“Coyote: a Novel of Interstellar Exploration” by Allen Steele (Ace, 2003)


It’s been quite a while since I’ve read any science fiction, and being normally quite picky with what I like in the science fiction world, the title of this novel was a let down, while the subtitle piqued my interest.  After reading Coyote, I can say it truly is a great science fiction novel of interstellar exploration.

The time is about sixty or so years in the future.  The American system of government has gone to hell, and there is only one party and it’s basically one big ugly dictatorship, much like 1984.  The American government has bankrupted the country to build a great spaceship which will travel across the galaxy to a distant star where there is a distant planet (much like Saturn) with a distant moon called Coyote that is just like Earth.

But Captain Robert E. Lee has plans to hijack the ship and get a bunch of illegal people aboard to start a new world and life in the stars away from this terrible excuse for a nation.  Everything goes according to plan and they are off on the two hundred year journey in safe biostasis.  Except something goes wrong with one man whose tube opens for some unknown reason, and he is left to the horrors of living on a ghost ship for the rest of his life while the crew remain in comfortable biostasis.  He does not survive.

Upon arrival on the planet, the hundred or so pioneers begin to start their new lives, as they deal with this new world, new plant life, and new predators.  Lives are lost and times are hard for them in the first few years.  And just when a system of order is created, the greatest shock of all happens: people from Earth show up on Coyote’s doorstep.

It is not surprising that Steele has won the Hugo Award two times, and after reading Coyote, I only hope there is a sequel and I will keep a lookout for one of his earlier novels, ChronospaceCoyote is what I always dreamed ideal science fiction to be like, and it happens to be one of the best science fiction books I’ve read.

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Originally published on February 3rd, 2003.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.



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