|This is a collection of short stories some of which take place within a bar called Callahan’s plus a few others, all of which have an afterword from Spider. There are three non-fiction pieces; two of them are book reviews and one is Spider’s speech at the 1978 Minneapolis Science Fiction convention where Spider was Fan Guest of Honor. (Spider himself acknowledged he was no Fan at the time.)
The idea of the bar is that it is an oasis of calm and, occasionally, redemption in the midst of societal insanity. It’s said that only those people who need Callahan’s ever find Callahan’s. There’s this fireplace and a chalk line. Those that need to, can toe the line and destroy their glass in the fireplace thereby giving up the change for their drink. They can also tell their story. On Wednesdays, it’s a no-holds-barred punfest and there’s a funny little story that includes a pun-groupie and a mirror to another Callahan’s.
Spider enjoys putting forth his own ideas and opinions even if they go against the crowd and since this was his book, it just stands to reason he’s going to do it here. He takes shots at the folks who like to take shots at Heinlein, without going all worshipful.
“Soul Search” was a tricky shot at reincarnation. And there’s a sad one about the pain of precognition and the hurt it visits even on the ones who try to understand.
And the most affecting story that resonates in my memory, I’m sure I read it in Omni years ago, is “Serpents Teeth.” It sorta makes me shiver and flash on Clockwork Orange. I remember my own son chastising me for trying to ‘condition’ him but they really are cultureless little heathens when we pop ‘em out and it really is our job to fit them into our culture. But how do we do it fairly? ~ Catherine Book
BONUS FOR EVERYONE WHO READ THIS FAR: When I’m done reviewing the whole series, there will be a Trivia Contest and the winner will win my whole Callahan collection. Stay tuned…