Because I’ve been asked about the process by which I’ve been selecting stories for the Random Review series, I thought I’d take a moment to explain how the stories are selected.
I have a database of approximately 42,000 short stories that I own sorted by story title. When it comes time for me to select a story to review as part of this series, I role several dice (mostly ten sided) to determine which story should be read. I cross reference the numbers that come up on the die with the database to see what story I’ll be reviewing. This week, I rolled 40,770 which turned out to be Spider Robinson’s short story “The Wonderful Conspiracy.”
One of the things I’m hoping to get out of this series, from a personal point of view, is to discover authors and short stories that I’ve owned and have never read. Of course, I’m also hoping to share those discoveries, good or bad, with the readers of Black Gate.
The Wonderful Conspiracy is the final story of Spider Robinson’s first Callahan book, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon and it has the appropriately maudlin nostalgia of a bar nearing closing time. Robinson has set the story on New Year’s Eve when the bar is mostly empty, save for employees Mike Callahan and Fast Eddie, as well as inveterate drinkers Long-Drink McGonnigle, the Doc, and Robinson’s narrator.
Although “The Wonderful Conspiracy” has many of the signature tropes of a Callahan story, including the series of puns and breaking of glasses, it is a lower energy story, just five men sitting around talking. Set at the end of the year and in a bar that is practically empty, the discussion between the men turns introspective, led by Long-Drink.