James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Project

Reviews in Project: Big Hair, Big Guns! (26)

Feel the Way the Breezes Blow

Lilith: A Snake in the Grass  (The Four Lords of the Diamond, book 1)

By Jack Chalker  

11 Aug, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!

4 comments


1981’s1 Lilith: A Snake in the Grass is the first volume of Jack L. Chalker’s The Four Lords of the Diamond quartet.

The human Confederacy utterly dominates its region of the Milky Way. All known alien intelligences have been either subjugated to serve human needs, or where that was not possible, exterminated. Unbeknownst to the Confederacy, there are rivals. The first inkling the Confederacy gets that a new player has entered the game comes in the form of a failed infiltration of a defense facility by a sophisticated android double of a Confederacy functionary. 

The android eludes capture. The Confederacy lets it flee in a stolen starship (at the cost of some expendable red-shirt lives), hoping that the android will lead humans to the alien home world. The mysterious rivals have technology equal to or perhaps superior to that wielded by humanity. The fact they have not fallen on humanity zap-guns blazing suggests that the aliens are not certain they would win, even with surprise on their side. If the Confederacy can find the aliens, they might be able to crush them.

The android does not flee to the alien empire, wherever it may be. Instead it leads the navy to the Warden Diamond, human worlds apparently in league with the aliens. Human worlds from which escape is impossible! 

Dispatching an agent to the Warden Diamond will require a special agent and some extraordinary measures.


Read more ➤

Very Hungry Caterpillar

A Matter for Men  (War Against the Chtorr, book 1)

By David Gerrold  

11 Jul, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!

7 comments


David Gerrold’s 1983 A Matter for Men is the first volume in his as yet unfinished War Against the Chtorr series.

Supine beneath the treaty terms inflicted on America by the Soviets, Chinese, and the rest of an overpopulated world — or just possibly, victorious in a game of fourth dimensional geopolitical chess — America was still recovering from the economic side-effects of surrender when disease made the situation unimaginably worse.

Plague after plague swept the planet, killing four and a half of Earth’s six billion. Young Jim McCarthy’s family tried to wait out the disaster in their mountain cabin, but misjudged the end of the crisis. With half his siblings dead and his family broken by trauma, Jim is drafted into the nation’s Teamwork Army. He soon discovers that the challenge facing America and other, lesser nations, isn’t just disease. It’s an alien invasion.


Read more ➤

Some Other Spring

Helliconia Spring  (Helliconia, book 1)

By Brian W. Aldiss  

7 Jul, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!

4 comments

Brian W. Aldiss’ 1982 Helliconia Spring is the first volume in his hard SF1 Helliconia trilogy, which, curiously contrary to publishing tradition, appears to consist of three, and only three, books. 

In many respects — age, mass, density, insolation, the presence of complex organic life, even the presence of a humanoid native species — the distant world Helliconia is much like Earth. In one very significant respect Helliconia is very different from Earth. That difference has driven the course of civilization on Helliconia for longer than its sentient inhabitants can remember.


Read more ➤

Ice is Slowly Melting

Look Into the Sun  (Messengers, book 2)

By James Patrick Kelly  

20 Feb, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!

1 comment


1989’s Look Into the Sun was the second volume in James Patrick Kelly’s Messenger Chronicles.

Mid-twentieth century Earth was thrilled when the alien Messengers made contact. The Messengers appear to have been less thrilled to have contacted Earth. The Messengers shared none of their hinted-at technological miracles. They didn’t even invite a divided Earth to join their commonwealth. As far as humanity goes, first contact seems to be a bit of a bust.

Phillip Wing is another matter. The Messengers are very interested in Wing.


Read more ➤

Saturday Night Dark Masquerade

The Taking of Satcon Station  (Asher Bockhorn, book 1)

By Jim Baen & Barney Cohen  

31 Oct, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

5 comments

Barney Cohen and Jim Baen’s The Taking of Satcon Station is an SF mystery. It is also the sole Jim Baen novel of which I am aware. This is not entirely a bad thing. 

Despite the best efforts of UN red tape to impede space enterprise, a century of development has seen the building of space facilities spanning Earth orbit to the Asteroid Belt. Once the US Space Command enforced the rules. Now that is the domain of Fleet Agents like Bockhorn, working for space concerns like MexAmerican & Pacific. 

As the book opens, Bockhorn is stubbing out his cigarette before disembarking at Satcon Station. In its day, Satcon was a hotbed of cutting-edge research. Most people would say those days are long behind the eighty-eight-year-old station. Most people would be wrong: there’s a very bold project underway on Satcon. Bockhorn is going to find himself up to his … let’s say eyebrows… in it.

Read more ➤

Just a Soul That’s Changing Its Shape

The Shattered Stars

By Richard S. McEnroe  

22 Aug, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

4 comments

Richard S. McEnroe’s 1984 The Shattered Stars is a standalone (ish) SF novel which takes place in McEnroe’s Far Stars and Future Times setting.

Moses Callahan is the proud owner of the independent trader Wild Goose, which is another way of saying he is a cash-short, desperate man pushed into an economic corner by larger, richer concerns who can afford ships with up-to-date tech. Just the sort of captain who might be greedy enough that he wouldn’t examine closely a chance to earn some quick cash. 

Might.


Read more ➤

Mr. Lonely

The Quiet Earth

By Geoff Murphy, Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence & Sam Pillsbury  

29 Jun, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

5 comments

1985’s The Quiet Earth was written by Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence, and Sam Pillsbury; it was directed by Geoff Murphy. It is (loosely) based on the novel of the same name by Craig Harrison. It stars Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, and Peter Smith. 

Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence), a scientist working on Project Flashlight, isn’t there at the New Zealand Flashlight facility on the morning of July 5th. That’s when the project will be tested. The effects of the test are obvious. To quote Zac: 

[quote] Zac Hobson, July 5th. One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on Earth.” [quote]

Read more ➤