by Rachel Swirsky
What is it about:
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.
What did I think of it:
Did I totally fall for the cover? Yes! Yes, I did!
But the story sounded interesting as well, so it wasn't a total cover buy.
So this story is set in a future where every American gets a Basic Income. I will confess I'm all for a basic income. Multiple studies and tests have shown it works if done right. And here is the first flaw in this story: Swirsky picks and chooses how she thinks a basic income would work, and skips over lots of other important things. I could rant about all the things I think were wrong in her approach, but as the basic income is mostly window dressing for the stories that are told, I'll refrain from ranting.
There are four stories being told. They never interweave with each other, but stand on their own. I really liked three of them and wasn't too impressed by one. Those who know me might not be surprised that it was the story about Olivia, a wealthy college freshman, that fell short for me. There's a message in there, but it's drowned in booze and drugs.
My two favorites were the stories about Hannah and Sarah. Hannah's story is at heart about learning to trust again after being badly hurt in the past, and Sarah's story is about finding the strength to stand up for yourself. I also liked Janelle's story that's about choosing what's the most important in life for you.
All in all I mostly liked this book once I looked past the half-assed basic income stuff. I might see what other books Swirsky has written.
Why should you read it:
It's an interesting read.