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Beggars in Spain

(Sleepless #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  7,306 ratings  ·  649 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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Earl Truss I definitely liked the novelette more. It's what got me interested in reading the novel but the additional books do not add much to the original story…moreI definitely liked the novelette more. It's what got me interested in reading the novel but the additional books do not add much to the original story.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Kara 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
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Allison Hurd
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fem-author, scifi
Time of death: 75%

I regret that this didn't capture me, and the continued shaming and torture of people with handicaps or abnormalities while simultaneously invoking rape/incest as natural proclivities took me from bored to uncomfortable.

The idea was interesting: what if you didn't have to sleep? How would that change society? I liked the thoughts about how it would impact human tribal instincts (them vs. us), finding people like yourself, the blend of following economics in the macro and empath
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves, sci-fi
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.
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
I read this original short story version of this title in July of this year. I was sufficiently impressed that I ordered the novelized version through interlibrary loan and I’m glad that I read both versions. Ms. Kress really managed to flesh out the ideas better when she had a bit more elbow room.

Now, I love to sleep. It is one of the basic human pleasures and when I have occasional bouts of wakefulness during the night I am pretty cranky the next day. I have never, ever wished to do without sl
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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
J L's Bibliomania
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress uses speculative fiction to explore two fundamental questions – What happens if you genetically engineer a group of people so that they are radically different from the rest of the humans – in this case by eliminating the need to sleep in a group of children (potentially accompanied by other intelligence enhancing modifications)? What do the strong/wealthy/more intelligent owe to those they deem lesser/non-productive?

I don’t remember if I read the Hugo and Nebula
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
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Althea Ann
The premise of this sci-fi novel is that, in 2008, a scientific breakthrough allows for genetic engineering that creates people with no need to sleep. Together with other genetic advantages available to the rich, soon this creates a small but growing group of privileged and brilliant young people - the Sleepless. However, jealous and resentful, "ordinary people" rather than appreciating the super-talented Sleepless, are soon viciously prejudiced against them.
I found the first half of this book t
Carolyn F.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, sci-fi

First off Cassandra Campbell did a great job with the narration of this very, very long book with a whole host of characters. Secondly, did I mention this was a very, very long book? At first I thought it was an omnibus because the chapters would end and then start with "Book 2", etc. But nope, this author turned a novella into a tome. I never really became invested with any of the characters, even Drew who I would usually be drawn to. Thank goodness this was an audiobook! 3-1/2 out of
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I am deeply conflicted by this book. While the foreword explained the authors rationale for the story, after an incredibly interesting premise and set up, we were led into a rather dated world filled with racism, sexism and such outdated terms even for technology of today that it made me question the decade it was published in. Sadly, this book decided to not explore the fascinating concepts of no sleep, but instead turned into a harsh and frankly, extremely unsettling comparison of communism vs ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, e-books, 2013
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. ...more
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
The Captain
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy me mateys! I recently reviewed the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy in me 3 Bells segment and very much enjoyed it. The First Mate and I were discussing her writing and he told me about beggars in spain, a Hugo and Nebula winning novella back in 1991. I was very intrigued by the idea of people who didn’t sleep and so I thought I would give it a try. This is actually the novel that expanded on the ideas of the novella.What this book seemed to suggest is that the author has a theme of genetic testing/ ...more
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
Mary JL
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
A fascinating book that's both gripping and off-putting (so many of its characters and themes are awfully ablist, and while part of that is explicitly critiqued, it is horrible to read about and through nonetheless, and to me, not sufficiently dealt with). It's very interesting for its analysis of how ethics of care may develop regardless of explicitly Randian society as a background. Still, I think the book has also aged badly in many ways: by not foreseeing animal rights, by assuming wealth an ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I have mixed feelings about this one (3.5 but I'm rounding up). It's in the tradition of scifi that functions as much as an argument or examination of a political philosophy as it does a story. The idea is that some people are genetically modified to not need sleep and this gives them advantages over others.

In the preface she says, "I wanted to explore the long-range economic effects of creating a favored class of people in a United States becoming increasingly polarized between rich and poor. I
D.G. Post
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A timely read. There are quite a few parallels, between the world in this novel and the world we face today. Also, I often wish I had more hours in the day, so that I could get more done; this story brings an interesting perspective on that sort of "what if" and its potential consequences. The plot was a little disjointed at times, but overall I really liked the storytelling. I'd like to read more by this author (including the original novella she wrote, on which this novel is based).
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Big, moving dynasty novel about a future class war. Elitism vs racism, individualism vs collectivism, negative freedom vs positive freedom, UBI and/or dignity. Kress' stated goal is to bring together Rand's ideal and Le Guin's (ambiguous) ideal and see how they spark off each other, their repulsion dance.

The first two books seem simple: a good basic dramatisation of the excellence vs equality problem. But stick with it, dialectic comes. Kress is much better at inhabiting other views than Rand, b
Nadine Jones
It was going to be all right. The contract, unwritten, between her and her society—Kenzo Yagai’s society, Roger Camden’s society—would hold. With dissent and strife and yes, some hatred. She suddenly thought of Tony’s beggars in Spain, furious at the strong because the beggars were not. Yes. But it would hold.

She believed that.

She did.

This came highly recommended, and I think my expectations were much too high. I was disappointed. Too many lengthy rambling philosophical asides, not enough
Apr 12, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
As a novel of ideas, this is quite good. Genetic engineering allows the creation of children who do not sleep (or, it turns out, age, once they have attained adulthood). Somewhat implausibly, (almost) all the Sleepless are super-cool, rational, serious geniuses. (Implausibly, because there are already many people who need much less sleep than the rest of us slobs, just three or four hours a night, and they are not half-way between us eight-hourers and the Sleepless of this book. Still...) Their ...more
Mark Pantoja
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
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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 Clar ...more

Other books in the series

Sleepless (3 books)
  • Beggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2)
  • Beggars Ride (Sleepless, #3)

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