This grand interstellar adventure exemplifies Hugo-winner Steele's skill with near-future tech and struggle with human interactions. Kicked out of the Western Hemisphere Union Astronautica space fleet, 20-ish Jules Truffaut cleverly stows away on the Robert E. Lee, bound for the Coyote Federation, where he intends to defect. Circumstances force him to accept a mysterious job as shuttle pilot for billionaire Morgan Goldstein, who's plotting to corner trade with the alien hjadd. Steele (Spindrift) makes in-flight technicalities almost tangible, and he equips his hissing, grunting, slithering aliens with convincing motivations. He's less adept at portraying the human crew who accompany Truffaut to a vast space city, where the interstellar coalition called the Talus must decide whether to allow humans to join. Subplots such as Jules's attraction to sexy crew member Rain Thompson and Goldstein's predictable big-boss machinations are tepid, even stereotypical, but a rousing climax rescues the crew and the novel from boredom. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Midwest Book Review
A rip-roaring electrifying space opera.
Strap yourself in and enjoy a fun-filled ride.
Steele continues his space-colony Coyote series (Spindrift, 2007, etc.). Betrayed by his ratfink brother and kicked out of Earth's space fleet, Ensign Jules Truffaut stows away on a freighter headed for colony planet Coyote, actually a moon of a gas giant planet. But, arrested aboard the ship and threatened with deportation, Jules sees no option but to steal a lifeboat and land on Coyote-where he's promptly re-arrested. Fortunately, acquisitive businessman Morgan Goldstein needs a shuttle pilot for a mission he's planning. Jules avers that he can fly anything, and soon finds himself heading for the alien planet Hjarr with a cargo of marijuana, the hjadd regarding weed as a splendid culinary herb. Along with Goldstein, Jules' fellow crewmembers include Jas, a hjadd, Ash, a telepath, and young, beautiful but willful quartermaster Rain Thompson; Jules immediately clashes with Rain but soon, naturally, begins to fall for her. On arrival at Hjarr, the supposedly shrewd Goldstein finds he has been swindled. Worse, Jules unwittingly eats some marijuana-laced cakes supplied by the hjadd, attends an important reception while high as a kite and insults the venerated hjadd spiritual leader. Forced to make amends, Jules must lead the human delegation on a dangerous mission to study a huge, violent black hole presently devastating a remote inhabited star system. Fluffy, predictable, almost annoyingly pleasant-but Steele, twice a Hugo Award winner, has a large following. Agent: Martha Millard/Martha Millard Literary Agency