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Beggars in Spain [Mass Market Paperback]

Nancy Kress
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 1994 Beggars Trilogy (Book 1)

Born in 2008, Leisha Camden is beautiful, extraordinarily intelligent . . . and one of an ever-growing number of human beings who have been genetically modified to never require sleep.

Once she and "her kind" were considered interesting anomalies. Now they are outcasts -- victims of blind hatred, political repression and shocking mob violence meant to drive the "Sleepless" from human society . . . and, ultimately, from the Earth itself.

But Leisha Camden has chosen to remain behind in a world that envies and fears her "gift" -- a world marked for destruction in a devastating conspiracy of freedom . . . and revenge.


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Product Description

From Amazon

Many of us wish we could get by with less sleep. Beggars in Spain extrapolates that wish into a future where some people need no sleep at all. Nancy Kress, an award-winning author of novels, short stories, and columns on writing, has created another thoughtful but dramatic statement on social issues.

Leisha Camden was genetically modified at birth to require no sleep, and her normal twin Alice is the control. Problems and envy between the sisters mirror those in the larger world, as society struggles to adjust to a growing pool of people who not only have 30 percent more time to work and study than normal humans, but are also highly intelligent and in perfect health. The Sleepless gradually outgrow their welcome on Earth, and their children escape to an orbiting space station to set up their own society. But Leisha and a few others remain behind, preaching acceptance for all humans, Sleepless and Sleeper alike. With the conspiracy and revenge that unwinds, the world needs a little preaching on tolerance.

From Publishers Weekly

This thought-provoking though derivative book by the author of Brain Rose revists familiar territory. In 21st-century America, genetic engineering makes it possible for those who can afford it to become parents of improved, custom-made babies. The controversial procedure has produced a new breed that can function without sleep. Leisha Camden, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, is one of "the sleepless," who are endowed with remarkable intelligence and other genetic enhancements. A generation of prodigies, Leisha and her peers are resented by the rest of the population, who begin to persecute them. To escape violence, the Sleepless retreat to an armed camp, the Sanctuary, where for decades they fight to legitimize their existence in an increasingly hostile society. Leisha, a brilliant, idealistic lawyer, finds herself ostracized by both Sleepers and Sleepless as she struggles to bridge the widening gulf between the two groups. Meanwhile, the Sleepless must learn to deal with the prodigies among them. Kress competently handles a well-worn science fiction concept and raises some intriguing scientific and sociological issues. Her dialogue sometimes lapses into stilted philosophical arguments, however, and many of her characters are thinly drawn.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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THEY SAT STIFFLY ON HIS ANTIQUE EAMES CHAIRS, TWO PEOple who didn't want to be here, or one person who didn't want to and one who resented the other's reluctance. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but not rereading June 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A good friend sent me Beggars in Spain about a year ago, and I enjoyed it, but not enough for a reread.
Kress is an entertaining writer, but she does not always give her characters the depth that they ask for, and I found her science to be less than believable at times. She falls to the trap of many science fiction writers and treats science more like magic in a fantasy book than like real science. It just happens. There aren't any magic wands, but there might as well be for the ease with which the characters tinker with genetics. A certain amount of suspension of belief is definitely required, but even then my logical side nagged at me as I read the book.
Perhaps my quibble with the science of the book would not be so large if the characters and plot had been more engaging. Amusing, yes, interesting, yes, a good way to occupy a few hours, yes. But at the end of it all, I was left with that telltale feeling of disappointment and longing, as if the author could have done a lot more with her plot and characters. I cannot help but compare the book to Octavia Butler's excellent "Wind Seed," for their basic plots, if not their settings, are very similar. In "Wild Seed," the characters are so engaging and fascinating that whatever faulty logic may have existed was made nonexistant in the face of the conflict between two superhuman beings. "Beggars in Spain" tried, but failed, to do the same.
If you read voraciously as I do, this is a good way to occupy a couple of hours. However, if you read less often I'd suggest you go for something with better quality than this, something that is great, not just okay.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading more than once Nov. 18 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first read 'Beggars in Spain' six or seven years ago and I enjoyed it then. I've found that the better stories age well; come back a few years later and they still engage your heart and your mind. This is one of those stories.
Nancy Kress illustrates a fast approaching issue - the impact of genetic engineering - with well-drawn characters in realistic situations. The premise is science has learned how to engineer humans such that they no longer need to sleep. Obviously, the "sleepless" have a huge advantage over the "sleepers," and Kress explores the chasm that develops between the two classes of humans. Not to give away the story, but the "sleepless" have additional gifts that notch up the intensity significantly.
My only complaint is that the story seems to run out of gas toward the end. Kress has ably developed the issues, but doesn't bring the plot to a definitive climax. Nevertheless, 'Beggars in Spain' is an excellent story, one that will stay with you over the years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed to Lose Sleep July 29 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After I read this book I immediately bought the others in the series. What an idea and what a better execution!!! With all the reports popping up every day about the widespread lack of sleep in our society, this may be an idea whose time has arrived.
The author specializes in dialogue and thoughts and the tales of SMART (vs smarmy/hateful/creepy/sassy/whining) kids and their trials and tribulations was superbly written (similar in thrust to the Ender series). It is difficult to imagine ordinary folks becoming agents of hate and revenge, but what lurks right under the veneer of civilization? All in all, this was the superior of the series as is most often the case. That does not mean that you should skip the others, and the author continually introduces new ideas and curve balls to keep the action flowing and suspense suspenseful. The author also attempts what few sci-fi writers dare - a scientific explanation of the sci-fi within the book. Grab the series for a long vacation read at the beach.
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By monicae
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I liked the book very much, however I struggle with trying to determine it's impact. It seems to be between the crests of good and fantastic and couldn't quite make the leap across. This book is bursting with interesting ideas and themes that carry it through a good, but flawed presentation. This is a near future SF book and this future was not so far fetched as to be inconceivable.
Shades of Ayn Rand in this book are so prevalent that it was hard to not see many of the Fountainhead character hybrids in this novel. Jennifer Sharifi was Ellsworth Tooey. Sharifi was appreciative of superiority as long as she could control it. She led the "sleepless" like they were in fact mediocre that had to be controlled through manipulation. Leisha Camden was Howard Roarke, less violent but none-the-less steadfastly held to her principles regardless of the personal cost because being right was far more important than being accepted. The characters had a clash of ideas and in the end the protagonist prevails because of her uncompromising belief in herself.
Also in evidence is the preaching of ideas. This had more to do with poorly drawn characters who are critical to the story. In particular, Jennifer Sharifi or any character whose views were opposed to Leisha Camden, were under-characterized. We never saw the struggle the Jennifer Sharifi endured that caused her to come to her views (other than the murder of Tony). In the last 50 pages we get a paragraph about some implied struggles but no real description of her upbringing. We are simply told what she is thinking. In contrast Alice, a minor character with a major role in the development of Leisha, is well drawn. We aren't told what she is thinking, we given enough information to understand her frame of reference.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read. Recommended.
This is a nice short story about a future where there is highly advanced genetic engineering. It asks very interesting and very important questions. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
In the not-so-distant future, it becomes possible to genetically engineer children. This is the story of one such child built to the specifications of her wealthy industrialist... Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Melissa McCauley
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Science--How's That?
The reviewer who gives this book one star claiming Kress doen't understand the science of sleep is actually the one who does not understand science. Read more
Published on March 20 2004 by Too Cold in Madison
1.0 out of 5 stars Shoddy science and flat characters
I was deeply disappointed with the science in this book. Clearly Nancy Kress hasn't bothered to do much research on sleep(its importance to long term memory) the immune system(the... Read more
Published on March 10 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Great plot, characters , writing
After I read this book I immediately bought the others in the series. What an idea!!! With all the reports popping up every day about the widespread lack of sleep in our society,... Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by Avid Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and Engaging
Reading the reviews it seems as though this is a book full of references and echos. The Ayn Rand echos are noted, as are the Ender Wiggins-- I'll add one more. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2003 by frumiousb
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful -- until she betrays it all in the end.
I really enjoyed this book, right up until the end. Kress gives us a world full of great new ideas, very well thought out and believable. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by Heliomphalodon Incarnadine
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written Characters in a Powerful Story
Before I read 'Beggars in Spain,' I read the short story that the novel is expanded from. To be honest, I thought turning such a powerful story into a novel would lessen its... Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2002 by A. Wolverton
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful
Brilliant, thought-provoking stuff from one of my favorite authors. The implications of the creation of a superior branch of mankind is fully realized in a rich, detailed... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by Joseph Prisco
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