Tales from the Spaceport Bar and Another Round at the Spaceport Bar
(Avon Books, 1987 and 1989). Covers by James Warhola and Doug Beekman
Science fiction has a rep for being serious stuff. Tales of dystopias, climate catastrophes and environmental collapse, dire warnings about worrying trends, that’s SF in a nutshell. Even dressed up in its best story-telling adventure garb, Star Wars or Mad Max-style, it’s still often perceived as all about desperate battles in apocalyptic settings.
Of course, science fiction is much broader and richer than that, and most of its best writers have amply demonstrated their love of whimsy and fun. One of SF’s best-loved sub-genres is the Club Tale/Bar Story, exemplified by Arthur C. Clarke’s famous Tales From the White Hart, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s long-running Gavagan’s Bar stories, Lord Dunsany’s Jorkens tales, Isaac Asimov’s Black Widowers mysteries, Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Bar, Larry Niven’s spacefaring tales of Draco Tavern, and many others.
In the late 80s Weird Tales editors George H. Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer assembled a collection of the best such stories, Tales from the Spaceport Bar. It made the Locus Award list of Year’s Best Anthologies (in 11th place), and was quickly followed by Another Round at the Spaceport Bar. Both books are a fine antidote to anyone who’s dabbled just a little too long on the dark side of science fiction.
[Sidle on up to the bar by clicking the images for bigger versions.]
Back covers for Tales from the Spaceport Bar and Another Round at the Spaceport Bar
Tales from the Spaceport Bar collects no less than 22 stories, including a Draco Tavern tale by Larry Niven, a White Hart short story by Arthur C. Clarke, a story from Gavagan’s Bar by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, Roger Zelazny’s Hugo Award-winning novelette “Unicorn Variation,” a Jorkens tale by Lord Dunsany, a Ferdinand Feghoot story by Reginald Bretnor, a tale from Callahan Bar by Spider Robinson, plus contributions from Henry Kuttner, Darrell Schweitzer, Gardner Dozois, R. A. Lafferty, Margaret St. Clair, Avram Davidson, Robert Silverberg, Algis Budrys, Randall Garrett, and many more.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
Preface by Darrell Schweitzer and George H. Scithers
“The Green Marauder” by Larry Niven (Destinies, February-March 1980)
“Don’t Look Now” by Henry Kuttner (Startling Stories, March 1948)
“Getting Even” by Isaac Asimov (Gallery, August 1980)
“What Goes Up” by Arthur C. Clarke (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1956)
“Social Lapses” by Darrell Schweitzer (Amazing Stories, January 1986) — poem
“One for the Road” by Gardner Dozois (Playboy, April 1982)
“Elephas Frumenti” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Winter/Spring 1950)
“Unicorn Variation” by Roger Zelazny (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 13, 1981)
“Strategy at the Billiards Club” by Lord Dunsany (London Evening News, June 25, 1946)
“Through Time & Space with Ferdinand Feghoot!” by Reginald Bretnor (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 11, 1981)
“On the Rocks at Slab’s” by John Gregory Betancourt (Dragon Magazine, January 1986)
“Hands of the Man” by R. A. Lafferty (Infinity One, 1970)
“Endurance Vile” by Steven Barnes (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1980)
“The Centipede’s Dilemma” by Spider Robinson (Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, 1977)
“The Causes” by Margaret St. Clair (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1952)
“For a Foggy Night” by Larry Niven (Decal, July 1968)
“They Loved Me in Utica” by Avram Davidson (New Worlds of Fantasy #2, 1970)
“A Pestilence of Psychoanalysts” by Janet Asimov (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1980)
“The Regulars” by Robert Silverberg (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 11, 1981)
“The Man Who Always Knew” by Algis Budrys (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1956)
“Infinite Resources” by Randall Garrett (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1954)
“What’s Wrong with This Picture?” by John M. Ford and Barry B. Longyear and George H. Scithers (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1980)
Tales from the Spaceport Bar was reprinted in the UK by New English Library; here’s a look at that version. I always appreciated the back cover text for this edition. You know an editor at NEL had fun with this one.
Tales from the Spaceport Bar (New English Library, 1988). Cover uncredited
Another Round at the Spaceport Bar contains 18 stories, including C. M. Kornbluth’s celebrated classic “The Altar at Midnight,” a Draco Tavern tale by Larry Niven, a Change War story by Fritz Leiber, a Black Widowers mystery by Isaac Asimov, a tale of the Psychotechnic League by Poul Anderson, plus stories by John M. Ford, Robert A. Heinlein, Michael Swanwick, Darrell Schweitzer, John Gregory Betancourt, Lord Dunsany — and an original contribution from W. T. Quick.
Here’s the complete TOC.
Introduction: “In Vino Veritas?” by W. T. Quick
“The Far King” by Richard Wilson (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March-April 1978)
“The Altar at Midnight” by C. M. Kornbluth (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1952)
“Princess” by Morgan Llywelyn (Weird Tales, Summer 1988)
“The Subject Is Closed” by Larry Niven (Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, May 1977)
“The Persecutor’s Tale” by John M. Ford (Amazing Science Fiction, November 1982)
“Longshot” by Jack C. Haldeman, II (Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, Spring 1979)
“Finnegan’s” by W. T. Quick (original to this volume)
“The Oldest Soldier” by Fritz Leiber (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1960)
“The Ultimate Crime” by Isaac Asimov (More Tales of the Black Widowers, 1976)
“All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1959)
“The Immortal Bard” by Isaac Asimov (Universe Science Fiction, May 1954)
“Anyone Here from Utah?”y by Michael Swanwick (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1985)
“Cold Victory” by Poul Anderson (Venture Science Fiction Magazine, May 1957)
“C.O.D.” by Jonathan Milos (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1979)
“Pennies from Hell” by Darrell Schweitzer (Night Cry, Spring 1987)
“Not Polluted Enough” by George H. Scithers (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1973)
“Well Bottled at Slab’s” by John Gregory Betancourt (Dragon Magazine, October 1987)
“The Three Sailors’ Gambit” by Lord Dunsany (The Smart Set, August 1916)
And here’s a look at the UK edition.
Another Round at the Spaceport Bar (New English Library, 1992). Cover uncredited
If you appreciate a well-told bar story or tall tale, we’ve covered many here at Black Gate — especially Violette Malan, who did a lengthy series for us in 2014, including a look at Tales From The Spaceport Bar. Here’s a selection.
Vintage Treasures: Tales From Gavagan’s Bar by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt by John O’Neill
Birthday Reviews: Spider Robinson’s “The Centipede’s Dilemma” by Steven H Silver
Birthday Reviews: Arthur C. Clarke’s “Let There Be Light” by Steven H Silver
So We Were In This Bar… by Violette Malan
Lord Dunsany and the Billiards Club by Violette Malan
Isaac Asimov’s Black Widowers, by Violette Malan
Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Place by Violette Malan
George H. Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer’s Tales From The Spaceport Bar by Violette Malan
Here’s just a few of the delightful collections you may want to track down.
Tales from the White Hart (Ballantine Books, 1970, cover artist unknown), Tales from Gavagan’s Bar (Bantam Books,
1980, unknown), and the second Callahan collection Time Travelers Strictly Cash (Ace Books, 1981, Vincent Di Fate)
Here’s the publishing details for the Spaceport Bar volumes
Tales from the Spaceport Bar (Avon Books, 250 pages, $3.50 in paperback, January 1987). Cover by James Warhola
Another Round at the Spaceport Bar (Avon Books, 256 pages, $3.50 in paperback, April 1989). Cover by Doug Beekman
Neither book has a digital edition, but paperback copies are easy to find.
See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.