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Coyote Trilogy by Allen Steele

Coyote Trilogy by Allen Steele
Book Name: Coyote Trilogy
Author: Allen Steele
Publisher(s): Ace Hardcover
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Release Date: November 5, 2002

Coyote: A Novel of Interstellar Exploration (Book 1)

Synopsis: Coyote is an astonishing discovery, a habitable moon in a solar system 40-odd light years from Earth. A despotic post-US government decides to colonise this precious find and constructs the starship Alabama. The ship is about to launch when it is hijacked by its own crew. Instead of the intended party loyalists, it is populated with malcontents and social dissidents who must learn to work together in the struggle to reach and then conquer their prize: Coyote. Vast in scope, passionate in its conviction, and set against a backdrop of completely plausible events, Coyote tells the story of Earth’s first extra-solar colonists, and the mysterious planet that becomes their home.

Review: This is part one of the Coyote Trilogy. This space/political setting is not my usual cup of tea, however I found myself captured by the first chapter, so I took it home. The novel opens on Earth and we are introduced to a member of the team the Government has chosen to accompany a new interstellar spacecraft to colonise a distant planet. However, the ship is mostly full of social dissidents who hijack the ship to escape the government. We meet a mix of people: singles, couples, families, children and teenagers and of course, Captain Robert Lee. By hijacking the ship, they are regarded as traitors on Earth – something that will pose problems in the future. Like most space stories (at least that I know of), we are introduced to the induced sleep that prepares us for such distant travel. Unfortunately, for one crewmember, his slumber is interrupted and he spends a very long time on his own, on the ship while everyone sleeps. He records his feelings and views in a mix of storytelling (what might have happened on the new world) drawings and logs, including his observation of another ship, seen through the craft’s window. What is this ship? Did he see it? Is it proof of other life? What does this mean?

When the ship arrives on Coyote, the colony explore, settle and create a government and their Coyote calendar. We see new love and hope and experience betrayal. Some characters die early in the book and some mature and go a different way in life than I would have thought. I read somewhere that this book idealises the American way and in hindsight, I see this as quite prevalent throughout the book.

What I liked about this book is that nearly every chapter has a different viewpoint and while this can be unsettling for others (i.e. pace), I liked that I was able to get to know the various characters. Apparently, this novel is actually based on various short stories – again something I read about after I had finished the book yet while reading the novel, I never felt the pace slowed, or even thought about the fact it was a combination of short stories. To me, it linked well. By the end of the novel, we are introduced to the arrival of a larger colony, from a future Earth who were brought up hearing about the traitors on the Alabama and current Coyote settlers.

Pros: Great opening – Steele does not drag it out and while slowly introduced to the characters it does not slow the pace for me. The various viewpoints introduce me to various characters.

Cons: There is not enough exploration of the planet, given they have settled on a new planet. Other life on the planet is hinted at and after an attack, leads me to believe this ‘thing’ could be reintroduced or ‘hunted’ but it is not. Perhaps this was intentional or just a plot hole.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Coyote Rising: A Novel of Interstellar Revolution (Book 2)

Synopsis: Coyote Rising is the dramatic sequel to Coyote, the story of Earth’s first extra-solar colonists. The starship Alabama, bound for the new world of Coyote, was hijacked by its crew in a desperate bid for freedom from the repression of a post-US world order on earth. They then had to flee their homes with the arrival of a new batch of colonists, this time ruled by a repressive government embodying all of Earth’s problems and prejudices. Now, the iron-fisted colonial governor is building a bridge to exploit the virgin territory where the Alabama’s crew are believed to have resettled. But a movement is underway to reclaim Coyote for those who truly love freedom – a full-scale rebellion in which the men and women on both sides of the fight will learn the true price of liberty.

Review: At the end of the last novel, we are introduced to a bigger ship, with twice as many colonists as the Alabama and current Coyote settlers. Included on this new ship are Savants – humanoid bots (reminded me of Cylons) and they serve as advisors to the Social Collective (i.e. the new colonists). I believe what Steele wanted readers to gain from this novel was the influence of political and social ideas on how a race should colonise or behave given new choices. One might look at this book and the social ideas it challenges readers to consider however for me, I just wanted to read the book and engross myself in the story without thinking too much about ‘what if’ or ‘could this happen?’

We are introduced to a cult like worshiping group and we follow the various characters and their struggles and gains with the arrival of this new fleet. We explore more of Coyote in this novel, meet closed communities protecting their own from this new invasion and we follow the struggle of the new regime introduced by the new colony and how this is in conflict with the original Coyote settlers. What does this usually mean? It means people strive for their independence from Earth so there is bloodshed, loss and escape. Others might term it terrorism.

This book again has a few of the basics: war, loss, betrayal, love, hope etc., etc., – it is pure escapism which I enjoyed. Steele transported me to the world of Coyote and I could not wait for the 3rd book.

Pros: Gripping story, easy to read.

Cons: Can’t think of any.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Coyote Frontier: A Novel of Interstellar Colonization (Book 3)

Synopsis: Two decades have passed since the revolution that won Coyote’s independence from Earth. The colony may be free, but its aging computers, aircraft, and medical equipment are badly in need of replacement. The colony’s survival is now in question, and help from Earth is imminent. But there are those who fear that aid from the mother world may be more hindrance than help…As the second generation of colonists prepare to face the prospect of another battle with Earth’s forces, a larger question looms: can humanity settle a new planet without repeating the problems of the world it left behind? An answer must be found soon. Coyote’s future hangs in the balance.

Review: A new ship has arrived from Earth and we are a couple of decades ahead in this final part of the trilogy. Steele summarises the in-between to catch us up. Coyote is in a state of disrepair, their technology is behind, and they do not have the resources to repair and move forward and thus replacements are needed. And so a couple of people return to Earth to negotiate a trade. We find out Earth is not as inhabitable as it once was and Coyote obviously has much more to offer. They find themselves making trades and alliances with others who have their own agendas.

Coyote is now the future (and only) hope for Earth and Coyote fights hard to protect what they have created. Travel between Earth and Coyote is easier with the invention/creation of a Starbridge. For me, this novel introduced more scientific ideas than the previous two, but that did not detract from the book. We follow some new characters but again, this does not detract from the novel, at least it did not for me. Whilst I missed the original characters and their stories, there are many mentions of their role and their journey and I come to realise this is what Steel has perhaps wanted all along – different viewpoints, new characters all of which combine to make for good reading and something I find different from most novels I have read. On saying that, we do continue on from characters from novel two and this of course, provides continuity.

This novel presents the difficulties in leadership and contributing to a still new society. Overall, the pacing is like the first two novels, it moves forward and is easy to read. I read this quickly and enthusiastically.

Pros: By this third novel, I know Coyote. I know its history, its hardships, its revolution and I know the love of the people for Coyote who originally inhabited and created it. Steele has brought the trilogy to a close and left me feeling that Coyote is for now ‘ok’ but there could be other stories, in another time.

Cons: Some of the original characters and their stories are only hinted at in this novel, which is disappointing to me. I did not feel this novel tied up some of the loose ends and gave me the closure I had hoped. There is closure, just not the one I had pictured.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Rating for the Trilogy: 8 out of 10. These are the only space books I have read – I loved Star Wars, I loved Battlestar Gallactica and I love urban fantasy. If you are in the same boat and have yet to discover the space genre of Sci-Fi etc., then perhaps this is the place to start.


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