Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coyote, by Allen Steele


Ace, ISBN 9780441011162, November 2003

It's 2070, the political situation in the US is appalling and the economy is no prize either, but we're finally about to launch our first interstellar mission, to colonize an Earth-like world, Coyote, a moon orbiting a superjovian planet of 47 Ursae Majoris B, 46 lightyears from Earth. The governance of the colony is carefully planned to keep it under the repressive political thumb of the current right-wing powers that be.

Captain R. E. Lee, commander of the USS Alabama, and some of the other crew and colonists, have even more carefully planned a hijacking of Alabama, to leave most of the armed enforces of the political status quo at home.
They succeed, but it's not smooth sailing from there. After the excitement of getting away, and the long trip in hibernation, they have a moon to colonize--and their own political structure to work out, with some of the colonists and crew strongly supportive of the regime left behind. The crew, the colonists, and the small security detachment that couldn't be ditched all have to learn to work together if they're going to survive.

Because Coyote is "Earth-like," more or less, but the weather is like nothing they've dealt with before, and they arrived with no advance knowledge of what the flora and fauna would be like. They build homes, they work out a functioning government, they start to build the customs and habits that will let them survive.

Then one of their teenagers decides he needs to take one of their boats and circumnavigate their gigantic island. And the follow-up expedition, that's supposed to arrest the hijackers and bring the colony back into line, arrives.

This is a very well-plotted, well-written book, with excellent character development despite the large cast of characters that Steele and the reader have to keep track of. Coyote is a fascinating world, with really interesting  life forms for the colonists to deal with, and some surprises lurking that will confound everyone.

Recommended.

I received this book from a friend.