Friday, November 2, 2012

Callahan's Secret by Spider Robinson

Callahan's Secret appears to have been Robinson's attempt, like Doyle's in The Reichenbach Falls (which he mentions) to put the series to bed at last. I was saddened at the time, but when the inevitable financial pressures got to Spider's web... One a personal note, one of the stories has a bunch of Princes Bride references, and I believe that when I first read this book was when I was motivated to hunt high and low for a copy of the book. Of course, by now everyone in the galaxy has seen the movie.

There are only four stories in this collection, though they are lengthier than the stories in earlier collections. The first, The Blacksmith's Tale (a nod to Chaucer?) tells how Jake meets Callahan's daughter, Mary, and falls hopelessly in love with her (a theme that reappears every so often in Robinson's novels), but she gets introduced to Mickey Finn, and it's love at first sight for her, leaving Jake in the cold, so to speak. We finally get the rest of the story on Finn, which leads us to the climactic story at the end of this book. There's a throwaway line in this one about Mary's mother being Lady Sally, madame of the finest whorehouse in the area, which leads to later Robinson stories about Lady Sally's.

Pyotr's Story is actually almost an urban fantasy bit, long before the genre became so overwhelming. Where would a vampire who became an alcoholic long ago hang out? At Callahan's Saloon, of course, and his ability to filter out alcohol from the patrons' bloodstreams has helped alleviate many a hangover.

Involuntary Man's Laughter comes up with a novel solution (in an era when PCs, laptops and smart phones were either nonexistent or very very rare) to befriending a person who suffers from severely socially debilitating diseases, and including him in Callahan's magic.

The Mick of Time is the story of what happens when the alien race whom Finn once served finally shows up to find out what became of their missing spy/slave. What do you do when an irresistible force encounters and immovable object like Mike Callahan. The solution in part lies in all of the patrons of Callahan's achieving a telepathic gestalt (another them that turns up often in Robinson's works). Robinson introduces a suitcase nuke - it seems like this is long before I'd heard of them in other types of literature or media - to save the day, and incidentally destroy the bar.

Oh, no need to shed any tears, you know it's getting resurrected.

1 comment:

Bob Milne said...

For some reason I've never gotten into any of Spider's stuff, despite my best intentions. Maybe I can do a mini marathon over the winter and dig into the series a bit.