I got hold of a copy of this amazing novelette (I think? 17,000-ish words) from one of Galactic Suburbia’s wonderful listeners, who is the Editorial Director of a new digital publisher, Snackreads – he sent through a copy because he thought it would be up our collective alley. To which the answer, I think, is OH YES.
A future where there are space ships carrying cargo between planets as easily as trucks do today… but where there is, for some unknown reason, a societal reaction (on some planets) against women having the freedom of movement to do things like be in space. Dee has taken over a freighting company from her formidable aunt, but is facing difficulties in the shape of her sister, her sister’s husband, and mounting debt. When she has to land on New Niger, things appear to be as desperate as they can be, so she ends up making a deal with a competitor… and things go from there.
The things I love about this story are many: I love Dee’s voice as she makes clear just how much it means to her, to be a pilot, and just how much she hates the idea of being trapped by her brother-in-law. I adore the idea of New Niger (although I must admit I don’t know how accurate Charnas is in her descriptions of Old Niger, and it may well be that there are some things that are offensive/otherwise wince-worthy, and if there are I’d love to hear it) – people of colour in space! Who would’ve thought it! I particularly love (although see previous brackets) the way that one character there, in particular, plays on racial stereotypes very consciously to her own advantage. The denouement had me quietly cackling with glee. I enjoyed the pace of the narrative, the action overall, the ‘domestic’ setting (family feuds) commenting on larger social realities…
I should get me some more Charnas to read, I guess.