Monday, February 18, 2013

Another Round at Callahan's

Way Back In The Day, I started reading Analog, which had grown out of Astounding. When I started buying issues (vs. finding them used or discarded, or the stories collected in anthologies), John W. Campbell, Jr. had passed on and the magazine was under the editorial direction of Ben Bova.

Early on in my reading there appeared on Spider Robinson and stories about a place called Callahan's.

Not all the stories were "science fiction", at least not how Campbell would have defined them. But they were excellent stories filled with real characters. The few stories became several, then a book, two books, three books, novels instead of stories and so on. The bar exploded, threw off branches in a whore house and eventually moved south to Florida.

I'd read a new installment when it came out, glad to visit with old friends. I'd wish that some of the things in the tales were true, such as the magic coffee maker. And, now and again, I'd wish that the place was true, a place where you could unload your troubles.

Now and again I visit the series again. It usually happens when times are troubled: the two most recent visits were after the deep funk (PTSD) that I feel into after 9/11 and after all the pain and suffering that both my father and father-in-law went through before they both died. Stories as therapy? Who knew!

All I know is that in this seemingly increasingly fractionalized and polarized world of ours, where we align ourselves with smaller and smaller groups and become seemingly more intolerant of any countering viewpoint...we need a place like Callahan's more now than ever.

This most recent read-through was started after hearing a long (very long) seminar that Spider Robinson held (live) "at" StarShipSofa. I don't know if Tony Smith will eventually make that audio available for download in general, but I hope he does and I hope when he does, that you listen to it. It will do you wonders.

This most recent read-through also marks the transition from the series being read mostly on paper to being read on paper, electronic and audio. I believe that at this point the entire series can be found in at least two formats, if not all three.

Spider Robinson; The Callahan Chronicals (Tor Books; October 1997; ISBN 0-812-53937-0; cover by James Warhola). Made up of BackwordCallahan's Crosstime Saloon (Introduction by Ben BovaForewordThe Guy With the EyesThe Time-TravellerThe Centipede's DilemmaTwo Heads Are Better Than OneThe Law of Conversatin of PainJust Dessert"A Voice Is Heard In Ramah..."Unnatural CausesThe Wonderful Conspiracy); Time Travelers Strictly Cash (abbreviated omnibus edition) (Fivesight; Dog Day Evening; Have You Heard the One...?; Mirror/rorriM, Off the Wall) (all read below); Callahan's Secret (The Blacksmith's Tale; Pyotr's Story; Author's Note; Involuntary Man's Laughter; The Mick of Time); Post Toast; Author's Final Note; Callahan's Bibliography; Appendix: Callahan's in Cyberspace.

Counts as twelve (12) entries in the 2013 Year in Shorts.

Electronic editions resemble the individual volumes above, except for Time Travelers Strictly Cash, which, for the electronic version is restored to its original paperback form (where a mixture of Callahan's and non-Callahan's stories were presented): ForewordsFivesightConcerning FivesightSoul SearchConcerning Soul SearchConcerning Spider Versus the Hax of Sol IIISpider Versus the Hax of Sol IIIAlso Concerning Spider Versus the Hax of Sol IIIDog Day EveningConcerning Dog Day EveningGod Is An IronConcerning God Is An IronConcerning Rah Rah R.A.H.Rah Rah R.A.H.!Have You Heard the One?Concerning Have You Heard the One?Local ChampConcerning Local ChampConcerning The Web of SanityThe Web of SanityMirror/rorriM, Off the WallConcerning Mirror/rorriM, Off the WallSerpent's TeethConcerning Serpent's Teeth.

A mixed bag. Spider owed Jim Baen a Callahan's collection but did not have enough entries to make one (the first collection brought Spider a great many, as he might say, cheese sandwiches). So he filled it with a number of other bits and pieces. God Is An Iron, for example, is part of a novel (Telempath). Serpent's Teeth feels like a cross between Robert A. Heinlein and John Varley (Spider has a connection with both, so maybe not so odd a thought). There's one review column sample and a essay on Robert A. Heinlein and several Callahan's tales. You can go with the version of this book that appears in The Callahan Chronicals or this extended (original) version for a wider view of Spider's work.

Counts as twenty-four (24) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

Counts as three entries in 2013: The Year in Books.

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