Author: Spider Robinson
Published: Berkley, 1986; Currently Tor.
Genre: Humorous Science Fiction, Short Stories.
Callahan's Secret is the third collection of Callahan's Place stories. It is preceded by Callahan's Crosstime Saloon and Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and is followed by The Callahan Touch (and then a few others. Spider Robinson is completely unable to end the series, no matter how many times he tries). Unlike Time Travelers Strictly Cash, this collection contains only Callahan stories.
Warning: the descriptions of the stories contain spoilers in the italicized pipelinks. Some of the spoilers are necessary if you are trying to identify a specific story, but I've tried to keep them mild. Well, mildish.
- The Blacksmith's Tale: We meet Mary, Jake falls in love, and we hear the rest of Micky Finn's story (no, it's not the end of Finn; it just turns out we had only heard half of his problems the first time around). Easily the most squandered potential of any Callahan's story ever written. I found it disappointing.
- Pyotr's Story: Lady Macbeth, Jake's guitar, dies. It's more traumatic than it sounds. There is a none-to-subtle homage to William Goldman's The Princess Bride worked into the story. Pyotr is one big spoiler, so I'll say nothing more about him.
- Involuntary Man's Laughter: The Cheerful Charlies bring a man with Tourette's syndrome into the bar. This is the Cheerful Charlies' first appearance, and we learn their back story here, although not in the usual way. This story is somewhat notable for a specific spoiler.
- The Mick of Time: This is probably actually a novella, rather than a short story. It tells of the big showdown with the Cockroaches (Micky Finn's old masters). Spoiler. Oh, and we learn Callahan's secret. But if you don't know it, I'm not going to tell you.
There isn't a lot more to say about this book, except that the stories in it are basically just like the earlier Callahan stories. If you liked them, you will like these. Both The Blacksmith's Tale and The Mick of Time are longer than the average Callahan story, and I am inclined to think that this is a good thing; they are however, still stand-alone stories, which again, I think is a good thing. The latter books, which were written as novels, seem to lose something. I don't know whether this is due to the excess of continuity or the fact that Spider knows that he is writing to life-long (and obsessive) fans in the latter books.