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ROBINSON, SPIDER Ė CALLAHANíS SECRET 2002 Tor Books 

 

Humorous Science fiction from a Canadian author of extraordinary originality. Fans of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett should really look up Robinsonís work. Callahanís Secret is actually a late entry in a serious of books about a very strange bar run by the enigmatic Callahan. It is a bar where dreams come true, and all kinds of weird, often-alien activity takes place. Imagine Cheers with time travelers and invading forces from the depths of space warded off by alcohol, and you will get the right idea. One customer is Mickey Finn, who has to stay drunk to avoid destroying civilization. If he sobers up, his mind will give out telepathic signals to his enemies who might blast apart any world he is found  to be frequenting. Other customers are more human, including the narrator, a blues singer, who finds that his broken beloved guitar is repaired by a legendary blues singer long since believed to be deceased. Callahan seems unphased by the oddities about his bar. He sets bizarre quizzes and games based on complex and very funny puns, and the readers can play these torturous games too, which is really neat.The reason why Callahan has been so laid back for so long becomes apparent in this book, as his secret is that he, and his daughter, (the girl who the narrator falls in love with at the beginning of the book) is himself a powerful alien.The book ends with Callahan having to destroy his beloved bar to save the World. The hero and the other bar regulars vow to set up their own bar run on the same principles of camaraderie as that established by Callahan, and that proves to be the basis for subsequent books. A warm hearted, humorous and very humane book with highly original ideas and some deliberately dreadful puns. Robinson deserves to be up there with Pratchett, but he is all too easily overlooked outside of Canada. Hopefully, that situation will change soon. http://spiderrobinson.com/

 

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