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Cowboy Feng's Space Bar And Grille (2003)

Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (2003)

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3.62 of 5 Votes: 4
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0765306646 (ISBN13: 9780765306647)
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About book Cowboy Feng's Space Bar And Grille (2003)

A group of folk musicians find themselves in a bar. The city the bar is in gets nuked, but somehow the bar jumps to another city in another time and place in the galaxy. Sometime later, the new city is nuked again. Who is doing this, and why? And what does it have to do with great cooking, traditional music, the Grateful Dead, and dysfunctional romantic relationships? That's what Cowboy Feng's is about, and fortunately for me, almost all of Brust's bizarre obsessions align fairly nicely with mine, so I thought this was alot of fun. The fact that Brust weaves all of this into a traditional Western plot only makes it better.I will call foul on a couple of points. At one point he talks about a computer program falling back into Bach's seventh sonata after failing at an improvisation in G. There is no such thing. Also, he writes brilliantly about what it's like to play in a quasi-improvisational band, but he is not quite so good when he tries to give detail about guitar or banjo playing. Drums are his thing, and I had the distinct impression at times that he was in a bit over his head when trying to describe other instruments. His writing about food is first rate. There's a description here of making scrambled eggs that had me wanting to go to Feng's and get in on the Breakfast. And then there's the ending, which didn't work for me. It wrapped things up nicely, but I didn't buy it. (view spoiler)[The revelation of Feng didn't work for me. I thought the idea was great, but I didn't buy that this guy from the future had such feelings of longing and loss for a long dead Earth that he barely knew. If that was all, I might be OK, but I also didn't buy his knowledge of lots and lots of long dead traditional Earth music. The music is so central to the character, and I just don't see how it worked, how Feng, as Billy, could know all the music that he did. So the end felt like a cheat to me, and almost spoiled what I otherwise thought was a very fun book. (hide spoiler)]

This was Steven Brust's eight novel. I enjoy his Vlad Taltos high fantasy series(Jhereg, Yendi, and so on), and thought I'd give one of his other novels a shot. Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille is a time travel novel that features and eclectic cast of characters - a bartender/medic, a bouncer/waiter/former Special Forces operative, an Irish folk band, and so on. What ties them all together is the bar/restaurant.Brust has this to say about the novel: "Not one of my better efforts, I think, but there are bits of it I like. It started out to be funny, developed a serious side, and I was never able to get the elements to blend the way I wanted them to." I think I have to agree with him. The characters are more caricatures than actual fully-fleshed people, and the discontinuity between the humor and the drama is jarring. I'm not unhappy with it, it's got some good bits to it, but they don't string together as well as I'd like.All told, I wish he'd waited a bit to write this, or maybe done it as a collaboration. Maybe another voice would have helped to steer the plot better. It's not a novel that I will be recommending to just anybody, but if you're a Brust fan, or a completist who loves time travel stories, you should give it a try.

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This book, published in 1990, alludes to the foolish fears everyone has about the unknown, whether it is the AIDS epidemic or some other thing we don't understand. It also looks at what happens when fear becomes fanatical and those with the power to do so begin to play God.But fear also drives greed. Fear can become a religion, especially when junk science is involved. Fear can make some feel superior to the majority. Facing your fears, overcoming them... that is what this book is about.I was reading this to Annie/Pagan_darkangel over the net. After reading the very emotional ending, I don't know if I can go back again. Then again, I don't know when and if I will talk to Annie again.

Cowboy Feng’s is the quirky tale of a band of survivors huddled into a restaurant/music venue. Whenever a nuclear bomb hits, Feng’s is whisked through time and space as the protagonist tries to discover the meaning of “Sugar Bear”, the funky “rosebud” of the tale.Food and music are as central to the story as any of the characters. Gyros, sourdough, baby peas in vinegar. Good food is still plentiful. This is my kind of apocalypse. I appreciate carnival and campfire tales. Give me one with music, food and existential questions about the point of it all and I’m hooked. The pop culture nods were nice though infrequent. Expect a lot of musical lingo and jargon which may or may not be appreciated depending on whether or not one knows what a “C-major seventh” is. Before reading Feng’s, I didn’t know what Irish music was. A little research beforehand will make the whole tale far more enjoyable.In the end, Cowboy Feng’s was a strange ride and enjoyable read with a shocking ending.
—Kevin Pitchford

It was odd reading this book because I read it many years ago. I thought I remembered it pretty well, but I wanted to reread it to see if I still like it as much as I remember. Turns out all I remembered was a couple of plot twists from the last twenty pages or so. So I basically read this from scratch, but knew how it was going to end. All said, I liked it, but didn't love it. I don't regret reading it, but I won't be pressing it into your hands either. (Unless you LOVE Irish Folk music. If you do, this is a must-read.)
—Marc Williams

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