Top critical review
Is this hitting the Bob Hope syndrome?
on June 26, 2002
I first read Callahan's Crosstime Saloon back in college, like the early 80's so I've been a fan for quite awhile. I really enjoyed that book, and also each of the subsequent Callahan books Robinson has put out over the last 20 years.
This is not at the same level of quality and originality that the earlier books were. The Callahan Touch felt like he's really writing for his die-hard fans who are easier and more lenient on the rough spots. Would someone "get this" if they happened to find a copy at the library? Would it stand on its own? It's sort of like all those Star Trek paperbacks they've written over the last decade, if you love the characters, you love being able to keep reading about them, even in a sub-par tale. This book is where the series starts to be about a cult rather than simply telling a story about a unique group of people. They are starting to be larger and better than life. The blur between fictional characters and events, and the desire to have them exist in real life gets a little fuzzed. (Callahan's Key will take it even further down this path.) . Look, I love the stories but I'm not converting to a religion. What is the old saying? "It is the story, and not the teller"? I don't care if Spider is a cool guy or not, I just want a good story to read and maybe think about. Spider seems to have begun to be in it for the money. Not a bad thing at all, it's just it was so much more fun when it was about just the story.
But, who really cares? I'm critical because I expect a lot based on the enjoyment I've had with this group of characters over the years. This is, as always, a clever, fun, witty, and enjoyable read. If you've read Robinson before, you will enjoy the Callahan Touch and know he has better stuff out there. If this is your first one, find his earlier stuff now. You're in for a treat!
I'd really love to see Spider write one more fun, old-style Callahan novel. I'd hate to have Spider become like Bob Hope, famous for doing something no one remembers anymore, just that he's famous for being famous.