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Customer reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change

on 10 October 2006
I really cannot understand why this book (and the trilogy as a whole for that matter) has been taking such a beating in the reviews. I thought it was outstanding.

The fact that this book is based on a number of short stories is obvious at some points, if only because a lot of facts are over stated unnecessarily, presumably to 'set the scene' and enable readers to read these short stories individually without needing to read earlier ones. I feel a little better editing could have rectified this, but it's such a small flaw in an otherwise incredible book that it's barely worth mentioning.

Maybe it's also a testament to Steele's writing ability that these short stories work on their own and as part of a generation spanning trilogy?

I feel that far too much SF these days is ridiculous and too unbelievable (I know, it is fiction after all) but this book and series gives you something that you can actually imagine happening. It doesn't bombard you with gobbledegook science, it just tells an exciting, imaginative and often emotional story.

The phrase 'I could not put this book down' is an overused one, but I literally couldn't, and had finished the 3 books in the series in about 10 days.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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on 1 March 2009
A readable book, but not a good book. I would classify it a waste of time, as there are simply so many better books around.

- a relatively tantalising backstory and setting idea.

- flat, boring characters. I never felt empathy for any of them, their personalities were erratic and sketchy.
- the tantalising backstory and setting is developed poorly and predictabl.
- the rocket science is iffy, but the social science is worse. The society presented in the book is a cardboard caricature of a frontier Wild West town. The only thing missing are 'injuns', but even those are hinted at (and then promptly ignored by the rest of the plot).
- caricature politics. Good liberalists, rugged individualists, versus first the Fascists and then the Communists. This story has been done. To death. And its not particularly imaginative, either.
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on 1 January 2004
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.
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on 11 February 2012
This is my first read of an Allen Steele novel. It frustrated me; a later book in the series having been strongly recommended in a SF blog that usually doesn't disappoint. It is a book of two very different halves. To me, the first part is a little far-fetched: the relatively easy theft of a multi-billion dollar spacecraft and a somewhat dull inter-stellar trip. The second part is quite different, telling an adventure story from the perspective of a group of unlikable (my opinion) teenagers, whose personalities bear no great resemblance to those built up in the first part. The ending, though, adds an element of excitement to the storyline and makes it tempting to seek out the next instalment.

On the positive side, the Earth-politics that Allen Steele creates is thought-provoking. The adult characters are also interesting and I wish they had received more development throughout the novel. The narrative is first person, which may not be to everyone's taste. I've awarded it 3-stars as I am tempted to read the next in the series in the hope of greater things.
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VINE VOICEon 31 March 2005
I bought this book thinking that it was a complete new story but its not (or at least this book is not) - it brings together a number of short stories around the colonisation of a planet.
The start of the book is excellent, the idea of hijacking a ship built by a totalitarian government to create a society based on the values of the original USA on a planet 40 light years from Earth is so full of possibilities. Sadly , the short story nature of the chapters does break up the narrative and instead of getting an overview of the story you get individual perspectives and rites of passage stories makimg up the central section of the book. The last section, where another ship comes from Earth with people and robots from a later, socialist type society which is just as bad from the colonists point of view that sets the scene (I hope)for the rest of the series. Its this turnround at the end that will get me to buy the next one
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on 8 October 2007
The first question that Amazon asked when typing this review was whether I am over 13.

I find it an extremely apt question.

I can give this book two scores, based on the age of readers. Either a 4 for a 'rousing', tolerably well-written (for a children's book) and slightly thought-provoking children's book. Or I can give it one stars for a book that has a mature sci-fi reader shaking his head at every single turn of page. Perhaps not shaking, perhaps banging his head against a shelf of well-written sci-fi books.

I'm sure children and teenagers will be engaged by this book and will enjoy it immensely.

That said, they'd prefer Heinlein.

I find it astonishing that this book was written only a couple of years ago.

This is not a book that was written, in spirit, in the 21st century. Heinlein was writing better books, in the exact wagons-to-the-stars vein half a century ago. The 'inspiration' is obvious.

Adults will be driven to frustration by one-dimensional characters, awful science, barely concealed political frustration, unoriginal plots, pandering to children and the absolute stupidity of plot events and character behaviour.

A couple of examples of stupidity includes a laughable plot to steal a spaceship, a spaceship arriving to colonize a planet with no idea what to expect (so if the planet was hostile, the colonists would presumably have been doomed to eating each other in orbit), that spaceship being full of 'scientists' (a very 50s expectation) because agricultural experts were not foreseen, a planet with edible organisms that did not evolve from shared DNA (unexplainable), Marxist superhumans arriving to take over a planet (they have super-fast propulsion systems and cyborgs but forgot to take their food with them) and perhaps the most insulting part of all, a plot development in which a treacherous colonist reveals the colony location to the super-communists by sending them its location by radio. I can see my car parked on my street via Google Earth and I expect those that use zero-point energy could probably read the contents of this computer from orbit and they do not need traitors to find a primitive settlement on a planet.

Help, my brain is imploding from this childish sci-fi!

This is not hard sci-fi in any way. The science is atrocious

This is not space opera, there is nothing epic about its descriptions of children canoeing around a sea on an alien world.

This is a story of the American West being conquered by wagons, except it occurs in space.
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on 15 September 2005
I'd been reading a lot of good reviews about this book, but after being bitten once before by being led by rubbish reviews and buying a book that was a chore to read I was a little sceptical. However, since this book had be previously serialised in Asimov magazine and as each serialisation had got good reviews I finally decided to take the plunge and get it.
First impressions of this book is that it's not actually a single novel but three rolled into one. Each one following a story arc but each one telling the story from the eyes of different people. Micro-stories that reveal more of coyote or the character.
I've never read a book written like this before and this style really lends itself to it. It helps build the important reader/character relationship and by the end of the book you feel as if you have known each character for years and you feel sad that the book had to end. I know I did, I just want more.
One section in particular, where a member of the Alabama's crew is unexpectedly awoken from hypersleep is a profoundly poignant story and you can't help thinking about what would happen if you were in that situation.
I really loved this book. The style it's written in is great. The characters well rounded and interesting and the settings are designed well.
Highly recommended.
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on 2 November 2005
I read 'Coyote' and I'm halfway through 'Coyote Rising' now, but felt strongly enough that I thought I'd better put some sort of review together. Coyote, and its tale of the fight for liberty and freedom, is a good yarn with some nice characters; but as I read it, I could feel the pale shade of Kim Stanley Robinson standing at my shoulder. KSR's Mars trilogy is a far better story of colonization and liberation: it has more believable science (why are there so few species on Coyote? Is this some mystery I haven't picked up on yet?) , it has better characters, and it has an intellectual depth that I feel is missing from this. Something to do with its origins as a series of short stories, perhaps. In any case, I came away strangely unsatisfied.
'Coyote' is okay as a jolly old read: but for better treatments of the same subject matter, I'd suggest KSR's 'Red Mars' or Mary Doria Russel's 'Sparrow'.
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on 20 May 2007
I really like Science Fiction of this sort; with a lot of believable events and characters, colonising space and this was a great read. The story is set a little way in to the future as America constructs its first deep space manned colonisation ship for a moon in a distant galaxy that all reports state can support human life. The moon is 46 light years away so the crew and colonists have to go in to hibernation sleep for the voyage and then of course their are the struggle to build a colony on a distant alien world with no support from Earth. There are some brilliant touching moments and a few twists and interesting ideas, the main one being that most of the crew and colonists decided to hijack the ship straight away and escape in to space since the America they are leaving behind has become a fascist like corrupt dictatorship which has forgotten its libertarian roots.

If you liked Kim Stanley Robinsons great Mars Trilogy then you will love this too. This is a great trilogy too and after readind this I went out and bought the other two in the trilogy. a great story.
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on 25 November 2005
I was a big fan of Allan Steele’s early novels like Clarke County, Space and Orbital Decay. However, I hadn’t read any of his books in quite some time when I saw Coyote and, having read the blurb on the back, decided to give it a whirl.
While the basic premise of the book is interesting and the initial two parts of the book showed a great deal of promise, the end result for me was unsatisfying.
The main problem with Coyote is that it feels like what it is: a cobbled together series of short stories based on a central idea or theme. In fact there isn’t really much of a story here, beyond the initial ‘rebels steal spaceship and attempt to colonise a new world’. The result is a book that limps along without any real direction, purpose or cohesion.
With a large cast of characters you might expect that the author intended them to be the centrepiece of the book However, character development remains conspicuously absent and most feel like cardboard cutouts, simply there to provide the author with convenient cannon fodder or opportunities to annoy the reader with their internecine bickering. In fact as I progressed through the book I found myself caring less and less about them. The lack of character development or characters that the reader can identify with or care about wouldn’t be such a problem if the book was an action-packed rollercoaster ride, but it isn’t that either.
The actual narrative in many parts of the book feels forced and uninspired and while, as I mentioned, I enjoyed the early part of the book dealing with the journey to Coyote, the remainder dealing with the colonisation effort was very, very boring, lacking the tension, humour and story-telling that made Steele’s early novels so great. In places the author tries to use a diary technique to tell the story, but in the end it’s character interaction and a good story that make a good book, not the technique by which the story is delivered. By part 6 I was really questioning whether it was worth my while reading on.
In conclusion I was very disappointed with Coyote. The central theme of the book could have resulted in something tense, exciting and with ample opportunity to explore some interesting political and social issues, but in the end it fails to deliver any of these things.
All in all, if you’re expecting a book of the quality of Steele’s previous work, then consider carefully before buying this one. I really wanted to like this book, but in the end it’s so much less than the sum of its parts.
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