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Beggars in Spain: The Original Hugo & Nebula Winning Novella Paperback – 15 Oct 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix Pick (15 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612420575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612420578
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 685,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Nancy Kress has written a wonderful book about the dangers and potential wonders that await us if we attempt to interfere with our evolutionary destiny. The book concerns a revolutionary treatment that allows parent to specify that their children do not need to sleep. The results of this treatment soon become apparent to the parents (many of whom cannot bear the constant bawling of the sleepless infants) and to society at large. The sleepless children are ... better than other kids, in all fields. They are more intellectually curious, more at ease in themselves - and, fatally, more intelligent than their non-adjusted peers. There is the inevitable backlash from society, and we see the results through twin sisters, one of whom is sleepless, while the other is not. Eventually, the sleepless create their own society, and the consequences of their retreat from society are explored (with no little relish).
All the while I was reading this book, I was rooting for a particular faction of the sleepless (because Ms. Kress portrays them as humans, with arguments and fallings out, not, on the whole, as ubermensch). The reason I did not give the book five stars is the curiously unaffecting - and, for me, given the strength of the rest of the book, disappointing - ending. But it remains a wholly satisfying read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an intelligent treatment of the possibilities afforded by genetic engineering.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across the original long story by accident, in an anthology, and was really affected by both the premise and her beautiful writing - can't believe I've never heard of her before and am on a mission to catch up now, starting with the novel version of BIS. I take the other reviewers' point about the slightly muted ending but I think (hope) that's because she intended to write a sequel - indeed, I believe it's called 'Beggars and Choosers' and I want to get both.
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing novel that I discovered when I was 17. I fell in love with the idea of a society that rejected those who had been created 'different', and the consequences of that same rejection. I revisit the novel every couple of years, and find that the issues are still as novel ten years later.
A wonderful story that discusses moral issues through convincing and admirable characters.
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Format: Paperback
I am always on the lookout for truly first rate scifi writers, who can combine scientific speculation with believable characters in exotically imaginative settings. Alas, they are very few and far between: Octavia Butler, Harry Harrison, and Gregory Benford, to name a few I have enjoyed recently. After reading the description, I had high hopes for Kress, but this book simply didn't quite make it, in my opinion. It has a good idea - genetic modification to remove the need to sleep - and a good voice in the principal character, but the world that they existed in did not spark my imagination - I could not suspend my disbelief, but instead felt like someone was making it all up.

The story is that this elite group is feared as a superior species by sleep-needing humans, gets alienated and camps out in space in isolation, then makes its own plans. The sleepless are super-human - also more intelligent and immortal. This failed to convince, particularly since it was genetic engineering, which always has unforeseen consequences in the modified organisms themselves. Second, the reaction of sleepers appeared stereotypical to me, like their lack of political correctness in fear was supposed to elicit a knee-jerk reaction that referenced America's Jim Crow. Fair enough, but it was 2-dimensional. Third, the reaction of the sleepless was also over-blown, particularly with their own genetic experiments (think, "sequel"!). Fourth, I did like the girl narrator, the only fully realized character who couldn't be labelled with an adjective right away.

Recommended tepidly. THere is certainly worse scifi out there. But I won't be reading any of the sequels anytime soon.
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Format: 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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