Steele continues his space-colony Coyote series (Spindrift, 2007, etc.).
Betrayed by his ratfink brother and kicked out of Earth’s space fleet, Ensign Jules Truffaut stows away on a freighter headed for colony planet Coyote, actually a moon of a gas giant planet. But, arrested aboard the ship and threatened with deportation, Jules sees no option but to steal a lifeboat and land on Coyote—where he’s promptly re-arrested. Fortunately, acquisitive businessman Morgan Goldstein needs a shuttle pilot for a mission he’s planning. Jules avers that he can fly anything, and soon finds himself heading for the alien planet Hjarr with a cargo of marijuana, the hjadd regarding weed as a splendid culinary herb. Along with Goldstein, Jules’ fellow crewmembers include Jas, a hjadd, Ash, a telepath, and young, beautiful but willful quartermaster Rain Thompson; Jules immediately clashes with Rain but soon, naturally, begins to fall for her. On arrival at Hjarr, the supposedly shrewd Goldstein finds he has been swindled. Worse, Jules unwittingly eats some marijuana-laced cakes supplied by the hjadd, attends an important reception while high as a kite and insults the venerated hjadd spiritual leader. Forced to make amends, Jules must lead the human delegation on a dangerous mission to study a huge, violent black hole presently devastating a remote inhabited star system.
Fluffy, predictable, almost annoyingly pleasant—but Steele, twice a Hugo Award winner, has a large following.