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Reviews and Feedback

Assorted letters 2, as the mailbag starts to overflow.

I hope this message makes it to Jeanne & Spider:

You have both had a profound impact on my life. Spider's stories figure heavily into getting me past some very bad times.

Jeanne's enthusiasm and optimism infuses every one of those stories that got me though the hard times and helped me to savor the good times.

I felt honored to meet you both in 2007 at the Heinlein Centennial.

My wife Lorretta and I are thinking of you both, your family and close friends. We profoundly hope that Jeanne recovers from the effects of her chemotherapy quickly and that the palliative care phase of her illness is painless and that she continues to enjoy life for as long as is possible. In support of that goal, we made a small contribution to the fund. We hope it helps.

Jeanne and Spider are a nexus point for joy. Spider is the megaphone, but Jeanne is the power source. She enriches us all.

--Tim Morgan

Since first stumbling into Callahan's,
decades ago, in a state of being which would
compare to a blind funk much as Zandor Zudenigo
compares to James Randi, i have frequently been
moved to tears by your characters, by their
compassion (yeah, even Constable Nika Mandiç, but
please don't tell her i said so!), and by their
obvious love for, and trust in, one another.
Most of all, however, by their ability
to HOPE even in the face of all evidence of its utter and absolute futility.
i just finished "Very Bad Deaths'.
OK, actually, i finished it several
hours ago, but it's taken me this long to calm
down from the effects. Had i not just seen (on
your website, to which i rushed as soon as my
vision cleared enough to see my keyboard) that
you have, in fact, written a sequel (which i must
now read at once, even at the cost of my
long-faded hopes of finding my own Susan Krause.)
i doubt if, even now, i would be in any condition to write this.
i have now (in the best tradition of
Jubal Harshaw) been 'moved to pity and terror' in
a manner, and to a level, i would have deemed
flatly impossible PRIOR to reading "Deaths".
Having read just about your entire body
of work -- including the incredible "Stardance
Trilogy" (Jeanne is a GODDESS!!!) -- this indeed took some doing.

Mitaque Oyasin!
We are all Children of the same mother...

The Nation is the People...
... the State is but the Tool!
Illegitimati Non Carborundum!
(Don't let the bastards grind you down!)

Restore the Nation,
Impeach the Cabal...
Court-Martial the Commander-In-Thief!

(Live The Faith!)
E.A. 'Moon' Aldridge {;->

Dear Mr. Robinson,

I just wanted to convey my appreciation. I read Mindkiller about 10 years ago, and liked it, then promptly forgot all about this guy called Spider Robinson until last year, when I picked up a crusty old copy of Time Travelers Strictly Cash off my boyfriend's bookshelf. I've since been speeding through the series, and I adore it beyond reason. I wanted to write a letter, then, but I frequently want to write authors and then can't figure out the proper way to do so, and then I forget, and so on. Then I read Variable Star, and I had to write. It's just brilliant, and more than that, it honors Robert Heinlein in such a beautiful way that it moves me deeply.

I'm a big fan of Heinlein and have been pretty much since I figured out that science fiction wasn't just for boys. He was fantastic, and he had flaws, like anyone else. Namely, his characterization, while entertaining, leaves a lot of female readers going, "Hey, that's not how we are, man!" I have much love for him anyway - just because you miss one point doesn't mean you miss 'em all, and he nailed a whole lot of them. Conversely, the thing I love most about the Callahan books are the wonderful characters. Your characters in a Heinlein plot? Sign me up!

So you understand I was very wary when I heard about Variable Star. Collaborations of that nature usually go either really well or really poorly, and I love both of you so much that I was really afraid it was going to suck. But I imagine you've figured out by now that It did not, since I'm writing this. Instead it was some amazing marriage of everything that is good about both of you, and nothing that is bad. All strengths, no weaknesses, and the strengths wove together to make a tapestry that I will never forget. Heinlein lived again. Your mind and his mind connected past death, past time, and made something new that, in reading it, made me different. For this bit of magic, I am so thankful. You did him up proud, and yourself too. I wish there were proper words (or that I could think of them) for that feeling you get after you read a book that good. I'm just going to have to hope you know what I mean, and I'm guessing that you probably do.

Your books mean a great deal to me. Thank you.

Best regards,
Jenna Medaris

Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Subject: Meeting

You see the light and you bring the light.

As you’ve said, we were born into the best possible era in the world - and our generation tried to make it
better. We were told that heros walked the earth and that we could become heros ourselves if we went to the light instead of the dark. That we could overcome anything with enough grit and courage. And we could and did because we believed we could.

The problem today is that there are too many dream crushers and not enough dream makers. Mickey Finn's life changed because he had the luck to stop and spend a bit of time in a bar filled with people who had faced the dark and found that a little friendship, fun and laughter could drive the dark away.

Your stories plant seeds - and good things bloom.

Happy Holidays!

Don Davis

Date: Thu, 11 May 2006
Subject: Skylights in reality

It's been my experience that "reality"--at least, what your standard issue person considers reality, the day to day surface of things and the ideas we've all more or less agreed are true be they verifiably so or not--is a lot like latex paint: Pretty and sleek until a leak develops in the ceiling you've painted with it. At which point, it'll bubble as water fills it, and bulge... but something has to touch it before it'll burst. One touch, and poof, you're drenched and the ceiling's never the same...

At my fiancee's behest, I read Callahan's Lady and Callahan's Crosstime Saloon yesterday. Literally. I sat down over lunch to snag one of the stories out of one of them and just...didn't come out.

Now here I sit alternating between wishing someplace like Mike's or Sally's physically existed somewhere and wondering whether I have the wherewithall to try and bring a cousin of those places to life... Except, if you look at it that way, every person on the street is one of those places, if they'll let themselves be...So...

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson, for reminding me what and where Heaven actually is. If you're ever in Huntsville, AL, my fiancee and I would like nothing more than to take you to dinner.



I copied this bit from a news article I was reading, wherein Burt Rutan was speaking about N.A.S.A.'s plan to reinvent space flight using a variant of the Apollo capsules. I just wanted to say...Hang on a little while longer, buddy, and you can most likely hitch yourself the ride of a lifetime. Coming soon, to a spaceport near YOU! Read on:

"Rutan is currently building a commercial version of SpaceShipOne, which made history in 2004 when it became the first privately financed manned rocket to reach space.

Virgin Galactic, a British space tourism company, plans to take tourists on suborbital spaceflights using Rutan-designed rocketplanes launched from a proposed spaceport in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn said Thursday the company is looking at possible future spaceports in the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Scotland or Sweden.

Virgin Galactic representatives recently visited Kiruna in northern Sweden to explore the possibility of launching suborbital flights that will allow passengers to see the Northern Lights, Whitehorn said.

Last summer, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Rutan, president of Mojave-based Scaled Composites LLC, agreed to form The Spaceship Company to build and market spaceships and launcher planes, licensing technology from a company owned by billionaire Paul G. Allen, who financed SpaceShipOne."

A super-genius airplane nut who got his start building competition-level free flight model airplanes (and employed some of the building and flying techniques from model airplanes to get a vehicle into Fa-Chrissakes space and back - I LOVE this planet!), and a gazillionaire who always wanted to see the world...All at once. Could there be a more beautiful combination? Well, besides that one, I mean. If they get that first spaceport open in New Mexico, you meet me there and I'll buy you a drink on the strength of it.

Where the horizon cuts the air,
Look for me out there...

David "Radar Rider" Rasey

Date: Mon, 01 May 2006
Subject: Callahan's alive and well in New Orleans

I thought Spider might like this article about the healing power of neighborhood taverns throughout the city of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

Neighborhood taverns have become anchors for New Orleanians still reeling from Katrina
Sunday, April 30, 2006
By Trymaine Lee
Staff writer

Mike Dauphine sat in the back of a little bar in Gentilly, listening to the old-timers chatter and the jukebox sing away their flood-soaked sorrows.

The men who had gathered there, in Bullet's Sports Bar on A.P. Tureaud Avenue, laughed and joked, argued over the upcoming election and mocked the "fools" aspiring to run the city.

Nothing new about that. Neighborhood bars in New Orleans have always been a second home, a place where sorrows are drowned and joys and grousing shared. But in a city that was itself drowned in floodwaters, and where home may be a travel trailer or a borrowed couch, bars have taken on a special importance. And if, like Bullet's, it's a bar that stayed open right through the catastrophic first weeks after Katrina, the bonds among regulars and their barkeep give these watering holes an even more vital place in community life.

For many, the bar and those who flock there are "all we have," said Dauphine, a barrel-chested man of 63.

"It's important to us, meeting here. It's not about the drinking. We're all just trying to get a handle on ourselves. All this devastation. None of us are the same." Like so many other barrooms in this fractured city -- the Duck Off, the Kajun Pub, Johnny White's and the Kingpin, to name a few -- Bullet's also serves as a psychiatrist's office, a home builders' workshop and a marriage-counseling office. In the dimly lit belly of its history-laden saloon, Bullet's has held wakes for neighbors and those who loved them.

Bleak landscape

"I can take you two blocks in any direction and show you the home of someone who died," said Rollin "Big Bullet" Garcia. Garcia has operated several local barrooms in New Orleans over the decades, and now his son, Rollin "Little Bullet" Garcia Jr., owns Bullet's.

"We've been through a lot," Garcia Sr. said. "I've seen men cry. I cried. During those days after the storm, when people were trapped on their roofs and when nobody came with food or water, people got to the point where they thought they were the forgotten children. They wondered why they were being punished.

"But here, they're family. We're family," he said.

Garcia Sr. remained at the bar through the storm, with a shotgun in one hand and a .44-caliber pistol in the other, patrolling his neighborhood, warding off potential looters, getting a quick fix on strangers.

He rounded up nearly a dozen of the bar's elderly neighbors, providing refuge for them in an apartment above the bar.

But more now than ever, neighborhood bars like Bullet's are places for people with injured souls to dull the realities of life in New Orleans and plot the city's comeback. "It helps us cope," said Oscar Fernandez, 56, sitting at a table crammed with Bullet's regulars. "With the way things are right now, this helps. Gives me peace of mind to deal with the rest of this situation."

Little Bullet put it this way: "Everybody is a shoulder to lean on, and once we get enough shoulders together, we form a wall. And no floodwater can breach that wall."

for rest of the story see this link

Susan D'Antoni
Slidell, LA

Dear Spider,

I received your recent newsletter and in reading it I realized that you were going to be at ConCarolina, which is only 1.5 hours from my home. This caused me to decide to go to said con, which in turn caused me to call my parents and ask if there was anything they wanted signed (this prompted much enthusiasm on their end), which in turn lead to our discussing your stories and our reactions to them.

I was raised in a very sci-fi friendly home, and once I was tall enough to reach my parents' shelves I certainly read my share of Heinlein, Asimov, and Norton, but it was the reality you crafted in the Callahan series that stuck with me and helped shape my view of the world. I mentioned this to my mother, and she said, "Oh, yeah, I guess you were young enough to think that such things really were possible. We're just a couple of old cynics and just think they're wonderful stories."

Well, I'm not foolish enough to go driving down backroads hoping to find a real bar like Callahan's, or a place like Lady Sally's (I wish!), but that doesn't make the people, attitudes, and beliefs in your stories any less real. I think the world you made does exist inside the world we all live in, and it's worth pursuing. I think that it's partially because of your books that I want to be someone who can help strangers, someone who doesn't judge based on appearances ... someone who still believes in basic human kindness, even if it sometimes gets really deeply buried underneath all ther other stuff life throws at us.

So thank you, Spider, for helping to show me what a good person was, and helping inspire me to try to be one.

Best regards,
Gwen Exner

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006
Subject: Please forward this he needs to know

It may be stupid to mourn an uncle that died before our births
It may be stupid to mourn the cousin who died in youth
It may be stupid to mourn Doc Webster
It may be stupid to mourn John Lennon
It may be stupid to mourn those we never truly knew
It may be stupid to mourn those we never could meet
It may be stupid but I mourn anyway
It may be stupid but I love them everyday
They shared my pain they shared my joy
They gave me the courage when I was a boy

To all those who have loved people they never knew for reasons they never fathomed and found themselves crying upon deaths that someone would say meant nothing. I say to you to all of you no matter who no matter when no matter what if at any time you loved the song, the sight, the story, they were real. Doc Webster brought me to Callahans place though he knew it not. He brought me to a place when I was feeling nothing but pain. I was losing my mind and had lost my father but the Doc showed me how a shot of whiskey could make everything all right. Jake Stonebender showed me how the machine could make anyone's prescription. Spider Robinson is responsible for this and if I ever had the money I would recreate every version of The Place and put it next to a recreation of everything Heinlein did. When I was younger Heinlein taught me to reach for the stars and my dreams. Now that I am older Robinson taught me to love even those who can't love myself. And to never ask snoopy questions unless I want Eddie to eighty six me. I know these characters exist in a dream of what could be. But isn't that what life is dreams that could be. It seems to me the best dreams in the world are those created by people in love with their fellow humans. To you Spider I thank you. To you Heinlein I thank you. To all that wrote of the promise of tomorrow with the hopes of today I thank you. I will someday maybe write something worthy of that either fiction or nonfiction I know not. But for now I will share my love with those who would share their pain. Thank you and god's blessings on you.

Jack Faire

Dear Spider,

There's no place to begin except with "thank you." I was introduced to your lifework about eight years ago by a good friend (and now that I think of it, I've never thanked him for that. He gets the next email). If pure joy could be definitively measured, I would tell you just how much your writing has given me in the intervening years. Since it cannot, I'll just call it One Hell of a Lot.

Aside from the thrill of the stories themselves, you've introduced me to three of my other favorite authors: MacDonald, Westlake, and Heinlein, who I had somehow missed out on until then, my junior year of high school. You awakened in me a deep and abiding love of puns. I shed the last vestiges of some extremely silly religiously-based sexual hangups with the help of philosophies demonstrated in a certain House in Brooklyn.

Make sure Jeanne reads this letter, too, because nothing with the Robinson name on it has touched me as deeply as the Stardance saga. I find myself lending or giving a copy of Stardance to any friend who loves dance, space, or has high hopes for a better tomorrow. If the two of you collaborate on another book, it can't be a moment too soon.

Now I'm out in certain a sprawling hole of a city in southern California, biting the bullet and dealing with the nasty vibes because this is where to be if you want to start a career as a screenwriter. You've been a major influence on me, and it's showing more than ever now that I'm taking a crack at SF myself. So, again, thank you.

I know too much praise, even if well-deserved, begins to feel awkward, so I'll just call this off now. I wish you and Jeanne all the best. The world needs what you two are doing.

But one last thing, and it's the final straw that got me off my ass after all this time and moved me to write this e-mail. A little something I found in the news that reminded me of a certain Place down in Key West. They seem to be limiting themselves unnecessarily in terms of range of emotions expressed, but they've got the right idea...

Most truly,
John Thursby

Just something to pass along to Spider. I've been a fan for about 10 years now, give or take. Specifically the Callahan/Lady Sally collections, though I've yet to find a story I hated. Recently I've had some health issues (nothing major, just grinding on the mood) and some work stress. During the health issues, I read Callahan's Key (one of my favorites) because I wanted something that I knew would make me smile. Instead, it made me laugh like a loon, just like the first time I read it. Tonight, I grabbed The Callahan Touch, for about the same reason, work stress does not equal smiles much. 10 pages in I had to put the book down and catch my breath because I was laughing so hard I was getting dizzy. I've had alot of ups and downs in my life in the last 10 years, but Spider's books and stories (and music) have always helped me keep my laughter flowing. So, tell him thanks for me.

A fan,

I just wanted to share a quick story about reading "Night of Power" back in the mid-eighties. Before wives, kids, mortgages and enough spending cash for book (okay there never is enough spending cash for books) a good Sci-fi buddy and I were in the habit of buying a paperback and after reading it lending it to the other to read. I had just lent him "Night of Power" when we went to see a movie. Being the mid-eighties there were video games in the lobby of the theater and while waiting in line I noticed something that suprised me. So I pulled my buddy aside and pointed out to him a large black man playing a video game while wearing tinted glasses. I told him to remember this and be worried.

Later after reading the book he told me that I had succeeded in really messing with his mind. :^) It was total happenstance that it occurred but totally cool!
- Leo Demers

Thanks for sharing that one, Leo. Life is sometimes eerier than fiction. Fortunately not often.


Dear Spider,

Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. If the world had more people like you and the gang from Callahans (not to mention the various other peolpe you have created over the years) I know that that kind of thinking would help save us all just a little. Please keep up the good work. I have only one question for you. In "The Mick of Time" Jake blows up the bar (a great loss to all) as well as Lady MacBeth (another great loss). Yet in Callahans Key you say Jake has the Lady again (he makes several references to playing her throughout). Is this a slip on your part or did Jake just replace her with another? I know you are very bussy person but if you could answer this question for me it would be greatly apreacited.

Thank you for all the years of hope and laughter.

Spencer Pigeau.

I know you must love puns so her is one i hope you havent heard.

A guy is out driving in the country and sees this farmer standing in the middle of a field staring at a old dead stump. Being the Curious sort the guy stops his car and goes over to the farmer. He looks at the stump for a bit, but cant see any thing intersting about it so he finaly asks the farmer why he is staring at the stump. To which the farmer replies "I am trying to win a Nobel Prize." Even more curious now the guy asks how. To wich the farmes replies
"I herd they give them to people who are out standing in ther field"

Just finished reading you feed back page and thought I would let you know about how i got introduced to Callahans. i friend of mine i had met through the SCA Introduced me to it shortly after i found out that he has eplisy. one of the unfortunate side efects is that if he has a bad seziurehe suffers from memory loss (the most extrem of these resulater in hime reseting to the early 80"s) it was in fact after this that i found out the only good part of this. He forgets every thing he has read after the potni his memory resets to which means he gets to enjoy the callhans series over and over again for the first time. Lucky guy to get to have that experience over and over again whil most of us only get to do it once.

Keep the Hope and dreams coming.
And Rember: Hope gives birth to dreams and dreames give birth to hope.


Thanks for your words, which were warmly received here.

About Lady Macbeth, I am forced to conclude that when Mickey Finn originally went around quietly nuke-proofing all his friends, Lady Macbeth must have met his criteria for “sentient being,” and so he included her.



Hi, my name is Ramona. The other day I was sitting around, reading "For us, the living", and wishing it was still possible to meet Robert Heinlein so that I could tell him how much his work has meant to me. Then it occurred to me that there are other writers who have meant almost as much and who are still alive.

So I'm just writing this so that, even if I never get a chance to meet you, you will know that I love your work. Every time I read your books I am reminded of which things are truly important in this life, something that is unfortunately very easy to forget in this day and age. Furthermore, reading Stardance was one of the things that got me back into dance, and I'm so happy!

Thank you.
Ramona Kistler

Dear Ramona,

Thank you so much for your kind words, which were warmly received here. They're especially welcome now, when I'm nearing deadline on the novel I'm writing in collaboration with Robert, VARIABLE STAR. It IS a good idea, I find, to tell people how you feel about them BEFORE they become existence-challenged.

I'll pass on your words about Stardance to Jeanne when she gets back home from Massachusetts next week; I know she'll be pleased.

Good luck with your dance...


Hello, Im Leora. Just another Callahan's fan. And actually i just sorta tripped over the book one kid had left my husband's old copy on the floor. I am sad to say (for his sake) that i don't think it made a huge impression on him. I don't think he found the book when he needed to. I sure did. No mistaking it. I fell onto the book by accident and, into by george! Needless to say, i love the books of the series that i have read. Plan to get them all. I think you're a very talented person for being able to put into words those moments that retreat before most can wrap thier minds around them. i would say keep them coming, every good things has it's end and it's time for rememberence, i for one will remember Mike, Jake, Long Drink, and Doc all the days of my life. I have been fortunate in my time to have found a tiny peice of each of them in a few of my friends. And i thank God/The Gods for the wisdom to see it.


Post Con MusingsTo:

Just finished Callahan's Con and vote it two enthusiastic thumbs up! As always, Spider, you really speak my language, and had me misty-eyed for most of the last quarter of the tale. (As usual, and not unlike watching Hoosiers for the fiftieth time!)

Congrats on another TRIUMPH, high praise from he whose hobby is Triumph sportscars!

Invitation repeated: If you're ever in Chicago and would some good company (me and my wife), some good eats, ping-pong, Triumphs and a buzz, do feel free to make contact.

Mike Blonder

Subject: callahans con was wonderful.......

......superb, superlative...i could go on, but rather than bore you (and spider when he sees it, i hope), i just wanted to thank him for the new book, to ask if/when there will be either another installment in the series or another book by him (i believe i have managed to accumulate everything by him so far (if there is a list of everything he's published, id like to see it so i may double check) and also wanted to share a few puns ive found in the hopes that he likes at least one of them enough to include in his next book. in addition, i wanted to extend my condolences on the death of glad he went happily (after a life like his, how could it NOT be happy?)...but i was still very sad that it happened...again, thank you for allowing us (the readers) to share that with the gang though...

anyways, on with the puns :

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him ....what? (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)

A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.

okay, that was the best of what i've managed to find so far, please again convey my thanks for the new book to spider, and i eagerly await his/your reply...

by the way, is there any opportunites in the not too distant future where spider might be in the states on the east coast, so i may have the opportunity to meet him and (hopefully) ask him to autograph a copy of one of his books for my collection? failing that, is there a way perhaps of purchasing a book direct from your local bookstore that he would have been able to autograph? if so, i would greatly apprecaite it.

thanks again,
chris braverman

Dear Spider & Jeanne:

If Jake Stonebender is the Aspect of Music, then you both are the Aspect of The Written Word. I just finished reading CALLAHAN'S CON, and not since I read one of Anne McAffrey's books, I just about bawled like a baby. [edit made to preserve plot secrets]

One final thing: why you don't have more fans mystifies the living hell outta me. I also got around to reading BY ANY OTHER NAME, and the first story smacks me right between the eyes! If you two ever go Evangelistic, I don't know if I'd shoot myself or join up!

Keep up the great work, and congratulations on the quitting smoking and the up and coming wedding of your daughter. I'll probably never meet either of you, so I'll just have to settle with meeting you in heaven (I'll be the one playing poker with Saint Peter by the Pearly Gates).

God bless you two.

--Andrew Foster

For Spider & Jeanne Robinson,

As it is above, thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for writing the Stardancer series.

I had every child's dream of spaceflight, but was routed from it when I discovered my natural inclinations were not towards math and science; and then routed once more when my lack of 20/20 vision prevented me from seriously considering my hope of being a pilot. I would have to satisfy my love of space through reading, as such I became an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy. In the meantime, my love of the arts flourished. From the time I was 6 until 11 years old, I trained as a ballet dancer. At 11, my mother was told by a 'professional' that my body type was not appropriate to be a dancer, and it was not a career option for me.

A few years ago, a dear friend who I often refer to as my sister placed a copy of 'Stardance' in my hands and told me that it was a moral imperative that I read this book.

Very few books leave me with a feeling of awe that brings tears to my eyes upon reading the final words. I can count the books that have had that effect on me on one hand. All three of the Stardancer novels is included in that list. I wept for many reasons - the deaths of Kira and Ben in the second novel, the ending each time - it filled me with an indescribable combination of hope and despair. The hope I guess, came from such wondrous possibilities as to what a Starmind could be like, and the whole idea of going into space for the pursuit of art, and the idea of space and its effects on us at the spiritual level. The sadness came from that inner voice that whispered that in the world of vicarious existence, I would not have been centered enough myself to have survived the transformation into a Stardancer.

I'm sure at this point you're thinking I'm completely loony, but for years I've wanted to express how much these books have meant to me. They are top reccomendations of mine to all my friends, and I make a habit of reading the trilogy at least once per year.

In any case, thank you again from the bottom of my heart for writing such beautiful books.

Dayna Baldwin

Spider and Jeanne,

I've been reading your stuff since I first discovered CALLAHAN'S CROSSTIME SALOON, and I have read every book that has been released here in the USA. I have just one complaint about THE FREE LUNCH: It's not LONG enough! A great read that was over WAY too soon. I was puzzled by one or two of the Heinlein references. Apparently there's still some Heinlein work I haven't read, yet.

I represent a problem which isn't really a problem for you. I am the voracious reader who reads faster than you write. I know you can't write faster, because that would degrade the product, and I would not chain you to the typewriter or word processor, so will be happy reading and re-reading your work. I have a standing order with Barnes & Noble to ship immediately any new work you put out. There IS no higher praise I can give, because I put my dollars where my mouth is.

I hope I can find a reprint of CALLAHAN'S LADY, as my (original hardcover) copy disappeared in a move last year. Please, continue what you are doing at your own best pace, because you have many, many fans out here. A final thought: I finally learned how to pronounce that woman's name (on Long Island, in CALLAHAN'S KEY), thanks to the CD you put out. Thank you for that, too.

Warmest regards,
Joseph S. Glaser

Jason Naylor, here. We met at Comicon a few months back, you may recall that we spoke briefly about the Rainbow Gathering.

The other bookend of our summers is Burning Man, an event that might also amuse you. This summer was stupendous and the Burn was magnificent, not least because we finished THE FREE LUNCH on the drive up to Black Rock City (we had been carefully spoon feeding ourselves tidbits here and there, savoring and salivating, but we broke down and burned through it in one long sitting. Smiles!). We also had your CD, BELABORING THE OBVIOUS, which we purchased online, along to tickle our eardrums.

It had been my intent to write you a brief post, mentioning how happy the book and the CD made me. The book literally made me laugh and cry. In fact one of the laughs was the kind that a friend of mine once suggested should be recorded for posterity, the kind that creates a recursive laughter loop and turns the tables until it feels like the laugh is laughing you. As for the CD, I have long hypothesized that the very best music is made when the players are having fun. BELABORING THE OBVIOUS has that mercurial quality. It feels like the people involved are smiling, and this makes the tunes sticky (not 'catchy' as in a jingle) and a joy to hear. The smiles translate across space and time.

But then we came home from Burning Man to find the world upside down. Now, though my prior sentiments still ring true, I find it more urgent to thank you both for something less tangible then your latest output, but perhaps more eternal. There is found in your writings an indelible hope for, and confidence in, the human spirit. Few that I have read capture the real feeling of the dilemma of human life while retaining that hope. I want to express how grateful I am to you both for sharing this with the world. I do not overstate the case when I say that this generous gift is playing a major role in the software suite that is responsible for processing tragedy on this scale and seeing that my system doesn't crash as a result.

Thank you so much.



I wanted to share a story with you that I think you will like. My name is Kevin and I am a six foot tall Husband and Father. My wife, Adriana, is an achondroplastic dwarf, and my 4 year old daughter, Athena is also a little person. I have been an avid reader all my life and especially enjoy stories of heroic boys in Sci Fi and also William Burroughs and other beat generation writers.

My daughter keeps pulling my Naked Lunch and Wild Boys soft cover books off the shelf and telling her mom she is "reading them". So, just recently, they were out getting a Valentines card for Dad, my wife tells Athena to "Pick a book for Daddy" off the shelf in the grocery store.

Athena, (keep in mind she is only four) picks out Free Lunch. My wife reads the back cover (about a boy in a Sci Fi Story) shakes her head and ask Athena if she is sure. Athena replies; "Daddy will love this book."

About two weeks later I am on a plane and I start reading Free Lunch. It is the first and only book I have ever read that has a positive view of Little People in the form of Annie. I could not believe it. In a random (or not so) chance pick, my little Athena intuits a book out of more than 50 on the shelf that features a little person hero in a great story.

My plan is to write an inscription in the book now and give it back to her for Valentines when she is 13. That will be in the year 2012.

Words can not express the deep connection Free Lunch has drawn between a slightly weird Father and his Little Person (with big Psychic Heart) Daughter.

God Bless you, and thank you for providing Athena with a way to say "I told you dad." In so many, and well written words.

All the best,

Kevin Burton

Dear Spider,

My name is Kelly Affannato, and I've been reading your work, Callahan's and other, since 1997. I also happen to be a close friend of Blanche and Jeff N*****, from the Philadelphia, PA area (I believe you know them?). Lately, these two things have coalesced into something that I felt relevant enough to send you. Below is most of a LiveJournal entry I wrote about this union of stuff. Please read it if you have the time, and I hope you enjoy it.

Life ain't easy. All of us have different styles, different modes, different problems that we have to work out over the course of this span of meat called human existence. But you can't do it alone. Not in a healthy way.

No, not even you, friend.

There are a lot of different ways not to be alone, though. Sometimes it's sex, sometimes it's cuddling, and sometimes it's just having a place to find home. I've been in that last place for the last twenty-one hours, and I'm so grateful to have it.

Last night I got some news I had been avoiding for quite some time. It didn't shake me to my foundations - I'm beyond that - but it did hit me in the midsection for a bit, and I called some friends (who happen to be Callahanians) to figure out what to do about it.

God bless my friends. It was almost 10 at night and I live an hour away, but they still insisted I come over, and bring Galileo the Magnificat with me (pun intended for the Catholicly-able). When I arrived, these wonderful people spent time talking with me, giving me something useful to read, and holding me close to their souls.

I stayed the night, and spent the day here, reviving my soul, and delighting my tastebuds. :-) I was given comfort, space, inclusion and internet access, and realized that I really am a part of the family.

I just reread the Callahan's books, as I tend to do at the beginning of a new life cycle. Are they the world's greatest literature? No. Are they even top-shelf science fiction? No. What they are is a bunch of great life lessons, wrapped up in gentle (and not so gentle) humor. Every time I read these books I get something new. The first time, back in 1997, I learned that big women were beautiful to some folks, and could be described as so.

On a subsequent reading I really got the idea of shared pain lessening and shared joy increasing. This time it's the relationship types on which I seem to be focusing — learning that love needn't necessarily be immediate, proximate, or singular.

And so I come back to my own private Callahan's, here in my friends' home. These are people who share my ideas, or at least discuss them; who respect and love me, as I do them. And this is a place that I truly believe that anything can happen. Example: today the dog was whining, and my friend, joking, told him to "use his words" and tell her what was wrong. I chuckled, thinking that if that dog opened his mouth and said "walk me, will ya?" I wouldn't even blink. Not here.

So here's to this Place, in my heart, and in my life. Here's to watching healthy relationships, hearing the sounds of happy, intelligent children, tasting food cooked with love, smelling the scents of fall and family, and feeling the warm embrace of acceptance.


Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing.

Take care,

Dear Spider,

Reading your books has brought me hours of enjoyment, but I didn't know how deeply I'd adopted your philosophy until my friend Mark committed suicide in 2001.

For everyone except his immediate family, his death was completely unexpected. Many of us who had thought we were close to Mark were amazed to find that he'd been fighting depression for years. I had gone through my own suicidal patch in college, so I felt particularly guilty for not recognizing that Mark was in pain. I tend to use poetry as a tool to help me sort out tangled emotions, so after Mark's death I wrote this:


from Lori Smith (8/1/2001)

The pain you felt, you left behind, dispersed among your friends.
And though your death divided it, pain never really ends.

The ones who loved you each will take, the portion they can bear.
And with this burden in our hearts, we'll cry, and laugh, and share.

For pain that's shared decreases, just as joy that's shared expands.
And those who realize that truth, can cope with life's demands.

My memories of you will be, a joy 'til my last breath.
I only wish you'd shared your pain, in life, and not in death.

I shared the poem with lots of the people who knew Mark and it seemed to help bring us together. Somewhere around the first anniversary of Mark's death I was re-reading one of the Callahan books and I realized that I had been spouting Callahan's philosophy in my poem. It's a damned good philosophy, and I'm pleased to confirm that it functions equally well in real life as it does in your fiction.

So, my thanks to you and all the wonderful people who live in your head. I love every last one of you.

Happy Mardi Gras. :-)

Lori Smith
near New Orleans, Louisiana

Mr. Robinson,

I am a lifelong reader. I love it. I love the way an author can take the smallest germ of an idea and grow it into a culture. For me, the Callahan series has done just that. Grown on me like a fungus. A beneficial one, one that leaves me wanting to be covered in fuzzy little growths. Well, now that i have gotten the obligatory 'gushing fanboy' stuff out of the way, let me try to say what i really think of your work.

In one of your callahan books, you referred to the perfect party, in another, to the perfect jam session. To me, that is what the callahan series is. The perfect book, each one of them. Have you ever read a story for the first time, and a little switch in your head says "Of course. I have always known this story. I just wish i had read it before."? I think that is why certain songs, or movies, and in this case, books, become cultural icons. They are the perfect presentation of an idea or story. Almost a species-memory, passed down from DNA to DNA.

I read a lot, everything from novels to comics to the local Lowe's department store handout. Each and every thing i read contributes to the person that i am. Your books, however, seem to contribute more to my makeup than possibly any other writer, with the exception of Louis L'Amour. Bet you never thought to find yourself thought of along the same lines as him. What can i say, two uniquely american voices, one of the "red-blooded american type", and one of the definately "off the wall" type.

Between your godawful puns (which truly make my day, my family has never left the room with mine, but i have gotten looks of extreme disgust, i treasure those moments) and your unique ability to tell stories that cut to the heart of the matter, you make my fiance's life miserable. (She has already promised Callahan's Con for my birthday, coincidently in the same month, there is a God). But you always make my day. (Sorry, i apologize for that, i am sure you have heard it a thousand times, but...well, with me, it's a sickness, .)

Well, from someone that lives fourteen miles off I-95 and hopes to honeymoon in the keys this summer, thats all i wrote. Best wishes, be well, enjoy the ride of life, and for God's- and My- sake, hurry up with more.

Thank you

Rick Bennett
Lake City, SC