Blog Archive

View My Stats
Thursday, August 25, 2022

Book review: January Fifteen by Rachel Swirsky


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads


AUTHOR INFO: Rachel Swirsky holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and she graduated from Clarion West in 2005. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy and Sturgeon Awards. She’s twice won the Nebula Award: for her 2010 novella, “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” and her 2014 short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love."

Publisher: Tordotcom (June 14, 2022) Print Length: 242 

Excellent. January Fifteen is set in the near-future U.S. with Universal Basic Income (UBI) and follows four women on January 15, the day they receive their UBI payments. Swirsky’s slice-of-life vignettes of their lives as they go through the day vividly illustrate how (and if) UBI helps people. Each character has a different perspective on money and different problems.

Olivia, a wealthy student, parties hard with her privileged friends. For them, January 15 is “Waste Day,” when they look for the fastest and most extravagant ways to waste money. Hannah is on the run from her abusive ex-wife, and money helps her to flee and keep her children safe and fed. Sarah, a pregnant teen trapped in a fundamentalist cult in Utah, is trying to find a different path for herself. Finally, Janelle, an ex-activist and broke reporter, needs money to support herself and her orphaned sister, Nevaeh. Janelle and Nevaeh are the most fun, both quick-witted and indulging in fun banter.

January Fifteen doesn’t take a political stand on UBI; it simply shows its smaller-scale effects on four humans. The money helps, but it doesn’t solve all their problems (domestic abuse, sexual assault, cult exploitation, etc.). Each protagonist has a distinct voice and emotional arc. I admit Janelle and Hanna’s stories engaged me the most, but all four are poignant and worthwhile.

I applaud Swirsky’s skill in packing so much depth and characterization in a novella format. Not an easy task; you need to make every scene and paragraph count and serve something. Now, there are some threads Swirsky mentioned but didn’t explore. A shame, but what we got remains an impressive work of socially conscious sci-fi able to tackle difficult themes without getting ideological.

Highly recommended.

0 comments:

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!


Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain


Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE