Allen Steele's Coyote


So, I finally got around to writing this thing. Hum! This won’t be a real review, more of a thought and criticism of something in the book. I already covered the plot of the book here, but in essence, the book is about a group of dissidents from a future America that’s been taken over by far-right politicians and turned into a police state, who steal the starship built by the latter, and head off to colonize the moon (Coyote) of a gas giant in another star system. Hit the jump to read my main problem with the colony.

The main thing that bothered me about the book was the colony itself. Throughout the book, the colonists are plagued by this species of large birds called Boids, to the point that they station turret guns at the perimeter of the colony to ward the birds off. By the end of the first book, when they really need it, they’re almost out of ammunition, having less than 500 rounds left. Awesome. What I couldn’t figure out is why they didn’t just build a wall around Liberty (the name of the colony) to keep the Boids away. They could easily have made it out of faux-birch, one of the types of tree they find on Coyote. Faux-birch isn’t suitable for constructing buildings, but it could have been used for a wall. Height wise, it would only have to be tall enough to keep the boids out, but not so high that it obscures sunlight from entering. The other problem they had were from these two other animals indigenous to Coyote: Swampers and Creek cats. Both are more nuisance than actual threat, but throughout the book after the colony is established, they present an aggravation by eating some of Liberty’s crops. The colonists do trap them, kill them, even train dogs (and I believe cats) to keep them away, but it only seems partly effective. Now, building a wall around the farmland wouldn’t be practical, and apparently no one thought to bring anything to make a fence, so there’s that problem. A possible solution would have been to use the turrets as a temporary measure until both the swampers and creek cats figure out not to go there.

My other nitpick is with the fact that people were allowed to use the colony’s guns for recreational hunting. There’s a chapter where a group of characters do just that. I facepalmed at the stupidity. Liberty was not run very well. In the end, while the book was enjoyable, these and other problems just nagged at me too much. I still recommend reading it, though.

My rating: 8/10.

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