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WesternSFA
The Callahan Touch
by Spider Robinson
Copyright 1993, 221pp
At the end of the last book….well, here’s a spoiler alert if you’re not caught up….Callahan’s bar got nuked. And although everyone survived, the bar did not, of course. This was a catastrophe on a par so huge nothing else can compare. The place of refuge for so many, the place where they achieved so much, the place where telepathy was possible…all gone. And Mike and Mary, along with Lady Sally, are gone, as well. Not nuked, just gone.  How can anyone, and particularly Jake, go on? By building another bar, of course.

This story begins on opening night for Jake’s new bar, Mary’s Place. It’s a special opening, immediate family only. And this is, essentially, four short stories all blended together. The bar hadn’t been open five minutes when, inexplicably, a stranger dropped in. Not only was there no sign indicating the presence of a bar, but he literally dropped into the bar – through the trap door to the roof. Of course, it had a lot to do with him and his motorcycle following Shorty too closely in his slipstream and failing to allow for the fact that Shorty is the world’s worst driver. But it didn’t explain why he wasn’t a greasy smear on Shorty’s bumper and was, instead, sitting on a bar stool with no pants. And therein lay the first story and the introduction of The Lucky Duck.

The second story was the unexpected demise of all the alcohol in the bar. Jake had planned and made sure there was plenty of stock and the evening had only started. It was impossible to believe that every drop of alcohol in the place was gone; even more impossible when they realized that meant in their bloodstreams, as well. And this was the introduction to another character destined to remain a permanent fixture in the new bar – the cluricaune.

The third and fourth stories are blended but I see them as two distinct stories. As the drunk went into its third day, everyone including the cluricaune started trading tall drunk stories which gave Spider the excuse to pack in a couple extra pages of puns. And on the fourth day, Spider really got rolling with a reference to probably every singer and song he loved as most of them showed up at the bar to jam. And what a jam it was, something absolutely historic and singular and it went on for days. It’s also where Jake fell in love for the third, and, hopefully, the last time. But when it looked like he was gonna lose the girl…well, the save just has to be the setup for the next book because there was just too much left undone.

So, Robinson started a new bar whose raison de’etre is a meeting place for a bunch of people to create telepathy, introduced a character whose nature is anathema to a bar but still it works, started a new romance for Jake and then set the stage for a higher level of weirdness than even Callahan’s bar experienced. Oh yeah, and Mike did come back for a visit. It’s like Spider just got his second wind and it shows potential to be a tornado. ~~ 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…

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