This novel took have a dozen versions over a dozen years to finish to my satisfaction; I submitted it a few places, then gave up, and haven't seriously thought about it in years.
Yesterday, for a random reason, I started reading it again. And... I liked it. The prose is perhaps a little purple, the pace a little slow, the hints at things I should have just said a little opaque. In the middle half, some of the soap factor needs to be reigned back. But by and large...
The more serious problem (which I've known for ages and is probably one reason I abandoned the novel as a lost cause) is that I was doing this 'post-feminist' (with all the quotation marks) thing of "Sure, a woman can run a starship if she wants, but sometimes a woman just wants to go home to one's hyperpatriarchal society and be owned by a man with no real recourse if he decides he wants to kill her". Which: Young Zeborah, what were you thinking?(*)
But also, I noticed this time and not then, the entire rest of the novel is steeped in all the rape culture. It's all terribly asexual, but wow. The main character is harassed and almost everyone including herself blame her for not reciprocating; the author-at-the-time saw Both Sides of the Story while now I'm all, "Dude, she said back off. Back off!" In an important subplot, her best friend makes a complaint of harassment and all the focus is on exonerating the poor guy she's complaining about and then it turns out she made a terrible mistake and he's innocent after all. In other really important subplot, same person defends herself from super serious charges by explaining about the super serious harassment she was undergoing and no-one including the main character believes her.
It's... wow, it's really bad. Or... they're some really horrible situations, narrated uncritically. So now I can't help but feel that if I told them more critically, and was also more critical of some of the politics behind Federation and space exploration and post-war peace treaties -- I could make a really powerful theme out of boundaries and the violation thereof and the reclaiming of agency afterwards.
Or possibly waste my time on a novel I filed away seven years ago with very good reason.
It's not like I don't have a pile of unfinished things I could be working on instead....
(*) I'm pretty sure what I was thinking was that I was young and nervous about being an adult.
- In which she rereads her first novel