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Reviews by Contributor: Nicholson, Sam (2)

Born on a Pirate Ship

The Light Bearer

By Sam Nicholson  

4 Apr, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Sam Nicholson’s 1980 The Light Bearer is a standalone science fiction novel. It was Nicholson’s only novel and as far as I can tell, this was its only edition in any form.

Sam Nicholson is a pseudonym; the author is said to have been a certain Shirley Nikolaisen, about whom we know almost nothing. We don’t know why she stopped writing.

Stumbling over a planet populated by Bronze Age primitives, the so-called Space Givers saw only a world of rustics who would no doubt be overjoyed to be raised up to the galactic level. In short order the Space Givers discovered that the locals saw them not as paragons to be emulated but as sheep to be shorn. Having retreated to their orbital complex, the Space Givers embarked on a lengthy attempt to gradually civilize a world that considered Space Giver ideals laughable at best. 

Many years later, at the great city of Mus-al-ram, Zeid the Light-Bringer offers the Space Givers hope that their project is finally bearing fruit.

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Poindexters, Pointy-haired bosses, Villainous Third Worlders, and Dastardly Feminists.

Captain Empirical  (An Analog Book, volume 2)

By Sam Nicholson  

14 Dec, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


According to ISFDB, Sam Nicholson was a pen name for Shirley Nikolaisen, about whom information is pretty scarce (Googling her name led me back to one of my own comments, which was not very helpful).What I can safely assert is that of the twenty Nicholson short works, twelve appeared in 1977, 1978, and 19791. Also, while her debut was in Jim Baen’s Galaxy, most of her short work appeared in an Analog then under the editorship of Ben Bova (ten stories) and Bova’s successor, Stanley Schmidt (seven stories). 

Today’s book under review, 1979’s Captain Empirical, is a result of the Bova connection. It was published in Ace’s An Analog Book series2, edited by Ben Bova. 

Either Nicholson held views that appealed to Bova and his successor, or she adopted those views in her stories out of a keen appreciation of what Bova (and later his replacement) would buy. Bova was a lot friendlier to female writers than his predecessor had been; over the course of his tenure the frequency of women in the table of contents went from 6% to 18%3. It probably didn’t hurt Nicholson that her Captain Schuster stories steadfastly took the side of the embattled white senior employee, who is menaced on all sides by Poindexters, pointy-haired bosses, villainous Third Worlders, and dastardly feminists. 

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