Galaxy Blues Hardcover – Apr 1 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
This grand interstellar adventure exemplifies Hugo-winner Steele's skill with near-future tech and struggle with human interactions. Kicked out of the Western Hemisphere Union Astronautica space fleet, 20-ish Jules Truffaut cleverly stows away on the Robert E. Lee, bound for the Coyote Federation, where he intends to defect. Circumstances force him to accept a mysterious job as shuttle pilot for billionaire Morgan Goldstein, who's plotting to corner trade with the alien hjadd. Steele (Spindrift) makes in-flight technicalities almost tangible, and he equips his hissing, grunting, slithering aliens with convincing motivations. He's less adept at portraying the human crew who accompany Truffaut to a vast space city, where the interstellar coalition called the Talus must decide whether to allow humans to join. Subplots such as Jules's attraction to sexy crew member Rain Thompson and Goldstein's predictable big-boss machinations are tepid, even stereotypical, but a rousing climax rescues the crew and the novel from boredom. (Apr.)
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About the Author
Allen Steele was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and received his B.A. in Communications from New England College and a Masters Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. Before turning to science fiction, he worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Tennessee, Missouri, and Massachusetts, as well as Washington, D.C. His previous novels include Orbital Decay; Lunar Descent; Clarke County, Space; Labyrinth of Night; Jericho Iteration; The Tranquility Alternative; Oceanspace, and Chronospace (all available from Ace). He is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award in the novella category. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Whately, Massachusetts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
First the good points. This is an easy to read book. It flows well. It is a good book to read while spending the day in airports - it passes the time and does not distract or compel one with plot or sterling characters or such. Sort of a "B" movie book.
Now to why this was a disappointment. This author is a story teller. He is the sort that could take a day in the office and turn it into a riveting tale. His character development and story setup are superb. Usually. Not here.
Jules, main character, is allegedly the product of excellent military training and background. Yet the character acts more like a teenage drama queen. It is evident the character has never developed the habits of command or discipline. His reaction to authority is displaying juvenile 'attitude' at best. This bloke has never been subject to a military environment and this is a serious lapse for this author.
The mission commander has never commanded before from the very stereotype actions and reactions. Given that this is a dude (and his wife) who has actually lived with the aliens they were pretty ignorant in dealing with them. Given their also supposed military background they provided no sort of a mission brief or prep. Just not typical of professionals at the level they should be at.
Come on, hiring someone who did not even know how to don a space suit properly with no pre-mission training? I will buy the politics of hiring powerful folks girl who has no experience - but the lack of training or oversight is criminal. Sorry, I live and work with military professionals and such actions just do not run true.
Let me pull up short here as I am just running on due to being disappointed in this book. In summary, the mind reader is the most believable character. The rich guy's character is as substantial as smoke. The pilot, don't go there as that character is soooo poorly built. Etc. Maybe this was supposed to be a book for the teen age audience?
In short, the expected believable characters and development of these is lacking in this book. The sense of the author 'spinning a tale' is absent.
Do not give up on the author for this book. No one is perfect and his track record is pretty impressive till this clunker. And it an easy to read book for a clunker.
If this is the first book you have read by this author, try another before X'ing him from your read list.
Enter Morgan Goldstein. Goldstein is head of Janus, Inc. The multi-billion dollar shipping corporation, whose primary business is handling cargo within the Sol System, is now headquartered on Coyote. And Goldstein has his sites set on trading with the Hjadd and the conglomeration of worlds they are a part of known as the Talus. The Hjadd, introduced in a previous book, were Humanity's first contact with a technologically advanced, alien species. So, after a few machinations which only the super-rich (and politicians!) are capable of pulling off, Goldstein winds up getting Truffaut out of the stockade and hiring him as part of his crew on the first mission to trade with the Hjadd.
But, of course, events don't go quite as planned and it is up to Truffaut and the rest of the crew of the trading ship Pride of Cucamonga to manage to wend a steady course through several crises and (hopefully) come out intact on the other side.
Galaxy Blues continues the story of Humanity's first interstellar colony. This time though, most of the plot takes place off Coyote itself and on the trading ship Pride of Cucamonga as well as on the giant alien space station Talus Qua'spah. Galaxy Blues brings back several characters -- as well as introducing new ones -- we have seen in previous books. Ted Harker and Emily Collins make a return from the previous novel Spindrift. Harker and Collins were two of three to survive the initial first contact with the Hjadd in that novel. Steele also brings back Rain Thompson from Coyote Frontier. Rain was a minor character in CF (so minor I had trouble remember who she was for awhile) brought to the fore in this tale with decent results. The chemistry between her and Truffaut is passably believable. The real fault I find with this novel is that, without giving away too much of the story, the characters wind up interacting a bit with a blackhole (as the cover of the novel depicts). This has been done before in science fiction and will surely be done again; I don't have a problem with the concept as long as it is pulled off well. The biggest disappointment in the tale is the character interaction with this stellar phenomenon. As you approach a blackhole, time should "slowdown" (minutes and hours for those near the blackhole should be days or weeks...or more...for those farther away) for those nearer to the object than those that are far away. While I am no physicist, it is blatantly obvious that Steele seems to forget about this effect on time entirely. Or perhaps he didn't forget, but decided to set aside this effect so the plot didn't have other holes in it. Either way, Steele's lack of attention to detail ruined much of this novel's plausibility factor for me.
But...the story does have some upside for those that have followed Coyote's saga from the outset. Galaxy Blues gives us an unprecedented glimpse into the alien world of the Hjadd and the Talus they are a part of. The previous novel, Spindrift, was a bit of a letdown, in part, because I kept wanting more about the Hjadd. Well, Galaxy Blues delivers on this account. We get a peek into the alien construct known as the Talus Qua'spah, we get a look at their political/religious structure, and even more hints on how advanced technologically they are.
In sum, Galaxy Blues could have been a better story if Steele had spent a bit more time thinking about the science of the situation he was putting his characters into. But Galaxy Blues does do a fine job of broadening and coalescing our knowledge and understanding of Coyote's relationship with Earth and now their galactic neighbors as well. This novel is not to be missed with the understanding that the previous stories in the series have been read prior to picking up this tale and that you are willing to lower your plausibility meter down a notch.