Ahoy there me mateys! I received an eArc of this sci-fi novella through NetGalley in exchange for me honest musings . . .
I wanted to read this near-futuristic novella because it deals with the topic of an Universal Basic Income (“UBI”) in the United States. The idea is that on January 15th, the U.S. government hands out the UBI payment to its citizens. The novella follows four people who get their payments that day.
The author was clear in her forward that she would not get into the specifics of how the UBI was determined or how the programs worked and would focus on how it affected the characters. I thought this was a sad choice especially given the research briefly mentioned. I personally would have preferred a sci-fi work that dealt more with practicalities. Though I get that a novella would make this hard.
But ultimately this was just an okay read. It felt like a slice of life piece with no real point. Was UBI good or bad? I don’t know. How the UBI really impacted the character’s lives was very lightly touched on. It emotionally felt like UBI was being criticized for helping no one but with no details. So I don’t actually know if that is what the author was trying to say. The complicated issue of UBI felt like a backdrop with no realism.
Also, for me personally, I felt that the characters all felt very one-dimensional – not quite caricatures but close. Pregnant teen cult member. Mother dealing with domestic violence. Bored rich college kid. Activist turned journalist who is jaded about the policy she set into place. The plot felt surface level.
It was a quick read that I felt didn’t do the topic justice even it I thought the concept was interesting. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novella:
January Fifteenth—the day all Americans receive their annual Universal Basic Income payment.
For Hannah, a middle-aged mother, today is the anniversary of the day she took her two children and fled her abusive ex-wife.
For Janelle, a young, broke journalist, today is another mind-numbing day interviewing passersby about the very policy she once opposed.
For Olivia, a wealthy college freshman, today is “Waste Day”, when rich kids across the country compete to see who can most obscenely squander the government’s money.
For Sarah, a pregnant teen, today is the day she’ll journey alongside her sister-wives to pick up the payments that undergird their community—and perhaps embark on a new journey altogether.
In this near-future science fiction novella by Nebula Award-winning author Rachel Swirsky, the fifteenth of January is another day of the status quo, and another chance at making lasting change.
To visit the author’s webpage go to:
Rachel Swirsky – Author
To buy the book go to:
january fifteenth – Book
To add to Goodreads go to:
Yer Ports for Plunder List