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Beggars in Spain Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Science Fictio; Reprint edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380718774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380718771
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,122,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first half had surprisingly real characters in a surprisingly real world. This is one of the few science fiction books where the characters reminded me of people I know. For instance I can't imagine meeting an Ender Wiggin, Teela Brown, R. Daneel Olivaw, or a Paul Atreides despite the fact they're great characters. The book also shows the appeal & problems with Libertarianism. Characterization doesn't hurt the plot or ideas & I like that. A minor flaw is its "Americanness" & the title. I knew a Spanish person & he would not be amused by his nation being used as an example of a land with beggars. Still those things don't detract from the first half which is some of the best sci-fi written in the 90's.
The second half shows she didn't think socialism was any better then absolute Libertarianism. However, it is less plausible & mildly surrealistic. Still it was nice to see Leisha Camden lighten up & the way the Super-Sleepless thought was interesting. The second half is an above average sf story, but not as much of a phenomenon as the first.
To wrap it up I think Kress is better in short form then long. In fact I think she is one of the best sf short story writers of the 90's. Still I like the first half so much I had to give it 5 stars. It's melancholy, but ultimately more uplifting & humane then most recent sf. Despite that I'm not planning on reading the sequels. One last thing READ SF ANTHOLOGIES OR SUBSCRIBE TO THE MAGAZINES if you like Kress's work.
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By A Customer on July 24 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A compelling idea and some interesting sociological exploration fall prey to unlikeable characters, horrible science, and phonetic sp-sp-sp-speach.
First off, the easiest: the phonetically written speach of the "super-sleepers", characters who suffer from extreem stuttering problems. Now, on Kress's own website, she lists some "writing basics", wherin she says that when one is writing a character with an odd regional dialect or abnormal speech patters, after the first few lines of speech are presented phonetically, you should switch back to standard english. In this book there is a 75-page chunk where stuttering characters talk alot, and every second word is st-st-stuttered. This is distracting and really quite annoying, and in itself adds nothing to the story.
The characters: Jenifer Shafari(?), presented in a third-person limeted POV, occupies many pages, and she is a quite unlikeable character. She is the antagonist, so being unlikable goes with the territory, but Leisha (protagonist), while not being exactly unlikeable, isn't particularly compelling. Sure, she's a three-dimensional character, but she isn't one that I could feel any compassion for, so who cares? And the vast majority of the supporting characters don't hold your attention, and my reactions varied between indefference (Richard, Kevin) to disgust (Sandalos, Eric). The few truly compelling characters were relegated to very little time on the page. As I said before, all because a character is well drawn doesn't mean they are automatically worth spending time with.
Then the science. ....Now, this book was primarilly a socialogical extropolation, so I could have swallowed a terse "we can make children who don't have to sleep, and the side effect is that they will be near immortals" without any further exploration.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
_Beggars in Spain_, extrapolated from the novella of the same title, explores the idea of community--who can join a community, who can leave or be removed from a community, what rights and benefits does a community member have from the other members of the comminuty (ie, is one comfortably off in the US bound to support a beggar in Spain?)--through the idea of the Sleepless. Beggars in Spain follows the life of one of the first of the Sleepless, Leisha Camden, genetically engineered to have no need for sleep. Sleepless has side effects, including prolonged lifespans and increased intelligence, which soon put Sleepless on the odds with many Sleepers as discrimination rises between both groups. Leisha firmly believes Sleepless and Sleepers must strive together for community; while a fellow Sleepless, Jennifer Sharifi, believes that Sleepless should live free and unentangled by any demands or importunities of Sleepers. Their struggles, and their conflicts (echoed in the micro by Leisha's twin Sleeper sister, Alice), provide fertile ground for what is both a good story and an intriguing exploration of the theme. Politics and economics are thoughtfully interwoven through the whole of the story, although the first half is superior to the second, which traces Jennifer Sharifi's struggles to build and define a Sleepless community of her own in an orbital, Sanctuary.
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