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The Callahan Chronicals, or Callahan and…

The Callahan Chronicals, or Callahan and Company (1989)

by Spider Robinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Callahan's (Omnibus 1-3)

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» See also 8 mentions

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The bar is run by Mike Callahan. The regulars are welcoming and willing to listen to any visitor's problems, no matter how strange, but do not snoop if a visitor is unwilling to share. Strange and unusual events and visitors turn up with frequency in the stories. Regulars at Callahan's include a talking dog, several extraterrestrials and time travelers, an ethical vampire, a couple of Irish mythological beings, and an obscenity-spewing parrot. The stories make heavy use of puns. Irish whiskeys are the preferred beverage, with Tullamore Dew and Bushmills mentioned in nearly every collection of shorts or novel that references the saloon. The stories are seen by some[citation needed] as an homage to Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp's Tales from Gavagan's Bar and Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart.

Lady Sally McGee, the madam of a house of excellent repute (and Mike Callahan's wife), stars in Robinson's Callahan's Lady and Lady Slings the Booze. The regulars at Lady Sally's brothel (where the employees are "artists" and the patrons are "clients") insist on the same empathy and humor as those at Callahan's, and they are just as likely to have fantastic backgrounds.

(Lady Sally's last name is almost certainly a tribute to the fictional character Travis McGee, who appeared in a number of novels by John D. MacDonald, whose works are referenced throughout the Callahan novels.)

This is the source of Callahan's Law (also known as the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy): "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute entropy." Stated another way: "Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed. But one can be converted into the other."

[edit] Characters
Jake Stonebender: The narrator of the Callahan stories; he tried to commit suicide after losing his wife and daughter to a car accident, but Doc Webster saved him and sent him to Callahan's. He is a master with his guitar, whom he calls "Lady Macbeth". In the last chapter of the audio-book for "The Callahan Chronicals" it is revealed that Jake is actually the writer, Spider Robinson, in another dimension.
Mike Callahan: The owner of the bar, he is always ready with a drink and a friendly word.
Sam "Doc" Webster: M.D.; one of the oldest regulars and a master of puns. He works shifts at Smithtown General.
Fast Eddie Costigan: The bar's piano player; he jams with Jake and is equipped with a blackjack to discourage nosy questions.
Long Drink McGonnigle: One of the oldest regulars; a night watchman and also skilled at puns.
Tom Hauptman: An ex-minister and widower, who was locked away for ten years with his wife in a Latin American banana republic. Callahan offers him the job of assistant bartender after he tells his story.
Noah Gonzalez: A sergeant in the police force, he works on the bomb squad.
Michael "Mickey" Finn: He is a humanoid alien who was sent to destroy Earth. Coming to Callahan's makes him want to reconsider; and, with the bar patrons' collective efforts, he does not and instead joins them.
Tommy Janssen: A teenager who comes to Callahan's and gives up his heroin addiction.
Tom Flannery: One of the former regulars who has eight months to live at the start of the series.
"Slippery" Joe Maser: He is bigamous; both wives are aware of one another.
Marty Matthias: had a gambling issue, but got it fixed after he came to Callahan's.
Rachel: A woman, which is a rarity in itself at Callahan's. She also may be immortal, but is long-lived at the very least.
Shorty Steinitz: Had his appendix removed by Doc Webster on Callahan’s bar; world's worst driver; makes a living restoring antique vehicles.
Big Beef McCaffrey: Was kicked out of the bar in 1947 by Mike Callahan, without opening the solid oak door first. The door has been since mended, but poorly.
Mary: Mike Callahan's daughter and woman blacksmith. The love of Jake Stonebender's life and the wife of Mickey Finn.
Ralph Von Wau Wau: Mutant talking dog and regular customer. Also, skilled ventriloquist.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
1 ( )
  PhotoS | Feb 17, 2014 |
Reading this was an odd experience for me; a lot of it felt hackneyed, until I realized that that was because it had been so influential over the past forty years. The first two stories in the collection are the most important, especially the one that discusses the idea of "time traveling the hard way". The 1970s eastern mystical transcendentalism becomes obvious in the last story, but otherwise these tales are not at all dated. I'd recommend reading this in the bath with a beer if only because of the amount of influence this volume has exerted over modern speculative fiction. ( )
  themythicalcodfish | Dec 3, 2012 |
I got what I needed from Callahan’s Place

I’m pretty sure it was Ben Laifsky who took me to Callahan’s Place the first time. We were sophomores in high school, and he loaned me Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. And I continued reading Callahan’s stories and Spider Robinson for many years to come. It wasn’t the (fortunately light) science fiction elements of the stories that were the appeal. For me, it was all about the humor, bad puns and all.

Having stumbled across this omnibus collection of the earliest Callahan’s stories (comprised of the books Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan’s Secret) during an audible.com $5 sale, I couldn’t resist the impulse purchase and revisiting with these old friends. For the past few months I listened to one a night as a bedtime story before falling asleep, and I can think of worse ways to end the day.

The jokes really are pretty bad, but then they’re advertised as such. In Callahan’s, Robinson created a place where everybody not only knows your name, but your entire life story. And they’re pretty much guaranteed to love you unconditionally and fix all of your problems. What’s not to like? Did I happen to mention the aliens, time travelers, and talking dog?

That said, I can’t claim the same affection for these stories that I once had. For starters, references to Nixon and Vietnam were dated when I first read these stories in the early 80’s, but now they’re positively period pieces! It’s a little weird to realize just how much time has passed since these were written. They have not aged like a fine wine. Also, and this is sad, but the oft repeated mantra “shared pain is lessened, while shared joy increased,” might have seemed profound when I was 14, but today seems simplistic.

Clearly revisiting these stories was not unpleasant, or I would not have listened to Barrett Whitener’s broad comic performance for 17 hours. Still, I doubt I’ll feel the need to read or listen to these stories again. On the other hand, I see that Robinson has continued writing several new Callahan’s novels in recent years that I’ve never seen. Perhaps I’ll give one of them a look the next time I’m feeling nostalgic. ( )
  suetu | Nov 3, 2011 |
There's a place out on Route 25A in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York; a unique tavern, indeed, but you couldn't tell by looking at it. Oh sure, the jumble of parked cars out front would seem a little odd, like a bumper cars rally frozen in time, or the fact that there was no mirror behind the bar like you'd see in any other drinking institution.
But that's all superficial and easily explained. What makes this institution so very special would require you to spend some time seated at the bar or one of the tables, enjoying a drink made with care and professionalism, before understanding dawned on you.

You see, this place you've found out on 25A (or wherever you are) - and you can only find it when you need to - is Callahan's Place: a cross-time saloon and interstellar stop-over frequented by the kindest, nicest, most loyal group of regulars in the whole wide world...and far, far beyond.

There's a motto the folks at Callahan's believe in: "Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased." And two rules scrupulously followed: 1)Don't ask prying questions. 2)If a problem is shared, whoever's listening does all they can to help solve the problem.

Come pay a visit to Callahan's and meet the most bizarre blend of barflies you're likely to meet...and never forget. ( )
  phillybrarian | Apr 10, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spider Robinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Warhola, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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‘There is nothing which has been contrived by man by which so much happiness has been produced as by a good tavern or inn.’

Samuel Johnson
To Ben Bova, Jim Baen, Eleanor Wood and Susan Allison
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Books get written for the darnedest reasons.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812539370, Paperback)

This omnibus edition collects Spider Robinson's first three books about the Long Island bar that attracts the weirdest clientele and the tallest tales in the known universe. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan's Secret are playful, pun-filled delights from the pen of a truly inimitable writer, winner of the Skylark and John W. Campbell awards.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This omnibus edition contains the trilogy of science-fiction books that introduced the world to Mike Callahan and all of the regulars at Callahan's Place. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon is the neighborhood tavern to all of time and space, where the regulars are anything but. These time travelers, talking dogs, alcoholic vampires, and cybernetic aliens really, truly care about each other. Time Travelers Strictly Cash is the policy. Lay your money on the bar and after drinking, make a toast and throw the glass into the fireplace. It's an odd tradition, but one that's led to some interesting stories. Callahan's Secret may be one that nobody would guess, or it may be as simple as listening to all those post-toast stories. After all, shared pain is lessened and shared joy is increased-a concept that could, after a few drinks, lead to saving the world.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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