Friday, April 25, 2008

Book Report: Coyote Frontier by Allen Steele

The last of the Coyote series, a trilogy about the colonization of a distant planet.

An amazing spread of characters populate the book, some new to Coyote, some from among the first and second colonists. Every one of them is shown as flawed and human, although the size of the book and the number of characters (many have the spotlight at some point) limit the amount of depth in their portrayal. The large cast shows how living on a new world affects people of different backgrounds, strengths and dreams. Not all are likable, but all are sympathetic.

The main plot follows the complications that arise when the independent people of Coyote once again make contact with Earth. This time, a new development allows regular, instantaneous traffic between the two worlds. The people of Earth, which is now in the last stages of environmental collapse, again take a proprietary view of the new world and this leads to conflict at several levels. The book explores the impact of environmental change, domestic abuse, capitalism, and the economics and politics of scarcity on various characters.

I found it a gripping read because of its realism. The characters are believable, the science (both social and physical) first rate, and the events filled with genuine tension. I read the final fifty pages in one sitting because I could not bear to leave Coyote before I found out how everything ended.

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