A recent review by “jmyron” titled unusual, but worth it had two questions.
First, how did the arch libertarian aliens come by the idea that they get to decide which other species are to be eradicated?
Second, there is virtually no set up for the climax. It’s just “We have to go and fight Important Bad Guy” who is never mentioned at any point earlier in the book.
The first one I plan on addressing to some degree in the sequel. Very Short Version: there are more than two space-faring species in the universe.
Second: Yes and no. I had hinted at terrorism and police-state actions because of bombing and things. When Helton is leaving there is an explosion that gets the local spaceport cops busy. There is a military parade on the screen in Kwon’s. When he arrives at the first transfer station at least one ship is hit, and the flickering lights were from another attack.
I didn’t want to assume my readers needed to have everything spelled out for them, and I wanted there to be mystery as to what exactly was happening and why. The ship details are slowly revealed. Some of the problems society is having are slowly revealed. Helton is just a guy dealing with things as they come up; he’s not used to looking at the really big picture, and long range planning isn’t his strongest suit.
Having a “destroy the ring at Mt Doom” mission from the first few chapters wouldn’t have fit the “slow reveal by reacting to events” plot-line. I thought about putting something more explicit in earlier, but I thought just hinting at troubles (and having Lag & Helton fix them as they came up) made more sense.
The story line is deliberately episodic – have a problem, fix it. Get a cargo, haul it. But each time things got bigger, a bit more complicated, the ship and its abilities a bit more “out of the closet.” I thought that dealing with a giant horde in sword-and-sandals combat on a planet surrounded by hostile fleets would be a tough enough final mission.
Hope that clarifies things a bit.