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Marilee J. Layman

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06:18 pm: Spindrift by Allen M. Steele
Allen calls this the Coyote Universe, not part of the Coyote trilogy, but it doesn't hurt to read those first. Here's my reviews: Coyote, Coyote Rising, and Coyote Frontier.

Coyote Frontier mentions a missing ship, EASS Galileo, and at the end, the three survivors arrive at Coyote in Galileo's shuttle, EAS Maria Celeste, along with an alien.

Spindrift is the story of Galileo and Maria Celeste. The European Alliance has developed starbridges and Galileo went through Earth Starbridge to the experimental bridge in the Kuiper Belt, KX-1, to explore a moving mass seen crossing a star. We meet the widely split crew and science team -- split not crew/science, but two different political systems and different beliefs on what's reasonable among them. In addition, Galileo's captain is an idiot who got his place through money and heritage (an English Lord). The first officer, Ted Harker, is very worried about how things will work out, for good reason.

Galileo safely leaves KX-1 and speeds up to sub-light then prepares for everyone to go into biostasis. The Maria Celeste pilot, Emily Collins, and a prisoner freed just for this trip, Dr. Ramirez, find that EA has surreptiously added a nuclear torpedo to the outside of Galileo. The captain acts suspiciously before they enter biostasis, so Harker gets the doctor to wake him and Collins up first, then two other crew who are worried about the captain. When they're awakened, they find out that the captain and another member of the crew have cut the comm link to Earth. Without the link, they may get back to KX-1, but they can't go through. The captain pretends it's an accident on the other end.

They proceed to the mass they've named Spindrift and find an alien starbridge in orbit around it. The captain is happy to get rid of Harker, Collins, and Ramirez, so when they and another science team member volunteer to take the shuttle and explore Spindrift, off they go. While they are exploring, an alien ship comes through the gate and the idiot captain throws the nuke at it. The alien ship sets it off near Galileo, which is destroyed. The shuttle group go into emergency biostasis. When they wake up, things are not quite right.

I liked the Coyote books, but while they're also political, they are on a new world. I loved this book because it was in space. Very minor editing problems, and there is a place near the end where one of the items that people criticize Allen for using in the near-earth books turns up, and the way it does made me laugh loud enough to bring the cats down to the bed.

Highly recommended. The sequel is running serially in Asimov's now and I'll start that tonight.

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