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Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,674 ratings  ·  79 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.

Steven Brust's time-t
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Orb Books (first published 1990)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,674 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Duffy Pratt
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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, even 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
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of something very similar to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but with a dark side. A group of Irish musicians find themselves traveling through time and/or dimensions by way the bar that they play music in. There trip through time and space lands them in hot water with the wrong people and chaos ensues. I found the book funny, but not in a slapstick Douglas Adams sort of way. There was also enough love interests and action to make each page an enjoyable read. If I had to ...more
Peter Tillman
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A-, strange characters, good writing [from my 1991 booklog] Wonderful cover art!
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

The first half of the book was boring, I didn't like any of the characters, and I found some things to be lazy writing like "But I won't go into those details" or "because that didn't change over time." It had an original premise but was not executed well.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not terribly deep, but lots of fun
Daniel Brandon
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: megan-s
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.
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as lost-interest
He got to the part where the narrator who didn't know how to describe what a gun looked like suddenly knew the exact makes and models of a whole pile of guns and I realized that I just wan't interested in these eight undifferentiated people and their love/apocalypse lives.

Anyway, it's fine. I only picked it up because I got it confused with Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, a book a nice old fellow in a bar once insisted was very good but I am finding more difficult to procure than anticipated.
Carlos Arsenio Garcia
Imagine Doctor Who but instead of a mysterious British alien with a time traveling police box and a band of assorted quirky British people that go around saving the universe, you have a mysterious Asian cowboy with a time traveling bar and grill and a band of quirky and promiscuous but highly skilled 20-somethings that go around trying to stop nuclear explosions from going off around time and space.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book over 20 years ago. I enjoyed it then and I still enjoyed reading it today.
Devin Yoakum
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brust is my favorite writer of all time. There i said it. Now thats said and done, im not sure how i felt about this book. I enjoyed it, and i flew through it. But i dont know what to think of it
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Space, time travel, music, food and comedy. This may be the strangest book I've ever read. It had a good conclusion though.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I owned this book way back in the 90's when it first came out, the cover is amazing and I've never fully forgotten it even though I don't remember what happened to my original copy. I found it at a used book sellers recently and bought it again to reread. Oddly though, once I got past the first few chapters nothing seemed familiar about this book. A few more chapters in I realized that was because I never finished it. This book has a fascinating concept, somewhat interesting universe that it is ...more
Tom Whalley
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Roland Volz
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sarah Sammis
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jean Weber
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Kevin Pitchford
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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,
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.

Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The main building block of this book is a rather unique restaurant that moves itself through space and time whenever a nuclear weapon is exploded in its near vicinity. Inside the restaurant is an Irish folk-song band that accidentally was caught up during the restaurant's first move. As the plot develops and the restaurant makes several moves through time and to other planets, the band begins to realize that they are part of an attempt to change future history by opposing a group that keeps goin ...more
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A confusing little book where the cover promises SciFi the first half promises a situation drama with a twilight zone backdrop and the last half appears to be a large scale murder mystery, complete with conflicted love interests, alcoholic gun totting friends, and an Irish band... and yet with this description you will read this book and say I have not described this book at all well.
Steven Brust's writing style is the most compelling and confusing aspect of this book, using sarcasm, gibberish,
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 18, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Susan Ferguson
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Melissa McCauley
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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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)