Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Time Travelers Strictly Cash by Spider Robinson

This is almost a sequel to Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Robinson's earlier collection of shorts about a marvelous and magical bar, but Spider was under the gun to produce a contracted number of words and didn't have enough Callahan's stories on hand, so he includes some of his other short fiction an essay or two, and a rave about Robert A. Heinlein. You'll get a little respite from the puns and a slightly broader view of his works. I really really need to review Stardance one of these days.

There's a story about someone who has "fivesight" an interesting twist on precognition. When the person with fivesight sees a disaster coming, they can't try to prevent it, it only makes it worse (sorta like the law of conservation of pain), but they are allowed to make some minor preparations to reduce the damage a bit. What do you do when you can see lightning about to strike in your life, and how do you stay sane when you can't stop it?

There's a wonderful little surprise ending in God is an Iron, which is the story that Robinson later turned into the novel, Mindkiller. It's possible in his future world to plug yourself directly into the wall socket and stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, and it's a lovely way to suicide, if you make the right preparations. Suicide may be painless, but it still seems to leave a mess for someone, even an innocent bystander, to clean up.

The only story that falls a little flat, for me, is Serpent's Teeth, Robinson's sole attempt at fantasy, for good reason.

The essay, Rah, Rah, R.A.H.!, was probably the first time I ever heard anyone express so eloquently what was wonderful about Heinlein, back when this book was published. I've been a big fan since I first read Glory Road, and have kept on being a fan long past the passing of the Master. Robinson does a marvelous job of defending Heinlein and his works against those who accused him of various perfidies such as fascism, militarism, and misogyny. I recently watched a documentary about Heinlein, where they blathered on about what Heinlein's stories were REALLY all about, and I gotta say that people, especially egghead intellectuals in the art and film world, have no clue what Heinlein really meant to say about ANYTHING.

Some great reading material here. Robinson is truly one of the most droll authors around.

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