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Callahan's Secret

(Callahan's #3)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,208 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Callahan's Place is open for business, and all of the "regulars" are here--a talking dog, an alcoholic vampire, and two telepaths--enhancing their joys by drowning their sorrows. Everyone, that is, but Mickey Finn, a seven-foot tall alien in danger of enslavement at the hands of a traveller from across the galaxy....Come inside, pull up a chair, order a drink, make a toast ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 15th 2002 by Tor Science Fiction (first published July 1986)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  2,208 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
By now you might know that Callahan's Bar is a place that people find when they really need it.
The regulars help anybody; in the most difficult cases the Mike Callahan himself tries to come up with a plan. The newcomers that need help can be regular humans, time travelers, aliens, and anything in between. The anthology consists of 4 novellas (all the stories are long enough to be called such):

The Blacksmith's Tale. The narrator of all the stores, Jake Stonebender, found the place
closed - the first time evesuch):
This is the first Callahan book and indeed the first Spider Robinson book that I can unreservedly say that I enjoyed. Perhaps that was because there were only four stories in it, so each one got more time and attention from the author and also because there wasn’t any non-Callahan material included.

My impression is certainly that Spider Robinson believes in the redemptive value of friendship and in the associated virtues of compassion and empathy. Not to mention alcohol, humour, and
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of sci fi classics
Recommended to carol. by: Ala
The last in the trilogy about Callahan's. Puns are prevalent, and as a reader, they don't have any appeal for me. Some of Robinson's seem particularly tortured, so the extent where I was sounding them out out loud to try and get the joke. Since I read the trilogy in the omnibus edition, I might have also been reaching my limit on Callahan's bar.

"The Blacksmith's Tale," kind of a love story, unusual in the group. Poignant twist and philosophical musing. Quite emotionally wrenching.

Peter Tillman
My 1996 booklog notes that this is one of his best, and that I liked it on reread. Carol reminded me of the bad puns, but some of these stories were pretty funny. Hmm. Wonder if I still have a copy? The library doesn't.

Nope, no copy. If I see a cheap used one, might pick it up?
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mickey Finn and Mary...lots of great revelations. The characterizations are deeper than in most of the other Callahan's books/stories, and that only adds to the enjoyment.

The only flaw, and it's a minor one, is that I sometimes feel like the dialogue is taking place on a plane I cannot reach and do not aspire to. I don't know if that's Spider Robinson being too hip, too clever, but I do know that by the end of the story it makes sense and the momentary feeling of not being one of the
Graham Wilhauk
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well, this series is starting to get boring FAST. All of the stories seem to have lost the charm that I saw in the first book. In fact, it made me think whether I want to continue with the series or not. This book was flat out BORING. In all honesty, I think I will give the fourth book a go, but I will stop FAST if I'm not into it.

I am giving this one a 2 out of 5 stars.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I re-read this book a lot. This and most of the rest in this series, of which this particular book is the 4th. I think.

If I ever were to meet Spider Robinson in person, I would kiss him full on the lips and probably weep. While the series ran out of steam after awhile (see the less-than delightful Lady Slings the Booze for reference), the Callahan's Place and Lady Sally books were top-notch escapism for me growing up. Hell, their top-notch escapism currently. Intelligent, thoughtful books about h
Ryk Stanton
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wish I could say I liked this better than I do, but this one falls short of the first two. That may be because this one felt more like a novel than a collection of short stories as the first two books did. It may be how suddenly reliant the book was on cursing (but we all know what a prude I am when it comes to literary profanity). The big climax didn't really knock my socks off either. It was worth reading, but I hope the next one gets its mojo back.
Timothy Boyd
Very funny collection of SiFi short stories. Recommended
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an odd duck of a book. The Callahan stories in the first two books are largely stand alone pieces with Easter eggs for those in the know. This one takes those pieces and tries to create a larger whole. In the end, I don't think it succeeds. It falls into the pitfalls I see in Spider's novels, where there's a bigger picture which fails to support an interesting narrative.

This collection is also rife with signs of the time. The positions of the sole female character are utter b
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is yet another old and dear favorite which I haven't read in a decade or so. I was in my late teens when I bought this, I think; my edition was released in '86, and I bought it new, so… Wow. This isn't like me at all. I admit it: I was a prude. Probably could still be considered one, I suppose, compared to the universe in general, but me in my teens - ? Reading it now, not that it's graphic, but still – I can't believe I not only bought this book but read it, loved it, and have never had the least ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love these books, not a trilogy, just a grouping of three books
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well-written book that uses some slang from the 70's.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi_fantasy
The previous book was crap filled so I'm not sure why I thought this one would be different.
James Adams
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Third, and probably best, of the Callahan series, this is a set of four solid stories set at the world's greatest saloon. Many years ago, this served as my introduction to this merry crew, and I still love it, but...
This book has certainly aged better than the first in the series, but is still a bit chauvinistic and smugly liberal (as an occasionally smug and accidentally sexist liberal, I recognize the symptoms), and the endgame is quite silly, which is a bit awkward when the fate of the
[These notes were made in 1989:]. The tone is almost off-puttingly flip, at first. But beneath all the cleverness, the persistent reader finds a surprisingly warm and tolerant layer of humanity. And this despite a really intimidating barrage of bizarrerie, apparently set on Earth in our time. For instance, the narrator, Jake, goes up on the roof and meets - with immediate & intimate results - Callahan's daugher, Mary. So far, so normal - or at least identifiable, right? But then to cap it of ...more
Jeremy Preacher
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi, short-stories
I like Robinson's Callahan's Place stories much better than his other stuff. The focus on communication, empathy, and emotional problem-solving works for me more consistently than pure SF idea stories do. (I am not quite as charmed by the puns as Robinson himself seems to be, however.)

The big setpiece in this one is "The Mick of Time," the big finale for the Callahan's setting and some of the longer-running plot threads. I didn't really feel a pressing need to have them wrapped up, b
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
I fully admit to having a weakness for light, comic science fiction, as well as short stories that center around a bar or other cozy sort of spot where regulars congregate (Arthur C. Clarke's Tales From The White Hart leaps to mind) and this ticks all the boxes. I'm sorry I had to start with the last book in what the author swears isn't a trilogy, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate mea ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The third book in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, it is on par with the other Callahan's books and an enjoyable read. What I like about the Callahan books is that he preaches through laughter.

I had the honor of sitting down and talking to Spider at Tri*No*Con in 2005 and we found we had a couple friends in common. He is one of the most unassuming, friendly authors I've ever met. He seems to constantly be surprised at his celebrity. About the only thing I didn't like that he did was to f
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ginger by: Devin Murphy
Oh my, I did not see that secret coming. According to the foreword this was the last Callahan story, but I have been told that there are many more. There are fewer stories in this book, but they are much longer and richer, and call in question perception. Human perception on the world and those in it. As human beings we tend to all think a certain way, to impose our perceptions of emotions and rationalizations onto others. But what happens when the person is not human, when their motivations are ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a ride! Just a refresher -- I started reading this series (which has been on my to-read list for 20 years) over the summer. I love how each story can be read as a separate part but that they are cumulative. While I've read every story with a keen interest and appreciation for Spider's rare talents, none of them gripped me like the one at the very end of this book. All at once it made perfect sense and no sense at all. I experienced both gut-wrenching sadness and heartwarming joy. And then m ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was originally the end of the series. However, numerous spinoffs have been done. Timetravellers unite against alien roaches. Did MiB rip Spider off. As with the first two books, this is a series of stories from the point of view of Jake (aka Spider). They are fun and show the love and compassion that people can possess.

This is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it for everyone who enjoys science fiction or the old TV show Cheers.
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love this series and have read the books so many times that I actually started rereading this one backwards. I started with the last page and would read the page from top to bottom and then jump to the previous page. Sometimes I'd read paragraph by paragraph from the bottom to the top. It was actually pretty enjoyable and still full of suspense, though it did make my head hurt after the first 50 pages of reading backwards.
Sean Kottke
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This set of Callahan stories is quite satisfying, rife with wordplay and profoundly imaginative sci-fi premises. It's almost novelistic in its through-lines of plot and character development. "Involuntary Man's Laughter" is a stand-out, and simply marvelous in its wordplay and forward-thinking musings on the affordances of technology to facilitate community.
Peregrine 12
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who might enjoy whimsical, Dr. Who-ish tales of time travelers and hard drinkers
If you want something different than what's out there today, reach back for this one. A fun collection of stories that are sort of sci-fi, sort of whimsical Dr. Who-ish tales of intergalactic travelers and people who enjoy strong liquor with their camaraderie. Descriptions so vivid it seems like a real place, and a place you'd want to visit if it were. Worth revisiting, I think...
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I really like Robinson's books overall, but his dialogue (especially of female characters) doesn't ring true many times. He and Heinlein share this deficiency, although Robinson is better than Heinlein at that. That said, I look forward to Robinson's books.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy, classics
During their efforts to save the world, the Callahan crew drinks a lot, puns and discovers the secret of Mick Callahan's secret origin and why the place is such a magnet for odd people and things.
Great stuff. Spider Robinson is one of my literary heroes.

Jun 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: all-fiction
Another solid entry in the Callahan's series. This one is more of a single story than the related short stories that the prior books contained.
Longer review here:
Ray Charbonneau
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
The ending gets a little overwrought. Still fun, but Callahan's was more fun when played on a smaller field.
Marvelous. As usual, Mr. Robinson weaves a tapestry of emotional moments, witticism, unexpected plot twists, and bad puns. The result is a very engaging work of speculative fiction.
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Spider Robinson is an American-born Canadian Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author. He was born in the USA, but chose to live in Canada, and gained citizenship in his adopted country in 2002.

Robinson's writing career began in 1972 with a sale to Analog Science Fiction magazine of a story entitled, The Guy With The Eyes. His writing proved popular, and his first novel saw print in 1976, Telempath. Since

Other books in the series

Callahan's (9 books)
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (Callahan's #1)
  • Time Travellers Strictly Cash (Callahan's #2)
  • Callahan's Lady (Lady Sally's #1, Callahan's #4)
  • Lady Slings the Booze (Lady Sally's #2, Callahan's #5)
  • The Callahan Touch (Mary's Place #1, Callahan's #6)
  • Callahan's Legacy (Mary's Place #2, Callahan's #7)
  • Callahan's Key (The Place #1, Callahan's Series #8)
  • Callahan's Con (The Place #2, Callahan's Series #9)
“Sexual intercourse vests no property rights.” 16 likes
“...I know good design when I fail to trip over it.” 15 likes
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