Siege Weapons (The Galactic Captains #1), Harry F Rey
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: NineStar Press
Tags: Gay, Sci-Fi, SFF, Erotic, Rough Kink, Interracial, Series Book #1
Length: 143 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Captain Ales is a lonely smuggler at the galaxy’s Outer Verge, and the last of his people. He’s been trying to move on from a life of drugs and meaningless sex, but finding love in this forgotten corner of the galaxy is difficult.
When he’s sent on a mysterious smuggling mission to a world under siege, he’s enticed by promises of the domination he craves. But soon Ales finds himself entwined in a galactic power struggle that could cost him everything.
I was hopeful but not one hundred percent sure about this book going in. Sci-fi can be very hit or miss for me and this is a new-to-me author. That blurb did enough to draw me in but it doesn’t prepare you for the strong writing, the ripple effect of emotion, or the type of sex Captain Ales gets himself into. I like something with a bit of teeth, I like a surprise, so, you know, that being a lot of this story totally value-added for me. The biggest issue is how to describe Siege Weapons. Sci-fi meets master-slave, complete with rough foreplay and sex? Space drama? I think I’ll just settle on gay sci-fi/SFF with an erotic-kink bent.
First of all, there is some quality writing and world building in this book. It blew me away because I wasn’t expecting the level of vivid description that blended seamlessly into the overall story. Sometimes authors can break everything down in SFF to the nth degree and it becomes tedious reading. Sometimes they skip details that you need and it’s just a contemporary story by any other name. Neither is the case with this book. Siege Weapons is never boring, it never suffers from overkill or underdevelopment. It is most assuredly sci-fi and the sex is erotic as opposed to romantic. It works and it’s intriguing.
Everything had me hooked, from interactions Ales had with his Jar Jar Binks-esque but globular boss, Javer, to his descriptions of the different species, homosapien or heterosapien, and just the details about the galaxy he’s in and given planet he’s on. The love he has for Teva, his home planet, which was embattled then destroyed, the daily prayer he recites. sometimes at stressful times, in its memory and for those who are now lost. Then there are several men he encounters throughout this story. Initially there is Ukko, who doesn’t turn up for round two of a much anticipated sexual encounter at an Outer Verge post, and how much Ales is disappointed at his no-show.
Across the vast distances of the Outer Verge, to venture beyond the atmosphere of your own world was to wrestle with smugglers, gangs, and astronomical phenomenon that wasn’t found in any training manual or weather forecast. The danger also gave rise to opportunity; no tolls, no tariffs, no taxes. Only Ukko flying around collecting bribe money in between his busy schedule of fucking everyone who wasn’t me, apparently.
The Verge, the Outer Verge, Teva – Ales’ childhood home – the sexual freedoms of Targuline where he lived for a while with his ex, the feeling of impending doom within Jansen City, the capital of Jansen and the planet at the centre of another looming siege, one where Ales feels sick with the reminder of the loss of his home and the potential loss of someone else’s, are all very much brought to life. As is Ales’ complex set of emotions around men, sex, relationships, grief, and around a need to do the right thing in amongst those who don’t know and don’t care what it’s like to lose so much, and so easily.
General thoughts and feelings:
Captain Ales, or Ales as he is referred to throughout Siege Weapons, is a trader, a smuggler, someone who works for a heterosapien named Javer who doesn’t care how a dollar is made just so long as it is. Ales has his own ship and is willing to do what needs to be done in and around the Verge. It’s all he’s known since fleeing Teva – first with his ex, Franx, now with Javer. The Verge is his home and a place he likes for it’s openness and the ability to work and make a living within the illusion of free enterprise. But the Trades Council and now the Union are all becoming interlinked, and corruption is making it hard to make an legally-illegal living.
Instinctively, I turned my face away as an invigilator passed by. Those were the ones to watch out for. I shuddered at the memories of the more unsavory things I’d done to hide contraband from Trades Council invigilators.
Ales is given a new job from Javer, to take medical supplies to Jansen. Jansen is unknown to him but there is something about the name. Medical supplies is a euphemism for dangerous cargo. This cargo is the most delicate and complex that Ales has had to carry – another siege is centred around it and Ales. It does seem that Ales is a galactic nexus point and I’m wondering if this is going to be explored further within an ongoing series. I certainly hope so. That Ales is where things happen, events that now seem focalized around the merging of the Council and Union and his “medical supplies,” cannot be coincidental.
Turo, a hook up who becomes Ales’ master, also becomes an admiral in this new venture of a merged Union and Trades Council. He is supposedly interested in slipstreams. It seems when combining slipstreams with a dark energy it will allow travel to places not thought possible of venturing to previously.
There was nothing after Jansen we could get to, though. No slipstreams had yet been discovered that led outside the galaxy’s structure, although many an explorer had disappeared trying to find one. The great empty distances of extragalactic space were too much of a barrier for any conventional technology. MAST drives needed proximity to stars to generate thrust, using the cosmic radiation to speed between massive bodies. So they only worked inside the ecosystems of the galaxy.
I see Turo as pretty much having manipulated Ales into a quasi-relationship at this point because while Ales is looking for something, I’m not sold on it being Turo. I think their beliefs may clash but I could be proved wrong. All the while Ukko remains interestingly and tantalisingly on the periphery. I really hope that book #2 in this series continues to tell Ales’ story and what happens next. Because there is definitely a ‘next’ to be told.
There is no love in this book. There are hook-ups, sure, but not romantic ones. There’s a ménage farewell, of sorts, for Ales with his ex and his ex’s new boyfriend, a realisation that at least it wasn’t the right direction for him. Not then and not now, but it was a hell of a release.
The last thing I expected was to ever share a sexual encounter with Franx again, but here I stood, a tongue down my throat and a finger working its way inside my ass.
Boren got into a rhythm of fucking us both. He thrust into me for half a dozen strokes, then withdrew and went straight into Franx’s hole, sitting snugly above mine. Franx squirmed on top of me as he got fucked, and I kissed him hard when I got fucked.
Even with the attempts at trying for a connection with someone – Franx, Ukko, then Turo – believing that’s what he wants, there is an unsettled feeling that can’t truly allow Ales to commit, even if he illogically grumbles to himself that Ukko is interested in anyone but him. At any point, it’s really more about the sex than the person, about a certain kink to take away his pain, but Ales’ reality and his thoughts don’t sync right now.
Stuck somewhere between unrequited and unfulfilled, Ukko was the story of my love life over and over again.
Ales is all about the idea of a rescue/rescuer to take away his hurt, but he’s unsure of what that looks like or what that really means. His past still dominates his present and overlaps into his sexual connections. To that end, there are dreams and small but powerful flashbacks to the time of war on Teva when Ales was somewhat younger, his father loved by him and revered by his planet for his heroism, but then the incomprehensible happened. The luck, or is it luck at all, that saw him as the only survivor of a planet that no longer exists.
I still remembered the day the first invasion ships landed and the Crejan shock-troops stormed through our homes and farms.
The connection and sex between Turo and Ales is orgasm denial, humiliation, and it also isn’t safe or sane. Not to pathologize, but fifteen + kicks to the balls isn’t super healthy, but they’re both into it… horses for courses. I also want to add this: Turo and Ales connect via a futuristic version of Grindr. They meet up at a hotel in Jansen City, and they’re going to hook-up back in Turo’s room for the first time. They’re both up for it, what they want appears to be a fait accompli to the reader. It starts very aggressively – Turo is rough, and Ales likes it that way, he asks for ‘harder’, but he suddenly needs to off-ramp. The reader knows why, Turo doesn’t, that isn’t relevant but his actions are. We know that the time and place, another planet under siege, the physical and the emotional become one and impact Ales. Turo is erect and about to enter him when Ales says ‘stop’. It didn’t matter where they were or what they were doing, Turo stops immediately when Ales asks him to. The futuristic handcuffs, the bindings, all removed. No issues like, ‘you can’t stop now’ or ‘you were hot to trot before, you’re a tease’, no pretending like ‘Ales wanted it so I gave it to him’ – and I’ve read the last one a lot in romance books. Here, ‘stop’ meant just that. Stop. That, I respected a great deal. You can call this story porn, but it isn’t. Is it erotic? Yes, and it’s not going to be everyone’s cuppa, but I loved the surprise of where it went between Ales and Turo, and Ukkko too. I really appreciated that no, not now, meant just that.
“Stop,” I said, gasping to catch my breath. “I need a minute.”
Turo took himself back with surprise and concern for me. He undid the handcuffs, stepped away, and padded over to the bathroom.
Oh yeah, not meaning to be cryptic, one of my favourite parts of this story is small but significant. Payback’s a bitch, and when someone kindly shares their weed and an honest story with another at the possible end of their world, it carries a lot of weight to an individual having experienced that before. Buh-bye, priest. Excellent – said like Monty Burns.
This is a different story, no two ways about it. The book straddles a more serious sci-fi story and gay erotica. It’s novella sized and tackles a lot. It hits some intense moments emotionally and definitely does so in the sex department. Readers wanting pure sci-fi might find aspects disconcerting. People who have expectations of romance may also be somewhat polarised. Me? I was happy. Romance wasn’t expected or necessary, particularly given the nature of the tale, and I’m up for rough.
Siege Weapons offers a sci-fi story with emotional depth, seriously good world building, interesting characters, a quirkiness I like, then there’s some sexy times and some nasty ones. Diversity in genre is something I’m increasingly interested in and I think because of lack of time I miss a few of these books, but I didn’t miss this one, nope, and I’m so glad I didn’t. I felt like I was in space. I felt like I was in the future. I felt Flo’s story and Ales’ righteous anger over it. I also felt the loss of Teva and the pain and uncertainty that Ales faced because of it. I understood his need for connection but the inability to grasp it.
I really enjoyed this book and I would have given it 5 Stars but I’m not sure there will be more on Ales, Turo, and Ukko… and I selfishly want more. Having said that, this novella is self-contained. I also think different readers will focus on different aspects. This is an intriguing tale and I got right behind it. I’m now going to further seek out this author’s writing, I’m certainly looking forward to more in this series. For all the reasons I’ve outlined in my review – 4.5 Stars!