Galaxy Blues (2007) is the fifth SF novel in the Coyote Universe series, following Spindrift. The initial work in this sequence is Coyote.
In the previous volume, the Galileo found a very large alien spaceship and sent four crewpersons to explore it. Then another alien ship came through the starbridge. The Galileo fired a torpedo at the alien ship and was destroyed by the premature explosion of its warhead.
The three surviving humans on the large alien ship went into biostasis within the shuttle. They were awakened by aliens and interrogated by a hologram of the political officer. They were briefed on the hjeed species and the Talus organization. Eventually they returned to human space at Coyote.
In this novel, Jules Truffaut is a former Ensign First Class in the Union Astronautica. He was forced to resign his position due to a cheating scandal.
Morgan Goldstein is the richest man on Coyote. He is the CEO of Janus Ltd., a trading house.
Ted Harker is a former Commander in the European Space Agency, He was First Officer of the EASS Galileo, the first starship build by ESA. He is one of only three survivors of the Galileo.
Emily Collins Harker is a former ESA Lieutenant. She is a very good smallcraft pilot and was the shuttle pilot on the Galileo. She is also a survivor of the Galileo. Now she is married to Ted.
Rain Thompson is a native of Coyote. Her brother Hawk Thompson is head of the Sa'Tong on Coyote.
Gordon Ash is a member of the Order of the Eye on Coyote. He usually hides within his robe and hood.
Ali Youssef is a spaceman on Coyote.
Edward J. Schachner is chief engineer of the Pride of Cucamonga. Doc has known Morgan for decades.
Mahamatasja Jas Sa-Fhadda is the hjadd Prime Emissary to the Coyote Federation. Jas and his staff live is a secluded area and do not allow many humans within the embassy.
In this story, Jules is working as a longshoreman at Highgate Station under another name. He works on a plan to bypass the formalities of boarding a ship to Coyote. He buys a ticket on the Robert E. Lee under another alias and has someone else board the spaceship.
After loading the last freight container into the ship, Jules sends the pod back to its berth under automatic control. He hides in the cargo bay until the ship is almost ready to depart the station. Then he moves into the airlock leading into the passenger area.
When the ship is underway, Jules shucks the spacesuit and walks through the passenger section to his private cabin. A steward notices him in the corridors. He explains that he had gone to the head upon boarding.
Jules finds Cabin 4 and readies for departure. Later, a chief petty officer comes to visit. After exiting the gate, the CPO comes back to take him to the captain.
Jules asks the captain for asylum, but she orders the CPO to take him to the brig. Jules gets away from the crewmen and boards a lifeboat and launches it. The captain points out that her ship is faster than the lifeboat, but Jules demonstrates that the lifeboat is more nimble.
Jules doesn't have much choice on his landing zone. After reaching the surface, he looks around the area and decides which way to go. But armed militia is waiting for him.
Jules is taken to Liberty -- the planet capital -- and jailed for a time. When he is taken before the magistrates, Jules explains that he would not have been allowed to board the Robert E. Lee under his own name and again asks for asylum.
The magistrates send him back to jail while they consider the case. He has a visit -- through the window -- from a man in a hooded robe and feels something strange happening within his mind. Then Morgan shows up and offers him a job on a spaceship crew.
Morgan pays the bail and gets Jules out of jail. Morgan also gets him a room in a boarding house. Then he meets with the rest of the crew.
Jules learns that their ship will be gating to Talus qua'spah with cargo for the hjadd. Ted is the ship Captain and Emily is the First Officer. Rain is the cargomaster. Ali is the helmsman and navigator.
Jules will be the shuttle pilot. Ash and Morgan will be passengers. Jas will be the translator and carries the key to the far gate.
Jules recognizes Ted and Emily from the Galileo affair. Ash is the man who was outside the jail window. Jules also recognizes Rain as a guest in the B&B where he lives.
They load the shuttle and lift to orbit to meet the Pride of Cucamonga. Doc has come from Earth on the ship. When they dock on the Pride, Doc gives them a small tour of the vessel.
Rain has been avoiding Jules since the first crew meeting. She is very inexperienced in space procedures. It becomes obvious that Jules had much more experience in moving freight in orbit.
Rain finally drives Jules to complaining to Ted. At first, the captain seems to side with Rain. Then Jules states that he would rather go back down to Coyote that work with someone with a chip on their story.
This tale takes the Pride through the Coyote gate to the House of the Talus. This turns out to be a massive space station. Hjadd take Pride under automatic control to a landing area.
Jules discovers many things about the Talus, including their readiness to use humans. The next installment in this sequence is Coyote Horizon.
Highly recommended for Steele fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of interstellar travel, alien cultures, and a touch of romance. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin