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Act One

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  101 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"One of the best of the year...a compelling novella about a once-famous actress and her devoted manager who get much more publicity of an unfortunate sort when they inadvertently become embroiled with an act of biological terrorism with potentially world-changing results."-Gardner Dozois, Locus ****
Paperback, 104 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Phoenix Pick (first published March 3rd 2010)
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Ben Babcock
Few authors have won my heart as quickly as Nancy Kress. Two years ago, I had never heard of her. Suddenly I have seven of her books on my shelf, only one of which I've read. Like Octavia E. Butler does in Lilith's Brood , Nancy Kress uses genetic engineering to comment on what we consider human. With Nothing Human, Kress looks at humanity through posthuman eyes, asking where we draw the line between human and inhuman—when we can cut down the chromosomal level, what criteria are we using to dec ...more
Nupur Hukmani
Dec 17, 2014 Nupur Hukmani rated it really liked it
Nancy Kress weaves beautiful short stories around the theme of science fiction intertwined with the philosophy of life in the most effortless way! The choice of characters is absurd to say the least- but her description of their life's stories will make your heart wrench. A short and an excellent read.
PS>I will most definitely, genetically modify my children to be more empathetic after reading this book!!
....Act One is quite a dense piece of writing, I needed a couple of days to reflect on this story before I began this review. It's one of those stories one should savour, it's not a long text but one that demands some time to read it properly. It is definitely one of the stronger stories by Kress I have read. She must have had some fierce competition to miss all those awards. It's an emotionally intense look at some of the questions raised by advances in genetics. Recommended reading.

Random Comm
Martina Frammartino

Narrare una vicenda ambientata in un futuro molto prossimo per parlare del nostro presente è da sempre uno dei motivi portanti della fantascienza. E questo è esattamente ciò che fa Nancy Kress in Atto primo, prendendo spunto da un tema importante per sviscerarne le possibilità e fare ipotesi su scenari non troppo lontani da noi.

Ingegneria genetica. Due sole parole che sono sufficienti a creare speranze e paure, dimostrandosi capaci di suscitare dibattiti scientifici ma anche e soprattutto etici
Mike Franklin
Jun 05, 2014 Mike Franklin rated it really liked it
This is the first time I’ve read any of Nancy Kress’ work and I am suitably impressed. Though only a short novella, Kress manages to squeeze into it an interesting idea, with well-rounded characters (though not particularly lovable ones) and a good plot.

The idea of a ‘terrorist’ spreading a ‘plague’ across the world’s population that makes all humans, to a greater or lesser degree, more empathetic is really quite intriguing and her exploration of this idea is well presented and very easy readin
Jeff Miller
Jan 22, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it
Very interesting Nebula nominee award story. A fading actress and her manager while researching a role get caught up in an underground group doing illegal gene research and have other plans to introduce their work. The two people have a fair amount of baggage as they deal with this situation that goes far beyond their control. The plot and the characters like the best of SF give you lots to think about.

I got this as a free eBook via Phoenix Picks monthy program, but I think this story is also av
Nov 19, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
I love Nancy Kress as a writer, but I think I like her long works better than her short ones. This is called a novella, and it seemed rather like a long short story to me. That doesn't leave much time for character development, but I did like the first-person protagonist. The central issue of genetic manipulation is one Kress often uses, and she deals with it well here. The ending includes a fascinating twist; I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I think it rounds out the story well.
May 05, 2013 Riona rated it liked it
This is a fairly interesting novella that taps into current concerns about genetic engineering, but unfortunately I didn't find it that engaging. The characters didn't seem that developed to me and I had a hard time identifying with or caring about any of them. I think this one might actually work better if it were expanded into a full-length novel. Some parts seemed like they were just glossed over and the ending especially was wrapped up a little too quickly for my taste.
D.J. Cockburn
Oct 09, 2013 D.J. Cockburn rated it it was amazing
Stories like this are the reason I read science fiction but don't find enough of. Kress uses the genre conventions to explore the relationship between human biology and human personality, all through superbly constructed characters. The choice of protagonist is a masterstroke, as his misanthropic eyes observe the other characters as they learn the fallacy of the mind-body dichotomy.
Mar 23, 2013 Morgan rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Not my favorite work by Kress, but an interesting read nonetheless. She ably postulates a future where genetic manipulation is becoming more common and its potential consequences. While her ideas here are more realistic than in the Sleepless series, I feel this story lacks the characterization I enjoyed in her other work.
Apr 12, 2011 Ken rated it it was ok
There's enough material in this novella to become a 400+ pg novel, may be then the plot will get somewhere. The beginning is strong, but fizzles (and somewhat confusing) towards the end.

Kind of disappointing like the ending of Greg Bear's Eon.

Hope others enjoy it more than I did.
Jul 29, 2012 SF_Fangirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, own, novella
A good novella. The science fiction was original and it does make one think. It just really didn't strike me as great or best of year even though it was ominated for the Nebula and Hugo.
Jul 04, 2012 Kris rated it really liked it
I liked the little intro explaining how the story came together, because this story is pretty random (washed-up actress, dwarves, genemods for empathy). Pretty good though.
Nov 19, 2010 Mirrordance rated it it was ok
Ancora una volta l'attenzione a fuoco sulle mutazioni. Ben scritto ma meno centrato di altri lavori. Non convince fino in fondo, appare in qualche modo incompleto.
Sep 16, 2012 Marva rated it really liked it
Interesting plot, well-drawn characters. Is it a wonder it was a nominee for a Nebula award? I'll look around for more by this author.
Jul 06, 2010 Lonnie rated it liked it
My copy of this ebook was made available as part of the 2010 Hugo Voter's Packet as a part of my membership to the 2010 WorldCon.
Tom Marcinko
Dec 09, 2012 Tom Marcinko rated it it was amazing
A short novel. Nancy Kress at the top of her form, exploring biotech ethics within a very human framework.
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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
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