|In association with Amazon.com.||In association with Amazon.co.uk.|
|The Callahan Chronicals|
by Brenda W. Clough
Published by Tor Books, 1997
Recommended by: Greg Slade
I have some hesitation in recommending Spider Robinson's work to you. Not, as is often the case with reviewers, because I feel the need to warn you of his love of puns. I enjoy word play myself, and besides, the title should be warning enough. (No, Virginia, that's not a typo.) Where I do have a problem is with Robinson's other works. Normally, when I discover a writer whose work I enjoy, I rush out to find as many of their works as possible. With people like Lois McMaster Bujold, or H. Beam Piper, such a pursuit turns out to be very rewarding. While the short stories in this collection are some of the best I have ever read, I have to say that I was not happy with the three of Robinson's novels I have read.
However, as long as I can confine your attention to this particular collection, which gathers together in one volume the "Callahan's Place" stories from Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travellers Strictly Cash, and Callahan's Secret, I can assure you that, if you haven't yet discovered Spider Robinson, you have a delightful surprise in store. Most people have one of two reactions to the Callahan's stories: either they haven't read them yet, or they love them.
The stories are set in a bar. An unusual bar, to be sure, but one which provides the perfect setting for people to come in and tell their tall tales:
"It's a long story," she said wearily, "at least it has been for me. An uncommonly long story. It begins on the day of my birth, which is October 25, 1741."
"Huh?" said Doc and Long-Drink and I and loudest of all Fast Eddie. "You mean 1941," Eddie corrected.
"Who's telling this story? I mean 1741. And if you boys aren't prepared to believe that, maybe I should stop right now." ("A Voice Is Heard in Ramah...")
I think of Callahan's Place as something like the way churches should be: a place where people can go to find love, acceptance, and forgiveness. (Robinson attributes the beneficial nature of Callahan's Place to Callahan himself. Some might argue that Callahan is the secular humanists' picture of what self-actualised man can be. Others might argue that Callahan is a Christ figure. Since Jesus Christ is the only fully actualised person in history, I will grant both points.)
But, of course, I am writing this review in reverse. What you notice first about the Callahan's Place stories is that they're absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, all of the exchanges brief enough to reproduce here involve puns, which would probably discourage as many people as it would encourage. The second thing you notice about these stories is that they're deeply moving. In fact, I frequently find myself wiping away a tear as I laugh, because the comedy and the tragedy are so intertwined. That is deliberate, of course, since one of the many points Robinson has to make is that shared pain is diminished, but shared joy is increased. Greg Slade
[Home] [Creativity] [Genres] [Resources] [About Us]
[Fantasy] [Horror] [Science Fiction] [Western]
[Audio] [Books] [Film] [Stories]