Spider Robinson

Spider Robinson

Overview
Spider Robinson is an American-born
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Canadian Hugo
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 and Nebula award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

 winning science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 author.

Born in the Bronx, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, Robinson attended Catholic high school, spending his junior year in a seminary, followed by two years in a Catholic college, and five years at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in the 1960s, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Stony Brook, Spider earned a reputation as a great entertainer at campus coffeehouses and gatherings, strumming his guitar and singing in harmony with his female partner.
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Quotations

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.

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon|Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977) "Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy"

A man should live forever, or die trying.

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon|Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977) "A voice is heard in Ramah".

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.

"Callahan's Law", as expressed in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)], Part IV : Earth ... and Beyond, "Post Toast", p. 388. On the back cover of Callahan's Legacy (1996) this is modified into "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased (and bad puns are appreciated).

To all the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon|Callahan's Places there ever were or ever will be, whatever they may be called — and to all the merry maniacs and happy fools who are fortunate enough to stumble into one: may none of them arrive too late!

Toast in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)], Part IV : Earth ... and Beyond, "Post Toast", p. 392

The delusion that one's sexual pattern is The Only Right Way To Be is probably the single most common sexual-psychosis syndrome of this era, and it is virtually almost always the victim's fault. You cannot acquire this delusion by observing reality.

Lady Slings the Booze (1992)

I smelled her before I saw her. Even so, the first sight was shocking.

First lines

I had just seen the two most horrible things. The first was the smile. They say that when the bomb went off at Hiroshima, some people's shadows were baked onto walls by it. I think that smile got baked on the surface of my brain in much the same way. I don't want to talk about that smile.

Five days of wireheading alone should have killed her, never mind sudden cold turkey.

Animated the face might have been beautiful — any set of features can support beauty — but even a superb makeup job could not have made her pretty.

Encyclopedia
Spider Robinson is an American-born
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Canadian Hugo
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 and Nebula award
Nebula Award
The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

 winning science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 author.

Biography


Born in the Bronx, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, Robinson attended Catholic high school, spending his junior year in a seminary, followed by two years in a Catholic college, and five years at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in the 1960s, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Stony Brook, Spider earned a reputation as a great entertainer at campus coffeehouses and gatherings, strumming his guitar and singing in harmony with his female partner. In his 20s, he "spent several years in the woods, deliberately trying to live without technology." In 1971, just out of college, he got a night job guarding sewers in New York City. He wrote his first published science fiction story, "The Guy with The Eyes", to get out of that job. In 1975 he married his wife Jeanne Robinson
Jeanne Robinson
Jeanne Robinson was an American-born Canadian dancer, choreographer, teacher and co-author of three award-winning science fiction novels, The Stardance Saga...

, a choreographer, dancer, and Sōtō
Soto
Sōtō Zen , or is, with Rinzai and Ōbaku, one of the three most populous sects of Zen in Japanese Buddhism.The Sōtō sect was first established as the Caodong sect during the Tang Dynasty in China by Dongshan Liangjie in the 9th century, which Dōgen Zenji then brought to Japan in the 13th century...

 Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 monk, who co-wrote his Stardance Trilogy. They have a daughter Terri, who once worked for Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart is an American business magnate, author, magazine publisher, and television personality. As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has gained success through a variety of business ventures, encompassing publishing, broadcasting, and merchandising...

.

Robinson has lived in Canada for the past 30 years, primarily in the provinces of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. He formerly lived in "an upscale district of Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 for a decade," and has lived on Bowen Island
Bowen Island
Bowen Island, British Columbia, is an island municipality in Howe Sound, is part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and is an island included within the jurisdiction of the Islands Trust . Approximately 6 km wide by 12 km long, the island at its closest point is about 2 km...

 since approximately 1999. He became a Canadian citizen in 2002, retaining his American citizenship. Spider and Jeanne's first grandchild, Marisa, was born in 2009, as Jeanne was undergoing treatment for "a rare and virulent form of biliary cancer". Jeanne Robinson died May 30, 2010.

Writing


Robinson made his first short-story sale in 1972 to Analog Science Fiction
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre...

magazine. The story, "The Guy With The Eyes" (Analog February 1973), was set in a bar called Callahan's Place; Robinson would, off-and-on, continue to write stories about the denizens of Callahan's into the 21st century. Robinson made several short-story sales to Analog, Galaxy Science Fiction
Galaxy Science Fiction
Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by an Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break in to the American market. World Editions hired as editor H. L...

magazine and others, and worked as a book reviewer for Galaxy magazine during the mid-to-late 1970s. In 1978–79 he contributed book reviews to the original anthology series Destinies.

Robinson's first published novel, Telempath (1976), was an expansion of his Hugo award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

-winning novella "By Any Other Name". Over the following three decades, Robinson on average released a book a year, including short story anthologies. In 1996–2005, he served as a columnist in the Op-Ed section (and briefly in the technology section) of the Globe and Mail.

In 2004, he pronounced himself "overjoyed" to begin working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

 to expand it into a novel. The book, titled Variable Star
Variable Star
Variable Star is a 2006 novel written by Spider Robinson based on the surviving seven pages of an eight-page 1955 novel outline by the late Robert A. Heinlein. The book is set in a divergent offshoot of Heinlein's Future History and contains many references to works by Heinlein and other authors...

, was released on September 19, 2006. Robinson has always made his admiration for Heinlein very clear; in an afterword to Variable Star he recounts the story of how on his first visit to a public library a librarian named Ruth Siegel "changed my life completely" by sizing up the child in front of her and handing him a copy of the Heinlein juvenile
Heinlein juveniles
"Heinlein juveniles" are the 12 novels written by Robert A. Heinlein and published by Scribner's between 1947 and 1958. The intended readership was teenage boys, but the books have been enjoyed by a wide range of readers...

 novel Rocket Ship Galileo
Rocket Ship Galileo
Rocket Ship Galileo is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, published in 1947, about three teenagers who participate in a pioneering flight to the Moon. It was the first in the Heinlein juveniles, a long and successful series of science fiction novels published by Scribner's...

, after which "the first ten books I ever read in my life were by Robert Heinlein, and they were all great."

Robinson is also an admirer of mystery writer John D. MacDonald
John D. MacDonald
John Dann MacDonald was an American crime and suspense novelist and short story writer.MacDonald was a prolific author of crime and suspense novels, many of them set in his adopted home of Florida...

. Lady Sally McGee, from the Callahan's
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 In the fictional universe of Spider Robinson, Callahan's Place is a bar with strongly community-minded and empathic...

 series, is apparently named in honor of Travis McGee
Travis McGee
Travis McGee is a fictional character, created by prolific American mystery writer John D. MacDonald. Unlike most detectives in crime fiction, McGee is neither a police officer nor a licensed private investigator; instead, he is a self-described "salvage consultant" who recovers others' property...

, the central character in MacDonald's mystery novels. The lead character in Lady Slings The Booze frequently refers to Travis McGee as a role model. In Callahan's Key the patrons make a visit to the marina near Fort Lauderdale where the Busted Flush was usually moored in the McGee series. On Robinson's website there is a photo of him "at the address (now demolished) of 'The Busted Flush,' home of John D. MacDonald’s immortal character Travis McGee: Slip F-18, Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale FL." Similarly important to Robinson is writer Donald E. Westlake
Donald E. Westlake
Donald Edwin Westlake was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction or other genres...

 and Westlake's most famous character, John Archibald Dortmunder.

Robinson's stance may be described as humanistic and humorous. He has frequently encouraged a positive attitude towards world issues, claiming that a pessimistic world view will yield pessimistic results. Frequently in his writing, the conflicts center around a science fiction issue with a human solution, following Theodore Sturgeon
Theodore Sturgeon
Theodore Sturgeon was an American science fiction author.His most famous novel is More Than Human .-Biography:...

's definition of a good science fiction story.

Stand-alone novels

  • Telempath
    Telempath
    Telempath is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson set in a dystopian near-future in which human cities have fallen into ruin and the population has been sharply reduced. The novel, Robinson's first, is an expansion of his 1977 Hugo Award-winning novella By Any Other Name. It was first...

    (New York: Berkley, 1976)
  • Night of Power
    Night of Power (novel)
    Night of Power is a novel by Spider Robinson. This is a speculative fiction tale about a race war that could have happened in New York.-Plot introduction:The book, written in 1984 although first published a year later, is set in the year 1996...

    (1985)
  • The Free Lunch
    The Free Lunch
    The Free Lunch is a 2001 novel by Spider Robinson. The title is a reference to the adage "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch", popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.-Synopsis:...

    (2001)
  • Variable Star
    Variable Star
    Variable Star is a 2006 novel written by Spider Robinson based on the surviving seven pages of an eight-page 1955 novel outline by the late Robert A. Heinlein. The book is set in a divergent offshoot of Heinlein's Future History and contains many references to works by Heinlein and other authors...

    (2006)

The Russell Walker/Zandor Zudenigo/Nika Mandiç Mysteries

  • Very Bad Deaths
    Very Bad Deaths
    Very Bad Deaths , is a science-fiction/suspense-mystery novel from Canadian science fiction author Spider Robinson. The book was followed in 2008 by a sequel, Very Hard Choices...

    (2004)
  • Very Hard Choices
    Very Hard Choices
    Very Hard Choices is a science-fiction/suspense-mystery novel from Canadian science fiction author Spider Robinson, released in June 2008. The novel, set in British Columbia, is a sequel to Very Bad Deaths and continues the story of the reclusive telepath known as Smelly.-Plot:In this novel, Nika...

    (2008)

The Deathkiller Trilogy

  • Mindkiller
    Mindkiller
    Mindkiller is a 1982 novel by science fiction writer Spider Robinson. The novel, set in the late 1980s , explores the social implications of technologies to manipulate the brain, beginning with wireheading, the use of electrical current to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain in order to...

    (1982)
  • Time Pressure (1987)
  • Lifehouse (1997)

The Stardance Trilogy


Written in collaboration with his wife, Jeanne Robinson
Jeanne Robinson
Jeanne Robinson was an American-born Canadian dancer, choreographer, teacher and co-author of three award-winning science fiction novels, The Stardance Saga...

.
  • Stardance
    Stardance
    Stardance is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson, published by Dial Press in 1979 as part of its Quantum science fiction line...

    (1979)
  • Starseed
    Starseed (novel)
    Starseed is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson....

    (1991)
  • Starmind
    Starmind
    Starmind is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson....

    (1995)
  • The Star Dancers (1997) (omnibus edition of Stardance and Starseed)

The Callahan's Series

  • Callahan's Place
    • 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 In the fictional universe of Spider Robinson, Callahan's Place is a bar with strongly community-minded and empathic...

      (1977)
    • Time Travelers Strictly Cash (1981) (contains several non-Callahan's stories as well)
    • Callahan's Secret (1986)
    • Callahan and Company (1988) - (omnibus edition of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan's Secret)
    • The Callahan Chronicals (1997) - (retitled republication of Callahan and Company)
  • Lady Sally's
    • Callahan's Lady
      Callahan's Lady
      Callahan’s Lady is one of many books in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series by Spider Robinson. It is made up of 11 vignettes, all revolving around a bar and brothel owned by Lady Sally McGee, wife of Mike Callahan...

      (1989)
    • Lady Slings the Booze (1992)
    • Kill the Editor (1991) - (an excerpt from Lady Slings the Booze, published in a special edition)
  • Mary's Place
    • The Callahan Touch (1993)
    • Callahan's Legacy (1996)
  • The Place
    • Callahan's Key (2000)
    • Callahan's Con (2003)
  • Off the Wall at Callahan's (1994) - (a collection of quotes from other books in the series)

Short story collections

  • Antinomy (1980)
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds (1980) - (collection of works by other authors edited and introduced by Robinson)
  • Melancholy Elephants
    Melancholy Elephants
    "Melancholy Elephants" is a Hugo Award-winning science fiction short story written by Spider Robinson in 1983.The story examines the interaction of copyright and longevity, and the possible effects of the extension of copyright to perpetuity....

    (1984 - Canada; 1985 - United States)
  • True Minds (1990)
  • User Friendly (1998)
  • By Any Other Name (2001)
  • God Is an Iron and Other Stories (2002)

Collected essays

  • The Crazy Years: Reflections of a Science Fiction Original (2004), a collection of his articles for The Globe and Mail
    The Globe and Mail
    The Globe and Mail is a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, based in Toronto and printed in six cities across the country. With a weekly readership of approximately 1 million, it is Canada's largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star...


Awards and honors

  • John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1974)
  • Hugo Award
    Hugo Award
    The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

    s for:
    • best novella
      Hugo Award for Best Novella
      The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

       (1977) By Any Other Name (later expanded into Telempath
      Telempath
      Telempath is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson set in a dystopian near-future in which human cities have fallen into ruin and the population has been sharply reduced. The novel, Robinson's first, is an expansion of his 1977 Hugo Award-winning novella By Any Other Name. It was first...

      )
    • best novella (1978) Stardance (with Jeanne Robinson
      Jeanne Robinson
      Jeanne Robinson was an American-born Canadian dancer, choreographer, teacher and co-author of three award-winning science fiction novels, The Stardance Saga...

      )
    • best short story
      Hugo Award for Best Short Story
      The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

       (1983) Melancholy Elephants
      Melancholy Elephants
      "Melancholy Elephants" is a Hugo Award-winning science fiction short story written by Spider Robinson in 1983.The story examines the interaction of copyright and longevity, and the possible effects of the extension of copyright to perpetuity....

  • Nebula Award
    Nebula Award
    The Nebula Award is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America , for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year...

     for:
    • best novella
      Nebula Award for Best Novella
      Winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novella. The stated year is that of publication; awards are given in the following year.-Winners and other nominees:-External links:**...

       (1977) Stardance (with Jeanne Robinson)
  • 2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award (Lifetime Achievement)

External links