Beggars In Spain Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
The novel version of 'Beggars in Spain' begins with a simple premise: What if science could genetically alter humans so that they needed no sleep? Think of the advances and discoveries mankind could make, think of all the achievements that would be possible if we never had to sleep for 6, 7, or 8 hours a day.
The theory becomes a reality for Leisha Camden and many other "sleepless." It doesn't take long before the sleepless are shunned by the rest of society and forced to develop their own community. But the persection doesn't stop there...
'Beggars in Spain' has so many things going for it that so many science fiction novels lack. First (and most important in my mind), Kress gives us believable characters that are interesting. You actually believe that these people could be real and would be fascinated to meet them. Leisha is a character I will remember for a long, long time. Next, Kress does something that I wish more science fiction writers would (or could) do: She explains how the science in her story works in a way that a non-scientist can understand it! (Imagine that!) Let me say for the record that I have an extremely weak science background, but thanks to the author's talent, I felt that I understood the basis for all the science that was included in the story. In short, I wasn't intimidated at all.
The characters and the understandable science are important, but I was really knocked out by the multitude of questions that are raised by 'Beggars in Spain.' The book admirably addresses such questions as genetic engineering (How far should science go?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on June 7 2004 by Melissa McCauley
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 morePublished on March 20 2004 by Too Cold in Madison
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 morePublished on March 10 2004
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... Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2003 by Dan Ronco
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 morePublished on July 17 2003 by Avid Reader
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 morePublished on Jan. 26 2003 by frumiousb
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 morePublished on April 21 2002 by Heliomphalodon Incarnadine
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 morePublished on Jan. 15 2002 by Joseph Prisco