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Lou Rose gives a nice introduction to CALLAHAN'S CROSSTIME SALOON.

Review of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon"
ISBN 0-441-09043-5

I first read the collection of stories that is "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" in 1994, many years after Spider Robinson wrote them, and was drawn to the magic of Callahan's Place immediately.

"Callahan's Crosstime Saloon," and the books that follow it in the series are much more than science fiction although time travel, alien visitors and telepathy are commonplace in Callahan's Place. Much more importantly, it, and they, expound a philosophy of giving.. sharing.. and loving.

The notion that "Shared Pain is Lessened, Shared Joy is Increased" works not only in Spider Robinson's mind, but in both cyber and non-cyber life, as well. We've all seen examples of it, and know someone who tends to live it.

The first of the stories in "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" is "The Guy With The Eyes." You'll find a good introduction to what, exactly, Callahan's Place is all about - and to about a dozen characters that you'll meet often in subsequent stories. Jake Stonebender, a regular patron of the place narrates nearly all of the Callahan's stories.

Jake explains some of the magic of the place as he tells us about the tradition of toasting in Callahan's; and of Tommy Janssen, a recovered heroin addict, and Mickey Finn - an alien with a distressing mission. - and how the patrons of Callahan's Place help him.

In the next story, we learn about the tradition of Punday Night on Tuesday, and of "The Time Traveler," Tom Hauptman, who narrates the tale of how he came to spend 10 years in a Central American prison. We understand that when a person is isolated as Tom was, he faces a few dilemmas when freed - it's as if he became a time traveler, all of society having slowly evolved while he was sitting in a prison cell.

"The Centipede's Dilemma" is a story about Dink Fogerty, a telekinetic who can make a dart board "want" darts but who wasn't quite sure how he did it.

In "Two Heads Are Better Than One" we learn of more Callahan's Place traditions. Fireside Fill-More Night and Tall Tales Night are added to our knowledge of the goings-on. Jake also tells us that "No one ignores pain in Callahan's Place" and the magic of the place is enhanced. Oh - and there's also a fine story about telepaths.

In "The Law of Conservation of Pain," a story of time travel that left me with a question or two about paradox, Spider comes close to developing Mike Callahan's famous philosophy about pain and joy. Close.

"Just Dessert" is a short tale of practical jokesters - best remembered for an Irish legend described therein - and this wonderful quote, "It was a Friday night, and the place was more crowded than Dollar Day at a cathouse."

"A Voice is Heard in Ramah" is the story of Rachael, a 232 year old woman who becomes the rare female regular at Callahan's Place. Being 232 years old has its downside and Spider explores this a bit...

"Unnatural Causes" consists of two stories, one of the rehabilitation of a Vietnam veteran, the other a rare case of someone NOT receiving help and sustenance from Mike Callahan or his patrons..

And finally, "The Wonderful Conspiracy" tells us more about Mike Callahan, the proprietor of Callahan's Place - and suggests why he runs an out of the way place in Suffolk County, New York.

The "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" series has become legendary - this, the first of the series is fun to read, holds up well over time and may well have changed many people's lives. It has mine.

Tor Books has published (September, 1997) "The Callahan Chronicals, " (ISBN 0-812-53937-0) an omnibus collection which includes the full text of "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon."

Copyright 1997 Louis J. Rose All Rights Reserved.
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