GURPS Callahan's Crosstime Saloon

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon

In the fictional universe of Spider Robinson, Callahan's Place is a bar with strongly community-minded and empathic clientele. It appears in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories (compiled in the first novel of the same name, along with its sequels Time Travellers Strictly Cash and Callahan's Secret; most of the beloved barflies appear in the further sequels The Callahan Touch, Callahan's Legacy, Callahan's Key, and Callahan's Con) and the computer game.


The bar is run by Mike Callahan. The regulars are welcoming and willing to listen to any visitor's problems, no matter how strange, but do not snoop if a visitor is unwilling to share. Strange and unusual events and visitors turn up with frequency in the stories. Regulars at Callahan's include a talking dog, several extraterrestrials and time-travelers, an ethical vampire, a couple of Irish mythological beings, and an obscenity-spewing parrot. The stories make heavy use of puns. Irish whiskeys are the preferred beverage, with Tullamore Dew and Old Bushmills referenced in nearly every collection of shorts or novel that references the saloon.

Lady Sally McGee, the madam of a house of excellent repute (and Mike Callahan's wife), stars in Robinson's Callahan's Lady and Lady Slings The Booze. The regulars at Lady Sally's brothel (where the employees are "artists" and the patrons are "clients") insist on the same empathy and humor as those at Callahan's, and they are just as likely to have fantastic backgrounds.

(Lady Sally's last name is almost certainly a tribute to the fictional character Travis McGee, who appeared in a number of novels by John D. MacDonald, whose works are referenced throughout the Callahan novels.)

This is the source of Callahan's Law (also known as the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy): "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute entropy." Stated another way: "Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed. But one can be converted into the other."


  • Jake Stonebender: The narrator of the Callahan stories; he tried to commit suicide after losing his wife and daughter to a car accident, but Doc Webster saved him and sent him to Callahan's. He's a master with his guitar, whom he calls "Lady Macbeth". In the last chapter of the audio-book for "The Callahan Chronicals" it is revealed that Jake is actually the writer, Spider Robinson, in another dimension.
  • Mike Callahan: The owner of the bar, he is always ready with a drink and a friendly word.
  • Doc Webster: M.D.; one of the oldest regulars and a master of puns. He works shifts at Smithtown General.
  • Fast Eddie: The bar's piano player; he jams with Jake and is equipped with a blackjack to discourage nosy questions.
  • Long Drink McGonnigle: one of the oldest regulars; a night watchman and also skilled at puns.
  • Tom Hauptman: an ex-minister and widower, who was locked away for ten years with his wife in a Latin American banana republic. Callahan offers him the job of bartender after he tells his story.
  • Noah Gonzalez: A sergeant on the force, he works on the bomb squad.
  • Michael "Mickey" Finn: He is a humanoid alien who was sent to destroy Earth. Coming to Callahan's makes him want to reconsider; and, with the bar patrons' collective efforts, he does not and instead joins them.
  • Tommy Janssen: A teenager who comes to Callahan's and gives up his heroin addiction.
  • Tom Flannery: One of the former regulars who has eight months to live at the start of the series and frequently referenced afterwards.
  • "Slippery" Joe Maser: he is bigamous and has two wives with full knowledge of each other.
  • Marty Matthias: had a gambling issue, but got it fixed after he came to Callahan's.
  • Rachel: A woman, which is a rarity in itself at Callahan's. She also may be immortal, but is long-lived at the very least.
  • Shorty Steinitz: had his appendix removed by Doc Webster on Callahan’s bar; world's worst driver; makes a living restoring antique vehicles.
  • Big Beef McCaffrey: was kicked out of the bar in 1947 by Mike Callahan, without opening the solid oak door first. The door has been since mended, but poorly.


Callahan's Crosstime Saloon contains the following stories, virtually all of which were published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact:

  • "The Guy With the Eyes"
  • "The Time-Traveler"
  • "The Centipede's Dilemma"
  • "Two Heads Are Better Than One"
  • "The Law Of Conservation of Pain"
  • "Just Dessert"
  • "A Voice is Heard in Ramah..."
  • "Unnatural Causes"
  • "The Wonderful Conspiracy"

Time Travelers Strictly Cash contains 4 Callahan stories and several non-Callahan stories and essays.

Callahan's Secret contains 4 Callahan stories; there is only Callahan material.

Callahan's Legacy contains three sections that were not separately published as stories.

All of the later works appeared as singular novels.

Some elements of Callahan's Lady and Lady Slings the Booze have been separately published in Pulphouse.

Other versions

The series has a related Usenet newsgroup, alt.callahans, and two IRC channels, #callahans on Undernet and #callahans on freenode for fans.

In 1997 Legend Entertainment released a graphic adventure game for the PC, designed by Josh Mandel (of Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist fame), based on the series. The player controls Jake Stonebender (narrator of the books) through a series of bizarre adventures. Included in the game are several songs performed by Spider Robinson himself, which can be heard by talking to the pianist in the bar and asking for "one of your specialties".

See also

External links

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