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Literature / Coyote

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Coyote is a hard science fiction series created by Allen Steele. The series begins with the hijacking of Earth's first starship, the URSS Alabama, from the corrupt United Republic of America. From there the story follows the lives of the colonists as they try to set up a working civilization on Coyote, a moon around a gas giant in the 47 Ursae Majoris system.

The main Coyote series contains:

  • Coyote: A novel of interstellar exploration (2002)
  • Coyote Rising: A novel of interstellar revolution (2004)
  • Coyote Frontier: A novel of interstellar colonization (2005)
  • Coyote Horizon: A novel of interstellar discovery (2009)
  • Coyote Destiny: A novel of interstellar civilization (2010)

Further, the Coyote Universe also contains these other novels:

  • Spindrift (2007)
  • The River Horses (2007)
  • Galaxy Blues (2008)

Tropes featured in the Coyote series :

  • And I Must Scream: Manuel Castro, trapped at the bottom of a lake with no stimulus for over a year.
    • Communications officer Leslie Gillis, who is awakened three months into the voyage by the ship's AI, which cannot return him to hibernation. He is forced to spend the rest of his life in complete isolation aboard the Alabama while the rest of the crew (including the saboteur who chickened out at the last minute and switched places with Gillis) remains asleep.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Alien Sky: Coyote orbits a gas giant, as seen in the page image above.
  • Arc Words: "I hope you find what you are looking for."
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Largely averted, as many creatures are fairly analogous to creatures on Earth. However, there is a strange symbiosis between the swamp rat (a small rodent-like creature), ball plants (which sprout huge hollow spheres), and pseudowasps. During the long Coyote winter, swamp rats hybernate inside the ball plants' spheres—where usually one or two die and are digested by the plant, while the rest survive inside. Pseudowasps also take residence inside the plants, pollinate them, and defend them with a sting that causes paralysis in smaller herbivores and disorienting hallucinations in larger creatures such as humans.
    • Human colonists very quickly start harvesting and selling pseudowasp venom as an illicit drug called "sting". Later, a cult is started in a remote woodland where the members keep a huge ball plant and purposely allow themselves to be stung by hundreds of pseudowasps at a time—and the cumulative effect of the venom in their systems actually unlocks in them telepathic abilities.
  • Black Sheep: Hawk Thompson (in the Montero family)—at least until he becomes a reknowned (but still controversial) spiritual teacher.
  • Bold Explorer: Carlos Montero sets off to explore the new world of Coyote while the rest of the colonists are still settling in and trying to learn the local dangers.
  • Brain Uploading: Savants have artifical minds scanned from human brains. Manuel Castro was a paraplegic and suffered numerous other chronic illnesses before he become a Savant.
  • Cool Starship: The URSS Alabama
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The Savants. They orchestrate what becomes known as the Savant Genocide, orchestrated by the Savants in power to reduce the population of the Earth by one third, via disease, genocide, and all those lovely things. Averted by Castro.
  • Cyborg: The Savants. The human brain is scanned and duplicated into a small quantum brain, and inserted into a robotic body.
  • Death from Above: At the turning point of the revolution, the URSS Alabama is smashed into the Union Guard headquarters on Coyote at several times the speed of sound.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Earth develops into this, especially in the last two books - to the point that the league of alien races disallows starbridge travel there.
  • The Empire: The United Republic of America, a corrupt version of the USA which was created when facists gained power and started killing off the competition. Later replaced by the Western Hemisphere Union, a socialistic and very advanced state which took control over both of the Americas, then launched 5 sleeper ships towards Coyote.
  • Feathered Fiend: The native "boids" are type C—large (around human height) and flightless, hunt solitarily, can move swiftly on the ground and ambush prey (such as human colonists) from the brush.
  • Generational Saga: The series follows the descendants of the original colonists as they settle Coyote.
  • Libertarians IN SPACE!: The Alabama crew was infiltrated by dissenters to the oppressive and undemocratic regime of the United Republic of America, and the Coyote colony largely adhered to democratic principles and the general freedom of the frontier. The colonists would fight to defend these freedoms against subsequent attempts from repressive Earth governments to take over the colonies.
  • Meet the New Boss: The original Coyote colonists were largely dissidents against the United Republic of America who stole the Alabama to flee that regime; however, when the Western Hemisphere Union ship arrives, and expects to be welcomed since they'd subsequently overthrown the URA government on Earth (and regarded the theft of the Alabama as a heroic act which led to the URA collapse), the colonists discern rather quickly, before the ship's new colonists even land on the planet, that they are just another oppressive government—as is borne out when they take control of Liberty.
  • Overly Long Name: the Western Hemisphere Union ships, extolling the supposed greatness of their revolutionary state ideology—such as the WHSS Seeking Glorious Destiny Among The Stars For The Greater Good Of Social Collectivism. Even the captains of these ships would refer to them by truncated names, such as the Glorious Destiny for the above example.
  • Settling the Frontier: The early days on Coyote. Slower-than-light travel makes communication with the home world very difficult for the colonists.
  • Sleeper Starship: The URSS Alabama.
    • Also the Western Hemisphere Union ships (with only Savants awake during the journey), and any other ship that came before the Starbridge was built.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: Somewhat, with the five Western Hemisphere Union ships sent to establish firm control of Coyote under the WHU flag and "social collectivist" system—particularly the last one which had a particularly large military complement, as the Savants had come to predict that the earlier colonists would likely resist rule by the subsequent ones. Even after the ouster of Union forces and the subsequent European Alliance brokerage of UN recognition and trade deals with the Coyote Federation, the WHU continued to refuse to recognize their independence and claim that Coyote was still their territory. After the Union forces were ousted, citizens of Coyote would come to jealously guard their hard-won independence from Earth.