Allen Steele’s Coyote series has been a long-running favorite of mine. Lately, Steele has been expanding the Coyote universe in ways that are both different and intriguing. His latest entry is Hex, and takes place mostly away from Coyote entirely.

The synopsis for Hex:

The danui, a reclusive arachnid species considered the galaxy’s finest engineers, have avoided contact with the Coyote Federation. Until, that is, the danui initiate trade negotiations, offering only information: the coordinates for an unoccupied world suitable for human life-a massive sphere, composed of billions of hexagons.

But when the Federation’s recon mission goes terribly wrong, the humans realize how little they know about their new partners…

In fact, the novel progresses much like a mystery, with each clue only leading to even more questions. In many ways, it’s similar to Spindrift in its style. The characters in the novel face challenges and danger as they investigate the Dyson sphere that they come to call Hex throughout the novel. It’s a very interesting story, and most definitely a page-turner.

Readers will be drawn in almost immediately, as the story takes little time to develop, and we’re very quickly thrust into the Danui system, and to the Dyson sphere found there. From there, events take their twists and turns and lead the reader through an interesting, and sometimes revealing journey of Hex. The novel actually takes a long time to start revealing answers, and once it does, they come in rapid succession–but that’s a good thing. The pace never slows down, and the second half of the book reads much like a single long chapter.

There is really little to criticize about Hex. It’s a well-written, entertaining, and awe-inspiring work. It’s reminiscent of Jack McDevitt’s early Academy books, in which readers are introduced to alien races with little or no context, only little clues that slowly add up to provide a picture of what these races were actually like.

By the time Hex ends, it’s clear that there’s a new and very important location in the Coyote universe, and one that begs to be explored further and in more detail. Steele alludes to there being more to the story that he’s yet to reveal, and I for one can’t wait to read the next installment.

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown