use it to balance a wobbly table
I can't believe he gets compared to Heinlein.The statements on the outside cover are the most interesting fiction in or on the book.The very first story is enough to make sure most readers think this guy has nothing interesting, informative or uplifting to communicate.Let's rewrite the quote that should be on the outside of the book.

"..a pure and simple waste of time and paper."

If you want to read a good book try James H. Schmitz.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reader Friendly
User Friendly is a collection of short stories and essays by Spider Robinson. Though Robinson's best known short fiction is his Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, I prefer the non-Callahan stuff myself, and that's what's we get in User Friendly.

In the title story, Robinson uses the device of an "invasion" by telepathically controlling aliens as a thinly veiled excuse to discuss Canadian/United States relations. If you thought Heinlein was preachy, he's got nothing on Robinson in this one. I tend to agree with Stephen King, "...serious ideas must always serve [the] story, not the other way around...if you want to preach, get a soapbox." My irritation is tempered by the fact I agree with everything Robinson, himself a Canadian, has his character Alice say on the subject of many Canadians' antipathy toward the good ol' US of A.

"Copyright Violation" is quite possibly the funniest story I've every read. I was chortling, chuckling, and laughing out loud through most of it. If you have a shred of humor in your body, you NEED to read this. And yet it's also quite touching. For my money it's the best thing in the book - and that's saying something.

"The Magnificent Conspiracy" tells the story of a Vietnam veteran's visit to a used car lot owned by a man with....unusual ideas on how to run his business - and how that's only part of his plan to change the world.

In "My Mentors" Robinson gives credit to the three men who've shaped his life the most. If you're a science fiction fan, none of the three will be unknown to you. If you're familiar with Robinson's career, you could probably guess them.

"Teddy the Fish" and "Admiral Bob" are homages to Theodore Sturgeon and Robert Anson Heinlein respectively, written in the rap of Lord Buckley. (If you don't know who Lord Buckley was, don't worry, Robinson is happy to tell you.) SR's love and respect for these two men shines through every word.

"His Own Petard" and "Where No Man Pursueth" are spoofs. In the former Robinson skewers a prototypical SF critic; the latter is a Keith Laumer-esque adventure parody. Either this sort of thing does it for you or it doesn't. Frankly I think Robinson is at his worst when he becomes relentlessly clever and punny. Though I have to admit, naming the protagonist of "Where No Man Pursueth" Fleming Ayniss got a smile.

In "Too Soon We Grow Old" a woman places herself into cryogenic sleep; it's mostly the story of what happens to her when she wakes. And I will say no more. It's wonderful.

"Plus Ca Change" - another essay - is one of those tedious "the future will really suck because..." things some people find funny.

In "The Gifts of the Magistrate" we meet Vonda McLisle, aka the Vandal, who stole Halley's Comet from the sky, and learn why she did it. Another fabulous story.

"Distraction" is a lame joke with a lame punchline.

"Orphan of Eden" sees a time traveller from the future journey to the 20th Century to address an important question on morality to that well-known historical figure, Spider Robinson. I haven't quite made up my mind about this one, whether I like it or not.

In the essay "Pandora's Last Gift" Robinson looks at the state of the world from the Sixties to the late 20th Century, and concludes that hope for the future is not at all out of line. It's as thought provoking and uplifting a meditation as you'll ever read.

"- And Subsequent Construction" is pretty darn good. Iris, retired relativist (a starship driver a la Norman Spinrad's Void Captains - minus the orgasms) is trying to invent a time machine, but is interrupted when she comes to work one day to find herself waiting for her.

In "Not Fade Away", in the far future, the last warrior meets the last....well, that would be telling. Another winner.

"Seduction of the Ignorant" is an essay (originally a speech) about illiteracy and how to fight it. (The title is an obvious play on Dr. Frederick Wertham's book, Seduction of the Innocent.)

Not every story or essay in User Friendly is a home run. About half, in my subjective opinion, miss the mark. But "Copyright Violation", "My Mentors", "Teddy the Fish", "Admiral Bob", "Too Soon We Grow Old," "The Gifts of the Magistrate", "Pandora's Last Gift", "Not Fade Away" and "Seduction of the Ignorant" are all among the best short fiction and non-fiction you could ever be lucky enough to read. "- And Subsequent Construction" is not quite in their class, but still very well-done. These are short stories and essays by a master of both forms - and absolutely worth owning.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not stellar, but still a good read.
While not quite as engrossing as some of his more extended works (the Callahan's saga; the Sta Dance series), this collections of short stories is still very much worth the price. The title story tells of how alienscome to Earth, enslave random peoples minds, and the populace acccepts it.It's fresh ideas like these, strongly presented in a no-holds-barred stylethat add real punch to each piece. ... Read more

10. Very Bad Deaths
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-08-29)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 141652083X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Aging baby-boomer Russell Walker wants only to retreat from the world and the shattering death of his beloved wife, into the woods of British Columbia. But the real world won't let him become a hermit. Instead, he finds himself thrust into the mystery of a series of mass murders by a monstrous sadist and serial killer who makes Hannibal Lector look like a boy scout. And he is caught in a frightening predicament: He is the only possible intermediary between a telepath called Smelly, so sensitive he can't stand to be near most people, and a skeptical police officer who needs to hear and believe what Smelly knows about the fiend. This involuntary trio may be the only ones who can catch the inhuman butcher before he kills again-if he doesn't catch them first. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's the way he writes it
"Very Bad Death" is a so so story, but the characters are engaging, fun and thorough. It's not the Stephen King like plot that is the great thing about this novel, it's the way Spider tells the story. There are no better story tellers in the field as far as I can had read so far at this point in time. A good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars HORROR WITH HUMOR
Very Bad Deaths was my introduction to Spider Robinson's work and I must say I have added him to my favorite authors list. The characters are so well drawn, the terror grabs you at the back of the neck and the humor makes it okay. I listened to the audio book and the narration was also excellent.

When Russell, a lifelong pot-smoking hippie is thrown into a situation unlike any other he has ever experienced he has two choices: go with it or walk away. He chooses to jump in feet first and finds himself in a world of trouble populated by a former college roommate who he discovers can read minds, including his, a macho looking cop stuck with driving around a display trailer because she looks gay and isn't and a diabolical pyschopathic killer. What to do? He is mourning his late wife, and was ready to take his own life, so what the hell? He and Mika, the cop, team up to try to stop a murder and what they discover is so unbelievable you almost have to believe it.

Robinson's style is excellent. You feel like you know his characters and either love or hate them. The geographic descriptions inspire clear visual images, and most of all, you continually want to know what happens next.

I've read some of the derogatory reviews for this book on this site and can only wonder if we are discussing the same book. As an author myself, I'm quite critical, and I give this one five stars.

[...]Women on the Edge
[...]Devil's Dance
[...]Seven Deadly Samovars

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting story devolves to melodrama
This story is well written and easy to read, the characters engage you to begin with and it's gradual introduction of its theme (basically the moral consequences of being a telepath) is captivating.

But as the climax approaches the adjectives pile on and it tips to melodrama. The villain becomes a joke as the author tries so hard to convey his horrific nature and suspension of disbelief was lost for me.

What was worse than that, worse than the moment I tired of the continuous litany of 'he's so horrific he...' jokes (they become jokes) was the conclusion.

The conclusion does not make sense in light of how horrific the villain has been established to be.

Potential spoiler alert:

The resolution involves a character doing something they were loath to do. It was however apparently a simple, direct, irresistable resolution.

And if the characters believed a fraction of the horrific nature of the villain they all would have felt compelled to resolve the climax by any, and the eventual, method promptly.

So it's deflating nonsense to see our heroes prevaricating and basically being stupid. One does not end reading the story with any respect for the protagonists nor the author for ruining the story.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very Bad Book
*sigh*...look, I'm a Callahan's fan, have been for half my life.I even used to hang out at Callahan's on IRC during some really rough years.

Very Bad Deaths is like velcro stripper pants.A ripoff.I'm sorry, Spider, but you plagiarized your own work.It is literally the timestopping watch story from Lady Slings the Booze, with different characters.He just replaces Christian with a nerdy Marquis de Sade lookalike, removes the watch and throws in a telepath instead.Allen (the sadist) even uses Christian's lines about not going in for fancy torture stuff when the contents of a kitchen drawer are just as good.Russell is just Jake Stonebender with a different "my intensely painful memory" story.(Which is to say, he's really Spider writing himself into the story...only this time, you feel like he's just indulging his ego.)

And dear gods...you'll be right in the middle of plot development, and Spider'll veer off onto a ten-page recount of a memory of the main character's, and often they're only slightly related to the plot.I know, Callahan's was full of that stuff, but in those books it was done *artfully*.There's no suspense at all, and every plot advancement occurs due to so many deus ex machinas they're practically a treus ex machina.

I'm sorry, Spider, nothing but love for you, man...but this book just should not have happened.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Perils of Telepathy
Very Bad Deaths (2004) is the first SF novel in the Russell Walker series.It is set in and about Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, during 2003, with flashbacks to the 1960s.Except for the original premise, it is more of a mystery than science fiction.

In this novel, Russell Walker is a newspaper columnist for The Globe and Mail of Toronto.He lives in Trembling-on-the Verge on Heron Island, a small isle within ferry distance of Vancouver harbor.His wife has died the year before and he is thinking of suicide.

Zandor Zudenigo is descended from Serbians living in Croatia.He once was Russell's roommate in college.Nicknamed Smelly, Zandor was so odoriferous that you could see the fetor around him.Of course, Zudie had a good reason for his odor:he was an involuntary telepath.In other words, he couldn't shut it off and most thoughts from other people were painful to him.

Nika Mandic is descended from Croatians.She is a constable in the Vancouver Police.Unfortunately, she is a public relations officer -- Officer Friendly -- the lowest ranked job on the force.She drives a pickup and trailer combination to schools and other community facilities and gives lectures on personal safety.

In this story, Zudie knocks on the door to Russell' office at 3:00 AM, interrupting his consideration of suicide.At first Russell assumes that he is being raided by the police and hides his stash, but soon he recognizes his friend's voice and admits him.Zandor has some business to transact, but he first must do something about Russell's clinical depression.

After the treatment, Russell doesn't feel any different, but he is interested in the story Zudie has to tell.Recently, Zandor had been peacefully pursuing his interests when a failing plane crosses over his island.The mind of the pilot is violently offensive, lashing Zudie with thoughts of torture and murder.

The fuel line blockage -- according to Allen the pilot -- suddenly clears and the plane only bounces once on the water and then continues on to its destination.Zandor is left with the pilot's first name, but not his surname.After all, why would Allen have thought of his last name while facing sudden death?

Zudie also knows about the family of four that Allen is going to abduct and torture to death in a cabin within the remote woods.Zandor does know what the curb cut for the cabin looks like on Route 99 -- the Sea to Sky highway -- but not its exact location.Now he wants Russell to help him rescue the threatened family from this serial killer.

Unfortunately, Russell doesn't have any local contacts in the various police departments in Greater Vancouver.He is a columnist, not an investigative reporter.Moreover, his column is published outside the Vancouver area, so he doesn't even know any reporters with police contacts.

After Zandor leaves to avoid the waking thoughts of the neighbors, Russell tries calling a few police numbers, but only reaches answering machines and voice mails.So he dons more impressive clothes and takes the ferry to Vancouver harbor.He has the address of Police Headquarters, but the correct building is hard to find.After reaching the facility, Russell finds the lobby personnel to be less than helpful.

Finally he locates the Major Crimes Division and converses with a very helpful person in their lobby.After recovering from his shock at her helpfulness, he asks his carefully scripted hypothetical questions and gets straight answers.Yet he just can't come out and admit the reality of his case.

Returning to his car, he berates himself for being a coward, but he still can't imagine anyone accepting such a wayout tale.As he is trying to come up with a reasonable description of the circumstances, a woman parks a car behind him and leaves.Then a tough looking man enters the car and prepares to drive off.

Russell backs up his car to block in the other vehicle.The man steps out and confronts him.Russell is imagining the damage that the thug could do to him when the man quickly runs away.Then the woman who parked the car chases him down the block.

The pursuit doesn't last long.When the woman returns and thanks him for his actions, Russell meets Nika for the first time.He talks to her for a while and learns that she is a policewoman.Then he asks her to meet him on a deserted beach in the wee hours of the morning.Since that is during her shift, she is reluctant to agree to pursue personal interests on department time.But Russell tells her that it is a matter of life or death and she is finally persuaded.

This tale involves the threesome in searching for the cabin where the crime is going to occur.Russell and Nika drive down Route 99 and record the curb cuts that match Zandor's description.Russell discusses their possible actions with Nika and then they take the recordings to Zudie to view.

Russell and Zandor are very reluctant to confront Allen.They consider him very dangerous and would prefer to ambush him from concealment.Of course, Nika disagrees due to her upbringing, training and limited experience.

Strangely enough, Russell and Nika both come from families with strong police backgrounds.That is what led Nika to the force.Yet Russell did not learn all that much from his uncles and cousin.Still, what little he does know helps in his relationship with Nika.

This novel is a character study and history of Russell Walker.It exposes most of his faults and many of his strong points.The other characters are only shown through his eyes.They all have strong moral senses, but very limited experience in -- and stomach for -- violence.Enjoy!

Highly recommended for Robinson fans and anyone else who enjoys tales of police procedurals, inexperienced amateurs, and strong perseverance.

-Arthur W. Jordin ... Read more

11. Callahan's Con (Callahan's Crosstime Saloon Series)
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-06-14)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$12.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765341654
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The discreet little bar that Jake Stonebender established a few blocks below Duval Street was named simply The Place. There, Fast Eddie Costigan learned to curse back at parrots as he played the house piano; the Reverend Tom Hauptman learned to tend bar bare-chested (without blushing), Long-Drink McGonnigle discovered the margarita and several señoritas, and all the other regulars settled into comfortable subtropical niches of their own. Nobody even noticed them save the universe.

Over time, the twice-transplanted patrons of Callahan’s Place attracted a collection of local zanies so quintessentially Key West pixilated that they made the New York originals seem, well, almost normal. The elfin little Key deer, for instance--with a stevedore’s mouth; or the merman with eczema; or Robert Heinlein’s teleporting cat.

For ten slow, merry years, life was good. The sun shone, the coffee dripped, the breeze blew just strongly enough to dissipate the smell of the puns, and little supergenius Erin grew to the verge of adolescence. Then disaster struck.

Through the gate one sunny day came a malevolent, moronic, mastodon of a Mafioso named Tony Donuts Jr., or Little Nuts (don’t ask). He’d decided to resurrect the classic protection racket in Key West--and guess which tavern he picked to hit first? Then, thanks to very poor accessorizing (she chose the wrong belt--and no, we’re not going to explain that one), Jake’s wife, Zoey, suddenly found herself in a place with no light, no heat, and no air. And no way home. The urgent question was where--precisely where--but that turned out to be a problem so complex that even the entire gang, equipped with teleportation, time travel, and telepathic syntony (you can look it up) might not be able to crack it in time.

And while all this was going on, Death himself walked into The Place. But this time he would not leave alone. . . .
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Supergirl only saves the day, not the universe
Full of Robinson's trademark blend of humor and pathos (though not so many puns this time), this latest installment of the Callahan gang finds the bar threatened by several perilous situations, only slightly related. Although I love Callahan's and like meeting up with old friends there, the whole enterprise begins to seem overweighted with inherited characters. Plus, I'm getting a little tired of the way Erin the Super-girl solves every problem with her increasingly godlike powers. The problem with every series with familiar, well-beloved characters seems to be the apparently irresistible urge authors have to drag everybody through another sequel. How many times can Jack Bauer, for instance, save the world (or Jack O'Neill, or Mike Callahan/Jake Stonebender) before it gets a little ridiculous? Luckily, Robinson dodges yet another improbable rescue (how do you follow saving the whole universe, as in "Callahan's Key", anyway? Find multiple universes and save them?), but he comes up with situations only loosely related, almost like the short stories of the first few books, to do it. But hey, it's Spider Robinson writing about Callahan's folks, so what more can you ask?

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Spider's best effort
Frankly I was bored.Perhaps having read all the Callahan books has left me expecting a better effort.The inspired creativity present in earlier works has disappeared in this and certainly Callahan's Key.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spider!
Having read this book makes me want to go back in time myself and visit Key West during the time period he was writing about! It will be interesting to see if Spider writes himself into a corner eventually with all of Erin's and Nikky's time traveling. There have been some errors I have noticed over time (the fate of Lady Macbeth, for example) in the Callahan's series. But being allowed time travel and aliens (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial) can really save the world (and have a lot of fun doing it), or the universe, but it cannot keep loved ones from dying when it is their time, so things stay interesting. There are also some storylines that could be "fleshed" out (i.e. "Joe" Quigley and Arethusa's marriage/work and un-named child -- see "Lady Slings The Booze"). One of the things I like best about Spider is that he turns us on to writers, musicians, and geniuses some people have not heard of before (MacDonald, Koerner, and Tesla, etc.). For that he has earned a special place in the afterlife (if he doesn't spill too much whisky in the meantime)!

1-0 out of 5 stars Why novels, Spider? Why?
The Callahan's short stories have always been among my favorites -- they're funny, uplifting, clever and sometimes deeply moving. Spider Robinson has written a wide variety of other short stories that are also intelligent and witty.

Unfortunately, none of the Callahan's novels are particularly good; it wasn't fun when Heinlein went off for a hundred-odd consecutive pages about how cool his characters were, and at this point that's what the Callahan's novels have degraded into.

The plot here is that Jake's new bar in Key West has been targeted by Tony Donuts, Jr., the son of an unmemorable villain from one of the Lady Sally books. They come up with this silly, over-elaborate plan to get Tony's mobster boss to whack him, focused on the time travel powers of Jake's irritating precocious daughter. The subplot also revolves around said daughter, as a Child Protection agent shows up, a bizarre cariacture of conformity who's identical to (and turns out to be related to) the bizarre cariactures of conformity that got Jake's previous bar shut down.

After a long sequence of Robinson trying and failing to write a sci-fi Carl Hiaasen novel, there's a wholly manufactured crisis that has nothing to do with the previous story -- because every Callahan's novel has to end with a repeat of the super-empath sequence from "The Mick of Time."

Save yourself some tsuris and go re-read the original stories -- or pick up one of Robinson's compilations of short stories, such as By Any Other Name. That's where he really shows his strength.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best of a classic series.
The last few of the books derived from the old "Callhan's" series had seemed somewhat of a letdown from the older books; not that they were bad, but I didn't enjoy them nearly as much as I had the originals. I was beginning to wonder if it was me, not them; if I had changed sufficiently as I aged from my twenties into my forties that I could no longer appreciate the kind of story I'd enjoyed then.

I'm still not sure, but this book was definitely back on a par with the older entries in the series; it was flawed (so were they, if you lookedhard enough) but it was good enough to overcome its flaws. More, it was good enough to overcome one of the flaws that really bothered me about the previous entry, "Callahan's Key"; I can't say too much without giving a spoiler, but suffice it to say that I don't expect Jake and the other Callahan's regulars to be insensitive jerks; they don't prejudge people simply because they're alien cyborgs, or sentient computer networks; it seemed wrong that they would prejudge someone just because she was (A) ugly and (B) had a silly name. The fact that they did made it pretty clear that Spider was, and that bothered me; in this book, we get his apology (via Jake).

If you've tried the Callahan's books before and found them pointless and silly, your opinion of this one will be the same. If you loved them all, you'll certainly love this one. If you've felt that they'd been slipping for a while, give this one a try; you may enjoy it. If you've NEVER tried the Callahan's books before, then if you like your science fiction WEIRD, well-written and moving in spite of being silly, you will probably enjoy this book, but you might want to read some of the earlier entries in the series first. ... Read more

12. Callahan's Key
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2001-05-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553580604
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Nobody blends good science with bad puns as brilliantly as Spider Robinson, as his legion of devoted fans will attest. Now he's back with the latest chapter of the Callahan saga -- an improbable tale of impending doom, a road trip, space, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

The universe is in desperate peril. Due to a cluster of freakish phenomena, the United States' own defense system has become a perfect doomsday machine, threatening the entire universe. And only one man can save everything-as-we-know-it from annihilation.

Unfortunately, he's not available.

So the job falls instead to bar owner Jake Stonebender, his wife, Zoey, and superintelligent toddler, Erin.

Not to mention two dozen busloads of ex-hippies and freaks, Robert Heinlein's wandering cat, a whorehouse parrot, and misunderstood genius-inventor Nikola Tesla, who is in fact alive and well....
Amazon.com Review
What's Jake Stonebender's standard fee for saving the universe? That's easy: "A bar, and enough money and clout to run it." It's time for Jake to save the day yet again, with a lot of help from the rest of his pun-happy, cosmically strange crew. And no more kiddie stakes like in the previous Callahan books, when mere humanity was on the line. Nope, Jake needs to save the totality of the universe. From, of all things, the quest for knowledge. What does that mean? Well, it's got something to do with a classified satellite called the Deathstar, a hurricane named Erin, a superenergetic cosmic ray in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Soviet space station Mir, and a shamelessly enormous volume of Irish coffee. But as any Callahan fan will duly attest, all of this is really beside the point.

Books in this series (this one included) showcase the Münchhausen-style storytelling skills of Nebula- and Hugo-winner Spider Robinson. Putting one of cinema's most robust tropes into service--calling the team back together, à la Oceans 11--and doing a bang-up job at it as usual, Robinson should please old fans and win new ones. If nothing else, you'll surely come to love the eclectic cast of dozens, including everybody from a talking baby (Jake's teleporting, superhacker daughter) to a talking German shepherd (Ralph Von Wau Wau) to--why not?--the forgotten father of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

1-0 out of 5 stars When bad hero-worship happens to good writers
Spider Robinson can be a good writer.Maybe even a great writer.I discovered and loved his writing in the 70's & even early 80's.Unfortunately, rather than evolve his talent or even maintain it, he just regurgitates (badly written) Heinlein.Robinson cannot seem to control his need to 'tell' us via long, boring, smug and repitious monologues rather than 'show' us via discription, plot and characterization. I can still read Heinlein and enjoy what he does well and tolerate his periodic pomposity and sermonizing.He's that good.Cannot do so with Robinson. It just bothers me so much - his hero-worshipping has overshadowed his originality.And he's got (or at least had) so much more in the past.Maybe, as another reviewer suggested, his frequent references to getting stoned are biographical and terminal and he's gotten lazy/complacent/delusional.

Callahan's Key is no exception to Robinson's continued downward trajectory.I won't go into specifics except to say that the sexually aware small child and just about everyone who pants in anticipation of screwing her are particulary creepy and yet tedious.

Every so often I'll pick up one of his books and hope for better.Still hoping.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Book I Ever Finished
And really, I only managed that because I was listening to it on tape in the car.Boy was this excruciating.And I say that as a fan of the earlier Callahan stories.Sure, they are a bit dated, but they generally hold up.I would never have borrowed this from the library if I had not liked Robinson's earlier work.

There is exactly one episode of drama in the entire book, and it happens in a span of about 1 page.Without giving it away, let's just say that a character is in apparent danger.The tension mounts for, oh, all of a few paragraphs before Robinson reminds us that all of his characters are invulnerable.Then the episode is over.That's it.There is never again a moment with even the most remote amount of tension in the remaining many, many pages.

Safe from any drama-induced high blood pressure, here are some observations on the dubious treats in store for a reader in the rest of the book:

1) We get it.People need to go to the bathroom when they get up in the morning.This story of the Callahan "gang" moving to Key West reminds us of this human frailty on multiple occasions.Thanks, Spi.I don't know where I would turn for verisimilitude without those extended musings on Jake looking for the potty in the morning.

2) We get the world's Second Most Lazily Written Fictional Character (as well as one of its most annoying).Erin, the super genius, invulnerable toddler with the "I'm so hip I have trouble seeing over my own pelvis" precocious sexuality.As many reviewers have pointed out, if it is wrong to wish for the grisly, painful death of this particular character, I don't want to be right.

But wait, there's more...

3) We get the Single Most Lazily Written Character in the history of fiction, a man called simply "The Lucky Duck", around whom lucky things just "happen".Having trouble thinking of a way out of a plot twist?No problem!Enter the Lucky Duck.No exposition, no science, no THINKING involved.The Duck's here.Things with work out fine.No effort as a writer required.

4) This doesn't even touch on the Honorable Mention Lazy Character of modernized, time-traveling, reality bending Nicolai Tesla.

5) While neither confirming nor denying any personal youthful indiscretion, this reviewer willing to stipulate, for the purpose of this review only, that getting stoned can be fun. Possibly really fun.That said,_reading_ about fictional characters getting repeatedly stoned is boring.Really, really boring.One wonders about the chronic use of the hallucinogen in question and its effect on an author's creative process.Oh yes, one does indeed wonder.

6) Finally (although, much like this book, I could go on and on) I just have to say it:for goodness sake, it is JUST IRISH COFFEE!Get over it, Spider.

In summary, the book is self-indulgent, full of inside jokes, lazily written and incredibly boring.I finished just so that I could state with authority to anyone who is struggling and trying to decide whether to finish:

It does NOT get any better.Please, don't let my sacrificed hours be in vain.If you have picked this up, put it down.Better yet, don't start.If you spend the several hours you save by not reading it merely staring at your navel, you will have spent your time more wisely.

Better to stare at your own navel than Spider Robinson's

1-0 out of 5 stars I should have saved my money
This is the first Spider Robinson I have tried to read. I'll take other's word for it that previous books were better. This one is smug, self-indulgent and boring. I kept waiting for them to save the universe and then skimmed through it because it was too silly. I like weird people but these were not interesting. The parrot was a stupid plot device, the baby is creepy (but that dancing baby always creeped me out, too), but I liked being reminded of Pixel. I kept picturing Hans Conried when we saw Nikola Tesla and I don't think that was the image we were supposed to get. I short, I didn't finish it. I should have checked these reviews before I bought it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Too clever by half. No, more than that.
This is the first book by Spider Robinson I've tried to read. Tried. I couldn't try hard enough to get past the incessant cleverness of the dialog and characters. The phrase "too clever by half" doesn't cover it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Spider Robinson book I have read
I have loved Callahan books.
I have loved almost everything by Spider Robinson before this book.
I had great expectations before I started to read this one. Sadly I had to be very disappointed. It seems Spider had material for a short story, and got a contract for a novel. Never have I encountered such amount of padding in any book before. There literary pages and pages of pure, unadulterated padding. There are paragraphs full of names, which are repeated a few pages later. There are sidetracks in the story which lead nowhere, and have no relation with the main plot of the story, and have practically no entertainment value at all.
This might have been a fine short story, but this is a horrible novel.
... Read more

13. Time Travelers Strictly Cash
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1987-11-15)
list price: US$4.99
Isbn: 0441807135
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Human or otherwise, regardless of race, creed or dimension of origin, if you're looking for a good time in a place where the beer is always flowing, and the stories always out of this world, step up to the bar at Callahan's. There'll be tales--Oh, are there tales! Like the one about a loud-mouthed time traveler who capitalized on a rip in the space-time continuum; or the one about Ralph the talking, gin-drinking German Shepherd created by a demented genius shrink. But don't believe us. Ask Ralph. He'll tell you himself. Also don't forget to watch out for the deadly toasts--especially the Melba toast! And above all, remember...Time Travelers Strictly Cash.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed emotions.
In general, I love the Callahan's Saloon series of books, as well as the related "Lady Sally" books. I confess that I do believe that I loved them MORE 20 years ago than I do now, but while they no longer have the same power to thrill me that they did when they could surprise me, and when I was a callow youth easily impressed, I generally still enjoy them. I distinctly remember finding this a superb read the last time I read it, to say nothing of the first time I read it.

So having just re-read it for the first time in years, I find myself somewhat baffled by the fact that I'm seriously disappointed in it. For one thing, there are only four very short "Callahan's Place" stories in it; the rest of the book, thin as it is, is filled in by random short stories, essays, and commentary on the various bits. It is transparently a weak attempt to fill in enough words to justify publishing a book when Robinson really didn't have the material handy to do so because his publisher had given him an advance and was demanding a return on his money. I sympathize, but that doesn't make the book worthwhile.

What's more, while the four Callahan's stories are perfectly serviceable, they aren't spectacular enough to carry the book by themselves, and of the other material, the only piece worth reading is "God Is An Iron". (Which just happens to be my all-time favorite Spider Robinson story, and may explain my previously elevated impression of this book, and is the only reason that I give it three stars instead of one or two.) I could certainly have done without the 26 page lecture on why we should all worship at the feet of Robert A. Heinlein, who I generally consider to be an adequate author, vastly overrated. I'm perfectly willing to grant Robinson the right to disagree with that assessment and consider me a heretic, and will concede that he makes some good points in defending Heinlein from some very silly slurs (as well as some weak points in defending him from some much fairer slurs) but the main point is, I don't consider his polemic on the subject appropriate material for what wants to be considered a collection of "Callahan's" stories.

So, like I said, I have mixed emotions on the subject of this book: when it's good, it's very good; when it isn't, it's a real waste of shelf space.

5-0 out of 5 stars Callahan Saloon Series
Spyder Robinson is great in this series.Never a dull moment and well worth the read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Separate components for stars
This collection of Spider's stories has its ups and downs. You get four stories from Callahan's Place, four "SF" stories, and three non-fiction pieces. Let's break it down.
Callahan's stories: sad and weak, the puns lacked any conviction and now the regular patrons are so easily amused the stupidest pun/joke has them "rolling on the floors". 'Fivesight' deals with a lady showing up talking about her husband's premonitions. 'Dog Day Evening' - well a talking dog walks into a bar... 'Have you heard the one?' - okay well a (time)traveling salesman walks into a bar... 'Mirror/Mirror Off the Wall' deals with mirror dimensions and people crossing over. All in all, these were not real good. Fivesight being the best of them. 2 stars at best.
The SF stories improved the book much more. 'Soul Search' very interesting story on reincarnation meeting cryogenics. 'God is an Iron' possibly the most preachy story in the book; a man enters an apartment and finds a woman nearly comatosed from 'hardwiring' - receiving electric stimulus through implants. The kicker is why the guy is there. 'Local Champ' is Spider's foray into fantasy dealing with a Warlock - good thing he doesn't write fantasy regularly. 'Serpent's Teeth' excellent look into just where the world may be heading in terms of contractual marriages and child divorce. The SF stories get 4 stars.
Non-fiction - Spider includes of all things some book reviews he did and, I mean really, so what (hmmm a reviewer complaining about someone reviewing books?). Next in line is 'Rah Rah R.A.H' which is Spider's gleaming idol-worship of all things Heinlein, kinda sickening. And lastly is a speech full of bad puns and double talk he gives at a convention. 1 star and the book would have been better without these.

Overall - the SF was very good, the Callahan's were mediocre, and the non-fiction was worthless outside of Heinlein worshippers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wishful thinking?
Robinson's Callahan books are always emotional wringers, and though this is not restricted to Callahan stories, the others also have that same empathy. You may see some of the same stories (Fivesight, God is an Iron) elsewhere, but in this collection they also come with anecdotes and a bit of explanation that can be as entertaining as the stories themselves. I highly recommend it, not least because it is ideally structured to read in small doses, and so can fit into a busy schedule! ... Read more

14. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
by Spider Robinson
 Paperback: Pages (1987-01-01)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 042509586X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Callahan's Place is the neighborhood tavern to all of time and space, where the regulars are anything but. Pull up a chair, grab a glass of your favorite, and listen to the stories spun by time travelers, cybernetic aliens, telepaths...and a bunch of regular folks on a mission to save the world, one customer at a time.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing writer
If you've never read Spider's first compilation of Callahan and the people in his world, you're missing out on a masterpiece of story-telling. This purchase was my 3rd or 4th. Seems whenever I would lend it out, it never made it's way back to me. The stories are still relevent now as they were all those years ago when Spider first wrote them. Thank god for that little known publisher who had the foresight to include a few of the tales in his scifi rag-mag. ;}

4-0 out of 5 stars I really would not mind finding Callahan's in real life.
I started reading the Callahan's stories in Analog.This book was the start of collecting them into books.I enjoyed each of the stories in this book and I really would not mind finding Callahan's in real life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Your Friendly Neighborhood Bar
I first began to collect science fiction and fantasy when I was thirteen years old, and one of my favorite haunts was the old Victory Bar on Cherry Street in Chattanooga. The Victory Bar-- I always called it "the friendly neighborhood bar"-- sold science fiction books and magazines on the side, and its stock of speculative fiction was often better than that of many used bookstores. I would hunker down on the concrete floor, thrilling to the occasional collector's item of _Analog_ or _Amazing_ or _Fantastic Universe_. Behind me, grizzled men would order drinks and make political speeches and swear continuously. The place enchanted me.

I mention this not as an advertisement--the bar has long since been replaced by a parking garage-- nor even as pure nostalgia. But there is a relationship between bars and speculative fiction. It is a common setting in a great many short stories. What are some of the characteristics of the science fictional bar?

Well, to begin with, it is a place somewhat apart from the rest of the world. In his barroom fantasy, "The Hour of Letdown," E.B. White writes that "the saloon shimmered like a ship at sea in calm weather" (127). Arthur C. Clarke, in _Tales from the White Hart_ (1957) refers to his pub as a "microcosm," in but not a part of London. Larry Niven's Draco Tavern is located in Siberia.

The tavern is apart, but not isolated. There are regular customers there, to be sure. But there is room for newcomers as well. The newcomer may rest assured that if he chooses, he may remain anonymous. His name, his reputation, his past-- with all of the mistakes, injustices, and regrets-- can be ignored. But if he chooses, he can reveal his past and sometimes find redemption. Spider Robinson writes that many characters come to Callahan's Saloon because they _need_ to come there. They return as a kind of follow-up therapy once they work their way past their crisis.

The science fictional tavern has a social order to it, and usually that order is presided over by the bartender. There is Drew the Bartender at the White Hart, Mr. Cohan at Gavagan's Bar, and Callahan at the bar with his name. There is Rick Schumann at Draco's. Occasionally, the bartender is a grouch (as in White's "The Hour of Letdown") or a sensitive nonentity (as in Mildred Clingerman's "Stair Trick"). But usually, the bartender is made of more heroic stuff. He presides over the bar like King Arthur presides over the knights of the Round Table. He arbitrates disputes, settles arguments, acts as a counsellor.

Finally, and most fundamentally, the science fictional bar is a magic place. It is a place where we believe that the fantastic can readily occur. It does so in two fundamental ways. The first method is by the science fictional "tall tale," told to the customers by a master raconteur. The foremost example of this approach is Arthur C. Clarke's _Tales from the White Hart_. The second way that the fantastic manifests itself is through events that actually occur in the tavern itself. The Callahan's Tavern stories and the Draco Tavern stories fall into this category. Jake Stonebender, the narrator of the Callahan Place stories, says that "A*N*Y*T*H*I*N*G can happen at Callahan's Place-- and that sooner or later, it probably will" (162).

_Callahan's Crosstime Saloon_ (1977) is the first collection of Callahan stories. It consists of nine stories in all. Five of the stories originally saw the light of day in _Analog_: "The Guy with the Eyes," "The Time-Traveler," "Two Heads are Better Than One," "A Voice is Heard in Ramah," and "Unnatural Causes." One story, "The Law of Conservation of Pain," originally came from _Vertex_. Three stories-- "The Centipede's Dilemma," "Just Dessert," and "Wonderful Conspiracy"-- were written especially for the collection. The last three stories are the least of the lot. They are obviously "filler pieces." They are pleasant in their own ways, but there isn't much story to them.

The remaining six stories are solid and workmanlike. They aren't the best Callahan's Place tales that Robinson wrote. Those can be found in later collections. But they are the first. They set up the tavern for the reader-- its physical appearance, the customs and rituals observed therein, and the marvellous characters: Fast Eddie the piano player, Jake, Long-Drink McGonnigle, the alien Mickey Finn, Doc Watson, and the redoubtable Michael Callahan. Oh, yes, and there are the puns worthy of Ferdinand Feghoot at his most outrageous. Give Callahan's Place a try. If you don't like it... well, there's no hope for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Make your toast
Somewhere in Suffolk County, NY is a little place you will find if you need to, it's where you share your pain and joy, it's a place where every drink costs 50 cents, for the extra change you can toe the chalk line and throw your glass into the fireplace and make a toast so you can talk about your problem. It's Callahan's Place and you can join the regulars Fast Eddie, Tommy Janssen, Doc Webster, Long-Drink McGonnigle, and the author's self projection Jake Stonebender. Order your drink from Mike Callahan or Tom Hauptman and settle in for a night of comradarie. This book's a collection of nine short stories originally written for Analog magazine. Good stories only lightly bordering the SF line to some people's dismay.

First off you meet Mickey Finn, proving humans aren't the only one's going to Callahan's. What's an alien to do when he's here to spy on earth for annihilation. Second is a different take on time travel with the introduction of Tom Hauptman and future shock. Thirdly, how do you stop a telekinetic from cheating at darts? Fourth, it's tall tale night at Callahan's and the regulars spin some yarns, but then enters Jim who has to deal with head games with his brother Paul. Fifth, Fill-More night brings out a more conventional time traveller with a story of lost beauty. Sixth, how to deal with a practical joker. Seventh, it's rare when a woman comes to Callahan's and Rachel has shown up; what's a 232 year old woman to do for a legacy? Coming in next, a second story involving an alien seeking absolution, what are we to do upon finding out a non-violent alien race has been manipulating human progress for several millenia for their own needs? And lastly, more of a wrap up story on another place similar to Callahan's called The Farm.

Some stories are better than others but overall, they are all readable and you'll probably want to read more about Callahan's Place where everyone will know your sorrow.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
A humourous book about a bar that anyone can end up in, anyone from anywhere in time and space.Well, almost, anyway.They gather to drink and spin yarns, and tell jokes ranging from funny to truly awful groaners, and also to compete, it seems, at times for the worst pun award.

An amusing diversion.

... Read more

15. Night of Power
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-06-28)
list price: US$6.99
Isbn: 0743499174
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars Fiction is fiction
I am a big fan of te Calihan books that Spider Robinson puts out. Seeing Spider's name on this book and the fact that i loved his previous reads is the reason i picked up this book.

When i read diction i read it as an escape from reality and not to read in any social relevance.

With all that bein said before hand, i didn't find this book to be all that great. it wasn't an escape for me. it seems more of a call to arms for the African American people.

I am sorry if this offends people here. I just didn't get a lot out of it except that it was ok to rise up against your country....Which it isn't

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the Original Book
I read this book in a college "Cultural Anthropology" class around 1986 or so, the same year "Eyes on the Prize" was airing on PBS. Both the book and the documentary series were real eye-openers for a small-town middle-America kid! I never forgot the book and its disturbing content, especially the very real statistics and news items with which the author preceeds each chapter. While this 2005 mass-market edition is still a good book, it is NOT the same book I read in college. At first I thought my memory was responsible for what felt like significant changes from the story I recalled, so I dug out my old, dog-earred copy and compared the two. Then I found a tiny footnote on the title page of the newer Baen edition: "Newly revised by the author for this edition." OH. This is not just an updating of research , statictics, etc. Some of the revisions are drastic and definately weaken and dilute the book and its message. I doubt I would have recalled the book so clearly for 20 years if I had read this edition first. I wonder what prompted the author to so dramatically alter the original?

3-0 out of 5 stars Early Release
"Night of Power" (1985) is Spider's third or fourth novel and as such isn't quite up to the standards of his later work.In it he wrestles with white liberal guilt over the state of race relations in America.The long interior monologues by the narrator/author get preachy and wan, the characters are cartoonlike, and the action is way over the top.However as with any Spider book there are moments of sublime pleasure and delicious wordplay, and if the novel helped him work through some of the very real issues involved then it was certainly a therapeutic project.It's interesting to see several threads appear which would later be woven into his body of work.

4-0 out of 5 stars Creative
This book left me with really strong feelings.Intellectually, I understand this as an indicator of a good read, but it was really unsettling.While I agree wholeheartedly with Michael's message, I would never, under any circumstances, support his methods, or conclude that it would get the results he sought.It was disturbing that seemingly intelligent people that I'd grown to like a lot, would let themselves get so caught up in the decisions that were forced upon them.Actually, Russell didn't until his choices were totally eliminated.

Mr. Robinson is an excellent creator of the written word, so it deserves 4 stars for that reason alone, but the end eclipsed the entire book - the ultimate commitment made by the 14 year old, Jennifer, and its acceptance, was creepy and ruined an otherwise wonderful, apocalyptic adventure.

4-0 out of 5 stars Grim but spideresque outlook on the future of race relations
Robinson had written this in the mid-eighties, when Reagan's policies seemed to indicate a less "melting-pot" but rather WASP-oriented domestic policy. When this book went out of print, it also seemed that the idea had gone out of fashion, and it read more like a fantasy instead. It appears this book has gone to "in print" status in a very timely manner - the criticism on the treatment of the people who were affected the most by the Katrina desaster seems to echo in the story of those who would not believe peaceful co-existence between the races was possible without segragation in the territorial sense. The thrilling story of a man who would come to New York City because his black wife, a dancer, would be able to dance once more in public before age would make her retire, is made all the more poignant because recent advances in technology would make success of a revolution much more likely. So go totally unprepared, read this story with as little information as possible, and you will enjoy it the most. Spider Robinson was in a peak of his creativity (in the 80s eclipsed only by "Mindkiller") when he wrote this one. ... Read more

16. Callahan's Legacy
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1997-09-15)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$40.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812550358
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
For years, Callahan's was the place where friends met to have a few drinks, tell a few jokes, and occasionally save the world. Until that unfortunate incident with the nuke a few years ago....

But Jake Stonebender and his wife have opened a new Callahan's, Mary's Place, and all the regulars are there: Doc Webster, Fast Eddie the piano player, Long Drink McGonnigle, and of course the usual talking dogs, alcoholic vampires, aliens, and time travelers. Songs will be sung, drinks will be drunk (and drunks will have drinks), puns will be swapped...and as a three-eyed, three-legged, three-armed, three-everythinged alien flashes through space toward the bar, it just might be time to save the world again....
Amazon.com Review
This is the fifth book in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloonseries, a short read that once again brings together the Callahanregulars in a plot that combines the usual group therapy, thebest/worst puns ever to see print and epic, world-saving deeds. Thistime around the gang must save Earth from a decidedly nasty alien, andonly group telepathy will do the trick. Spider Robinson, whose cuttingwit and keen insights are in full force, takes the opportunity to divedeep into the psyche of his various mainstay characters, making forsome darkly intimate reading. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars the book is a re-hash of old callahan stories
this book is ok. Callahan stories by Spider Robinson are always fun to read and this one is no different. However, the story... the plot... its a re-tread of old Robinson stories. He uses pretty much exact story arcs from past stories.

If you like Spider Robinson, I would totally recommend old Larry Niven short stories from the 1970's. I think that Robinson based Callahan's on a re-occuring Niven character/bar.

4-0 out of 5 stars On a stoned bender
I adore puns. Always have. Therefore, Callahan's has been a favorite place to visit. No bar to admission; the only common denominator here is that each regular has one apparent difference from humanity. These diferences all seem to mark each one as essentially the same.
All the gang is here: Jake. Ralph von Wau Wau. Mickey and Mary. Long- Drink, Eddie and Doc Webster. And, of course, Mike Callahan. Once again new people are drawn into the bar. Once more the good folk of Mary's Place have to save the world. Throughout, in their home behind the business, Jake's fiancee Zoey is expecting their first child.
This entry seemed to deal more directly with death than the books before. We hear how Eddie, Doc and Long-Drink came around.
The connection between the latter pair may explain the long-standing friendly competition.
Some of the wordplay had me laughing out loud. The chapter headings, too, were neat. The greatest pun, however, may be Zoey herself. The word zoe is Greek for Life.
"Bravery can consist of just listening to someone scream, and not willing them to die- which can be terribly hard to do."

4-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Mary's Place
Spider Robinson is probably best known for his Callahan's stories.Some readers stopped reading after the bar was destroyed in a nuclear explosion.But the latest book, CALLAHAN'S LEGACY, is a good reason to give the later series a better look.

This latest volume takes place in Mary's Place, Jake's new bar.Most of the usual characters are present as well as a few new ones who happened through the front door.Jake's wife is nine and a half months pregnant when the story opens.The story progresses through some of the usual tales and word games we have come to expect.Then Mary and Mickey Finn suddenly appear unconscious on the floor.Once revived it becomes clear that a terrible threat is heading towards Earth.Finn's counterpart is coming.Jake and the gang must find a way to save the Earth.During that course we learn how some of the older members first found Callahan's Place and we gain some new insights into the author.

I will not give away the ending but I will say that I found it to be one of the better books in the extended series (that includes the Sally books).While an entertaining and light-seeming read, there is plenty to stimulate the brain.Word games (and puns) are found throughout the book along with some other mental exercise equipment.If it has been a while since you last visited with the Callahan's gang you should pick up this book and drop in again, I am sure they would like to see you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun at Mary's Place.
Of course, "Mary's Place" is really just a euphemism for "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon", even if the proprietor IS Jake Stonebender instead of the great one. But if Doc Webster, Eddie Costigan, Mickey Finn and company hang out there, it's really Callahan's, and as such, fans of the "Callahan's" series will not want to miss this one.

This is particularly true because in this book, we finally get the "origin stories" for Long Drink McGonnigle, Doc Webster, and Fast Eddie, and they are superb, some of the most powerful writing that Robinson has ever done, which is why I rate this book five stars IN SPITE of the fact that the main plot is kind of weak (Alien cyborg coming to destroy the earth? Gotta defeat it with one hand tied behind our collective, poor weak human backs? Been there. Done that) AND in spite of the fact that the beginning and ending subplot strikes me as involving rather more mockery of individuals based on physical appearance and speaking an unfamiliar language that "sounds funny" than I'd expect from Robinson and the Callahan's folks. The flashback origin stories are just THAT GOOD. You do NOT want to miss them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Warm, moving, laugh-out-loud funny, and a joy to read.
Spider Robinson's Callahan's regulars once again save the world from certain destruction. No other author combines puns, palindromes, poetry and prose like Robinson. This book has it all -- sex, music, philosophy,outrageous humor, wonderful characters, and a message. Impossible to readit without having fun -- if you like words, you'll love this book. ... Read more

17. Mighty Spiders! (Hello Reader Science Level 2)
by Fay Robinson
Paperback: 32 Pages (1996-05)
list price: US$3.99 -- used & new: US$15.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0590262629
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From tiny spiders the size of a grain of sand to larger spiders that are bigger than a hand, a rhyming introduction to the world of amazing arachnids is complemented by detailed illustrations and a special reference section. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Mighty Spiders
Excelent book about spiders for the young. Pictures are wonderful. This book is truely for young readers interested in spiders. Keeps them interested without boring them. ... Read more

18. Stardance
by Spider Robinson
 Hardcover: Pages
-- used & new: US$12.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000UC50ZI
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars Spider keeps on writing the same books
I first discovered Spider Robinson when I was in high school, in one of his collections of Callahan short stories.I loved them at the time, and moved into his other work as fast as I could.I remember devouring this novel back then.I lost the book somewhere in the intervening years, so when I stumbled on the hardcover at a used bookshop, I bought it.

I think that my problem with this novel isn't necessarily with the novel itself, but rather with the author.Having read all of his work at this point, I just find it all tiresome now.Today, this doesn't feel like a groundbreaking novel.It just feels like yet another rehash of all of the same stuff Spider has been saying for so long.I've tried to step away from my feelings about the rest of Spider's novels, but I haven't been successful.I spent most of my time reading this book annoyed that it felt like nothing more than a Heinlein retread with a few sprinkles of dancing thrown in.

I kinda wish that I hadn't read so much of Spider's work and thus become so disenchanted with it.I liked this book once, but now I'm faintly embarrassed by it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
A woman that wants to be a dancer finds she is not suited to do so in the usual arena, but more than finds her niche when contact with aliens is made.

Close Encounters, but using the legs, instead, as her dancer skills adapt well to gravity, and apparently is a language that the aliens can understand.

1-0 out of 5 stars Slumping Star Dance
Indeed I wonder why all those previous reviews are that positive. Stardance simply is much ado about nothing. I hardly finished the book. First, human characters are as thin as soap bubbles; we are left with the feeling they talk and act without thinking. Most actions are unfleshed and unexpectedly occur. Second, aliens are ludicrous omnipotent floating insects that badly want Earth to spawn but are deterred by a ballerina who commits suicide right after! After some time, they come back and station by Saturn where they wait for a year! for earthlings (a "troop" of dancers!) to come. As soon as the earthlings turn up, the insects deliver a philosophical message that reflects all what being human is about! Then they spurt some matter at the dancers to make them evolve into another species! Pure nonsense. Besides, Stardance is not consistent. It's an assembly of three short stories. The first story is just acceptable. The second story is empty, simply there to bridge the previous one with the next one. The third story tries (and fails) to wrap up the novella with a contrived trick. No wonder there is no deepness in it. Why Stardance got the 1978 Hugo award is a mystery to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dance is a Verb
Come prepared for this book with a large box of tissues; those who find they don't need them while reading this book aren't really human. Spider and his wife Jeanne have created something here that is quite rare in the realms of science fiction, a true mating of music and dance with a story that could only be told within the non-confines of this field.

Charlie Armstead, former premier dancer who now makes his living as an audio-visual man for dance companies, meets Sharon Drummond, a young lady who has dedicated her life to being the best dancer possible. But Sharon, though incredibly excellent at her craft, can't get accepted by any dance company because she is physically too big. Charlie, seeing her dance, and knowing the problem she faces, tries to help by going independent with her, helping her define her own type of dance and properly filming it, but nothing works.

Here in this early section of the book, however, we are treated to the impossible: a description in words of music and dance that actually makes you see and hear the dance.This may be one of the most difficult feats of writing that I have ever read, to translate art forms from the totally different realm of the audio-visual into such a readable, coherent, mental painting that puts you right in the dance studio. And along the way, the Robinson's characters come to life, to where you can feel the triumphs and disappointments, the sweat and exhaustion, the exhilaration and despair of this pair.

Up to here, the story could have been told as normal fiction, but now comes the first of the elements that transform this from the world of everyday to the world of the future, as Sharon conceives the idea of doing her unique form of dance in free-fall at an orbiting space station. We watch as she adapts to the new environment, and modifies her dance to take advantage of its properties, and slowly we begin to see her creations as message, as a unique channel of communication.

This channel of communication forms one of the lynch-pins of the plot, and the Robinsons do an excellent job of melding their characters with both this item and the very plausible impediments that Sharon and Charlie must overcome.The conclusion to the first section of this book will shatter you; most of your tissue box will be depleted here. But there's much more, a logical yet surprising continuation that allows for a good exposition of the book's theme of the community of not just man, but a community of mind.

Excellent in almost every aspect, the first section of this book deservedly won both the 1977 Nebula and 1978 Hugo Novella awards.In this expansion to full book length it lost none of its power, and allowed for both greater character development and a vision of the future of mankind that speaks to the reader in an impossible to ignore voice.Keep your last tissue for the last line; you'll need it.

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing combination of tech and the arts
It shouldn't be suprising, really--when you put together a fine science fiction writer with a talented choreographer/dancer, both of whom happen to be both empathic and married to each other, how could you not come up with excellent work?Still, it's astonishing just HOW good this work is, as well as how well it's stood up to the two decades + since it was written.I first read this book as a young teenager; recently re-reading it after earning a dance degree.I'm glad to report that the story has an added depth now, not just in terms of dance, but in terms of the role of the arts in our culture.Pre-NEA meltdown, pre-digital media, Spider and Jeanne identified both the problems that come when the human aesthetic expands itselfand many potential solutions.

Did I mention it's a rollicking good read?Intrigue, suspense, incredible choreography mixed with the vastness of space (hell, just being able to pull those off in a verbal medium is enough to deserve the awards this book has earned), it's all there.Yeah, it's out of print for now--but that won't last, as the present catches up with this particular future.So grab it now, so they can continue the good fight! ... Read more

19. The Callahan Touch
by Spider Robinson
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1996)

Asin: B000MUUQPW
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent tale.
I've been a fan of the "Callahan's" stories for a long time, and truly enjoy almost all of them. This may actually be the best of the lot, and I think that it would probably be possible to start with this one and still not be completely lost. It's certainly the best (as well as the first) of the "Mary's Place" books which follow the original "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" series. But I will say that its rating was ALMOST ruined, and WAS dropped a notch, by the love-at-first-sight subplot toward the end. I'm sorry, I can accept Fir Darrig-Pooka half-breeds living in the U.S.; I can accept Cluricaunes (what most people would mistake for a leprechaun) likewise manifesting in upstate New York; I can accept time-travel, super-poweful aliens with highly advanced technology, and all the rest of it, but I CANNOT suspend disbelief far enough to accept a pair of grown-ups experiencing a powerful initial attraction for one another and mistaking it for love; the character of Jake Stonebender is wiser than that, and as written, so is the object of his fascination. Granted, there is a perfectly good chance that such a fascination might grow into love, but the idea that they are, in fact, in love before ever actually laying eyes on one another because of a very sympatico jam session is just silly. And I hate stories that reinforce the societal belief in love as being "something that happens all at once" rather than being "something that grows out of shared experience"; see my review of "Romeo & Juliet".

3-0 out of 5 stars Callahan stories rewritten to shreds
A Callahan's bar fix up novel. The original Callahan's place was destroyed in a nuclear explosion, but the "I" character of the stories establishes a new bar for the same gang to hang on.For some reason this is a bar that tends to attract very strange visitors, including but not limited to time travelers and characters out from Irish folklore. This book is based for a most part on short stories published earlier, but some of the material has been substantially rewritten. And that was really, really, bad idea. The original stories were tight, nice, good entertaining stories, but in this book there are a lot of totally unnecessary padding. All action stops in the middle part for very long time, where absolutely nothing happens. There are ever literally two pages long list of names of people visiting Callahan's and what instruments they are supposed to be playing. This has about same amount of entertaining value as reading a phone book. The glorification of alcoholism was also a bit disturbing, and it was also worst in the middle part of the book.The book would have been better if the author had left the stories as there were, and wouldn't have expanded them with unneeded fluff.

3-0 out of 5 stars Losing the Magic Touch
This is the fourth Callahan's Place book and the first Callahan's Place novel. Therein lies the problem. The barroom tale-- and its close relative, the Club Story-- is traditionally a short story. Lord Dunsany's Jorkens tales, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's _Tales From Gavagan's Bar_ (1953), Arthur C. Clarke's _Tales From the White Hart_ (1957), Sterling Lanier's Brigadier Ffellowes stories, Larry Niven's Draco Tavern series... They are all short stories.

Why? Because the short story is the right length for such a tale. In a short story, you can imagine yourself listening to Jorkens or Harry Purvis telling a tale one evening. Or you can imagine some sudden, fantastic events at Gavagan's Bar or the Draco Tavern coming to a quick resolution.

But a novel demands a more complex plot, more convoluted events, and a greater array of characters. This is what happens in _The Callahan Touch_ (1993). It starts off well enough, with the opening of Mary's Place... But after a while, events start to get-- dare I say it?-- tiring and tedious. There are only so many magic stunts that you can pull, only so many speeches that you can make, only so many toasts that you can drink,
and only so many Revelations About One's Character that can be revealed before it all begins to wear thin. And the repeated chorus of "Rooga rooga rooga" grated on my nerves long before the end.

Another problem lies in the characters. Previous Callahan stories were ensemble performances. A single character might take center stage in the story in which they were introduced, but no character hogged the spotlight all the time. _The Callahan Touch_ features a character called the Lucky Duck who has just about everything happen to him. Most of the other characters fade into the background for the rest of the novel. Even Callahan, once he makes a dramatic guest entrance, doesn't really do very much. An analogy might be the case of _A Chorus Line_. The original play was an ensemble performance about a group of people whose lives center around a love of dance. The movie was made into a star vehicle for a romance between two characters, and it never measured up to the play.

This is not to say that there weren't some good scenes in the novel. Nor is it to say that I didn't find myself laughing a number of times. Robinson is too good a writer to produce an outright clunker. But this novel is just not in the same league as his earlier Callahan's Place stories.

3-0 out of 5 stars Is this hitting the Bob Hope syndrome?
I first read Callahan's Crosstime Saloon back in college, like the early 80's so I've been a fan for quite awhile. I really enjoyed that book, and also each of the subsequent Callahan books Robinson has put out over the last 20 years.

This is not at the same level of quality and originality that the earlier books were. The Callahan Touch felt like he's really writing for his die-hard fans who are easier and more lenient on the rough spots.Would someone "get this" if they happened to find a copy at the library? Would it stand on its own? It's sort of like all those Star Trek paperbacks they've written over the last decade, if you love the characters, you love being able to keep reading about them, even in a sub-par tale. This book is where the series starts to be about a cult rather than simply telling a story about a unique group of people. They are starting to be larger and better than life. The blur between fictional characters and events, and the desire to have them exist in real life gets a little fuzzed. (Callahan's Key will take it even further down this path.) . Look, I love the stories but I'm not converting to a religion. What is the old saying? "It is the story, and not the teller"? I don't care if Spider is a cool guy or not, I just want a good story to read and maybe think about. Spider seems to have begun to be in it for the money. Not a bad thing at all, it's just it was so much more fun when it was about just the story.

But, who really cares? I'm critical because I expect a lot based on the enjoyment I've had with this group of characters over the years. This is, as always, a clever, fun, witty, and enjoyable read. If you've read Robinson before, you will enjoy the Callahan Touch and know he has better stuff out there. If this is your first one, find his earlier stuff now. You're in for a treat!

I'd really love to see Spider write one more fun, old-style Callahan novel. I'd hate to have Spider become like Bob Hope, famous for doing something no one remembers anymore, just that he's famous for being famous.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really fun, light SF
I seem to have started in the middle of this series.First, I read Callahan's Legacy because it was the only one my library had.Then, I found this book in my local used bookstore.So, not only am I out of order, but I'm reading backwards.

But I don't really think that matters.I'm still really enjoying this series from Spider Robinson--the stories of a bunch of really strange folks that hang around a bar, whether the proprietor is the titular Mike Callahan or the narrator Jake Stonebender.

The plot is negligible, when it exists.The main draw is all the varied characters and their wild personalities and how they interact with one another.

Beware, however, the puns come fast and furious.But, if, like me, you think playing with words is the highest form of humor, then pull up a stool because here is a place where "shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased." ... Read more

20. Lifehouse
by Spider Robinson
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (1997-03-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$0.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671877771
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Returning from a walk missing parts of her memory, June Bellamy, accompanied by her partner Paul, find themselves on the run from insidious superhumans who can edit their memories. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Cons, Other Cons, and Pros
This is the third volume in the trilogy that started with Mind Killer and continued with Time Pressure (which are collected together in one volume as Deathkiller).However, the relationship is tenuous between this book and the other two, and for this particular work I'd actually recommend that you don't read the others prior, as I think it would negatively color your impression of this one.

Lifehouse represents a return to Spider's normal outrageous situations and punning humor, couched in a tale of two con artists, Paul and June, SMOFs (Secret Masters of Fandom), and time travelers.Early in the story the SMOFs (in this case, a husband and wife, Wally and Moira, who have been fans and known each other so long they are almost telepathic with each other) are presented with a wild tale by a midnight visitor who arrives with a bang, minus clothing, and claims to be a time traveler who has unfortunately missed his target date by a few years. Naturally, the 'time traveler' would likeWally and Moira to help in changing history just a little bit - ensuring that John Lennon does not get assassinated.Of course, the Wally and Moira are also Beatles fans, and off we go on a pretty wild romp through the ins and outs of multiple con games, time and other paradoxes, manhunts, and puzzle solving the old fashioned way, by thinking.

Along the way, Spider maintains a humorous undertone, as noted by chapter titles like "Grok and Roll" and sentences like "They left and locked the car, and, since it was late at night, crossed Point Grey Road on foot without the customary side effect of dying." But much of the story is a serious investigation into ethics, morals (can con-men have morals? Can ethics impose absolute restrictions on the actions of time travelers?), and individuality versus the 'Group Mind' that true telepathy would make possible. The characters come across as highly intelligent, personable, and believable people caught in situations that are only partially due to their own actions, but must (and can) rely on their own wits to save the day.

Readers who have never attended a science fiction convention or been seriously involved in SF fandom may miss some of Spider's underhanded references, and some of the specified technology will seem absolutely ancient (which is merely an indication of how fast computing technology is changing). But these are fairly minor quibbles with what is generally a very readable story, one that occasionally made me laugh out loud, always kept me grinning, and provided some good food for thought when finished.

1-0 out of 5 stars another badly written book by robinson
since everyone always seems to be raving about spider robinson, i decidedto give him another try. BIG mistake.the plot was juvenile.it wasadvanced in a mode that stretched beyond the ability to suspend disbelief(in fact, i thought that some of the things that happened must have beenmanipulated to lead the writers to find the protagonists.there could beno way these many coincidences and chance occurances could happen withoutbeing designed). the ending was a goody two-shoes piece of slop, that in noway satisfied. overall, a very poor piece of work. i am surprised that imanaged to finish it.

5-0 out of 5 stars My first Spider Robinson book
This was the first Spider Robinson I've read, and I was quite impressed.I think it takes a courageous science fiction writer to write fiction about science fiction.The humor was a nice change of pace from so many otherbooks which take themselves too seriously.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings, but amongst the best recent Spider Robinson
As a third part to follow up to Mindkiller and Time Pressure, it certainly fits into the group.I did not much like Time Pressure, finding it, to my mind, "rather New Agey."Lifehouse does not dwell too much on the "technologies" of that book, which strikes me as being a good thing.

It presents stories of three couples: - "God-like" time travellers protecting their critical secret, - Con artists assortedly seeking "the new con," and then being pursued for stumbling onto "the secret," and - Secret Masters of Fandom, at first sucked into the "big con," but then showing their own initiative to hunt down the con artists.(I lived near the store at the location where they were described as having bought the pistol...The store primarily sells ugly Art Deco "antiques.")

As a "classic" Spider Robinson read, it presents the perhaps-too-clever in- jokes and terrifying puns for which he is famed.And comes up with some new twists on things, and ample "turnings of tables."

I would bet that this book is of special interest to SF fans in Victoria and Toronto; there are references to things that I almost recognize...

4-0 out of 5 stars The sham time traveler vs. the real thing was a nice stroke.
Since Mindkiller I've been scooping up everything Mr. Robinson has written. It's because I cannot recall laughing so hard as during the neophite s and m scene in that book. Lifehouse had some good chuckles as in the name of the skit planned for the con. That word was sprinkled throughout the novel with some fine double entendres. The time-travel con and the actual time travelers and the fans all mix together to demonstrate once again how people and relations change in a Spider Robinson novel. But as always he seems to be fighting to preserve the Integrity of the Mind. I only took issue with the little too pat ending gesture. Otherwise another great read ... Read more

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