On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard. ★★★★
On a Red Station, Drifting is an excellent little science fiction novella.
In the far future, a galactic empire is crumbling and Linh is a refugee, fleeing to Prosper Station, run by Mistress Quyen. The two women are very different, and it was interesting to read their opinions of each other. Both accuse each other of arrogance, but I think Linh probably most deserves that criticism. She had a high ranking before the war came to her planet, and she seems to expect Quyen (whom she scorns for her lesser education) to immediately give her a position of power.
Both Linh and Quyen were strongly characterized. If the supporting cast wasn’t as well done, I think it’s largely because there simply isn’t space in this roughly 100 page novella.
Prosper Station has other problems besides the war. The whole station is run and watched over by the Honored Ancestress, an AI. However, she’s been having gaps in function, which puts the entire station at risk. The Honored Ancestress also brings up the issue of privacy versus security as Linh chafes under her gaze and Quyen takes comfort from it.
The world building was also well crafted. The galactic empire grew out of Vietnamese culture, which is strongly present. However there’s also new ideas unique to the future and settlements such as Prosper.
I’d recommend On a Red Station, Drifting to anyone looking for good female characters and a subtle but powerful science fiction novella.