I first heard of Rachel Swirsky when reading Camestros Felapton’s Hugosauriad (which was, as he explained, “a dinography of the Hugo Awards — tracing the history of the awards via the medium of dinosaur stories”). That is where I learned of Ms. Swirsky’s short story If You We’re a Dinosaur, My Love, a lyrically beautiful story that touched me deeply. I have always kept my eyes open for more work by her, so I was very excited to see a new novella by her on NetGalley.
January Fifteenth is set in a near- future USA that has enacted a Universal Basic Income. The story examines a slice of life of four women on the titular day when they get their UBI check. We see each of the protagonists throughout the day from morning til night - a woman on the run from her abusive ex wife, a reporter raising her orphaned younger sister, a spoiled rich college kid, and a pregnant fifteen year old FLDS kid. We see many of the good and the bad changes wrought on society by a UBI. This book gave me a lot of food for thought, but the best part is the characters - they all feel very real and well rounded. This book was excellent and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is nominated for a Hugo and/or Nebula next year.