I vacillated too long over 3 or 4 stars for this novel. I decided it is 3 stars for SciFi and 4 stars for Gay SF, going with the latter since there is a dearth of good, fun Gay SF novels. I hope the higher rating will encourage more people to read it.
The story is plot driven, like most space operas. The characters are interesting, but not well-developed like most space operas. The book is very well crafted and is a page-turner. I stayed up too late 3 nites in a row, because I didn’t want to stop reading.
The protagonists are 2 Gay guys, one in the space military, the other a scientist (paleo-microbilogist) who fall in love after a few dates. The military/science personality-type conflict is mentioned, but not developed in any meaningful way. There is a tiny homophobia thread which would be interesting to develop in a sequel. Sex per se is minimal. The novel is not for someone looking for a traditional m/m romance.
The SF part of the novel is well done, but is derivative, my main complaint about this novel. There are no new SF ideas I discovered. The multiplanet politics has been done. The gateway built by ancient unknown aliens has been done. Even the tech terms seemed all to be taken from Star Trek—warp drive, inertial dampeners, quantum signatures, interstellar conduits (think Borg)… I would have liked some originally.
So we have a Heechee + Union-Alliance + Star Trek space opera. Still it is an entertaining story, positively Gay and IMO well worth a read.