In a passionate introduction to this collection covering more than two decades of his writings, Mr. Robinson makes the case that science fiction is not only the place where new ideas are tried out for size by humanity, but also a lot of FUN! It stands midway between objective truth and subjective truth, seeking perpetually to reconcile the two, because this is essential to the continual survival of the human race and because it pays good money, and because, as I mentioned earlier, it turns out to be fun. The passion for the genre and for word games, the laidback atitude and (generally) optimistic predictions for the future make this collection one of my personal favorites, to be added to the couple of other irreverent and friendly stories I heard over the bar at "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon" Time Travellers Strictly Cash! . Robinson pays homage to Heinlein by name in a couple of the stories included, but for me his style and his engagement are closer to another favorite from the Golden Age, Ray Bradbury, and to one of his most memorable quoets: People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. >><><><< Melancholy Elephants the title story and the opening salvo in the battle for the future of humanity, paints a rather bleak future. I will not repeat the arguments in my review, but I think the story is well chosen to illustrate the way ideas matter and why any law that stifles innovation and imagination spells trouble for our survival. Half an Oaf : the future is so bleak that some people would buy cheap replicas of time machines from the black market in order to escape back to Brooklyn in the 80's. An old man is killed in front of their eyes by a secret agent, but before he dies he manages to give them the secret formula for a new drug - a drug that makes people tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Robinson is at his best when he talks about the subjects he cares about the most - in this story music, puns, friends and free love and drugs :-). I think the biggest single problem in the world, for almost the last two decades, has been morale. We all know that people as they get older are prone to drone endlessly about their good old days. True Minds is a love story with a scientific twist. A writer becomes world famous for writing the most insightful and the most heartfelt love stories ever published. Love rides his back like a goblin. Subversive time traveller stories are something of a specialty for Robinson, and here we have a tourist from the past we are better of without. Old slang dialogue mixes with some rather bloody minded tempers to ask us whether time travel really is a good thing, after all. Or at least a weak won't." Groucho Marx It's a Sunny Day is the story that made me buy the whole collection after I came across it online. High Infidelity is another subversive take on love, this time with a kinky twist, not only a scientific one. I think I better leave it like this, unreviewed, and segue into the soundtrack listing that the collection prompted me to compile: - The Beatles - "Norwegian Wood" (discussed in the story "True Minds": There's an old John Lennon song, 'Norwegian Wood.' I've always felt that he changed the title to avoid censorship. ) - The Beatles - "Happiness is a Warm Gun" - The Lovin' Spoonful - "Daydream" - The 5th Dimension - "Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In" - Melanie - "Brand New Key" - Barry McGuire - "Eve of Destruction" - Marvin Gaye - "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" - Edison Lighthouse - "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" - Arlo Guthrie - " Alice's Rock'n Roll Restaurant" The last song is also an invitation to go visit Callahan's Crosstime Saloon and buy the author a beer if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
These stories are perhaps more thought-provoking than his best known series: Callahan's.
The two best stories are the title story as well as Satan's Children.
There are a lot of things I like about Spider Robinson's shorts. Most of the gender issues are minor, and frankly vastly better than a lot of stuff of this era.
Robinson's writing career began in 1972 with a sale to Analog Science Fiction magazine of a story entitled, The Guy With The Eyes.