Allen Steele’s Coyote trilogy was something of a mild surprise for me. It is not the most literary of science fiction, but that was not Steele’s aim. Presenting a reasonable scenario wherein humanity colonizes another planet with a cast of characters that hover between 2D and 3D experiencing drama that was not off the charts, it makes for enjoyable enough reading within the hard/soft sf field. The canvas of the trilogy broad enough to accommodate a variety of spinoffs and even outright continuation of the main storyline, it was likely to no one’s surprise that in 2007 Steele published another novel in the Coyote universe, Spindrift.
A frame story, Spindrift opens with three astronauts, Theodore Harker, Emily Collins, and Jared Ramirez, returning unexpectedly to Earth in a strange space vessel after having disappeared fifty years ago on a space mission nobody knew the fate of. The mystery of the fifty-year gap explained in the main story, things begin with the USS Galileo, lead by an incompetent but well connected captain, setting off to investigate a strange alien signal eminating from a BDO, nicknamed Spindrift, in a nearby galaxy. A big secret discovered by Harker, Collins, and Ramirez en route to the BDO—a secret the captain would rather the crew have not known, the open-minded nature of the trip takes a hit, and comes full face upon arrival at Spindrift. Events spiraling out of control, the mystery of the BDO is answered even as the veil of sentient life in the universe is peeled back.