REVIEW: “Rebirth” by Michelle Kaseler

Review of Michelle Kaseler, “Rebirth,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 5-13 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: References to suicide, murder, and sexual assault; forced labor and enslavement.

The process of rebirth takes criminals and turns them into mining drones, an endless supply of prisoner labor. Rebirth is supposed to erase all memory of previous life; people don’t even know that rebirth has happened to them.

Unsurprisingly, one person does find it, and infiltrates a work crew, and attempts to help people remember.

The detail that struck me the most in this story was how even though all the prisoners had been given labels (“A7”, “B9”, etc.), all these labels eventually gave way to nicknames that became names. You can try to erase the individuality out of a person — but it’s much harder than people think.