Ales is the lone survivor of a planet that was destroyed by another empire because they wouldn't submit to being enslaved by it. He now makes his living on the outer verge of the galaxy, shipping questionable cargo to unsavory places. It's a solitary and risky life, full of long stretches of loneliness punctuated by brief hookups whenever he manages to find another human male who shares his tastes. When his boss gives Ales a job delivering “medical supplies” to the besieged planet Jansen, he knows it isn't going to be a milk run, but he has no idea how dangerous it will really get.
This is an interesting book, and frankly I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. The idea that gay men hundreds of years in the future might still be using something like Grindr to find hookups is definitely interesting, and perhaps a little depressing, but that's a minor point in the story. There are a couple of things that give me pause about this book:
First, there are a lot of flashbacks to Ales' childhood on his home world. Some of them are rather lengthy, so they do disrupt the flow of the story a bit. This is supposedly the first book of a series, so this in-depth look into the past of what will presumably be a main character may be useful.
The flashbacks are probably a bigger issue for me in this case because of the second qualm I have — the ending. Without giving away too much, let's just say the ending was a big surprise for me. It felt like the final chapters were heading in one direction, and then it abruptly changed. In itself, that's not such a bad thing, but the picture that gets built up of Ales, in part through the flashbacks, doesn't quite reconcile with the ending. It's not completely unbelievable. It just left me feeling a bit uneasy. It may well be that there's a bigger picture yet to unfold in later installments of the series.
Ales is the only character we get to know in depth. Well enough, in fact, to question what he does in the end. The man, or men, who may play a significant role in his future only appear in the last few chapters and aren't very well developed, which adds to the questions about the ending. There are a number of colorful minor characters that provide a bit of comic relief from what could be a rather grim story line.
While “Siege Weapons” was something of a mixed bag at the end, it's still and intriguing story line that I look forward to seeing how it will develop in the next book of the series, due out in December of 2018.
“Siege Weapons” is available from Amazon.