Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele (Coyote 6)

Humanity meets aliens in Spindrift (4) where the Hjadd saves the day and we learns to know them better in Galaxy Blues (5) when we go and trade with them. Contact with another technologically more advanced civilization always leads to change. This time the contact is with an interstellar multi-specie civilization whose very existence challenge many of our traditional belief systems. The planet Coyote become much more than a safety vault for the overpopulated  and ecologically devastated home planet. It becomes a focal point of the whole human civilization when the Hjadd sets up there embassy there and not on Earth.

This book is concurrent in parts with Galaxy Blues (5). It is a two book story the last part Coyote Destiny (7) is published in  March 2010.

The colonial world of Coyote has become the last, best hope of humankind. But Hawk Thompson has learned something about the aliens who also call Coyote home-and his knowledge will change human history.

This is a story mostly about the cultural changes and the repercussions a meeting with an alien galactic society creates. Like in the previous books you get to experience the story from different characters point of view. The feel and style of the story is very colonial and reminds a lot of what I think would think of as the people and feelings in early post revolution America.

The book is divided into two parts, Knowledge of  God and Two Journeys.

We get to follow a reporter from earth looking for a story on Coyote.

We get to follow the hunting guide Sawyer Lee as he helps locate Joe Cassidy Walking Star, an alleged doped up Indian mystic that Morgan Goldstein, the richest man on Coyote wants to find. Coyote’s special biology will play a major part in the story in a way that is surprising and mind blowing.

Hawk Thompson is waiting to die when we meet him, that is until he meets the Hjadd Cultural Ambassador Taf Sa-Fhadda and receive The book of the Sa’Tong as a gift. That will change his life forever and humanity’s as well.

We also gets to follow two priests of  The Church of the Holy Dominion. Who chooses very different ways to deal with the aliens. Religion is the focus of this book but it’s not a religious book. How religion is threatened here reminds me in many ways of how western civilization treated local religions in colonial time.

There is also  a love story or two, Hawk rescues Melissa, a prostitute from being beaten by an unruly client while he waits to die and a friendship develops between them that eventually grows to something bigger.

Once again Coyote is flooded with refugees from an ecologically devastated earth to further complicating the situation. Earth is not a nice place to live on. That is starting to be something of a trend in current science fiction. The mighty imperial super cities and biological reserves are gone for floodings, pollution, riots, religious oppression and cities gone District 9.

I like the characterization in the beginning of the book. The world building is good, it’s one of Allen’s strengths. The storyline was clear and easy to follow. I am not so hot on this many protagonists and switching back and forth between them. It works but I personally would have preferred a more central protagonist, but that’s just me. I liked the book in general and it is a good read you don’t want to put it down. Coyote is in an interesting universe I wouldn’t mind reading more books from, nudge,nudge, you know what I mean.

I read the paperback and for a man of my age, and my eyes, the maps where tiny, tiny things. I guess I should have bought the hardback.

The book ends with a cliffhanger but you don’t have to wait to read the last part of this story. Publication is next month.

You can start reading about Coyote with this book but you you misses a lot of the backstory if you haven’t read volume 1-3.