Reviews of Draco Tavern, the (2006)
Review by johnafair (2008-03-04)
A collection of several short stories all linked by being set in the mythical Draco's Tavern, where the aliens who travel on the Chirp starships. Rick Schumann is quite content to be the barkeeper (and owner) of this establishment listening to the various tales of his customers.
These are very, very short tales, averaging only a couple of pages each but Niven manages to capture something of the strangeness of the aliens. And of the humans.
If none are really long enough to hate, then none are really long enough to enjoy either.
(This review refers to the 2006 version titled “Draco Tavern, the”)
Review by clong (2007-04-06)
This is a collection of linked short stories written over a 30 year period, all set in a near future world in which alien trading ships periodically call at a starport in Siberia. Rick Schumann is the proprietor of the spaceport bar, where aliens of all varieties (and the humans who seek them out for purposes scientific, commercial, and/or nefarious) gather. For the most part these stories are light fare: very short, and fairly modest in ambition. Many of them are turn on a gimmick. But Niven generally succeeds in making his point.
The stories are at their weakest when Niven deals with sex and sexuality (as in “Smut Talk” for example). Somewhat to my surprise, I though the most recent stories, which are darker and clearly fueled by a post-9/11 anger, were the strongest. These build on ideas initially articulated in “Cruel and Unusual,” in which we learn that interstellar justice sees cruel and unusual punishments as just rewards for cruel and unusual crimes.
Don’t come here looking for anything startlingly original. But if you’re looking for a quick read that uses alien species as a foil off of which to bounce observations about human behavior, give the Draco’s Tavern stories a try.