I first came across Allen Steele a few years ago with his early novels,Orbital Decay and Clarke County Space,both of which I enjoyed enormously.
Then in the May/June 2003 issue of Interzone I read a review by Nigel Brown of Allen Steele's newest novel,Coyote.The review was positive so I bought the book and I am glad I did.
The novel is what is called in sf circles a "fix-up".Which means that its made up of a number of shorter stories,the majority of which in this case appeared in Asimovs Science Fiction magazine.This shows as each chapter does not flow smoothly from the one to the next.However this is also one of the strong points of the book as each chapter can be seen as an episode in the story of the departure from Earth of a starship and its occupants,their journey through space and their discovery and eventual colonisation of a new world.For me this worked well,it gave me the feel of a venture that was believable with characters that you care about.
One of the most powerful chapters is "The Days Between",in which Leslie Gillis is woken from suspended animation three months after the voyage starts,and unable to re-enter sleep state he must spend the rest of his life,32 years and alone,on the ship.Allen Steele uses this story to convey the time and distance of the journey.There are no convenient warp drives or worm holes here for those who like near instantanious travel through space.He also portrays the despair and isolation that Gillis feels at times and we feel for the character.
Many critics have compared Allen Steele to Robert Heinlein for his story telling,and I would have to agree.Many of Heinlein's novels are tales of galactic adventure,well told with believable characters and situations,and Allen Steele has no difficulty in acheiving this as well.