“In that instant, Wendy arrived on Coyote.”

Coyote (Coyote Trilogy, #1)Coyote by Allen Steele

Read this straight through in one evening. A realistic, near-future take on mankind’s first off-earth colony, and a great visualization of the topography, flora and fauna of a planet other than earth.

Interesting construction, too, in that all of the chapters are short stories that were published first in Asimov’s Science Fiction and one in an anthology of sf short fiction. This results in the stories being told in the different voices of the different colonists, the colony ship’s commander, various adult colonists and two teens. Wendy, a fifteen-year old orphan from a more troubled background than even she thinks she has, witnesses the local fauna in action from the furrow she is plowing:

Breathless, she watched the swoop soar away, the dead swamper clutched beneath it, for the blackwoods a couple of miles from camp…It was a bright and cloudless afternoon, the sky as blue and pure as the innocence of youth, and suddenly she felt something she had never known before: an awakening of the senses, a feeling of direct connection with the world around her. The realization that she wasn’t distanced from nature, but rather an integral part of it…In that instant, Wendy arrived on Coyote.

Lots more nice stuff, including a voyage of exploration by another teen that turns out better than anyone thinks, including him. The first chapter is a real nail-biter as the starship crew and the renegade colonists steal the Alabama out from under the noses of the Internal Security Agency of the United Republic, at risk of their very lives and the lives of their families. How bad is the UR?

It’s a distinct privilege to be allowed to view the Liberty Bell; one of the first acts the government took after the Revolution was to close the site to the public.

You know any regime that closes off the Liberty Bell to anyone but the Party elite is a bad one. (I immediately thought of the Terminator’s wheel crushing the toy as he pulls up to the wrong Sarah Connor’s house.) It may be that colonization only ever happens as a result of political and/or religious disaffection, but just once I’d like to read a book where the impetus to expand the galactic human footprint comes from running to something, instead of running away.

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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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