He is best known for his Near-Space series, which subverted expectations of Interplanetary Voyage stories by turning the job of astronaut into a mundane, blue-collar job, and for his Coyote series about the colonization of the moon of a gas giant in another star system.
The Near-Space series consists of Orbital Decay, Clarke County, Space, Lunar Descent, Labyrinth of Night, and A King of Infinite Space. Other works by Steele include The Jericho Iteration, The Tranquility Alternative, Oceanspace, Avengers of the Moon, and Chronospace.
Steele was also one of the authors involved with the prank bad novel Atlanta Nights.
Works with a page on this wiki:
- Coyote series
Tropes in his other works:
- Ancient Astronauts: In Labyrinth of Night, the builders of the famous face on Mars, and its associated underground complex.
- Asteroid Thicket: Subverted in A King of Infinite Space, where the protagonist claims to expect the asteroid field to mirror his recollections of Empire Strikes Back, only to discover the scientific reality of the asteroid field.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: A King of Infinite Space has a slight subversion. The guy doing it is portraying a slave-owning villain, and part of that is a very public blowjob, all to get the protagonist to man up, escape, and try to rescue his girlfriend. It's part of a Batman Gambit.
- The Last DJ: Harry Drinkwater from Lunar Descent. He obeys all FCC regulations to the letter, yet manages to get fired from every DJ position he's ever held.
- Only Smart People May Pass: Labyrinth of Night features an alien complex on Mars entered through a series of locked doors with puzzles that require increasingly more intelligence to solve (and still-active death traps for the unwary). The archaeologists were baffled by the last chamber, which just played music, until they brought in a musician to jam with it, proving we have culture as well as brains.
- Platonic Prostitution: The protagonist in "The Death of Captain Future" mentions that, at times, hiring a prostitute without actually engaging her services was the best way to get a decent place to sleep for the night.
- Shield Surf: In Orbital Decay, a construction worker putting together a space station manages to ride a huge curved piece of a re-entry shield (well, that and a parachute) back to Earth after the space station he had been constructing broke up in orbit.
- Clarke County, Space, both the novel and the artificial orbital colony within the novel, are named in honor of Arthur C. Clarke.
- The short-story "All-American Alien Boy" (and the collection of the same name in which it appeared) was a reference to a song and album of the same name by Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople.
- Avengers of the Moon is a reconstruction of Pulp Magazine sci-fi hero Captain Future.