Book three in the Coyote series, this novel takes us once more to the colony planet Coyote. But there’s a new twist. Earth has developed a technology for instantaneous travel between stars, meaning close contact with Earth is possible once more. Coyote seems like paradise to inhabitants of Earth wracked with overcrowding and catastrophic climate change. Will the budding Coyote Federation be able to withstand the onslaught? The original colonists have grown middle aged and responsible, but now their children rebel. It is a classic dichotomy. The old and wise versus the young and energetic. Steele plays to his strength in character creation and development, making this perhaps the most enjoyable of the Coyote books.
Unlike the two previous books, this one is not a collection of previously written short stories with interlude pieces. However, Steele has still kept some of that feel. The narrative changes pace, viewpoint and even style between sections. But the episodes are less self contained than before. This effect still takes some getting used to, but it works well.
The epilogue, after the action proper has been concluded and loose ends tied up, is a bit surprising. We are left dangling after a momentous first contact. Said first contact is described in Steele’s novel Spindrift. Blatant plug? Perhaps. But it also reminds us that the story of the colony is still unfolding.
The sequel to Coyote, picks up where the previous one left off, thus mitigating some of my annoyance with the ending of the previous book. Coyote has been invaded by the Western Hemisphere Union, a major power on Earth, and the original colonists have to fight a guerilla war against an increasingly despotic post-socialist regime. As before, the story is episodic in nature, with the whole derived from eight short stories. This has both advantages and disadvantages. While the thing feels cobbled together, the shifting viewpoints keep things interesting, and Steele is certainly a master of the short story.
Even more than before, though, Coyote feels like Steele’s “Big Caucasian Sandbox”. I don’t think the author has given it conscious thought, but everyone seems to be Caucasian and with a North American outlook on life. It’s really quite comical. And while Steele will sometimes make a token effort at exploring cultural differences between the the older generation of original colonists and the new one, he is mainly concerned with differences in political outlook. In the end, it’s not so bad, since the theme of the story is revolution.
This novel goes beyond Steele’s typical near-future, near-Earth fare and describes the creation of the first interstellar colony.
The novel has previously been published in the form of a series of short stories, and suffers from it, feeling cobbled together.
The characters are interesting and I was drawn in by the narrative. Steele readily manages to convey the sense of wonder inherent in traveling for almost two hundred and fifty years, and then arriving at an alien world.
I was disappointed with three things. The first is the apparent lack of proof reading and sloppy science. For example, on one page a pilot is gripping a stick, and on the facing page this changes into a yoke. The second is the less than perfect orbital mechanics and the lack of biological diversity on the new world, In Steele’s defense, it is clear that he is more focused on interpersonal interaction, and he pulls off this part very well. The third and last thing is the ending. I don’t have a problem with endings that leave a lot to the imagination, but this simply left you hanging. I don’t want to give it away here, but the whole last part of the book was simply too implausible and just plain annoying. With just a very little change, Steele could have written a classic.
If you can get past the vintage seventies feel of the book, this is a decent and rather simple story about a young convict who comes to Mars and later leads a freedom fight. Oh, and he also finds love and belonging, of course.
Military Science Fiction about a Second American Revolution. Kratman sets the stage with a Democrat woman (clearly modeled on a worst case Hillary Clinton) becoming President. This new President, a leftist (for the US) Congress and the cabinet enact laws that make the US a socialist police state of the worst kind. The individual states stand to lose all their powers and the freedom of their citizens. Only Texas does something, and then only when abuses and killings in that state force the hand of the governor. The US is on the brink of civil war.
I have many problems with this book. First of all, Kratman has made the President and her cronies so absurdly power-mad and clueless that it’s just ridiculous. They seem to be the embodiment of a conservative’s ideal nightmare, including the President’s love affair with her female Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Secondly, while I will agree that big government can be abusive in many ways, simply moving all the way in the other direction is not necessarily a good idea. These are complicated problems, and there are no simple solutions.
Having said that, the depictions of combat are very good. They should be, as Kratman is a former Infantryman (I will still nitpick and say that the AT-4 is not a rocket weapon). The whole “second Alamo” is a bit over the top when it comes to plausibility, but it makes for engaging reading. If you’re into military SF, you will enjoy this, although some of the political views on both sides might make you cringe.
Although a bit dated, and somewhat simplistic, this rough and ready tale of Martian grassroots insurrection is fun. The coming of age story contained within is, although not terribly original, well written and engaging. If you can look past the nineteen seventies vintage stuff, this will keep you entertained for an evening or two.