Announcing my novella, January Fifteenth

I am excited to announce that my debut novella, January Fifteenth, is coming out from Tor.com on June 14, 2022. 

Twelve days away! I can hardly believe it.

image of person walking through snowy woods with the following text: January Fifteenth. A new novella from Tor.com. by Rachel Swirsky. Follow four women through January fifteenth, the day when they get their Universal Basic Income. Hannah, an abused mother on the run with her two sons. Janelle, an activist-turned-reporter raising her orphaned sister. Olivia, a wealthy college student celebrating “Waste Day”. Sarah, a child bride in a fundamentalist cult. Money changes everything—except people. “a fascinating thought experiment” - Caren Gussoff, Locus Magazine

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.

It’s gotten some very kind reviews, including one from Publisher’s Weekly and a starred review from the Library Journal

book cover of a person walking down an alley with an umbrella and the following text: January Fifteenth, “Money Changes everything–except people.” Rachel Swirsky, “One of the best speculative writers of the last decade.” –John Scalzi

“[A] thoughtful novel comprising four interwoven stories framed by the near-future implementation of Universal Basic Income. . . .Fans of plausible political speculative fiction should check this out.”—Publishers Weekly

“Swirsky’s slice-of-life UBI stories present just a few possible effects of this hotly debated topic. Without either political rhetoric or exhortation, these brief glimpses of other lives give readers the chance to see what might be in a world with a social safety net. Highly recommended for readers of political and social science-oriented SF.”—Library Journal (starred review)

You can pre-order the book right now! It’s at several different locations, including Powell’s, Amazon, Macmillan, and Barnes and Noble.

It took me a really long time to write this so I’m happy to see it get out into the world. It is the longest thing I’ve ever published by more than two times. (Which is funny because some of the reviews are considering the piece as a novel and found that it was too short for their tastes. It’s almost exactly as long as a novella can be without becoming a novel–but by novel standards it’s definitely puny!)

I hope folks continue to read and enjoy it. I spent a lot of time with these characters. Now I get to send them out to spend time with readers.

Excerpt Sampler of Stories from 2022 Weekend Warrior

My exclusive Patreon content for February collects excerpts from the beginnings of five new stories.

As I do annually, during January and February, I participated in the Codex contest Weekend Warrior run by Vylar Kaftan. Participants write one piece of flash fiction each weekend.

The stories in the Example Sampler are:

“Thing about Timeline Collapse I Decided Not to Post” based on the prompt: write about someone moving who doesn’t want to.

“An Alphabetical Guide to Potential Building Materials for Aspiring Urban Planners” based on the prompt: what is your kingdom made of?

 “The Letters You Lost” based on a suggested title.

“Dear Awesomest Uncle Zarny” based on the prompt: write a letter to an imaginary relative for a special occasion.

“The Thing about Things,” theoretically based on the prompt: choose a random wikipedia page… although I ended up meandering onto an unrelated subject.

(I released the full text of my week two story, “An Alphabetical Guide to Potential Building Materials for Aspiring Urban Planners,” on my Patreon in January.)

These were a lot of fun. I seem to be playing a lot with humor right now! Maybe it’s reading all that Wodehouse and Adams.

Thanks to all my patrons. All of my Patreon content–including a substantial, patron-exclusive offering once a month of something like an original essay, poem or short story–is available to all my patrons, no matter how much or little they contribute. Every contribution is greatly appreciated and makes a big difference to supporting my writing career!

Cat Pictures! Pete in a Sink

drawing of a cat in a sink

This is one of the images I used in Scragamuffin, the chapbook I released as October’s exclusive Patreon reward. I thought it might be fun to release the pictures with the photos that inspired them.

When we lived in Bakersfield, our master bathroom had two sinks, which meant there was always an extra for a cat to flop in. It was probably summer when this picture was taken since Pete’s mane seems relatively short. I like the mad look in his eye.

drawing of a cat in a sink

January Fifteenth, My Forthcoming Novella, Front Cover

I’m still really excited about my upcoming novella, January Fifteenth. It’s coming out from Tor.com in just a few months.

I really like the cover:

book cover of a person walking down an alley with an umbrella and the following text: January Fifteenth, “Money Changes everything–except people.” Rachel Swirsky, “One of the best speculative writers of the last decade.” –John Scalzi

I really like the cover! It reminds me of one of my favorite paintings,”Paris Street; Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebot.

image of oil painting "Paris Street; Rainy Day" by French artist Gustave Caillebotte with several people in walking the street of 1800s Paris
January Fifteenth tracks four points of view, each in a different part of the United States of America, on the day when the government disburses Universal Basic Income. There’s a young mother in upstate New York; a freelance journalist in Chicago; a wealthy college student at a resort in Colorado; and a pregnant teenager who is part of an FLDS cult in Utah. None of them quite look like this gentleman in the rain, but he could be part of their world, a page or two away.

Cat Drawing! Pete in a Box

drawing of a cat laying in a box with four paws visible

This is one of the images I used in Scragamuffin, the chapbook I released as October’s exclusive Patreon reward. I thought it might be fun to release the pictures with the photos that inspired them.

I didn’t think I would be able to draw this because of the weird positions of his paws. It’s the kind of thing I’d shy away from if I were sketching freehand, but because I’m using the photographs as direct templates, I gave it a shot. “Trust the photograph,” I told myself as I made lines that seemed intuitively weird. The paws still look weird, but I think that’s at least 80% because paws look kinda weird.

photo of a cat laying in a box with four paws visible

Luna

A simple poem about the moon.

I wrote this during a class on poetry that I was teaching for Cat Rambo’s excellent writing academy. (There’s a ton of classes available there–if it’s the kind of thing you do, you should check them out.)

I think the writing exercise was something like, “You can find poetry where you look for it.” The night before, the moon had been a heavy, looming harvest orange.

I’ve always liked traditional stories that depict the moon as a lonely woman. I wonder if that was in the back of my head.

Image with lunar cycle and the following text: Luna by Rachel Swirsky "Alone / with no one to call / no man, no lady, no rabbit / only footprints of men / who won't return."