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Beggars in Spain [short fiction] (1991)

by Nancy Kress

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sleepless (Original novella)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
806301,248 (3.76)4
PLEASE NOTE: This is the original novella which won the Hugo and Nebula awards. Leisha Camden is a genetically engineered 'Sleepless.' Her ability to stay awake all the time has not only made her more productive, but the genetic modifications have also given the 'Sleepless' a higher IQ and may even make them immortal. Are they the future of humanity? Or will the small community of 'sleepless' be hunted down as freaks by a world that has grown wary of its newest creation?… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

English (5)  French (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
The original novella itself is quite smart. Ayn Rand's influence is pretty evident. While the book has a positive attitude towards objectivism, it does a better job of showing its downside. However, the follow-up pieces which make the rest of the book are extremely uneven. Part 2 is decent, but falls into the same Ayn Rand caricaturizations of the "beggar" class. Part 3 is out there and really bad. Part 4 has some decent ideas, but is not a good read overall. 4 star for the initial novella. 2 or 3 stars for the rest. ( )
  prefrontaller | Jan 22, 2022 |
3.5/5 Stars
(1992 Hugo and 1991 Nebula Winner: Novella)

Decently rendered near-future tale. However, considering the novella length, it feels as though Kress bit off more than she could adequately masticate within only 100 pages. In fairness, I read the novella so it's likely that the 400+ page version that was released later fleshes out the characters and concepts more fully than what I experienced. If I run across a copy, I am likely to read it to see if this story benefits from being added onto. I have a feeling it might.
( )
  ScoLgo | Jun 23, 2016 |
From a relatively simple idea ( what if with genetic engineering newborn babies born without need of sleep) Nancy Kress builds an interesting and exciting story which is perhaps not the most original ('superior' mutants vs 'ordinary' people) a great page turner until the last page. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Feb 7, 2016 |
This book comprises two parts: the original novella, and the longer novel written to extend the original novella.

It is the story of twins, one of whom has been genetically engineered so that she doesn't need sleep. It examines the repercussions of sleeplessness, specifically how society reacts to a sleepless person, and to sleepless people as more parents select this modification for their children.

There is lots of interesting food for thought here: the sleepless people are generally smarter, happier, healthier, and more resilient than normal people. It's interesting to think about what it would be like not to need sleep (you could do away with a whole room in your house, for starters). It also brings up issues of how the world reacts to people who have been genetically modified.

However, I found the characters to be exaggerated beyond the point of believability, especially the twins' parents. I also found the world's hostility to the sleepless to be rather contrived. The book has more than one child who is abused because of their sleeplessness. This might be believable if sleeplessness were an accidental genetic mutation, but when parents have paid a lot of money for a sleepless child, why would they then abuse the child for being sleepless?

The longer novel gets even more contrived, and I didn't read much of it. It focuses on what amounts to an economic war between sleepers and sleepless, which just didn't make much sense to me. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jun 19, 2014 |
I seem to be in the minority in not particularly liking this one. This story starts strongly, and offers an intriguing idea. But I found it less and less plausible as the plot develops and the sleepless become less and less human. Kress really lost me when they discovered that not sleeping confers immortality. Plus, the Susan / Roger relationship felt like an unnecessary sidetrip to a bad soap opera. ( )
  clong | May 19, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Kressprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barr, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
« Va de l'avant avec une énergie et une vigilance jamais en sommeil et donne-nous des victoires. »
Abraham Lincoln, au général de brigade Joseph Hooker, 1863.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Le couple était assis, l'air guindé, sur ses chaises Eames anciennes, deux personnes qui auraient préféré ne pas être là, ou bien une personne qui ne le voulait pas et l'autre que cela contrariait.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The novella "Beggars in Spain" was originally published in Asimovs and then released as a chapbook by Axolotl Press. It is not the same as the novel released later. It is much shorter.
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PLEASE NOTE: This is the original novella which won the Hugo and Nebula awards. Leisha Camden is a genetically engineered 'Sleepless.' Her ability to stay awake all the time has not only made her more productive, but the genetic modifications have also given the 'Sleepless' a higher IQ and may even make them immortal. Are they the future of humanity? Or will the small community of 'sleepless' be hunted down as freaks by a world that has grown wary of its newest creation?

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