Allen Steele's COYOTE: A Novel of Interstellar Exploration is an essay on the pioneer spirit and search for freedom, told as a series of vignettes. The starship's crew hijacks the vessel before it ever leaves Earth, switching the intended passengers with their own. Everyone but one sleeps in biostasis until arriving at their destination 226 years later.

Leslie Gellis's capsule decants him 90 days into the trip and he can't reactivate it. Surviving another 60 years, he writes an epic novel in journals and illustrates his story with murals covering the ship's walls.

Primitive conditions in the new colony Liberty make the first few years hard, but freedom makes it worthwhile. Then another starship shows up in the sky and their hard-fought sanctuary is threatened.

Mr. Steele's colonists struggle to survive in a rugged environment and overcome political differences. It's not a coincidence that Liberty, Plymouth, and Mayflower are place names in his narrative. (Nov., 400 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper