James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Project

Reviews in Project: Big Hair, Big Guns! (53)

Some Underworld Spy

Tool of the Trade

By Joe Haldeman  

9 Feb, 2023

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Joe Haldeman’s 1987’s Tool of the Trade is a stand-alone science fiction espionage novel.

MIT psychology Nicholas Foley is a seemingly unremarkable academic. In fact, Foley is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he is a Soviet sleeper agent. Leningrad-born Nikola Ulinov was infiltrated into the US as a young man. Ulinov, now Foley, has invested decades establishing himself within American academia.

Foley’s casual hobby of lethal vigilantism is less remarkable than how the sleeper agent manages to kill miscreant after miscreant. Foley has the power to compel obedience.

Read more ➤

Lie For You

The Alchemists  (The Alchemists, volume 1)

By Geary Gravel  

8 Dec, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1984’s The Alchemists is the first of two volumes in Geary Gravel’s The Alchemists series.

Jonathan Emerson Emrys” Tate summons experts to Belthannis Autumnworld. There they will assess the native people, the kin, to establish whether or not the kin should be deemed human under Commonwealth law1.

Or so Emrys claims. In fact, he has a different purpose in mind for his team. They will contrive some way to get the kin classified as human despite the fact they very clearly do not qualify.

Read more ➤

Tower to the Sky

2300 AD

By Marc Miller, Frank Chadwick, Timothy B. Brown & Lester W. Smith  

4 Oct, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Marc W. Miller, Frank Chadwick, Timothy B. Brown, and Lester W. Smith’s1988 RPG 2300 AD1 is the second edition of a 1986 near-future hard-SF roleplaying game originally titled Traveller: 2300, put out by Game Designer Workshop. In addition to the rebranding, GDW substantially expanded second edition 2300 AD: whereas Traveller: 2300s various manuals totaled 129 pages, 2300 ADs manuals totaled 232. To sweeten the deal even more, GDW was willing to swap copies of Traveller: 2300 for copies of 2300 AD.

Inside the hefty and durable box2, gamers found:

Read more ➤

Perfect Harmony

The Gate of Ivory  (Gate of Ivory, volume 1)

By Doris Egan  

20 Sep, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1989’s The Gate of Ivory is the first volume in Doris Egan’s cozy science fantasy, the Gate of Ivory trilogy. Rather unexpectedly, the trilogy consists of exactly three books. 

The human inhabitants of the planet Ivory are famous for their amusing delusion that magic works on Ivory. The chance to visit exotic Ivory was too enticing for cultural anthropologist Theodora (Theo) to pass up … although Theo might have been better off if she had turned it down.

Having been rolled by a cunning Ivoran, Theo missed her ship off Ivory. The Athenan ambassador declined to help an ID-less Theo. Having no other option, Theo has spent the two years since her failed flight making a meagre living reading Tarot cards. She is saving her pennies in the hope that one day she will be able to afford the small fortune required to return to Athena and her academic life. 

Ivory aristocrat Ran Cormallon has a use for a woman without friends, family, or wealth.

Read more ➤

Breathe Deep The Gathering Gloom

X‑Men: Days of Future Past

By Chris Claremont & John Byrne  

18 Aug, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1981’s X‑Men: Days of Future Past was a two-part story that first appeared in the comics X‑Men 141 and X‑Men 142. Chris Claremont was credited as writer, John Byrne as artist; the pair shared plotting credit. 

In the unimaginably distant year of 2013, New York’s Park Avenue is a vast slum, as is New York itself. Indeed, New York’s condition reflects the dismal state of America as a whole: an economically declining dictatorship whose population is regimented by the giant robot Sentinels along eugenic lines. Put simply, it’s mutant versus human!

Read more ➤

When You’re Strange

Bimbos of the Death Sun

By Sharyn McCrumb  

26 Jul, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1987’s Bimbos of the Death Sun is the first of two Jay Omega mysteries by Sharyn McCrumb.

Engineering professor Dr. James Jay Omega” Mega turned his research into a novel. Fellow academic Dr. Marion Farley transformed Jay’s novel into a readable novel and Jay himself into a boyfriend. Jay’s publisher renamed the hard SF novel Bimbos of the Death Sun, slapped a lurid cover on it, and sent it out to bookstores. Now comes the most grueling part of writing SF: publicity. Specifically, interacting with fans at Rubicon, a science fiction convention. 

Read more ➤

A World of Fools

Eldrie the Healer  (Bastard Princess, volume 1)

By Claudia J. Edwards  

19 Jul, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1989’s Eldrie the Healer is the first and only volume in Claudia J. Edwards’ Bastard Princess secondary-world fantasy series. 

Eldrie left her native Maritiene, where she was an unhappy, bullied bastard (but of royal stock, so would have been a princess if legitimate), to become a wandering healer. Eager to find work, Eldrie journeyed to the strife-torn Republic. She soon discovered two flaws in her plan. First, a decade of civil war meant nobody could afford to pay her. Second, rather than being seen as a neutral in the conflict between Theocrat and Monarchist, Eldrie was seen by both sides as the ally of the other side and therefore a legitimate target.

Searching for a way past clashing Theocrat/Monarchist forces, Eldrie finds herself face to face with a rampaging barbarian.

Read more ➤

Dare to Know

The Curse of Sagamore  (Sagamore, volume 1)

By Kara Dalkey  

31 May, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1986’s The Curse of Sagamore is the first volume in Kara Dalkey’s Sagamore duology.

Several generations ago, King Thalion decided that none of the heirs of his body were worthy of the throne of Euthymia1. His fool, Sagamore, was promoted to king. Unfortunately, this was a role for which neither the fool nor his descendants were suited. 

Prince Abderian is a minor son of Euthymia’s troubled royal family. He has no ambition to sit on the throne. Too bad for him that fate is no respecter of personal preference. 

Read more ➤

Make You Real

A Mask for the General

By Lisa Goldstein  

19 May, 2022

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Lisa Goldstein’s 1987 A Mask for the General is a stand-alone near-future SF novel. 

By 2012 America’s banks were computerized and networked. One ambitious thief’s malicious software could and as it happens, did, bring the United States’ entire cybernetic and financial edifice down overnight. In the days after the Collapse, General Otis Gleason had no choice but to take control, first of America’s nuclear weapons and then of the nation as a whole. Or at least that’s what he claimed.

Nine years after the Collapse, the American economy is a pale shadow of what it once was. Gleason is convinced that the problem cannot be his obsessive micromanagement; the problem must be the American people. Each day brings new regulations aimed at guiding easily misled Americans back towards wholesome conformity. Despite laws and harsh punishments, America is still plagued by non-conformists, particularly in the Bay Area town of Berkeley. 

Seventeen-year-old runaway Mary is determined to be one of those non-conformists.

Read more ➤