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Beggars in Spain (Sleepless #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  4,853 ratings  ·  430 reviews
In this future, some people need no sleep at all. 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 ar ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Harper Voyager (first published February 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ben Babcock
I love to sleep. I prefer at least eight, preferably nine hours of sleep each night. Going to bed at midnight and waking up at nine in the morning is a perk of my madcap, Bohemian university student lifestyle that I will have to abandon once I become a stern, starched-collar high school teacher. For now, however, I like my sleep, and I will defend to the death my right to snore it. But if I did not need to sleep—had, in fact, grown up without ever knowing sleep—would I miss it? How would I be di ...more
Last book of 2012 for me, a good end to the year. Beggars in Spain is the sort of sf novel that posits a basic idea and extrapolate from that the foundation to look at the ramifications and implications of this idea from all possible angles. The "high concept" idea is very simple, in the near genetic engineering create a new race of people who do not sleep. While the basic idea is simple the numerous implications and ramifications of this development are far reaching and very complex. The main p ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read the novella version of this last year, and the first novel of the Sleepless trilogy includes and expands on it (this was one of the books from my speed-dating project in April.) Those with a lot of money at their disposal have been able to genetically modify their children in utero, for looks, abilities, and one in particular - taking away the need for sleep.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you never needed to sleep, and you suffered no medical issues due to its lack. The Sleepless ca
4.5 stars. Excellent novel about the economic, social and political changes arising out of a group of people born without the need to sleep (and as a result blessed with other abilities that set them apart from the more populous "sleepers").

Nominee: Hugo Award best Novel (the novella upon which this is best actually won the Hugo)
Nominee: Nebula Award best Novel (the novella upon which this is best actually won the Nebula)
Nominee: Campbell Award for best Novel
Nominee: Prometheus Award best Novel
I was reminded of this novel because I read an article on a woman who can't forget anything. This book is about people who don't have to sleep. Fascinating.
Oct 13, 2009 Cindy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cindy by: Hard SF group
In a near-future world, where genetic engineering of embryos is as possible as choosing the color and features of your new Prius, scientists create people who lack the need (or ability) to sleep - for the right price. The knock-on effect is that these Sleepless are smarter, more emotionally stable, and more rational than us Sleepers.

Around the same time, a brilliant scientist creates a new power source, eliminating the need for fossil fuels or distributed power grids - a cold fusion fuel cell fo
Mar 02, 2008 Becky rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: hardcore sci-fi fans
Recommended to Becky by: Charles
This book came highly recommended, and of course it has also won a ton of awards, but I wasn't impressed at all. There's very little characterization. The characters seem to exist just to move the plot along, ie "And then THIS happened and I'm going to tell you about it now!"

I was also reminded of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, in which the flat characters exist only as mouthpieces for Rand's philosophy.

As for the plot, it's interesting, but it clanks along kind of relentlessly. I couldn't help wond
Lisa Vegan
I love how the author reveals in the preface that her motivation for writing this story and its characters was her envy of those who need less sleep than she does. Envy is a familiar feeling to me so I could identify with her and, in some respects, with some of the characters in this book.

This book has a fascinating premise, compellingly interesting characters, a riveting epic storyline, and (for the most part) creative future world building.

But, while they’re given adequate motivations, I stil
May 15, 2011 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
A good piece of high concept science fiction, the kind that takes a Big Idea and explores its ramifications thoroughly. I've read some of Kress's short fiction, and one of her how-to books for writers, so it's interesting to watch her follow her own advice in a longer work. I feel like some characters and events got short shrift, but the scenes that did happen "on screen" filled in the blanks adequately. I think the beggars in Spain of the title were handled well in the first part of the book, t ...more
Beggars in Spain is exactly the kind of science fiction I love. It's about people and society and the impact of scientific breakthroughs. It explores the big questions of humanity, justice and prejudice. It did run a bit longer than it should have, but the ending was satisfying. The best thing about this novel is that it's a stand-alone. That's becoming so rare in SF&F that it's very refreshing.
Generally speaking, we want people's advantages to be compensated with disadvantages. But what if genetic engineering provided an advantage with no down side? Nancy Kress explores a society in which some people need no sleep (and suffer no side effects) and the "normal" people they live among. A fascinating social study.
Mary JL
Nov 20, 2010 Mary JL rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody;especially SF fans
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
This ws fanstastic. I picked it up, knowing nothing about it or the author and am I glad I did!

This is an old theme in SF--a minority group persecuted by the main society. Nancy Kress does a fabulous job with her version.

The basic premise is: Genetic modification is now available so children may be modified in the womb--for intelligence, strength, height and so on. And the latest--children who have no need of sleep.

Having eight more hours to use, plus perfect mental and physical health, the Slee
John Doez
Tercera vez que me leo este fantástico libro. Parece que cada siete años le doy un repaso. Y me sigue gustando.

Algunas críticas al libro que he leído están en contra del sistema económico-político que plantea la autora, pero esto es ciencia-ficción o ficción especulativa. De eso va, de suponer que pasa si... Los dilemas que se plantean por las desigualdades son interesantes. Y la "densa" forma de pensar de los supers ya merece una estrella por sí sola.

Pues nada. Tocará volver a leerlo en 2021.
Mark Pantoja
A classic. Yes, the characters are but pawns and plot points, most lacking real depth, but it's a multi-generational drama. It's like Silverberg/Assimov's "Bicentennial Man," but for biotech/genetics. The only wrangle I had was:

My, how stupid smart people can be.

It's pretty laughable that any group of hyper-intelligent, and then Superbright hyper-intelligent people would be swayed by such a philosophically bankrupt ethos that just allows the rich and powerful to feel justified and revel in their
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Haley  *Good friends are like stars* #Morethanmarriage
DNF at page 130

I have been DNFing a lot lately (twice in the past week and a half), and I don't like it. I don't like feeling like I'm giving up. But if a book just utterly fails at capturing my interest, well, then I'm sorry but I'm going to quit. I see no reason for me to force myself to continue reading this book, not when I just don't like it at all. It's not like this is a read-to-review; it's not like I have an obligation to finish it. I picked up Beggars in Spain because I was a) intrigue
Oct 23, 2007 Flower rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ayn rand fans
Shelves: sci-fi
While parts of this book delved into Ayn Rand type philosophical discussions, overall I enjoyed it. I wish the resolution at the end however was left more open to reader speculation/interpretation. Questions posed at the beginning of the book are explored through different character's points of view and filtered through their life experiences. I would have rather then come to my own answers at the end, instead of having a nice, well, here's the right interpretation spelled out.

I would consider r
Beggars in Spain is one of the key SF works on genetic engineering, tackling some of the difficult questions of how society will deal with a class of genetically-superior "Haves" while the overwhelming majority of humanity remain unenhanced "Have-Nots."

A genetic enhancement that eliminates the need to sleep has the unexpected side effect of greater intelligence and immortality. The story is told from the point of view of the Leisha Camden, who, despite her best efforts, is unable to heal the rif

Shrewd. Intelligent. Compelling. (I can’t believe none of you forced this book on me already!!!)

What is the obligation of the strong to the weak? The wealthy to the beggars in Spain?

I was utterly engaged by this in-depth examination of an alternative to Ayn Rand’s social contract and LeGuin’s Annaresti anarchy – an ecosystem of human trade.

The characters dragged me through decades with ease. I especially loved the relationship between Sleepless protagonist Leisha and her unmodified twin sister,
Why are there no female science fiction grand masters?

The wife and I were discussing the question on a recent trip to the Science Fiction History Museum in Seattle, and we saw Nancy Kress's name on an exhibit. I decided to try some of her work. I started with her very recent "After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall", and thought it was promising but not fulfilling. And now I've read "Beggars in Spain," her first novel, which won both the Hugo and Nebula, propelling her to stardom.

The bo
Beth Cato
Leisha Camden is one of the Sleepless. She's genetically modified with no need for sleep, and along with that comes abnormally high intelligence. She and her fellow Sleepless are set to rule the world, but the world rebels against them. Hatred, fear, and envy of the Sleepless drives them into their own private enclave. Leisha is one of the few who refuses to join them or turn against the "beggars" of the world, even as the very fate of the planet hangs in the balance...

I started this book and wa
On one hand, a very quick and entertaining read - I finished in a single night and the pace is brisk. The political machinations in the new society are also introduced rapidly and believably in the background.

On the other hand, whatever "message" this is supposed to be driving at is muddled and shallow. The original novella knocks down a caricature of objectivism by having the main character arrive at what we would call "common sense." The background politics are roughly as deep as the human vs
This novel extrapolates the 1991 Hugo and Award winning novella with the same name - in fact, the novella is the first of four parts, set in the USA of 2010. The novel continues with the second part titled "Sanctuary" in 2051, the third part "Dreamer" in 2075 and the fourth part "Beggar" in 2091.
The premise is easy: Pre-natal genetics modify humans to look beautiful, be smart and most important eliminate the need for sleep. These "Sleepless" minority needs less place (no more beds!) and they are
Jul 11, 2009 Jeanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who enjoyed Gattaca and Ender's Game.
To those reviewers who assert that the characters in this book serve the primary purpose of "making a point" rather than being people with whom the reader can form a personal attachment, I have to agree. But that's the point. This is a book "about" something. The book presents the controversy of genetic modification--specifically, sleeplessness, though the arguments and situations presented can clearly be applied to "gene mod" as a whole. The main purpose of the characters is to articulate vario ...more
Nancy Kress once said that the novella was the perfect length for her to write, and i would say that it is the perfect length for me as a reader. while i struggle with the stop and go of short stories, feeling as if i am just nicely settling into the story to have it end, it is also a challenge for me to stay invested in a sweeping epic or multiple-generational tome .... even if it is a well-written wonderful story. so Nancy Kress writes the goldilock 'just right' books for me. she is also a dam ...more
I vacillated on how many stars to give this book. Nancy Kress is, in my opinion, a good writer. I enjoy her style, and very much liked her short story "Mirror Image". This book was one that made me sit and ponder the issues that were raised within, such as the nature of prejudice and what constitutes being human. I appreciate books that make me think and usually enjoy the experience.

Unfortunately, I can't say I particularly enjoyed this book.

The premise is about the creation of genetically modif
An excellent book - quite interesting how the book consists of four parts all of which are quite different - I enjoyed seeing how the Sleepless culture changed over time. The whole "Livers" idea is quite worrying though - seems all too plausible, particularly if you were just reading before finishing this book......
The novel explores an interesting idea, that by being able to do without sleep we would have 30% more time to learn and would all become highly intelligent. In an age in the not too distant future where designer babies are now affordable by the middle class, one company has found a way to mutate the gene for sleeping without any harm to the individual. These babies are also healthier and will live much longer. These children become known as the 'sleepless' and as they grow, accelerate through sc ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Petra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Petra by: Cindy
I only meant to start this book but I couldn't put it down and finished it in 2 days. Maybe it's because I've got the time right now but this book truly sucked me into its story.
Change. Acceptance. Equality. The author does a wonderful job of showing how these characteristics of our society and of individuals changes with outlook, knowledge and over generations.
Through genetic engineering in the womb, people are "sleepless", they are more intelligent and, with the extra hours in their day from
I liked the book very much, however I struggle with trying to determine it's impact. It seems to be between the crests of good and fantastic and couldn't quite make the leap across. This book is bursting with interesting ideas and themes that carry it through a good, but flawed presentation. This is a near future SF book and this future was not so far fetched as to be inconceivable.
Shades of Ayn Rand in this book are so prevalent that it was hard to not see many of the Fountainhead character hyb
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Nancy Kress is an American science fiction writer. She began writing in 1976 but has achieved her greatest notice since the publication of her Hugo and Nebula-winning 1991 novella Beggars in Spain which was later expanded into a novel with the same title. In addition to her novels, Kress has written numerous short stories and is a regular columnist for Writer's Digest. She is a regular at Clario ...more
More about Nancy Kress...

Other Books in the Series

Sleepless (3 books)
  • Beggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2)
  • Beggars Ride (Sleepless, #3)
Beggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2) Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing) After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints Beggars Ride (Sleepless, #3)

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