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Callahan's Key (Callahan's #8)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,519 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
The universe in is desperate peril. Due to a cluster of freakish phenomena, the United States' own defense system has become a doomsday machine, threatening the entire universe. And only one man can save everything-as-we-know-it from annihilation.
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Published September 1st 2003 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published July 2000)
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Barbara I've read most of the Callahan's series and would strongly suggest you start with the first book. There's a lot explained there that will make the…moreI've read most of the Callahan's series and would strongly suggest you start with the first book. There's a lot explained there that will make the later books more intelligible .... and fun - because then you'll have the joy of being an insider when some quick references to prior books flash by. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this series. Really did. "Callahan's Chronicles" was easily one of the best reads I'd had in years. Lady Sally's place that followed was...different. A downgrade, but good fun.

But the last few books in the series have gotten too "big". Callahan's works best when it's a collection of drunk oddballs helping out more drunk oddballs with their drunk oddball problems, not saving the country/world/universe from annihilation, eg. nuclear terrorist pacifists in Lady Slings the Booze, saving the
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hobbes by: Devin Murphy
Another wonderful book in a beautiful series. Jake gets a visit from Tesla who tells him that once again the end of the world is nigh and it is up to Jake and his motley band of bar flies to save it. Jake decides that it is time to reopen the bar, but not in Long Island. Jake, Zoey, and super intelligent baby Erin move to the Florida Keys, and take the rest of the Callahan crew with them. Parts of the book were a little bittersweet for me, reading about the drive through Florida, especially when ...more
John Desmarais
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of weeks ago I felt an inexplicable urge to re-read Spider Robinson's "Callahan's" novel. Not an unheard of urge on my part, as I occasionally enjoy taking a stroll down memory lane re-reading books that I read many, many years ago. I find myself most of the way through Callahan's Key, and it has struck me that - apparently - I had missed this one my first time around. I remembered quite well (well, in general terms) the original stories set in Mike's place, the side trip stories at Lad ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-series
I think this may have been the worst place to start with Spider Robinson. I was thrown into a world of communal chaos, with bits and pieces of science fiction thrown in. The text itself was witty, but a shy of the lyrical idea work that I normally look for in Science Fiction. I'll try another of his, but based on this one alone, I'm not impressed.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, Mr. Robinson offers us a highly enjoyable, fast-paced adventure story that is really, after all, just about reminding us how cool humanity can actually be when it bothers to get its collective head out of its collective rear. Clever absurdities and bad puns abound, and life is good.
Michael Brown
More good times at the craziest bar in all the galaxy.
Wetdryvac Wetdryvac
A serious favorite, flaws and all.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a little bit of a train wreck. It is novel-length with a single story, unlike Spider Robinson's superior connected-vignette-novel or short story collections. Unfortunately the story itself is pretty weak. The opening allows for lots of strangely used resources—characters with “extra powers” not really using them, and characters known for being truly good people engaging in blackmail, extortion, and truly antisocial behavior. The middle of the book is a meaningless long car trip with ...more
***Dave Hill
Heir to Heinlein - And I mean that review title for both good and ill. Like Heinlein's last few works (everything starting with Number of the Beast), the Callahan series has (d)evolved into tales of Extraordinarily Talented and Witty People, (over)laden with cultural in-jokes, references to earlier tales, and a twee jolliness that makes for light, breezy reading when it's not just irritating.

Robinson has seemingly fallen into the "How do I trump what I did last time?" trap, and while it's nice
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-fantasy
So-so... part of the problem may have been my hearing, which is making it more and more difficult to pick up details when there is a lot of road noise. I missed out on the payoff for quite a few puns (which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.) Most of the book is spent telling the story of their move from Long Island to Key West, which I really didn't find all that interesting. If you are a huge fan of the Callahan books, you will want to read it for completeness ...more
A light, easy read, especially if you have read some/most of the works that precede it in the Callahan's cluster of series.

The problem was that I had trouble caring about the characters .... or about the "preventing the end of the world" plot line that has been use several times already.

There were few puns, which had been the most charming part of many of the books. And I did not sense that the characters had great empathy or care for one another, which was also one of the most heart-warming t
Jeff Yoak
My first thought at first being exposed to Callahan's was that it belonged in Key West and everything reminded me of my time in Florida. It's nice that they've finally caught on and moved down there. The plot in the Callahan's stories is always on the light side and mostly it is enjoyable interactions in a bar. The plot in this one is so light that they might not have bothered and just had it be a story about moving a hundred people and a bar from New York to Florida. That element is truly excel ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Fun read as the Callahan's crew encounter circumstances that lead them to packing up and moving from Long Island to Key West.
Uneven, as Spider has trouble when the Callanhan crew has to leave the bar and interact with the 'real world'. It's an awkward fit.
Otherwise, Key West comes across as paradise, the dialogue and humor are still brilliant and funny and the crisis is interesting and suspenseful.

There are no bad Callahan books. Just good ones and brilliant ones. This is one of the merely good
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More merriment, madcap science fiction and meandering commentary on part of the human condition that feels real to me. A road trip with literary allusions, pointed puns, inside jokes and references to classic and not so classic science fiction, space geekery, and Robinson's customary observations on community, bureaucracy, folly, bureaucracy, love and lessons we learn from life experiences. Clearly I've become a fan.
These short stories, all tied together with a common place/cast, make you feel like maybe human beings aren't such cruel animals after all. Opening the first several Callahan books feels like a refreshing visit with old friends. You know them, and their quirks, and that if they're involved with a situation they will do whatever they can to make it better. These are good people. The in last couple of books the formula gets a little bit stale, but they are still enjoyable.
Dec 10, 2005 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LOTSA puns, some very good. That's about the best thing I can say for this odd adventure story about the gang of weirdos who travel from Long Island to Key West to save the universe from Nicola Tesla's Death Ray. The hero is an 18-month old baby computer genius, taught by Solaris, the conscious Internet. I really like most Robinson, but this one was hard to get into.
Scott wachter
this series has some escalation issues.

The original stories about drunken oddballs helping strangers out sci-fi predicaments with the power of group therapy, shots and puns. then they stopped aliens from wiping out the planet. So now everything has to find a way to top that.

this book has 4/5ths road trip stories and 1/5 save the universe.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is one of my favourite books in the series and yet it makes me incredibly sad every time that I read it. The underlying messages of acceptance, tolerance and wonder seem to fall on deaf ears in our era. If more people read these books and lived by some of their credos... The world would be a much better place. Thanks for trying to spread such a great message, Spider!
Thursday Bram
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did a re-read of this installment of Spider Robinson's Callahan's books. The newer books certainly have a very different feel than the older ones, but Callahan's Key is a fun, fast read.

During this read, I noticed a few more nods to other sci-fi writers than I have in the past. Obvious Heinlein tributes, of course — but there's a quiet plug for John Varley, as well.
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was good. Lot's of typical Spider/Callahan fun. I found some holes in the logic and actions it this one more than any other Spider book but the story and the characters made it easy to overlook them.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: candy-books, scifi
This one was probably the weakest in the series, but I loved it anyhow. Sometimes the ones that don't make much sense to the average human are the best ones in my humble opinion.

Or as Erin says:
"I know it doesn't make sense, daddy, but neither do John Tesh fans!"

Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like all the Callahan books so that I liked this one was not surprise. Robinson writes like a cross between Douglass Adams and Robert Heinlein. Very quick, entertaining, easy reads that are pure entertainment.
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A more or less entertaining read, but Spider's later books pale so much in comparison to the early Callahan short stories that are collected in the first three books. Misses a whole lot of the charm and wonder that the early stories had.
Jun 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wass the best new entry in Robinson's long-running Callahan's series for some time. Many of the familiar characters return, and some intriguing new ones are introduced. Robinson's trademarked admiration of Heinlein is well represented, puns abound, and it's a familiar fast-paced romp.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-fiction
The penultimate book in the series. This one finds the crew moving to Key West to stop yet another apocalypse. Longer review here:
Ray Charbonneau
Writing about how the author's not going to write about what's going on is a sign of a bad, padded book. For fans only.
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1 wk
Awesome again!
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spider-robinson
Some cute puns, and the prose is wonderful as always. Had trouble getting into this one compared to the other Callahan books though.
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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 1
More about Spider Robinson...

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 Secret (Callahan's #3)
  • 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 Con (The Place #2, Callahan's Series #9)

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