Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review #16

Time Travelers Strictly Cash, by Spider Robinson. Abridged audio.

This was Robinson's first follow-up to the short story collection Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon (reviewed here).  The original version of TTSC contained a number of non-Callahan's stories, and some non-fiction reviews and essays. I have previously read the terrific "RAH RAH R.A.H.," Robinson's appreciation of Robert A Heinlein, which first appeared here.

Portions of the original book are presented as part of the Callahan's Chonicals audio compilation, which is how I consumed these stories. The Callahan-specific stories pick up where the first collections leaves off, with the crew of Callahan's listening to each other's tall tales. There are stories about a talking dog (a gin-drinking, talking dog) and a loud-mouthed time traveler with an oddly hypnotic power. 

Jake Stonebender and the bar regulars spend the book trying to top each other with their odd, pun-filled stories. But what emerges from these tales is a bit of a through-line, later adapted and expanded by Robinson as the Callahan-verse expanded. By the way, some of the wordplay is delightfully groan-worthy -- puns about coppers, ICBMs and jewel lies abound.

I love the setting for these stories, and Robinson's wacky sense of humor is enjoyable. I do not know what to make of the effort at the end of this and in future Callahan's books to overlay a more serious SF tale onto this patchwork of stories. The last story, about mirror universes and inter-dimensional molecules, was much more serious than the prior stories, and this change of pace was a bit jarring.

I am intrigued to know there are at least four more novels (or collecitons) involving Jake, Callahan, and the crew. But I think I'm going to give them a read.

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