The novel “Coyote Frontier” by Allen Steele was published for the first time in 2005. It’s the third novel in the Coyote series and follows “Coyote Rising“.
When a spaceship from the European Alliance reaches Coyote, its inhabitants are preparing for the worst. Twenty years have passed since the rebellion but Carlos Montero hasn’t forgotten that difficult period so he’s ready for anything even if Captain Anastasia Tereshkova has communicated that her intentions are peaceful and actually intends to open a new way of communication through a portal.
For Coyote’s inhabitants the situation is completely new. Computers and other equipment available are old and slowly failing, getting new supplies would improve everyone’s life. The priority, however, is to maintain their independence but in establishing business relationships with the Earth there’s the risk of repeating the mistakes made on the mother planet.
Unlike the first two novels, “Coyote Frontier” is not a collection of previously published stories but Allen Steele chose to maintain a very similar structure, with various stories interconnected in various ways to form a bigger plot. The stories complete the Coyote trilogy, the first of a series that the author expanded in the following years.
The various books tell different phases of the colonization of Coyote, one of the moons of a gas giant planet in the system of 47 Ursae Majoris, 46 light years from Earth. In “Coyote Frontier” this means adding a system to travel instantly from one portal to another with all its consequences instead of simply continuing the colonists’ stories.
Despite the availability of machinery and electronic equipment, in many ways life on Coyote remains typical of pioneers, far from easy. The Earth is far away because for decades only trips at sublight speed were possible but the development of the technology of the portals completely changes the situation.
The new problems are actually old, in the sense that the Earth’s nations are interested in Coyote’s resources because the Earth is still paying the long-term consequences of the exploitation made in previous centuries that caused pollution, destruction of nature and climate change. How to avoid reducing Coyote like the Earth?
“Coyote Frontier” is strongly oriented towards this and other ethical and moral dilemmas about politics, economics and ecology. These are themes that in many ways already formed an important part of the first two novels, in this case Allen Steele developed them based on the new contacts between Coyote and the Earth and on the contrasts between the two worlds.
The situation on Coyote is made even more complex by the presence of the native chirreep, a species that already appeared of which in this novel more clues about their mental abilities are provided. On Earth the choices about the environment caused the extinction of many species, will the chirreep and other species of Coyote be sacrificed on the altar of a new wealth for the human inhabitants?
As in the previous novels, Allen Steele doesn’t develop the various themes of “Coyote Frontier” in a particularly thorough way even if in this case they have more room than the adventurous one. Coyote’s inhabitants are in many ways still pioneers but for them a new phase has begun with various ethical and moral dilemmas similar to those today’s earthlings.
Among the characters, some already appeared in the previous novel and we can appreciate their development, especially Carlos Montero and his wife Wendy. Other characters are new with the earthlings and Coyote’s new generation but their development is a bit limited, often functional to the plot.
“Coyote Frontier” offers interesting food for thought but for political, social and ecological issues there are other works that go much more in-depth. In my opinion, it’s still a good conclusion for the Coyote trilogy that leaves some narrative cues open for the following stories. The prologue is a summary of the previous novels disguised as a short story but you should definitely read them: if you liked them, this third novel is a must-read as well.