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Books

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Selected Titles and Comments

Spider's novels are available through major booksellers, or online at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.

You can buy autographed copies of Spider's books from White Dwarf Books. See below for details.

Very Hard Choices

VERY HARD CHOICES (Baen paperback, August 2009)
Smelly is a hermit by necessity. He's the world's most receptive telepath--and it hurts. His old college roommate Russell, a Sixties survivor entering his sixties, is one of the few people Smelly can stand to be near. But now sinister government forces are after them both for unknown dark purposes, and Smelly and Russell must depend on Nika, one of the straightest cops in the world, to help them and Russell's visiting son Jesse dodge deadly peril in the dark. Before long Russell finds himself literally up Howe Sound without a paddle--and with a collapsed lung....

Available at better bookstores....in fact, it's the definition.....or at www.baen.com.

 

Variable Star

VARIABLE STAR (Tor paperback, December 2007)
At his death in 1988, Robert A. Heinlein left behind a legacy of novels and short stories that almost single-handedly defined modern science fiction.

But one of Heinlein's masterpieces was never finished.

In 1955 he began work on Variable Star—a powerful and passionate tale of two young lovers driven apart by pride, power and the vastness of interstellar time and space—only to set it aside to focus on other novels.

The detailed outline and notes Heinlein created for the project lay forgotten for decades, only to be rediscovered almost half a century later. Now the Heinlein estate has authorized Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Spider Robinson to expand the outline into a full-length novel. The result is vintage Heinlein, faithful in style and spirit to the Grand Master's original vision.

Robinson has captured the late Grand Master storyteller's essential spirit while adding his own unique brand of lyrical prose and warm humor. A mandatory purchase for all SF collections.
- Library Journal

The trademark Heinlein quips, space-travel motifs, and obligatory schmaltzy romance are all here in a faithful, if technologically updated, pastiche of the late master's style and storytelling genius.
- Booklist

This book is such a skillful hommage to Heinlein that it reads as if Heinlein was still writing today.
- SFFWorld.com

Read the reviews!

 

Variable Star

THE LIFEHOUSE TRILOGY (Baen Hardcover, December 2007)
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 . . .

 

Variable Star

VARIABLE STAR (Tor Hardcover, September 2006)
Spider has delivered the final manuscript for VARIABLE STAR, based on a detailed outline and notes completed by Robert A. Heinlein in 1955 and recently rediscovered, to editor Pat LoBrutto at Tor Books for a six-figure sum via Eleanor Wood, agent for both Robinson and the Heinlein estate. Spider pronounces himself "pleased with the results."

"There simply are no words adequate to describe what it's like to be writing with the Grandmaster," he reports. "I can imagine no greater honour, responsibility, challenge or sheer joy. The first book I ever read, Robert's ROCKETSHIP GALILEO, found me when I was six -- eerily enough, the same year he outlined VARIABLE STAR. Maybe a musician asked to complete an entire album of unreleased John Lennon songs -- from his best period -- would grok how I feel. If, that is, half the proceeds were earmarked to promote one of Johnny's dearest dreams." The VARIABLE STAR project is intended to help the Heinlein Trust (www.heinleinprize.com) continue to fund the annual $500,000 Heinlein Prize for commercial manned spaceflight.

 

The Stardance Trilogy

THE STARDANCE TRILOGY (Baen Hardcover, September 2006).
Three novels complete in one volume.

Together again for the first time! In September, Baen Books will reprint THE STARDANCE TRILOGY by Spider and Jeanne Robinson in hardcover: all three novels of the Hugo- and Nebula-Award-winning saga about zero gravity dance and its unexpected effect on human evolution–STARDANCE, STARSEED and STARMIND–in a single volume for the first time. A friend of the late Virginia Heinlein recently told Spider and Jeanne it was her favourite series, and the great Algis Budrys described the first volume in the Chicago Sun-Times as a major work, not only as entertainment, but as a literary milestone.

Coincidentally, Jeanne is presently making a short film of zero gravity dance, called Stardance, which she hopes to premiere as part of the celebrations of Robert Heinlein's centennial in 2007, in collaboration with a team of most impressive talent and experience. See the Stardance Project link on the left to learn how you can participate–and get a card of thanks from both the Heinleins and the Robinsons!

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.

 

Very Bad Deaths

VERY BAD DEATHS (Baen paperback, September 2006).

"At last–some solo Spider!" In a brilliant bid to grab every last Christmas dollar out there, Baen Books has also picked the same September to release the first paperback edition of Spider's latest solo novel, VERY BAD DEATHS. A 2004 hardcover, it's the first book in a new series of SF/mysteries set in and around Vancouver, whose three unlikely heros are an old hippie, a young cop, and a reluctant telepath. (Spider has already begun work on the next volume, VERY HARD CHOICES.)

Synopsis: Aging baby-boomer Russell Walker wants only to retreat from the world and the shattering death of his wife, into the woods of British Columbia. Instead the hermit finds himself thrust into a frightening predicament, as the only possible intermediary between a telepath called Smelly, so sensitive he can't stand to be near most people, and Constable Nika, a skeptical police officer who needs to hear - and believe - what Smelly knows about a particularly monstrous sadist and serial killer.

"This book is a departure for me," Spider says, "a kind of SF/thriller. The title is meant to cue readers that it's considerably darker than the Callahan's Place stories. My intention was to make the hair stand up on the back of the reader's neck. This is my first (well, maybe second) foray into Stephen King country. Present day setting; just enough sf and mystery content to liven up the thriller genre a little; rated R for massive (but never quite graphic) violence and startling (but never quite explicit) sex.

"I envision it as merely the first in a long and hopeably popular series of sf thrillers about this Odd Couple-Plus-One - this strange and twisted crime-fighting trio who can barely stand one another: the young cop, the old hippie, and the telepath."

Read the reviews!

 

Night of Power

NIGHT OF POWER (Baen paperback, June 2005). One of Spider's most requested and most controversial novels has finally beeen restored to print after an absence of two decades. Baen Books has just released a new edition of NIGHT OF POWER. Written in 1984 (the year the Macintosh was introduced) as speculative prophecy for the then-far-distant year 1996, it depicts a horrific all-out black/white racewar in Manhattan that didn't happen....yet....seen through the eyes of an interracial family visiting from Canada.

Spider notes, "The military strategy used by Michael and his friends in this book is for real, the Commandant of the NYC Marine Corps detachment told me it would probably work...and there's no reason why it wouldn't work just as well today for real-world foreign terrorists as it did for my fictional revolutionaries. Better, actually--they didn't have cellphones, computers or the internet."

Three chapters are available for sampling on this page of the Baen website. There are some nice reader reviews at amazon.com. And as always, signed and/or personalized copies are available by mail from Vancouver's legendary White Dwarf Books.

 

The Crazy Years

THE CRAZY YEARS (Benbella paperback, November 2004).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. 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.

Despite the current claims of both amazon.com and amazon.ca, THE CRAZY YEARS was not written by Lawrence Block - or by Lawrence Block and Spider Robinson. Only its Introduction was written by Lawrence Block. All the rest of it was written by Spider Robinson, with only the assistance of the usual wretches chained up in the root cellar beneath his desk.

Click here for a sample chapter.
Read the reviews!

 

Off the Wall at Callahan's

OFF THE WALL AT CALLAHAN'S (Tor paperback, August 2004) is a collection of epigrams, maxims, proverbs, observations, eye-watering puns, and original song lyrics distilled from the first five volumes of the Callahan's Place series (from Callahan's Crosstime Saloon to Lady Slings the Booze). After the original Callahan's Place was destroyed, all of these gems were painstakingly deciphered from blown-up old photos of the wall behind the bar, where Callahan let his customers scrawl graffiti in place of the usual mirror. So technically, every word is "off the wall." Further ennobled by numerous interior B&W illustrations by Phil Foglio, there are even capsule bios at the end for every person (real or imaginary) quoted in the graffiti section.

 

Callahan's Con

CALLAHAN'S CON (Tor paperback, June 2004)--the tenth and newest book set in the Mike Callahan universe. 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.

Read a sample from CALLAHAN'S CON here.
Read the reviews!

 

Lady Slings the Booze

LADY SLINGS THE BOOZE (Baen paperback, December 2002)--the second book set in Lady Sally McGee's legendary Brooklyn whorehouse is being reprinted yet again - just as one of its principal themes is being widely and nervously discussed in the news: nuclear terrorism on US soil. Fortunately the unflappable Lady Sally and her jinxed-genius champion, private dick Joe Quigley, have the assistance of Mike Callahan, Nikola Tesla, Ralph von Wau Wau the sentient German shepherd, and the mysterious and lovely Arethusah, who's twice the woman she appears to be.

Five free sample chapters available from Baen Books.

The Free Lunch

THE FREE LUNCH (Tor paperback, July 2002)--a new novel of near-future adventure. Twelve-year-old genius Mike, fleeing a life that's become unendurable, literally takes refuge in a dreamworld: he goes underground at Dreamworld, the world's biggest and best high-tech amusement park, a place so magical he hopes to live there, in hiding, forever. Fortunately he's taken under the wing of Annie, a wise old midget who's been "under" for thirteen years now, quietly backstopping the park's maintenance crews. But as Annie's showing Mike the ropes, Very Strange Things begin happening in Dreamworld. For one thing, more employees are now leaving at night than entered during the day...and some of them are armed, and quietly stalking each other! Only Annie and Mike are in a position to investigate...and slowly grasp the incredible truth, about a scheme that--unless they prevent it--will change everything, forever. If it turns out there IS such a thing as a Free Lunch...do we dare eat it? A midget recluse and a runaway preteen genius must decide the ultimate fate of a world they've both rejected...

Read the reviews!

 

God Is An Iron

GOD IS AN IRON, AND OTHER STORIES (Five Star Publishing, May 2002) is the perfect birthday gift: a quality hardcover collection of Spider's own personal favorites from his short work over the past thirty years. The Table of Contents includes "Stardance" and "Melancholy Elephants" (both Hugo Award winners), plus "God Is An Iron," "Soul Search," "Local Champ," "Orphans of Eden," "Not Fade Away," "In the Olden Days," "Rubber Soul," and "The Magnificent Conspiracy." Spider was sure the cover artist had carefully read the title story (most unusual) until he learned that actually Judith Gallant had manipulated a stock clipart photo in Photoshop, ending up with one of his best covers yet!

It can be obtained from the Gale Group (click in the Membership button at the top right to order books), or call the 800 number (800-223-1244). ISBN is 0-7862-4162-4. Price is $24.95.

 

Callahan's Secret

CALLAHAN'S SECRET (Tor paperback, April 2002) is the third volume in the Callahan's Place series, and the last to actually be set in Callahan's Place--for reasons which will be obvious by the end of the book. (Spider once intended it to be the last Callahan book ever...but you readers had other ideas.) It introduces Mike and Lady Sally's extraordinary daughter Mary, and recounts the first time that Jake and his friends were required to save the world. Like all Tor Callahan titles, it features a splendid cover by James Warhola; that's Spider there in the Panama hat.

Callahan's Lady

CALLAHAN'S LADY (Baen paperback, September 2001)--Welcome to Lady Sally's, the House that is a home--the internationally (hell, interplanetarily) notorious bordello in darkest Brooklyn. Lady Sally McGee, employer of some of the most unusual and talented performing artists ever to work in the field of hedonic interface, designed her House to be an 'equal opportunity enjoyer,' discreetly, tastefully and joyfully catering to all erotic tastes, however unusual. Like her husband, Callahan's Lady 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...

Free sample chapters available from Baen Books.

 

Time Travelers Strictly Cash

TIME TRAVELERS STRICTLY CASH (Tor paperback, August 2001)--the second of three books in the original Callahan's Place series....sort of. That is, it was supposed to be...but then when the deadline came round, it happened that there were only half a book's worth of new Callahan's stories written. "So I filled out the book with non-Callahan short stories--some of my best work, as it happens--and a few odds and ends," recalls Spider. As hardcore fans know, 1981 Ace first editions of this book can be identified by the typo on the title page, which puts two I's in TIIME. With eerie synchronicity, this latest Tor edition also has a redundant "I"--this time at the very end of the book, where there are two "About the Author"s...facing each other.

 

Telempath

TELEMPATH (Baen paperback, June 26, 2001)--Spider's 1976 first novel, in its umpteenth reincarnation. Isham Stone is the second-best assassin left in a shattered world. He's many miles from home, half-dead, his left arm is gangrenous, and he possesses--like everyone else--a sense of smell 1000 times better than a wolf's. Ahead of him, in the stinking ruins of New York, hides Carlson, the greatest killer of all time. All Isham has to do is stay alive long enough to find Carlson and kill him. But Carlson is guarded by ghosts. They rode the winds when Earth was bubbling rock, shared the world with men for a million years, and though we sensed their presence we never truly believed in them--for in our arrogance we assumed life was an exclusive property of solids and liquids... Now they've declared war on us, and our species is nearly annihilated...thanks to the man Isham has come to kill. The first third of this book, as "By Any Other Name," won the Hugo Award for Best Novella, the first of Spider's 3 Hugos.

Free sample chapters available from Baen Books.

 

Callahan's Key

CALLAHAN'S KEY (Bantam paperback, May 2001)--the ninth book in the Callahan's Place/Mary's Place/Lady Sally's House continuum. This time Jake and Zoey Stonebender and their barfly friends, having saved the world twice already, all leave Long Island together and relocate permanently in Key West, Florida, where they attempt to help Nikola Tesla save, not the world--but the entire universe. Fortunately they have the help of Jake and Zoey's infant daughter Erin...and Robert A. Heinlein's cat...and a whole lot of Irish whiskey. Bantam's hardcover edition of this book was a Locus #1 Bestseller in 2000.

See alternative cover sketches
Read the reviews!

 

Starmind

STARMIND (Baen paperback, May 2001) --a neglected classic, the third and final volume in Spider and Jeanne's Hugo- and Nebula-winning Stardance Saga. In 2064 Rand Porter has been offered the job of a lifetime: Shaper of visual effects for the world's best zero gee dance troupe, in High Orbit. But those who go to space for long must remain forever, as their bodies adapt irrevocably to the absence of gravity...and Rand's beloved wife Rhea Paixao has her roots sunk deep into Cape Cod. Meanwhile, bizarre things, small miracles, are beginning to occur everywhere throughout the Solar System. All too soon the human race, and its evolutionary successors the Stardancers, find themselves approaching the terrifying cusp of their shared destiny: an appointment made for them a million years ago. Mankind has met its greatest challenge: a make or break point beyond which nothing anywhere can every be the same again. Spider says "After 30 books this one is my own personal favorite. Jeanne's too. We're terribly proud of it, and very glad Jim Baen is finally restoring it to print."

Free sample chapters available from Baen Books.
Read the reviews!

 

By Any Other Name

BY ANY OTHER NAME (Baen paperback, Feb. 2001) All of Spider's short work that isn't already collected in USER FRIENDLY (also a Baen paperback, coming back into print soon), plus a little nonfiction for good measure, from "Future Tense," Spider's regular column in Canada's national newspaper, THE GLOBE AND MAIL. The book opens and closes with two Hugo-winning stories: the title story, later expanded into the novel TELEMPATH [see above], and "Melancholy Elephants."

Free sample chapters available from Baen Books.
Read the review!

 

Life House

LIFEHOUSE (Baen paperback, March 1997)
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).

Wally and Moira, major science fiction fans, find themselves in a dream situation - helping a traveler from the future avoid creating a paradox. Unfortunately for them, they discover that he is not a time traveler at all - after they have given them most of their money and money from the funds of the sci-fi convention they run.

Of course, just because Paul (their con-man) isn't a time traveler doesn't mean that there aren't any time travelers among them...

 

Callahan's Legacy

CALLAHAN'S LEGACY (Tor paperback, Sept. 1997)
It's more than twenty years since Spider Robinson revealed the existence of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. The original bar is gone. Mike Callahan is gone, too, but his spirit lives on in the new bar, named Mary's Place for his daughter. On this particular day, nothing seems to be going right for Jake Stonebender, proprietor of Mary's Place. First a huge storm rips the roof off the barand moments later, drops another, better roof on it. Then, Mary Callahan and her husband show up, unconscious, literally out of nowhere, and they bring bad news to the barfolk: a nasty three-eyed, three-toed, three-everythinged purple monster is going to descend upon them within mere hours. Through laughter and tears, with puns powerful enough to melt Formica, the most famous bar in all spacetime is going to rock this night. But will the Earth survive?

 

The Callahan Touch

THE CALLAHAN TOUCH (Ace paperback, Jan. 1995)
When a creature that resembles a drunken leprechaun drops in unexpectedly at Mary's Place, bartender Jake Stonebender gets his first inkling that his establishment might just live up to his expectations as a special bar where unusual things happen.

Like Robinson's other Callahan stories, this tale unfolds at a leisurely pace that contrasts delightfully with the strangeness of the events chronicled. A good choice for sf collections and for series fans.

 

Callahan Chronicles

THE CALLAHAN CHRONICALS (TOR trade paperback)--an omnibus of the first 3 books in the Callahan's Place series (all the ones that involve Callahan's Place itself): CALLAHAN'S CROSSTIME SALOON (1977); TIME TRAVELERS STRICTLY CASH (1981); and CALLAHAN'S SECRET (1986). Tor will also reissue each title individually in paperback format; the first and second are already available. (The second, TTSC, will be a complete reprint: that is, it will include all the NON-Callahan stories, which were naturally ommitted from this CALLAHAN'S CHRONICALS omnibus version.) The first story in this omnibus, "The Guy With The Eyes," was Spider's very first professional sale, to Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction magazine in 1972.

 

User Friendly

USER FRIENDLY (Baen paperback)-- 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. . .

Deathkiller

DEATHKILLER (Baen paperback)--2 complete (related) novels in one volume: MINDKILLER (1982) and TIME PRESSURE (1987). The first involves wireheading--ecstasy as a means of mind control--and its effects on an amnesiac burglar and a suicidal hooker. The second book, distantly but distinctly related to its predecessor, features two hippie science fiction readers who encounter a genuine time traveler in the woods of Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, and give her shelter. But has she really come in peace? (A third novel in the series, LIFEHOUSE (1997), is also presently available separately in Baen paperback.)

Read the review!

 

The Star Dancers

THE STAR DANCERS (Baen paperback)--2 complete (related) novels in one volume: STARDANCE (1979) and STARSEED (1991), both written in collaboration with Jeanne Robinson; a portion of the first book won the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1977. Both books involve zero gravity dance, and the arts in space generally, and the surprising role they play in helping mankind safely evolve to the next stage: homo caelestis. (Jeanne is a former dancer/choreographer, and was founder/artistic director of Halifax's legendary Nova Dance Theatre.) The third and final volume in this series, STARMIND (1995), was reprinted by Baen in May. After more than 25 years and umpty zillion words, these are the three books Spider is most proud of.

...I just finished re-rereading Stardancers ....you write beautifully ......you move me .....your imagination is boundless ....literally ..... David Crosby

 

 


Buying Spider's Books

Amazon.comYup, Spider is a Amazon.com associate. If you click on any of the covers above you will zip to Amazon and see what they think of the book, and what they will sell it to you for.

Even though Spider will actually make more $$ from having you click the silly little button than he does as the author of the book—welcome to the world of science fiction publication—this is actually the 2nd best way to buy one of Spider's books.

White DwarfRather than buying from an online Book-Megastore-R-Us, you should go to your local Mom & Pop corner bookstore. If you don't have one, or if you would like to get autographed copies of Spider's books (at no additional charge), you can buy from White Dwarf Books in Vancouver B.C. Canada.

Spider and Jeanne lived near White Dwarf for many years and continue to buy books there all the time. The proprietors, Jill and Walter (with their dog Roland) work in the store 7 days a week and make trips to the US at least once a week to ship books. Because of the weird difference in pricing of books in Canada versus other countries it is often significantly cheaper to order books from Canada and pay a couple of $$ shipping than it is to buy wherever you are. Spider doesn't make anything from you buying this way, and actually has to go to the store to autograph your book, but it is his #1 choice for you getting a copy of his books.

White Dwarf Books
3715 West Tenth Ave.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6R 2G5 Canada
Phone: 604-228-8223

l to r: Spider, Roland, Walter and Jill
White Dwarf