Reviews: Nicholson, Sam

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

Captain Empirical — Sam Nicholson
An Analog Book, book 2

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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