Thursday, June 11, 2015

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: Spider Robinson

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon is only peripherally science fiction, although several of the short stories in this book first appeared in Analog magazine. In fact, by my personal definition, this is science fantasy; most of the stories have some element of science fiction or fantasy. On Goodreads, the majority of readers tag this book as science fiction, but a good number call it humor and about the same number call it fantasy. There is a huge element of humor in all of the stories.

Ben Bova wrote the introduction to this book. It was published in 1977 and he bought Spider Robinson's first story for Analog in 1972. The title of the introduction is "Spider Robinson: The SF Writer as Empath." This is how he describes the author:
It just might be that Spider Robinson represents the newest and strongest trend in science fiction today. He's a humanist, by damn. An empath. He's sensitive to human emotions: pain, fear, joy, love. He can get them down on paper as few writers can.

The narrator is Jake. The owner and bartender is Mike Callahan. There are other regulars: Doc Webster, Tom Flannery. Strangers wander in and out and the stories are mostly about them. I can't really describe the stories and they might not be to everyone's taste, but you have to experience them firsthand to know.

The first story, "The Guy with the Eyes," introduces the saloon, some of the regular characters, including some of Jake's backstory, and there is an encounter with a very strange alien.

The second story, "The Time Traveler," is not science fiction or fantasy. It is a fairly long story, and shows some reactions to the Vietnam war at the time. The stories may seem dated to some, but that is one of the things I enjoyed most. I like to get a look at historical events from the times they occurred. Of course, I was around at the time, so maybe that is why it was interesting to me.

One night a week at Callahan's Saloon is Punday, and there is a punning competition. That appealed to me because my father loved puns. These stories often contain a lot of puns.

See this review at The Little Red Reviewer.

Spider Robinson was born in New York City but has resided in Canada for many years, and is now a citizen of Canada.


Publisher:   Ace Books, 1977
Length:      170 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       Callahan series, #1
Setting:      Suffolk County, Long Island
Genre:        Science Fiction short stories 
Source:      My son gave me this copy.


col2910 said...

Until recently I hadn't heard of this author - a book by Lawrence Block tipped me off. I kind of liked the sound of Callaghan, but it seemed the series deviated more towards sci-fiction than mystery, and let's be honest, I'm not short of books already. I hope you enjoy them if you read further into the Callaghan series.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I have read a few stories in "Analog" but I have never come across Spider Robinson. I'm going to have to sample some of his work, at least.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Never seen this before but the 1977 edition sounds well-worth getting. Thanks Tracy.

Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting, Tracy. I'm going to have to tell my husband about it. He's more into sci-fi/sci-fantasy than I am, and I know he likes Bova's work.

Clothes In Books said...

I'm not likely to read this, Tracy, but I love that cover.

TracyK said...

I will be reading further stories in this series, Col. From what I have read, the author seems like a nice person, and has led an interesting life.

TracyK said...

I hope you do run into some of his stories, Prashant. I think you would like his writing.

TracyK said...

The 1977 edition is very nice, Sergio. I like the cover and the contents. My son also has a book that combines all the Callahan stories from the first three books, so I will read further.

TracyK said...

I thought I was going to be reading a novel, and it turned out to be linked stories, Margot. I liked the variety. Your husband might like them.

TracyK said...

It is a very nice cover. I enjoy reading books even more when I can enjoy the beauty of the cover while I am reading the book.

Barry Ergang said...

You can find this and two other Callahan titles in epub format at

TracyK said...

Thanks, Barry, it is good to know about availability of these titles.