Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill
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Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,217 ratings  ·  56 reviews

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille serves the best matzoh ball soup in the Galaxy, and hires some of the best musicians you’ll ever hear. It’s a great place to visit, but it tends to move around—just one step ahead of whatever mysterious conspiracy is reducing whole worlds to radioactive ash. And Cowboy Feng's may be humanity's last hope for survival.

Paperback, 223 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Ace
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Duffy Pratt
A group of folk musicians find themselves in a bar. The city the bar is in gets nuked, but somehow the bar jumps to another city in another time and place in the galaxy. Sometime later, the new city is nuked again. Who is doing this, and why? And what does it have to do with great cooking, traditional music, the Grateful Dead, and dysfunctional romantic relationships? That's what Cowboy Feng's is about, and fortunately for me, almost all of Brust's bizarre obsessions align fairly nicely with min...more
A minor work from a great writer, perfectly symptomatic of Steve's refusal to stand still and do the same thing over and over again. Not a patch on nearly everything else he's ever written; the characters are strangely unlikeable, their response to the situation around them is frustratingly flat, bordering on suicidal, and the worldbuilding is threadbare. Our heroes are up against a time- and space-spanning conspiracy that can loose five thousand nuclear missiles on a whim but has serious troubl...more
Jean Weber
Somewhat surprisingly, this is one of my favorite books. Trying to pin down what it's about, however, is surprisingly difficult. There isn't a short description. It's science fiction, sort of. It's a character study, in a way. It's a cautionary tale, somewhat. It has enigmatic characters, very. It's a mystery, still. It's not especially easy to get into, but once you do, it either grabs you and hangs on, or pushes you away. It hung onto me, and I'm glad it did.

I first read it before I knew anyth...more
I tried very hard to like this book, but I just wasn't sold on it. I did finish it so I gave it two stars rather than one. It wasn't as funny as I'd hoped and I found the ending lacking. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this one. Perhaps I'll give it another try and see if my opinion changes at all.
Daniel Brandon
Start with Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Dial back the obsession with puns a bit, and replace it with a similar obsession with good food. Replace the episodic vignette style with a coherent plot. The result will somewhat resemble Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille. (The obsessions with booze and music stay about the same. ^_^)

Brust, as usual, is a bit overfond of letting the plot roll over the reader without a great deal of explanation. Characters often seem to know things (impo...more
Kevin Pitchford
Cowboy Feng’s is the quirky tale of a band of survivors huddled into a restaurant/music venue. Whenever a nuclear bomb hits, Feng’s is whisked through time and space as the protagonist tries to discover the meaning of “Sugar Bear”, the funky “rosebud” of the tale.

Food and music are as central to the story as any of the characters. Gyros, sourdough, baby peas in vinegar. Good food is still plentiful. This is my kind of apocalypse.

I appreciate carnival and campfire tales. Give me one with music,...more
A group of folk musicians find themselves in a restaurant that jumps around in time and space, where they are forced to fit into new cultures, deal with each other's quirks and maybe, just maybe, save humanity.

Brust says of this that it is not his best work, and I have to agree with him. It isn't bad, but the plot hook (something is attacking humanity across time and space) on which he has decided to hang his concept (the restaurant that jumps around), is too weak a scaffold, at least in the way...more
Roland Volz
This was Steven Brust's eight novel. I enjoy his Vlad Taltos high fantasy series(Jhereg, Yendi, and so on), and thought I'd give one of his other novels a shot. Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille is a time travel novel that features and eclectic cast of characters - a bartender/medic, a bouncer/waiter/former Special Forces operative, an Irish folk band, and so on. What ties them all together is the bar/restaurant.

Brust has this to say about the novel: "Not one of my better efforts, I think, but...more
Tom Whalley
I feel like rating this book three stars is doing it a disservice, but it didn't quite earn four.

This is the first time I've read Steven Brust writing anything other than his assassins-and-elves Vlad Taltos series. It's, frankly, really great. Definitely better than the book's title led me to believe.

Feng's is a bar that teleports to safety to a new settlement when nuclear bombs drop. This seems like it should be a bigger plot point in the book than it is; really, after five jumps, everyone in t...more
"Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal. As for entertainment, Feng gets some of the best Irish musicians you'll ever hear — good instrumental backing, fine singing, some stupendous fiddle playing, and driving energy. Hell, some...more
Sarah Sammis
In my review of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, I mentioned "The Off Season" as a potential starting point for Steven Brust's Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (1990). Feng's bar and grille is no mere hot dog stand. It's a restaurant that serves the best matzo ball soup anywhere. It also offers traditional Irish folk songs and a haven against nuclear war. It's also a time machine. What's not to love?

My husband and I are at odds over the plot of Cowboy Feng's... We both love the atmosphe...more
This book was okay. The story was interesting (after it started, that is; too many wandering introductory chapters), but Brust couldn't seem to decide if he wanted it to be funny or serious. Brust included character-background "intermezzos" (which stopped the story cold in between each chapter), but despite that, I never found myself really caring about any of the characters. The most off-key note was Billy's love for Souci, which just didn't seem as deep and true as Billy kept saying it was.

I do not know the number of times I have read this book over the last couple of decades. We shall call it many.

The only correct review for this book is:

“I laughed. I cried. I fell down. It changed my life.”

The premise is pretty unique and while perhaps a stretch. And there are plot holes. But I love it. It brings together all of the things I love about Brust’s writing into one tight bundle: dialogue that is fast sharp and witty, characters with personality, a story line to unravel, and food. I d...more
The way that Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille starts out, I expected it to be something in the vein of Robinson's Callahan series - and to be honest, I worried for the first few pages that it wouldn't be anything better than an obvious rip-off.

Give it a chance, though, and the story goes off in a different direction. Cowboy Feng's turns out to be a pretty good, pretty clever, surprising SF action yarn. It's a quick, fun read.
Truth is, I didn't like "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Or truth is, maybe I didn't give it a chance. Seems to be in the cannon of Gen X, and yet it spoke to me, not. Space Bar and Grille was another story. I'm not into science fiction, but this book makes me want to investigate the genre a little more. It seems my favorite kind of stories are about people who have learned the hard way not to have emotions in a cruel and apocalyptic world, but just can't help themselves. Here's a book about...more
This book, published in 1990, alludes to the foolish fears everyone has about the unknown, whether it is the AIDS epidemic or some other thing we don't understand. It also looks at what happens when fear becomes fanatical and those with the power to do so begin to play God.

But fear also drives greed. Fear can become a religion, especially when junk science is involved. Fear can make some feel superior to the majority.

Facing your fears, overcoming them... that is what this book is about.

I was re...more
Susan Ferguson
I quite enjoyed this book. I had read it before, but it was years back so I bought it for my Nook and quite enjoyed it. These people are work and love in this bar/grill and when a nuclear attack hits, the bar jumps to another time and place. Where they begin all over. They become rather hesitatnt about living outside the bar - and when an attack is supposed to be imminent they take shelter in the back. The currently place the bar has landed and fit in is the only one really shown. Other places a...more
Evan Farley
Really liked this book. Very funny in parts with a plot that really makes you wonder what's up. Might read more of this author.
Marc Williams
It was odd reading this book because I read it many years ago. I thought I remembered it pretty well, but I wanted to reread it to see if I still like it as much as I remember.

Turns out all I remembered was a couple of plot twists from the last twenty pages or so. So I basically read this from scratch, but knew how it was going to end.

All said, I liked it, but didn't love it. I don't regret reading it, but I won't be pressing it into your hands either.

(Unless you LOVE Irish Folk music. If you...more
Melissa McCauley
As it turns out, this book has a somewhat-interesting plot involving time travel and the deliberate destruction of Earth and other human-inhabited planets.

However, I doubt many readers will make it through the first hundred or so pages where nothing happens. Well, the characters hang out in the bar and grill, drink, smoke, play Irish music, and obsess about their love lives. The dour first person narration by “Billy” does nothing to develop the characters; they are just a list of names and whis...more
Very few books connect with me to the point that I feel deeply about the action in the book. This one struck a chord with me at the end: not really sure why, but to this day it still stands out as one of those books that I identify so closely with that I'm sometimes not sure whether I was in the story or just reading about it.

Overall, a very good book (Brust is a superb author, and has fun and bold writing styles) and well worth a read if you're in the mood for something a little wacky.
This was kind of a frustrating read for me. Especially considering it did a whole lot of things I like. I mean was time travel, music woven into the plot and a decent attempt at a twist ending, but ultimately this wasn't quite there. The narration was kind of a drag and I never got a feel for any character outside the superficial. Pacing was kind of wonky too, felt like there was never quite enough time spent on any one plot point.

So, almost? But no, this one wasn't for me.
I like a lot of Brust's stuff. I'm not fond of Dumas' style, but he even brought that off well - readably well - in several of his books. This was more like a cross between Spider Robinson's "Calahan's Cross Time Saloon" & the first (4th) Star Wars bar scene. It tried for comedy & fell flat for me. Most of it seemed pointless, but that's not too surprising. Humor is often difficult to write, especially for me. I didn't like Monty Python, either, so your mileage may vary.
I find the premise of this book interesting, but in contrast to all the other Brust works I've read, did not find the characters compelling. That I did not understand what was going on was not a problem, particularly as it was part of the point and of the appeal. That I spent much of the book not really caring what happened next, however, was problematic. I am glad there are people who enjoy and appreciate this book. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.
This book is not in any way connected to any of the various series Steven Brust has written, and is really about the dynamics of musicians in a band though it is set in a fantastical environment where a routine music set can turn into a galaxy spanning adventure. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I would have thought, and found it emotionally powerful despite a light hearted banter that runs through it.
Like Brust's Taltos novels, you get tough, flawed characters, grim humor, lots of great food and weaponry descriptions and some of the best action writing around.

I'm not a sci-fi purist so I can't tell you if his time travel plot is derivative or implausible or whatever. But it worked for me. And even better is that it set up a situation where the heroics really were heroic. And they hurt.
So you are in this bar when the city is destroyed by a nuclear bomb but the bar takes off and lands on another planet in another time. Why dos Feng's bar survive and why does it jump? Why are you saved?
So can a small group of people who call the bar "home" save the human race? Only if they can find out who keeps nuking planets and why?
I read this when I was a teenager, maybe 15, and I remember feeling amazed at how unexpected it all was. I suppose it must be pretty standard sci-fi comic fare, but it was not quite like anything I'd read before. In conclusion, I will quote the one line I fully remember: I laughed, I cried, I fell down... it changed my life.
Sadly, the exciting title of this "space western" hides a rather dull book with clunky dialog and a plot that moves at a snail's pace. Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille was less Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and more a meandering murder mystery that fails terribly at being witty. Finished on page 149.
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Steven Karl Zoltán Brust (born November 23, 1955) is an American fantasy and science fiction author of Hungarian descent. He was a member of the writers' group The Scribblies, which included Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Nate Bucklin, Kara Dalkey, and Patricia Wrede, and also belongs to the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

(Photo by David Dyer-Bennet)
More about Steven Brust...
Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1) Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2) Taltos (Vlad Taltos, #4) Phoenix (Vlad Taltos, #5) Dragon (Vlad Taltos, #8)

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