Meta: isfdb. This SF space opera novelette appeared originally in Monstrous Affections, but was re-published in September, 2014 and is freely available @ Lightspeed. It was re-published in The Best SF&F of the Year 2015.
Spaceports are dangerous.
Your uncle tells you this several times as you dock in the Zvezda-Spaceport, but it’s not like you don’t know it already. Your parents have told you a million stories about how alien races like the spidery and psychopathic Charkazaks – fugitives after their world was destroyed by InterPlanetary forces – take girls like you hostage and force you to do things so bad, they won’t even describe them.
A young girl stows away in her uncle’s smuggler spaceship, fleeing her boring parents and planet. She needs to learn a lot of rules – the first one is “there are no rules”, overcome her parent’s prejudices against spaceports, aliens, and smugglers. Of course, everything is different.
Review: Yes, everything is different in a very predictable way. This rollicking story is narrated in second person which suggests a ironic distance and emotional distance from those 10 rules, like a self-help book or one of those 1980s Fighting Fantasy RPG books where you can choose what will happen next and go a different path through a story. It is a charming coming-of-age story mixed with a bit of bloods and guts, humor, and a lot of adventures – in fact everything you’d expect from a space opera: spaceships and ports, monsters, pirates, smugglers. Nothing new but I loved the narrative structure.