The crime of the century begins without a hitch. On July 5th, 2070, as it's about to be launched, the starship Alabama is hijacked - by her captain and crew. In defiance of the repressive government of The United Republic of Earth, they replace her handpicked passengers with political dissidents and their families. These become Earth's first pioneers in the exploration of space...
Captain R. E. Lee, their leader. Colonel Gill Reese, the soldier sent to stop Lee. Les Gilles, the senior communications officer, a victim of a mistake that will threaten the entire mission. Crewman Eric Gunther, who has his own agenda for being aboard. His daughter, Wendy, a teenager who will grow up too quickly. Jorge and Rita Montero, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. And their son Carlos, who will become a hero in spite of himself.
After almost two-and-a-half centuries in cold sleep, they will awaken above their destination: a habitable world named Coyote. A planet that will test their strength, their beliefs, and their very humanity...
In Coyote, Allen Steele delivers a grand novel of galactic adventure - a tale of life on the newest of frontiers.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction by author Allen Steele
©2003 Allen Steele; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
This book is a series of short stories that were peicemealed together to form a novel. Once I got past the "Stealing Alabama", which quite frankly seemed a bit drawn out and started to bore me after a bit, I started to get deeply into the novel, and I finished it in a couple of days. The colonization stories were top notch. I read some of the other reviews and I can't believe that someone would take issue with the authors political ideology, which was expoused in "Stealing Alabama". This is science fiction for crying outloud. It's not real. Enjoy the novel.
This is good old-fashioned hard SF space exploration yarn. The first interstellar colony ship, first people on a new planet, you've read this before — colonists figuring out the climate and ecology of a new world, improvising all the things they couldn't bring from home, having fatal encounters with the native fauna, etc. Coyote is not terribly original, but lots of people like very specific genres that make no attempt to deviate from the standard tropes - how many urban fantasies or Regency romances or mysteries truly stand out as different from the rest? Well, that's Coyote — you want a sci-fi novel about colonists settling another planet, you get a sci-fi novel about colonists settling another planet.
Lest I sound too lukewarm in my praise, Coyote is quite good. The first third of the book takes place before the ship — The Alabama — leaves Earth. It is a near-future dystopia in which a right-wing United Republic of America, a single-party police state ruled by the Liberty Party, has replaced the old USA and is now building a starship as a monument to itself, to guarantee its own immortality. What they don't know is that Captain Robert Lee is planning to steal it, and replace its loyal Liberty Party crew and colonists with freed "Dissident Intellectuals" — political prisoners.
The story of how he pulls this off is the first part of the book, and was originally published as a short story. The rest of the book hangs together pretty well as a single novel, but it's clearly a composite of several short stories stitched together into a linear narrative. This is a hard SF novel, so there is no FTL travel — the colonists travel 42 light years in cold sleep. The first complication is when some URA soldiers are trapped aboard when the ship launches, and go into hibernation with the colonists. Obviously this causes tension when they arrive at Coyote, knowing that they will never see Earth again and that the government they left behind is now history, centuries in the past, but they are still divided between loyalists and dissidents/"traitors."
There are other complications, of course, and enough interpersonal conflicts to keep things cooking along. The second half of the book becomes more of a YA adventure when a group of teenagers, for various reasons, take off with a couple of boats and decide to explore Coyote. It's a stupid, reckless, ill-fated adventure, exactly the sort of thing teenagers would do. But it demonstrates dramatic character growth in two of the young main characters, and leads into the novel's final act, when another starship arrives at Coyote.
Coyote is, perhaps, not an epic, but deserves to be regarded as a mid-level SF classic, or maybe a sci-fi "comfort read" if you will. Don't expect anything daring or unprecedented, but the writing is more than competent, the story has plenty of hooks and turns, and the characters make you care whether they'll survive. This is the first book in a series, and clearly there are loose threads left dangling, and I enjoyed it enough to put the next book on my list.
I wasn't too fond of the narrator, Peter Ganim, who spoke in an almost robotic monotone at times, though his voice was clear enough. The parts of the book narrated in first person by Wendy Gunther, one of the teen protagonists, had a female narrator (who doesn't seem to be credited in the book description); I was glad they used different narrators instead of having the male narrator read those parts.
I like the premise of the book though it seems to be one of his early works. I haven't been able to finish it, though, because I CAN'T STAND the narrator. Sorry.
This narrator, Peter Ganim, read this book about as woodenly as the average sixth grader required to stand and read before the class. His little emotion is poorly related to the story. His sentence emphasis and cadence is very often wrong for the content. (Did he read the book before performing it?)
If someone else could narrate this book, I'd give it a second chance.
There seems to be a general misconception that this book is somehow attacking the right wing political agenda. I can tell you as a republican/libertarian, that nothing could be further from the truth. This book praises small government and self determination which are supposed to be two of the main goals of the right. Nor does Steele attack southern culture, if anything I believe that naming the man who rebels against the tyranny of the unjust government portrayed here in after Robert E. Lee is, if anything, high praise. Just because he calls the oppressive single party of the government of the former united states the "Liberty Party" does not mean he is attacking the right. Steele seeks to demonstrate that any government which embraces a single ideology and openly condemns all others will tend towards repression and the abuse of power. I think one of the strongest arguments for this intent comes from later in the book where the characters encounter a single ideology communist government (no better than the liberty party's republic), but I don't want to spoil it for you.
I think the story is really good, some of the writing is a little unsophisticated for my tastes (but I'm spoiled by writers like Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, Simmons, Clark etc), mainly it seems toned down on vocabulary to reach a broader audience. The book is well read, and as I say the story is very compelling. I'd say this is a solid 4 star audio book.
My biggest complaint about this novel is the male narrator. He is very monotone and pauses between each word so that it becomes difficult to listen to. I noticed that the other books in this series are narrated by the same person so I haven't decided whether to purchase them.
I also can't understand the role of the female narrator. She basically only narrates the logs of one female character. Why not have her do all the female characters (especially since the male narrator doesn't change his tone much for female characters)?
The content of the book is pretty good. The author skips over periods of time quite a bit. I often found myself wondering what had happened to the characters during this time (such as their 1st winter on Coyote which is completely skipped).
Be sure to listen to the preview before buying. If you can handle the narrator, the book is worth getting.
Not sure why others didn't like the narration. Or perhaps, I have just recently listed to other books with really bad narration. The story is about as advertised, not a 5 star book, but well worth listening to. I will buy the next book in the series.
the space cadet from Austin
I'm a big fan of frontier stories, and Allen Steele hits a home run with this one. The characters are engaging, the plot is well-paced. The reader is easy on the ears as well. I especially enjoyed the voice he did for Captain Robert Lee, a world-weary sonorous vaguely southern accent, but he did a good job differentiating the voices of the other characters as well. I would definitely recommend this one to any fans of frontier science fiction, or even just fans of good sci-fi.
Travel to another world - yup. Spread the human race over several planets to prevent a single world shattering event ending humanity's existence - good idea. Steal a Starship? Okay - suspend reality and biology for a while and then get ready for a really good story.
Pretend that the male narrator reads at speed and with a voice that keeps you engaged (might happen - sigh - but not all the time). It's the story that will keep you there.
The narrator's voice to too low, too slow, and too monotonous to make his contribution worthy. Another reader could have really added a great deal this book. I will avoid his narration in future purchases.
The reader sounded like a bad computer/robot voice. No emotion. No change in tone. Would have been perfect if you were listening to a guide on how to change your car's oil..
Pass on the audible version, get it in paper form if you really want to go through the story.
Loved the entire series...
I am getting ready to listen to them all again...
Even my kids can't get enough, it opens their minds to other possibilities and ideas...
Can't wait till Hex is available...
I download this just a few day ago, and have not been able to put it down. While I understood it was written as separate shorter stories and then was expanded to full novel, it came across as seemless to me. I was certainly greatly taken by the second part in which ... well I better not spoil it.
In view of other reviews I must add that I have not found the reading off putting at all. While there is certainly not much drama in the reading I found it easier to follow than some other readings. I suppose it may be because as a Celt I find some american accents easier to follow than some "English" accents. So I suppose it is horses for courses. You decide, I have enjoyed it.
"Good potential, bizarre narration..."
I wanted to like this book, I have heard good things about Allen Steele, particularly this series but I find myself seriously considering giving up on it.
Not because of the story, so far it is good, the concept, plot and writing style are fine, interesting even.
No; the problem is the narration.
To call it a monotone would be a gross understatement. It honestly sounds like a computer text-to-speech program. It is utterly without character, pacing or engagement of any kind. It feels like the narrator has absolutely no comprehension of the words he is reading.
The narrator reads the exclamations of characters in dire trouble in EXACTLY the same dead flat tone he uses to describe a tree or the colour of a wall.
It is more than off-putting it is truly awful.
I have bought many audiobooks from Audible both the US and UK sites and this is far and away the worst narration I have come across.
I would like to make clear that in general the quality of the audiobooks on Audible are very good and this is in no way representative of their usual fare.
However this is bad... I strongly advise potential listeners not to buy it.
The only reason I have given this 2 stars instead of 1 or none is that I believe a rating should be made up of a combination of the book and the narration and I believe this book has promise.
I shall fulfill that promise with a printed copy of the book, however rather than this very, very bad audiobook.
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