CALLAHAN'S SECRET, Spider Robinson, Tor, 1986, 217pp
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon is a fabled stopover in New Jersey which you only find if you need it. Not because you want to get liquored up, but because you need a place where they can find people who've had their own cataclysmic problems eased and are capable of feeling your pain.
The latest problems involve an alcoholic vampire, a lonely alien, a man with a severe form of Tourette's Syndrome that makes him unapproachable, and an alien invasion that has to be stopped by the only people who know that Earth's nuclear weapons have been neutralized.
Spider Robinson mixes stories with several dove-tailing subplots and a shattering collection of puns that the barflies toss around in wild abandon to create exciting and thought-provoking plots, speculation and opinion, laced with humor often compared to Robert Heinlein in spirit, if not in DNA exactitude.
In all, there are four stories. Each story is actually pretty light on the science fiction aspect but filled with appeal. I recall reading one Callahan's story years ago about a time traveler...a guy arrested during the Kennedy years and held incommunicado ina South American prison until about 20 years later. He finds Kennedy dead, JFK's nemesis Nixon as president, an entire war in Vietnam behind us, Neil Armstrong long returned from a trip to the moon along with 11 other guys who walked the lunar surface, incredible technology hanging from everyone's belt or in their pocket, and even Toffler wouldn't have any idea what to do with this guy's Future Shock. Like I said, a time travel story. And no technology in that entire story (which, for the record, is not in this particular book.)
Readers have forums on the internet about Callahan's. Some have cruised the wilds of New Jersey looking for Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. There's one way to find it...and that's between the covers of Spider Robinson's book.
A sad postscript, Spider's wife and collaborator on the award-winning Stardance novels, Jeanne, passed away recently. I read Stardance, the original novel, when it came out and was unaware of sequels, but it was amazing...a woman occupying an orbital studio communicates with aliens through dance.