Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

I think this will be my last post before Christmas. I haven’t even started wrapping presents or sent the Christmas cards out. Time to focus on Christmas things. But, one more review before a bit of a break. Don’t worry, I’ll have more before the year is out!

Published: 1991

Genre: science fiction

Length: 53 pages

Setting: near future in the U.S.

Interest: I probably put it on my reading list because the novella won both the Hugo and the Nebula, but it’s been on there so long I can’t quite remember. I’m trying to cross off a few books that have been hanging out on my list for a while.

Summary: Roger Camden is a rich oligarch who wants the best for his potential child. That means all the best genetic modifications, including the experimental lack of sleep tweak. Leisha is born one of the Sleepless and, because of random luck, she has a normal fraternal twin sister. Leisha, like all the Sleepless, is brilliant. Her mother favors her normal sister, and her father favors her. The Sleepless develop a network of support, especially as the Sleepers (normal humans) start to discriminate against them.

Final thoughts: This was an interesting thought experiment of a story. Usually, genetic modifications lead to unintended negative consequences, but all the side effects of the Sleepless modification were positive. The Sleepless were going to take over – not only do they have more time to do things and learn new skills, but they are better at them than the Sleepers. How do people deal with a new super race? With fear and discrimination, of course. Leisha was hopeful people would focus on the benefits the Sleepless brought to society, but most people could only see “difference” and start to hate.

Apparently, Kress liked the story enough to expand it into a novel with sequels.

Title comes from: An analogy used in the book to address how much the Sleepless should help Sleepers. If a beggar in Spain asks you for a dollar, would you give it him? What if there were a thousand beggars? Or a million? At what point do you stop helping?

Awards won: Hugo Award and Nebula Award in 1992

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was only a novelette

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


1 Comment

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One response to “Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

  1. Pingback: Machine Learning by Nancy Kress | Fill Your Bookshelf

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