OK, I got off on the wrong foot with Spider Robinson, so help me.

I’ve read so many posts praising Spider Robinson on this board, I decided to take the plunge and buy one of his books. In this case, User Friendly, a collection of short stories and essays.

I am apparently missing something.

A couple of the stories were OK, but I was left lacking overall.

Perhaps I should have started with something else.

So I beg you SR fans to clue me in.

Whatever you do, don’t read Deathkiller or User Friendly (oh, wait).

The Callahan books are his most popular franchise, and have by far the most books. My personal favorites, seeing as how I’m a pervert and all, are the books that take place at “Lady Sally’s,” an, um, house of ill repute. :wink:

The first 2 and 2/3d Callahan’s books are wonderful. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, Time Travellers Strictly Cash and most of Callahan’s Secret are great.

Stardance except for a coda a the very, very end is wonderful and the first third (which was Hugo-winning short story) would be in my top 20 all-time great SF short stories of all-time.

I loved Mindkiller and Time Pressure (especially Time Pressure but I’m in the minority here)

At all costs avoid Lifehouse, the later Star_____ books Telempath and Night of Power. Oh and if you see Callahan’s Key drive a stake through it’s binding before it gets you…brrrrr…yuk. They’re not necessarily bad (except for Key) but they’re not the way to get off to the right start.

His newest, The Free Lunch was very, VERY good and I wrote a longish review of it for the SD, here.

The Lady Sally stuff, to me is ok, some good bits, but fluff. Very good fluff, but fluff nonetheless.

Fenris

I rather enjoyed By Any Other Name, another collection of short stories with the title novella at the end.

I must admit, sadly, to never having read any other of Spider’s stuff. I never see it anywhere, and I’m too poor to go spending money on even such important things as bookses.

I used to be a huge Robinson fan. But at some point in the last decade, I realized he was basically recycling his earlier works; not doing a very good job of it; and complaining about how his work isn’t selling as well as it used to.

“By Any Other Name” was transformed into the opening about-40% of the novel Telempath.

I think I’d agree that one should start with either the Callahan’s series or The Free Lunch (his newest).

I don’t care for his Lord Buckley riffs (in User Friendly, but they appear to be masterly pastiches of the man’s style, from what little else I’ve run into of him.

The Mindkiller/Time Pressure (revised and combined as Deathkiller) and Lifehouse sequence is also pretty good, but I have a hunch it’s an acquired taste.

I liked Telempath and Night of Power. Telempath was the first book by him that I ever read. I had problems with his simplistic treatment of black nationalism in Night of Power, but it was still an engaging read. I liked Mindkiller, but I read it so long ago, I really don’t remember what happened. I really liked the Starseed/Starmind trilogy, but by the time it got to the last book, I thought things were getting a little too hoky, but still it’s a good read too. I really like his collection of short stories Melancholy Elephants, but I think it’s out of print. It might have been reprinted under another name, but I’m not sure. Definitely any of the Callahan books are very good, although I haven’t read Callahan’s Key yet. Lifehouse and User Friendly put me to sleep so I never finished those. I can’t think of any others he’s done that I’ve read.

I’d say jump in with the Callahan series, then Melancholy Elephants, and then work your way around.

I liked Telempath and Night of Power. Telempath was the first book by him that I ever read. I had problems with his simplistic treatment of black nationalism in Night of Power, but it was still an engaging read. I liked Mindkiller, but I read it so long ago, I really don’t remember what happened. I really liked the Starseed/Starmind trilogy, but by the time it got to the last book, I thought things were getting a little too hoky, but still it’s a good read too. I really like his collection of short stories Melancholy Elephants, but I think it’s out of print. It might have been reprinted under another name, but I’m not sure. Definitely any of the Callahan books are very good, although I haven’t read Callahan’s Key yet. Lifehouse and User Friendly put me to sleep so I never finished those. I can’t think of any others he’s done that I’ve read.

I’d say jump in with the Callahan series, then Melancholy Elephants, and then work your way around.

I liked Lifehouse, but part of that appreciation was how he accurately described the neighbourhood next to where I live. I kept going " I know that house. I know that tree. I’ve been on that ferry."

By all means, start where most of us old guys did, with the Callahan stories. They are masterpieces, IMHO, of tall tales married with very real characters and a place most of us would be delighted to visit.

The Callahan collections also feature some of Spider’s songs, some artwork and some freestanding feghoots, short setups for unbelievably awful puns.

It is only fair to tell you my bias that I am a major SR fan, own everything of his I can find (including the remaindered-in-30-seconds book Antinomy) and actually enjoyed **Callahan’s Key **, though admittedly not as much some of the other ones.

Guess what it comes down to is that I enjoy a tale teller who has superb imangination, vast skill, shares an affinity for such things as John D. MacDonald’s Travis Magee character, and has a generally upbeat tone. Yes, even the puns, some of which are world class.