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Reviews and Feedback

Spider's Diary entry, Tell Them While You Still Can, prompted a small flood of reader mail from people who wanted to pass their own thanks on to the man himself. Here are a few samples.


Your latest diary entry, about "telling them while they're still alive" really struck a chord in me. It made me want to get off my duff and thank you for all the joy and entertainment you and Jeanne have brought me over the years. As far as I'm concerned, you both deserve a science fiction grandmaster award.

I consider your books and short stories to be in the same category of influence as the "Notebooks of Lazerus Long" by R.A.H.; that is, your fictional body of work is a disembodied but nevertheless real mentor to me.

I would suggest that your website coud use a fan comments section, perhaps on a link from your diary, which you or Jeanne could peruse whenever you're feeling low. I am also the fan who a couple years ago forwarded you the image of the microscopic guitar built up by some Japanese genius by manipulating the individual atoms. Now you have one of the smallest guitars known to man.*grin*

Gimme time, and I'll meet you at a Con and buy you several Irish Coffees... and regale you with "guy walks into a bar" jokes. For instance, two Carolina NFL cheerleaders walk into a bar. You'd think the brunnette one would have seen it.

John D. Holsinger

Dear Spider

After reading your last entry in your online journal, I was resolved to make my own list of people who have changed my life that I simply must express my gratitude towards. You were the first in my mind. Why? Well...

I have always been a man jaded by, and tired of, life. It not only bores me, but grinds itself on the surface of my "self" like coarse sandpaper. But even those such as myself need amusement of some kind, and the kind I prefer is point-and-click adventure video games. Visiting one day, I stumbled across the Callahan's game, and reading a quick review of it, downloaded it and began to play.

Almost immediately I not only fell in love with the characters, but also the Place and it's many traditions, but most of all, what drove the point home, was the simplicity of the message. "Shared pain is lessened, shared joy increased; thus we refute entropy". So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I found out that the same man who came up with the groundwork for the game also wrote books.

I've read every Callahan's book there is to date. I no longer detest people. Your books have reaffirmed life for me. Throughout all of my personal struggles, I have read and re-read the books, and nothing truly makes me feel like someone cares and understands more than your writing. Even "The Free Lunch" (a book I picked up when I was done with the Callahan's series) drove home a similar message.

I also recently found out that you sign books, and if not by the end of the day then by the end of the week, you can expect me to order several. So in conclusion:

Thank you, Spider. Thank you for not only reaffirming life, and exploring and confirming true beauty within humankind, but also for inspiring me to write. Been a writer for years, but your work has inspired me beyond a point that a lone writer can achieve. Thank you for bringing to life these characters that when read about feel real. Thank you for inspiring me to get a bartending lisence and giving me a goal in life (I have decided to one day own a bar, and name it, appropriately enough, The Crosstime). Thank you for being you and thank you for caring.

You have touched the lives of many, myself amongst them.

Respectfully yours,
-Slava "Loki" Morozov

Should have followed your advice, re: contacting your (my) heroes while you still can, especially now that it's easier than ever (mostly). Thought about it a little, and got "too" busy.

And now, Robert Sheckley is dead.


So, now it's too late for me to try to tell him how much I enjoyed meeting him, and getting to know him a little, while I was working at Powell's Books and he lived in the area, which meant he would drop in every now and then to check on how we were stocking his books, and to sign them so they'd sell a little quicker. A sweet man, and a helluva writer. I miss him even more than I thought.

So, I'm not going to let another day go by without making an effort to get a message through to the man who wrote a bunch of stories that gave me enormous hope and help in some very dark days (thoughts of guns and slit wrists were frequent), especially in light of his own efforts to contact his heroes.

So... Spider, if you've gotten this, know that you've made a difference, and that the world is still the brighter for your presence in it. I'm eagerly, almost greedily, looking forward to your collaboration with R.A.H., and waiting somewhat more philosophically for more news of the Stonebenders and their family of friends.

Thank you for helping me get through the Crazy Years. I hope I can return the favor, in some small way; if not, I'm doing my best to pass it on.

With love, laughter and learning;

Tad Dunten
Hines, Oregon, USA

I just read your latest diary entry on your website, and decided to follow your advice. Given that books have had a lot more influence on my life than the works of the musicians/composers I've listened to I thought I'd start with authors, and since you shared your idea with your fans you seemed a good first choice :)

Okay, I wrote that paragraph on thursday night and then my mind went totally blank. So far I've opened this email to finish it every evening since and got no further, It's Sunday afternoon now and I'm going to finish it if it kills me.

Thank you for Jake and the rest of the gang, including everyone at Lady Sallys. In the almost 15 years since I first found a copy of Callahans Cross-time Saloon I've spent a fair bit of time in all three bars and Lady Sallys. I've also been an occasional denizen of alt.callahans. You write the most real characters I've found since Mr Heinlein left us. The deaths of Priscilla and Doc Webster have brought tears to my eyes. - slight digression -. I first read Callahans Key about a week after I had heard that Mrs Heinlein had died. I was reading it in an hotel bar waiting for an after conference dinner to start and had to explain to friends why I suddenly was having trouble breathing. (Nothing worse than trying to wipe your eyes without others seeing.)

Thank you and Jeanne for the StarMind books fantastic stories all.

Thank you for all the short stories, as well as Telempath, DeathKiller and LifeHouse. Still waiting on my book shop to get in your more recent books, and I'm really looking forward to Variable Star.

Thank you for your book reviews, You've turned my on to some wonderful authors and caused me to have to buy a small bookcase for my collection of Galaxy magazines. I just wish J D McDonald was easier to get in Australia. The ones of his I've found are from 2nd hand book stores.

Thank you for telling us about the music you listen to. I've listened to music I normally wouldn't have because you mentioned an artist or a song. (Listening to Margarittaville as I type, I love iTunes, just wish I'd bought a mac years ago)

Lastly if you and Jeanne are ever in Victoria and need a bed or a guide to Central Victoria, I would be honoured ot offer my services. It would be small repayment for all the enjoyment I've had from you both over the years.

David Mccoy

Mr. Robinson,

I realize that this may never actually reach you, but I'm crossing my fingers and a couple toes that it will. I was thinking about all the times i've read your books, and how they have helped shape me, my view of life and the universe and how they click, and then I went to look at your site. There, in your latest diary entry was THAT... A wonderful entreaty to contact people you've always wanted to, before it is too late. I have been catching up on many things I've meant to do lately. College, and life in general. I had always LOVED your R.A.H., R.A.H., R.A.H. essay/speech ( I can't help but admire a righteous rant when I see it), and Robert Heinlein is one of my most beloved authors, has been since the first time I cracked the spine of Starship Troopers. I think that between the two of you, you constitute over 90% of my sci-fi library, and I'm still looking for some of Mr. Heinlein's works. So, here I am, writing to tell YOU how much I have appreciated your books. I have had belly laughs, stupid grins, AHA moments, and even tears while reading them, and I've loved every minute of it. Since I came along too late to express such to either Mr Heinlein or his wife, I will offer my thanks up to you, since your opinion of him parallels mine so closely.

I know this letter of sorts sounds disjointed and maybe a little goofy, but I wanted to send it at least. I wanted you to know how much your work and his have meant to me, and to say thank you for all of it.

Caitlin Boehm

Dear Spider and friends,

Recently you posted about how important it was to get in touch with artists who have made an impact on your life. Well, here I am humbly taking your advice and taking the time to let you know how much your books have meant to me. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon was the first real adult themed book that I ever read (albeit when I was 7) and even though I was considered far too young for it I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. I feel like the rational loving attitudes that characters take in the novel helped to counteract some of the insane middleclass midwestern american taboos that I dealt with every day. I learned from Jake and the crew how to fix people, or at least some of the techniques a mediocre soul surgen can use. I credit a huge portion of my outlook on life to not only the gang at Callahan's but to the characters in your other novels as well. One character that I feel is especially powerful is the character of Jennifer in Night of Power. She and I were of an age when I first read the book, and reading about her made me feel less alone in the world. I felt like it was okay that I was capable, and thoughtful, and sexual, and NOT STUPID because for once someone besides my parents was telling me that it was okay. It is a lonely world out there when you are 14 and you feel as if you are able to think, and everyone else tells you that you can't just because of your age and gender. Jennifer told me that it was not only okay, but desirable to be young and empowered. You gave me, and i'm sure countless others, the gift of acceptance and I can't possibly thank you enough for it.

When I went away to college this last year, I had very little room for books. I was limited to what would fit in my car, and what would fit in my dorm room (why do they make such little space for books at institutions for higher learning?), and I could only take a few books. Nestled between the complete collected works of mark twain, merriam webster's dictionary, a 2004 almanac, and stranger in a strange land there is a copy of both Callahan's and the Stardancer series. Very Bad Deaths joined them shortly, and you and your wife seem to be the only authors I can't help but duplicate.

For these, and many other reasons I decided to drop you a line to simply say that you have greatly aided me in becoming the person I am today, and that i'm very happy with her. Thank you. You and your family, or your friends, or your acquaintances are invited permanently and irrevocably into any home that I might ever have based solely on your artistic contribution to the world, and much less importantly, to me.

Sarah Elizabeth Belknap


A wisconsin deli farmer arose early one morning to milk his cow. As he was milking her he noticed a fly buzzing around the cows head, which he of course ignored, flies being somewhat common on dairy farms. The insect flew into the cows ear, and she did not twitch it away. The farmer noted this fact, but no sooner had he than he forgot it. A few seconds later, he noticed a black speck in his pail of milk. He picked it out and said "It must have gone in one ear and out the udder!"