by Allen Steele
Cover Artist: Scott Grimando
Review by Steve Sawicki
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441020362
Date: 07 June 2011 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Captain Andromeda Carson is bored with her job as a starship captain and is considering retirement. Then she is offered one last mission--to take a survey crew on her ship and journey to a location identified by the mysterious danui, an alien race that is part of the Talus, a galactic club of races. The danui only say that at the coordinates is an unoccupied world fit for human habitation.
Carson agrees to the mission, only to find that the survey team contains her estranged son as one of its members. To add to the discomfort, when they arrive at the coordinates they find no planet at all. But they do find something, a huge construct that seems to be something like a Dyson Sphere. A massive structure consisting of huge hexes all linked together. Each hex appears to be a habitat--a huge habitat. As they draw close Carson wonders why no one is in contact with them. And so they launch the survey team in a shuttle which approaches the construct and quickly gets into trouble, crashing into one of the habitats. Meanwhile, Carson suddenly finds control of her ship taken out of her hands, the survey team finds things somewhat out of control on their end as they are approached by an alien race.
This is the eighth book in the Coyote series. It's not set on Coyote though. Just to make that plain. Hex is set in an area of space that is reached by going through the Starbridge that was rebuilt near Coyote. Having said that, it's the same universe and the same types of characters as related to and through the settled world of Coyote so it's all good.
The story is worth sinking your teeth into. I could probably have done without the mother/son angst, but it's not a huge distraction, just one of those annoying things of having to watch two people be idiots to each other, thus continuing the original emotional disconnect which keeps the whole thing going in the wrong direction. Meh.
I liked this book. I liked the Coyote books as well, although I missed, somehow a couple of books in the middle. I did not find that to be a problem with getting up to speed with what was happening in this book though. Steele does a great job of presenting the science behind the Dyson sphere in a way that is not mind numbing and he manages to work it into the plot in believable ways rather than doing expository lumps. The pace is pretty fast, the plotting precise, the action enjoyable, and the characters interesting. And there is plenty left over for future novels. What's not to like about that?